Wednesday, July 23, 2014

From the Yarn Basket: My First (Completed) Sweater

I have two obstacles as a knitter that make it very difficult to undertake large projects. The first is my typical yarn-buying style. Apparently I use up all of my abilities to plan efficiently and be organized while I am at work, because I procure yarn in a hodge-podge and mostly unproductive manner. When I see a skein of yarn that I love at a shop, I feel a compulsion to buy it whether or not it will suit any foreseeable knitting plans. Random skeins of various colors, textures, and weights could only result in crazy-quilt-type projects that no sane person would ever want to leave the house with. Deciding to make something requiring more than one skein would thus take advanced planning and a special shopping trip for the perfect yarn, which is not my M.O.

The second obstacle is my knitting project commitment issues. I'm sure any other knitter out there has felt it before. You want to start that large project, but the "what ifs" plague you. What if you pour hours into the project and then realize that the pattern is poorly written? What if you get bored partway through and never finish it? What if you manage to finish it and it doesn't fit? There is a knitting superstition that you should never make a sweater for your boyfriend because it will kill your relationship (when it doesn't fit and/or he doesn't like it as much as you want him to). Your emotions are invested in a project once you have put so much time and energy into it. I honestly think that a traumatic large-knitting-project-making experience, even if it is just for myself, would be enough to put me off knitting at least temporarily.  

Because of these reasons, I very rarely take on large projects. I pick away at little projects: a pair of gloves here, a hat there, a scarf every now and then. Once in a blue moon (or when I am putting off writing my thesis) I will make something big. I even tried making a sweater once, but my poor yarn buying habits (and poor planning) resulted in my realization over 3/4 of the way through that I did not have enough of the same yarn to finish. With tears in my eyes and a beer in my hand, I ripped the whole thing back apart. (See what I mean? Traumatic!)

Fortunately, the best kind of peer pressure arrived in the form of Emily, my good friend and fellow knitter. We decided that we would both make the same sweater, using each other's progress as motivation to keep going. It wasn't a race (although if it were, she beat me by a mile), but we kept each other updated as we worked on them. 

It took some time for me to get started, since I needed to clear the hurdle of finding the right yarn. I made a trip to WM Trimmings on Capel Street, where I knew I could find a nice selection of *cough*acrylic*coughcough* yarn. Yep, I decided to go with acrylic for this project, not only because it is much much cheaper (an important feature for a yarn you plan to buy so much of), but also because I fully intended to wear the finished project. Wools might be nicer, but acrylics are much more utilitarian--you can machine-wash them. The yarn I chose was James C. Brett Marble Chunky MC35, which is a mixture of reds, purples, browns and greys. 

It took almost two months to finish it, with most of my progress made on the weekends. It was five separate pieces (back, two front sides, and two sleeves) that I assembled at the very end. I'm very happy with how it turned out. It fits, it looks like the picture in the pattern, and I actually think that I will wear it...but probably not much until winter because chunky yarn makes for a toasty warm sweater. Nevertheless, I debuted the sweater at a local pub while watching Wimbledon and drinking a pint of my favorite Irish pale ale. 

Sara modelling the front of her sweater in a pub
Sara's First Sweater - From the Front
Sara modelling the back of her sweater in a pub
Sara's First Sweater - From the Back
I'm not sure when I will take on another project of this scale, but I'm definitely feeling less timid about it. Maybe the next one I make will be for Cory. After all, the superstition only applies to boyfriends, not husbands, right?

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