The Mystery Sweater Revealed.

So what’s the big mystery about The Mystery Sweater?

The mystery is this: it’s been so long since I started the thing, I barely remember what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished.

I think this project began in the late summer of 2005. The sweater is actually called Magnolia, a Kim Hargreaves pattern from a Rowan book. When I started the sweater, I made a photocopy of the pattern to stick in my bag… and then promptly lost the original pattern book. There were a lot of starts and stops, a lot of do-overs, and a long-ish wait when I, in perfect Accidental Knitter form, ran out of yarn and had to pray that Dori found me some more. She did find me more yarn, but by that time it was Spring, and this is a Winter project. So I put it aside, and now it’s time to finish it already.

So as of Sunday night, the pieces were all knit, and I just have to sew it together. Sounds promising, right? Well, this is where things get… not so simple. When I pulled out the front and back of the sweater, I realized that I no longer remember which side is which – they look identical. It took me a few minutes to remember which size I chose to knit it in – was it the Small? Maybe the Medium, since this project was post-pregnancy… ? The turtleneck collar, which is knit seperately with size 8 needles and sewn on, was found in my knitting bag with size 10 needles attached to it. I don’t remember having gauge issues with this pattern… or did I… ? And speaking of that turtleneck collar, I knit and unknit that thing a dozen times, and it just looks… wrong. If only I had a picture of the sweater to see what this is supposed to look like… but oh yeah, I lost the pattern book. Where the heck is it, anyway… ?

Now what? I really want to finish it – it has the potential to be very beautiful and very well chosen for my particular body type (think 13 year-old boy). It’s so close to being completed that I can’t not finish it. And I can’t possibly move on to the other projects waiting in the queue until this one is deemed a FO. So I’ve decided to soldier on without finishing instructions: I’ll figure out front from back and sew everything up except the turtleneck – that will most definitely be my final test of patience and intuitive knitting.

I’ll post pictures of The Mystery Sweater soon. Writing about it psyched me out too much to actually start sewing it up right now… I’m gonna watch Knitty Gritty instead.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “The Mystery Sweater Revealed.

  1. Cris

    What is it about finishing? We can face knitting for weeks, follow bizarre pattern instructions intrepidly and with faith we’ll figure things out … but when it comes to using a needle and making seams, all bets are off. It should seem like so little work, compared to the rest, and yet — yeep! Now I have to *finish* this thing?

    It sounds like you have your work cut out for you, with such a, shall I say, generous uncertainty factor … take it slow, think it through, and good luck!

  2. Deb S.

    Darn those little voices in our heads saying “oh, just start this” since it always turns into more. Of course, one lesson I learned is never cut fabric with a rotary cutter when you are tired. Don’t worry, I didn’t draw blood but I did manage to cut my two different fabrics into two different sizes when I meant them all to be the same size. But later when I was actually awake and alert, I added fabric (like a border) to each piece of fabric to make the blocks the same size. Having the centers different size helped the top have “movement” so actually it turned out to be a good thing (though I was not really amused in the beginning).

    Sweater looks great, can’t wait to see it all done. I’m sure you’ll figure out the turtleneck!

  3. Tikkunknitter

    What a special friend you are. Kathy is very lucky.

  4. Ilix

    There are a few of us….. 🙂

  5. Cris

    I’ve gotten my Ravelry invite within the last couple days too. Haven’t had time yet for much digging, but there’s so much good information — truly an inspired service by the authors, much applause to them.

    In other news, I’m still up for a spinning road trip when you are 😉

  6. Marni

    Yes yes yes, I’ll call the woman from KDO tomorrow to see what we can schedule. Do you want to try to get a lesson in on a weekend?

  7. Deb S.

    I can only speak from a quilter’s perspective. I don’t really like making the binding to finish a quilt. And I don’t really like sewing it on to the quilt. But I love once the binding is on and I’m doing the blind stitching on the back because I know what that is done, all I have to do is slap on a label and I’m done.

    The great part about being done is I can start a new project. Since I multi-task in my work life (I’m a programmer, woe is me), I tend to work on one (yep, you read that right) quilt project at a time. So for me, finishing usually isn’t a problem. Time however is another story …. And don’t even get me started on having UFOs hanging around!

    As for some of my quilting buddies, they have problems finishing because they want to use that fun new material or try that new technique or they just get bored.

  8. Cris

    I tend to be the opposite at the end of a project: at the start, I’m all gung-ho because it’s something new and progress is easy to see; the middle bogs down a bit as the initial charm wears off and it’s harder to tell that I’m getting somewhere. But near the end I typically pick up steam, because (A) I know I’ll soon have the payoff from all my work and time, (B) I want to see what the darn thing looks like finished, and (C) most importantly, I’m already deep in planning for my next project! I want to get through THIS thing, so I can start THAT new sparkly project over there. So I’m typically through the end of one and whoosh, straight through to the next.

    All of my projects to date have been relatively simple to finish up, not a lot of serious “finishing” techniques needed. The current major project will be a different story, a kimono jacket from “Knit Kimono” by Vicki Square. I’ll be learning several techniques along the way, including a couple of different methods for sewing seams. I intend to just take them one at a time, as I need them.

    Experience is the main thing, I think. Good instructions are a big help, but there’s nothing like actually having done something yourself. Finding small-scale ways to try out different techniques could be helpful — practice sewing together a couple of throwaway swatches, for example, before sewing together the big scary sweater pieces.

  9. Cris

    Alpaca farm? ooOOooooo. Road trip?? 😉

  10. Cris

    I don’t think you’d need to be so specific in a refusal that the truth gets bent. You can just say “Sorry, but mom isn’t able to do it.” Especially since you’re speaking for someone else; you can’t speak directly for Mom’s knitting time, and I daresay you don’t get to tell her what to do! So if she didn’t want to, for whatever reason, then that’s that.

    As far as paying for the knitting … if Mom is agreeable to make the projects, I think it would be totally reasonable for the other lady to at least pay for the yarn, copyright law or no. That’s not “profiting”, that’s just providing materials, and really no different than if she bought the yarn herself and asked someone else to knit it up for her.

  11. E.W.E

    I agree with cris. I don’t see any problem with having the lady pay your mother for yarn, and even something extra for her time spent knitting it up. Of course I don’t know exactly how the law reads, but it seems to me that basic common sense would see that when someone spends time to make something, they should be reimbursed for their time. That’s not the same as profiting from the item, IMHO. ‘Course, common sense frequently has little to do with how the laws are written up…:-) Good luck.

  12. Cris

    Awesome, sounds like a great addition to a great trip. Yay for finding good buttons for the sweater!

    I made some additions to my sock yarn stash, after a cross-country trip to a shop closer to home … first visit to The Mannings. Great place, highly recommended!

  13. Cris

    I hear ya, sister! Beginning with the spindle was frustrating for me too. It does get better, I promise!

    Judge your “clockwise” spinning from looking down at your spindle; imagine a clock laying face-up on the floor, and your spindle hanging over it. Look DOWN at the clock and the spindle, and then spin the spindle clockwise to match the clock. (It’s a lot harder to describe this in words than it would be to demonstrate!)

    Clockwise vs. counter-clockwise spin isn’t what’s making your yarn break; there’s nothing magical about twisting one way that holds and the other way doesn’t. I’m too much of a beginner to know for sure, but from my own spindle-dropping experience I’d suggest maybe your yarn isn’t twisted enough to hold itself together? The direction of twist doesn’t matter, but the amount does. Or could it be too thin? I hesitate to make suggestions, I barely know what I’m doing myself yet!

    Whatever the case, don’t worry, you’ll get it! It does take practice, but eventually it really does become fun instead of frustrating!

  14. Deb S.

    I’m sure you’ll figure it out. It will just take practice.

    The frustrating new thing for me was learning to machine quilt. Straight lines with a walking foot … piece of cake. Free motion (where you control the stitches and can do all kinds of curvy designs) freaked me out. When you get a big clump of thread on the back of the quilt, it is called a birds nest and believe me, I made more than a few!

    But with practice, patience, practice, experimentation (and did I mention practice), I’m able to do a pretty good job with my free motion quilting. And my name is really easy to write into my quilting.

    Deb

  15. Cris

    Joining in a new piece of wool is still where I’m most likely to drop the spindle too. Once again, I hear ya! If you can thin the ends you’re trying to join out a bit and overlap them, it helps; I guess it’s sort of a knack, and I’m still trying to learn it too.

    I was thinking earlier this week that learning to spin is a lot like learning how to drive, in that you have to learn a whole set of unfamiliar skills, all at once. You can’t practice steering without using the pedals; you can’t really use the pedals without also steering; and God help you if you also have to shift! To spin, you HAVE TO spin and draft and manage the wool all at the same time, or it just doesn’t work — and all of them are unfamiliar actions, and it’s a lot to keep track of at once, and the second you miss one… spindle on the floor. Or else twisted, undraftable roving, which has been my worst problem to overcome.

    BUT, you learned how to drive, and spinning will come too! Eventually your hands get used to the motions, you stop having to think about it so much, and it just works … and for me, I’m getting to that point a lot faster than I ever thought I would. You’ll get there too!

  16. Cris

    … and I was so distracted by the spinning I forgot to say the sweater rocks!! That’s so pretty, I love the yarn and the buttons! I hope to see it in person, maybe it’ll be cold enough to wear it by our next knitting meetup at Borders 🙂

  17. Deb S.

    Ah, the age old question on how many UFOs that one person should have? We in the quilting world ask this question also.

    Personally, I don’t think there is a magic number. I’ve known quilters who have 40 or 50 projects started. That would drive me WILD!

    I myself like to work on one project at a time. I work in the programming world to feed by fabric habit (and one day soon, a college student) and I multi-task all day, every day. I juggle lots of different projects and target dates. I don’t like to juggle multiple things in my quilt world so I usually work on one thing from start to finish.

    That being said, I’ve been known to have UFOs from time to time but I try not to make that the norm. I don’t like feeling pressured to get a quilt project done and having multiple things going on makes me feel pressured. After all, isn’t our crafting supposed to be fun?

  18. Cris

    I think “too many” is always going to be a personal definition. There are people who like to focus on one thing at a time until it is done, and others who aren’t happy unless they’re knee-deep in half-finished projects … and still others who are knee-deep in knitting and unhappy about it, because of whatever starting or finishing issues they may have.

    For me, total number of projects always varies. Right now I’m working on a kimono jacket from “Knit Kimono”, which is my current “major” project, a pair of “Monkey” socks, and a plain pair of ribbed socks because the Monkeys proved too difficult to travel with — requires too much attention to the chart and where I am in the knitting to just pick up and work a few stitches here and there. There’s also a scarf which no longer qualifies in my mind as a “project” because I won’t have enough yarn to finish how I wanted, it’s merely yarn that hasn’t been turned back into a ball … and then there are at least a couple of unfinished “projects” in my spare room that I’ve pretty much given up on, because I simply don’t enjoy them enough to invest the time in finishing them (these are mainly large afghan projects in crochet patterns) I may or may not ever pull them back out and continue, but regardless I don’t waste any brain cycles on them.

    And yet, at any given time I may start something else, depending on what I feel like or what would be useful. If I get really itchy to start something new, or to finish something, I may pick up some cotton yarn and whip out a basic garter-stitch dishcloth. Easy knitting, done in a couple of days. Since we’re moving towards winter in this part of the world, I have thought about making a log-cabin throw for my couch, for which I have plenty of leftover stash yarn from other afghan projects. For the moment I’m more interested in socks, but I may start a blanket … or may not.

    I agree that Kelly’s 7 projects seems like a lot, but apparently it’s the right number for her … and that’s what’s always going to define “too many”, the knitter’s own mind (with possibly some input from anyone else who lives in her/his house, and has to wade through the yarn on a regular basis 🙂

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