Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Remember this sweater?

I finished all the duplicate stitch color work on all the white bands.

All the little cats and flowers and even beads for the cat's eyes.

And four little cat faces for each sleeve.

It all took a lot of time. I could only work on it when I had good light and lots of patience, and each little motif took about an hour to finish.

So it was finished and I thought it was one of the most beautiful, intricate things I'd made. It looked good on Malcolm and he loved it.

This morning, he brought it to me and said, "The rats gnawed a hole in my sweater."

They sure did. They really did a number on the back of the right sleeve.

I was heartsick. There are several very large holes and a number of smaller ones. 

Fortunately, the rats managed to selectively gnaw the plain green section of the arm, not touching any of the color work.

Still, it's going to be a big repair job, the biggest I've ever done. I think I'll pick up stitches around the good part of the lower arm, detach it from the rest of the arm, rip the arm back through the biggest holes, repair the smaller holes that are very high up on the arm, re-knit the middle section of the arm, and then graft the good lower arm back on.

Sigh. I thought this sweater had already consumed enough of my life, but I guess it's my destiny to spend more time with it.

Just yesterday, I was talking about how I always save a little yarn from each project for repairs. I've repaired 20-year-old sweaters with the original yarn. I mentioned how hard growing boys are on their sweaters, but growing boys are not near as hard on sweaters as their pet rats.

On the bright side, this gives me an opportunity to document this repair job.

A Little Something

I bought this yarn some years ago and I've always loved it.

I used it in a couple of other projects, and had a little left. Enough for a child's sweater, perhaps, but certainly not enough for something for me.

I held onto it, though, because it was such a lovely yarn. There's something about a special yarn aged carefully in the stash. Every once in a while, I'd wind a skein of it into a ball and play with it for a while.

It didn't want to be anything except a very simple pattern in straight stockinette. The yarn sang so beautifully that it needed its knitting to support, but not overwhelm it.

In late summer, I got a brain wave. If I was careful, I could make it into a light summer tank. I knit a gauge swatch, measured carefully, and weighed it. I then weighed the skeins of yarn. I calculated the square yardage and decided I had just enough to make a tank top that skimmed the top of my hips.

So I did.

I knit from the top-down, designing to cover my bra and conform to my curves, with short rows to give extra length in the bust and short rows fore and aft to give the tank a gently curving hem.

Then I cast on a picot hem and knit Victoria's Lace Picot edging from one of Nicky Epstein's edging books. I grafted the edging onto the sweater, something that I definitely have to do again. So many wonderful edgings are knit from the bottom up, and I, a confirmed top-down knitter, can only use them if I'm willing to graft.

Around the neck and arms, a round of single crochet and then a round of crab stitch to stabilize the edges and harmonize with the Victoria's Lace Picot edging.