March 15, 2012

the tale of the steek

On a very cold day last week, I held my breath and cut into the sweater that I've been knitting for almost five months. I'd been psyching myself up for it for a few days (ok, weeks) and had a sort of early labor breathing action going on in the moments before. Snip. Snip. Snip. I cut a steek.
This sweater has taken me forever. It was supposed to be Will's Christmas sweater. And then it was going to be a Ducks go to the Rose Bowl sweater. And then it was going to be a Valentine's Day sweater. It was actually 99% done by Valentine's day. But I kept stalling because of that steek.

It just seems, counter, I guess, to the idea of knitting. Whipping out the scissors and cutting into what you just put together. I thought about putting the zipper in another way or just telling Will to suck it and deal with a crew neck (I wouldn't really have used those terms. Probably.) but after getting a pep talk from one of the goddesses of knitting at Vogue in January, I was determined. So I knit in the extra stitches where I would cut and fold back and then...I stalled, and stalled. I finished one sweater and started another, put two shawls on my list and cast on one of them. And then on that really cold night, I decided to just finish the thing.
This year, if I finish the latest sweater I have on the needles within the next month or so, I will have knit six sweaters. One for Will, one for Briton, one for Evie and three for me (Hey! I'm the one doing the knitting here!) More than any other type of project, I feel like I learn the most with sweaters. Because I'm a combination knitter I almost always have to decipher patterns and adjust the types of stitches so that they work for me. Is that K2tog (knit to together) going to be a SSK (slip, slip, knit) for me here or is it still a K2tog. It's because of a sweater that I found out I was a combination knitter. And it was because of a sweater (several sweaters) that I figured out how I like to decrease for a raglan sleeve, or increase, depending on how the sweater is constructed. The project I'm working on now has welts, which I hadn't heard of in knitting before, but now I can do a pretty bad ass knitted welt. And with Will's sweater? The steek was a pretty big hurdle for me, but the whole design was something new. A challenge. And I like a challenge in knitting. Obviously, otherwise I wouldn't knit six sweaters in twelve months. But back to the tale of the steek.
I didn't even take pictures, mostly because I was so paranoid that the whole thing would dissolve into a pile of little bits of green yarn that I immediately sewed the hem down to contain the cut stitches. I read through about thirty steeking tutorials, all of which said about the same thing but, again, I was stalling. This one was, I thought, especially good.

In the end it really wasn't so bad. Not, I'll do it with every sweater now easy, but not something that I'll avoid, necessarily. And the sweater itself? It fits! Really making a sweater big enough for Will was pretty nerve wracking from beginning to end. I dyed WAY too much yarn because I didn't want to run out. I re-knit the collar twice to make sure it was long enough and until the whole thing was blocked I wasn't sure it was going to be wearable, the saddle shoulders seemed so wonky. But after blocking and steeking and sewing in the zipper and blocking again, it fit. IT FIT.

And the next day is was 70 degrees out.
Of course.