Monday, February 18, 2013

The Birth of a Sweater!


Early last fall a bug bit me… I had just finished a project and was browsing Ravelry for a new one.  It needed to be challenging and functional.  I am all about functional when choosing projects; pretty sure the only non-functional one I have ever made was the knit Santa bikini I made my daughter as a joke a few years back.

There it was, the February Lady Sweater, it captured my attention and imagination.  Over the next few weeks I kept going back to it, somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought that it would be absolutely perfect for my Mom.  Her 70th birthday was coming up and I needed something perfect for her, I wanted it useful, practical and beautiful.  No major challenges there, right? 

After a couple of weeks I decided I was going to make that sweater, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, I downloaded it to my Nook and laptop. The quest for just the right yarn started in earnest.  Little did I realize that was going to be such a challenge… so many choices, so many colors, so many different textures of fibers, what to choose.

I still hadn’t started it by December, I was still searching, and my holiday list required so much of my time it was just going to have to wait, bubbling up into my consciousness every time I finished one of my projects.  
Finally with the wrapping paper put away, my fingers started craving the feel of smooth needles and fibers; I dusted off the idea yet again.  Still nothing!  So I cast on for a sweater for myself in a beautiful royal blue. 
 
The start of the royal blue...
 About 4 inches into it, I realized that time was slipping away from me and I had to get started on my Mom’s gift! 

Maybe I function best under stress; deadlines seem to motivate me like nothing else.  We were getting ready to head to Urbana for a day with the boy, and I do not travel well without a project going.  It is hard for me to sit still that long and I get cranky! In my rush to pack my travel bag with projects I started digging through my yarn stash, stuff I had bought for a myriad of projects that still were not done. 

Soft Lavender
 At the bottom of a bag, tucked away in the corner, my fingers touched softness.  Pulling it out I found the beautiful lavender yarn that I had fallen in love with last summer. Bought before I remembered that personally I need bolder colors and it would never work for me.  It had been there all along, the perfect shade of lavender to make the February Lady Sweater for my Mom.  The yarn was the perfect color, the texture soft and soothing, the pattern just enough of a mix of lace and solid to make a beautiful spring sweater.  And oh yeah, it’s a “February” sweater, she is a “February” baby… it seemed like destiny to me. 

I left my royal blue sweater at home and started on Mom’s.  In those 6 hours of travel time, four inches appeared.  I was so excited to see such progress in such a short amount of time.  It was a joy to knit with and the feeling was so very soft. 

The start... color doesn't look right in this one
 Progress happened so slowly, with my work schedule being its usual New Year crazy, and it being dark on both the drive in and home from work.  The lace was slowly taking shape, it’s a fairly quick knit, but my time was simply being gobbled up from external forces.  

Slowly progressing
Hubby decided we needed to go check on our property in Sullivan, talk about a golden opportunity more hours to knit.  Finally I resorted to making 4 rows of progress around every household task.  Over that week, it was coming together quickly.  The body was finished and I had moved on to the first sleeve, when everything came screeching to a halt.  I have a cyst in my left hand, that is easily aggravated, and massive typing at work and crazy knitting had really ticked it off!

Pattern and color look great in the one!
Reluctantly, I put it aside for a few more precious days.  Finally on Valentine’s Day I realized I was against a hard deadline, 11 days, and if I was going to mail it, Monday was the final day! Yikes!  Each evening I worked on it diligently, no slacking allowed now.  Son asked us to come to Urbana on Saturday, and I was down to the last sleeve.  It was going to get finished on the drive, I was sure of it!

Wrong!  I will be the first to admit that I can really screw up a project when I am tired, and I was exhausted Saturday, my focus was absolutely zero.  Something told me to leave the thread that had held my sleeve stitches while I worked on the body in place, not sure what it why… but boy was I grateful!  It’s completely not something I would normally do it drives me crazy as a general rule of thumb to see that loose thread in the middle of my stitches.  As I frogged the sleeve for the third time, I was pretty sure it was an omen.  I finally gave up. 

I mean seriously the first four beautiful inches ended up being knit inside out!  That should have been my first clue that I was in trouble. Then I lost track of my pattern on the second go round and the third time I ended up with 6 random stitches that didn’t belong anywhere.  Time to stop…

Before I knew it Sunday was already there, mocking me, reminding me that my own indecision is what had pushed me to this spot, and I still had a beautiful sweater that only had one sweater.  Given that I had spent the better part of six hours just a day before trying to finish it, I was feeling a bit stressed out.  

Pot of coffee - ready, shows on the laptop – paused, and I picked up my needles. I was determined.  I guess the few hours of sleep had helped, because it materialized like magic.  Thank goodness, by four in the afternoon all that remained was finding the perfect button, uh oh…

Hubby being the good sport that he is agreed to go to the fabric store with me to search for the right button.  We tried, round, square, floral, pearl, rhinestone, plastic, metal, large, small, flat, raised, handmade, fabric, stone, pretty much everything they had!  Heck we even considered black ones with faces… Just as we were ready to give up, we’d found ones that were okay, but the wow factor wasn’t there.  They were too young, too old, too tacky, too cheap, too flashy, too… enter whatever you wanted, we were getting very disappointed.  Just as we were walking away, I saw them.  Holding them up; I could see the look in his eyes telling me that they were possibly the perfect look for the sweater.  We tested them, making sure they didn’t give her problems.  They slid in perfectly.  Yep, that is just what the sweater needed. 

The finished sweater
 After blocking and attaching the buttons it is ready to go.  I am so happy with how it turned it.  I cannot wait to see it on her.  And best of all, I had forgotten my phone at home and found I had 11 missed messages from my sisters… looks like we are all going to meet in the middle this weekend to celebrate her special day!  I get to give it to her in person!

Royal blue is back on the needles and in progress
What do you think?  Was it worth it?