Friday, March 13, 2009

half a fortnight til freedom

One week left of winter.

I don't have an easy time of it in the winter months. I have a hard time driving after dusk, so I'm reliant on other people to get me from one place to another pretty much from the time I get home from work until the next morning. I have both starbursts and a marked loss of contrast and depth of field in the dark, so every streetlight is like the bloom of a firework, and every change in tone on the sidewalk looks like either an enormous drop-off or a huge bump. I can't drive, can't even really walk down the street without frequently stepping over imagined obstacles or tripping over real ones. In essence, I spend several months of the year trapped in my house after dark. It's a side effect of the LASIK surgery I had a decade ago, and one that I knew I was at a high risk of experiencing. Don't get me wrong, here. I wouldn't trade my all-around good vision for the ability to see better after dark. It's just that after a few months of racing the sun to make it home every weeknight, I start to get more than a little discouraged by it. I get tired of being trapped.

Then there are all of the unhappy things going on around me this year. Daisy and Falstaff are splitting up, we're down to less than a handful of people in my department at work, famine and pestilence are sweeping the land, and I have a bitch of a cold. I've been coughing nonstop for almost two weeks. I'm getting through it now, as I get through it every year, by hunkering down and waiting for the end of March, for the vernal equinox, which I consider to be the start of my new year.

One more week.

What does that have to do with Ol' Blue here?

When we last saw Ol' Blue, I was going to knit the second sleeve and be done with it. I did that, and then I didn't like how the sleeves and the lower hem looked. They were too long, and they looked flimsy when compared to the upper part of the sweater. I decided to turn both sleeves and the hem up and stitch them into place, putting the patterned sections on the inside of the work. Worked great for the sleeves, making them weighty and just the right length.

It wasn't such a good match for the hem, but I thought I'd give it a chance anyway. I wore it with the hem sewn up for most of a day. Toward the end of the afternoon, after a day of tugging the bulky lower edge of the sweater down approximately two hundred times, I decided that the best thing to do would be to snip the sewn thread and let the patterned section down again. I grabbed my desk scissors and snipped the running thread. When it didn't pull the hem free as easily as I'd expected, I found another piece of the thread and snipped that as well. Then, I pulled. Hard.

It's exactly what you're thinking. I hadn't snipped the running hem thread. I'd cut three stitches on the body of the sweater, then pulled an additional three stitches free, and then pulled the working thread so tight that I'd ruched the entire front of the sweater.

At work, with no knitting or sewing supplies handy, I was forced to use paper clips as makeshift stitch holders. I walked around for the rest of the day with office supplies dangling at my waist.

Later that night, when I took pictures of what I'd done, I noticed that there was some weird pooling at the bottom of the sweater. "Good thing I cut the hem!" I thought. "Now I have a good reason to rip back to the point above the pooling and start over."

I did just that, finishing the sweater for the second time a few days later. The hem's shorter, and it's only one layer thick. Why is there still no finished object post about it? Oh, funny story.

My second attempt looks as bad as the first, maybe worse. It's too narrow, and too insubstantial for the heavier, roomy top. It looks, in a word, stupid. I've been working on this sweater for too long, almost five months now, to let the finished product look stupid. I threw it into a bag and refused to look at it for a few weeks.

Since then, I've started several projects that have stalled, failed, or been lovingly chewed up by my dog. Something's gone wrong, crazily wrong, with every other knitting I've touched since stopping work on that one sweater. My gauge changes by an entire stitch per inch between swatch and project, with the swatch being looser, and this disparity does not become apparent until after the finished sweater is washed and blocked, then discovered to be too small to be wearable by even the slenderest of my friends. Winston figures out how to open a locked chest to get to Big Stripey. My entire collection of size 8 needles disappears. It's as though Ol' Blue is cursing my knitting. I am the Ancient Mariner and it is my albatross.

I'm making it my mission to finish it during the winter. This winter. I will break its cursed hold on my knitting. One more week.

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