Sunday, 20 September 2009

Frogging a dead horse

After two exhausting but fabulous days at the Iknit Weekender, Natalie and I decided to spend Sunday playing with my stash. It didn't take long for my nice tidy living room to be turned into this;
When wine and knitting come together we all know that the outcomes will be... interesting.

During my massive tidying up session I came across quite a few Works in Progress that I had put aside for various reasons. One was a top down raglan jumper in Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran Tweed in a lovely flecked charcoal grey which I could have sworn I had taken a photo of at some point in its construction but haven't been able to find. Trust me, the yarn was the only lovely thing about it. Bearing in mind I had completed the body, one sleeve and had nearly finished the other its faults included: too wide, too short, ugly and poorly executed contrast colours at hem and cuff, sleeve decreases that did not match each other and no idea how to finish the neck. All in all, everything I know about knitting had clearly deserted me when I worked on that jumper. It had to go but I am such a coward when it comes to frogging my own work. Natalie, however, set about it with way too much relish for my comfort and soon it looked like this:


Now isn't that the most beautiful pile of yarn? It really is the most lovely stuff to knit with. And it isn't the first time I have used this yarn. Fortified with a glass of wine I disappeared upstairs and came down with a couple of projects that I had completed when I perhaps knew a little less than I do now.
Look at this beauty for example. The yarn was an absolute joy to knit with, if I remember correctly it is the DK version of Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed. It must have been a joy - just look at all that two by two rib knitted in the flat. Look how even the stitches are and how meticulously I followed the pattern. Except for one thing....


I really should have checked my gauge swatch for length as well as width... I even remember knitting away on the bus on one of the sleeves and an elderly lady asking me what I was doing and asking me tentatively 'Aren't those sleeves going to be a bit long?' Hell no, I thought - I haven't reached the end of my increase rows yet - they're bound to be right....

I have bitten the bullet and started to dismantle this jumper - the wool really is too lovely to waste on this unwearable monstrosity.

Which brings me on to my final exhibit. Once again, the most gorgeous yarn - Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in one of my favourite colours - Verdigris. Look at the beautiful and complex cables on this pattern from her book Viking Knits. Did I stop to notice, however, that the pattern called for Silke Tweed not Silky Wool? Of course not! Then I might have realised that the two yarns are a completely different weight. Did I do a gauge swatch? Of course I didn't! If I had done, my error might have dawned on me even at that late stage. Did I notice that the patterns had a distinctive eighties feel about them with their drop shoulders... Not at all - I was seduced by the beautiful and complex cables.


Which is why the finished article looks like this...

With sleeves that I have to admit are moving in the direction of that most reviled 80's phenomenon The Batwing.

So what have I learnt?

I have learnt that when good knits go bad you need a trusted friend to help you face the facts that sometimes nothing can be done to save them and the yarn deserves better.

I have learned that there are much better and more flattering ways to construct a garment than drop shouldered jumpers knit in the flat.

I have learned not to ignore little old ladies on the bus.

I have learned that if you sense something is going wrong STOP KNITTING NOW!!! It will not miraculously improve if you just press on.

I have learned that even though I know way more about knitting than I did when I made the first two jumpers I am perfectly capable of making a complete dogs dinner of something if I don't pay attention to first principles - even a simple garment will punish you if you 'wing it'.

Most of all I have learned that after a couple of glasses of wine with a good friend these disasters are very, very funny.

15 comments:

Roobeedoo said...

Those garments look so lovely! Gutting that the fit was so wrong! Though the teens in my house would tell you just to stick your thumbs through the cuffs and wear them with inbuilt fingerless mittens!

Rose Red said...

Frogging those mistakes can be so liberating can't it! Especially with the support of a good friend! (oh, and wine!)

(I have to admit, those sleeves - on both garments - gave me a little giggle!)

beanz said...

I particularly giggled at the drop shoulder - but lovely patterns, I too loved the cables.

Suse-the-slow-knitta said...

another lesson- good yarn knitted wrong can come good again

Auntie Noo said...

Oh Jane i am SO sorry, but my dear you have given me the best giggle in ages! - those sleeves!! Brilliant, just brilliant. (and am actually a wee bit envious of the amazing yarn you will now have! ;)

Ice Princess said...

Ohhh cud dear!! To frog such gorgeous garments (apart from the sleeves) Hehe

Jane said...

Love it!

littlelixie said...

Great post!

Pom Pom said...

Wow! Did this post ever make me feel better! I am going to frog my yellow sweater in the next week. Thank you for sharing your bat wings. You crack me up! Even a pro like you has made weird stuff - I'm inspired. Thanks, Jane! ~pom pom

knittingtastic said...

Sorry for laughing too and thank you for sharing. As always your reflections on life are spot on :)

Linda said...

Sounds like a great time with Natalie! I have made many a sweater like those ...

kathryn said...

We've all done it haven't we?! But what lovely new stash you've got and how fortunate to have your friend with you to encourage you and share the wine.

mildawg said...

I'm glad you didn't take these sweaters badly - wine and friends certainly must have helped. Look at the bright side - you get to work with some fabulous yarns a second time!

Sel and Poivre said...

What terrific words of wisdom - inspirational and worth remembering!

Anni said...

This reminds me I've got a half finished jumper in Noro Blossom that needs frogging as it's way too big. Love the yarn in those pics. hOpe you find something better for it.