Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Ultimate Last-Minute Christmas Present....(think I'll make it?)

Why, I ask you....WHY?

Every year I procrastinate myself into having several aggravating last-minute knitted Christmas gifts that I greatly fret over. Usually it's assorted socks and scarves--- small projects which are fairly easy to finish by a Christmas Eve deadline. But this year I accidentally took on a.... larger project... a sweater for a man.

And I couldn't have chosen a normal, easy, stockinette stitch sweater, noooooooooo! Idgity me had to pick an aran, "fisherman knit", sweater, the ultimate in painstaking, mathematically inclined, monstrosity knitting!!

What happened is that when my mother and I were spending Thanksgiving with my uncle in the swamp, his widower brother-in-law saw me knitting on the Kauni sweater. I worked on it every day and he saw it grow. And then one day he commented: "You know, many years ago a girlfriend knitted me a sweater with a bunch of cable thingies and interesting stuff in it. And it was a cream color. It was my favorite sweater I've ever had."

I then absentmindedly remarked something to the effect of: "Yeah, I know what kind of sweater you're talking about---it's called an aran sweater---or a fisherman knit."

"Yeah," he replied, "It was a fantastic sweater. It had a turtleneck. It was my favorite sweater I've ever had. And, unfortunately, I lost it...."

To which I replied, a little more firmly: "Yeah, I know they're great sweaters. And they're EXTREMELY difficult to knit."

To which he replied: "It was my favorite sweater of all time...and I lost it."

To which I replied: "Yeah, those sweaters are TOTALLY difficult to make alright, totally difficult....."

To which he sighed, longingly, with a faraway look in his eye.....

So what do you think I did?

Yep, you guessed it. Immediately after my mother and I returned to Texas, I obtained the yarn, got an aran knitting stitch book, grabbed my pencil and ever-present tablet of graph paper---and I began designing the damn thing. And I found out, to my eternal mortification, that figuring out how knitting gauge and adult male sizing relates to a dizzying combination of various aran stitches is akin to having to write a thesis on advanced calculus and/or physics. But after around 20 swatches and 3 total "rip outs" (which means starting the sweater over completely--- not ripping my hair out, although that came later), I had my basic design down and the sizing correct (hopefully). And then came the difficult part....

The hard part, of course, is finishing the dang thing in time for the day after Christmas, when we will return to my uncle's house after spending Christmas Day with my sister in Dallas. And I'm knitting it in between breaks of other gifts I am making for certain family members.

I designed it gansey style, which means knitting it circularly up to the armpits, and then knitting the front and back separately, 'back-n-forth' style. I made it an easy drop-sleeve pullover style. And hopefully I'll get the turtleneck right.

I finally finished the front of the sweater. The upper back portion (as shown above) is waiting for me, the gazillion stitches sitting merrily upon several stitch holders, all sections separated by umptee-leven stitch markers. My graph paper, with its checklist and row counts, is smudged and wrinkled. At least three of my fingers are cracked and blistered.... and Mother keeps saying things like: "I think you should put those fish-scale cable thingies on the sleeves" even though I was going to try and get away with fat & easy C6F cables.....

I am not a speed knitter. I knit texture patterns rather laboriously. So I don't know if I'll get this dadblame thing finished by Christmas.....but I'm going to give it the old college try....

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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bo,
The stitches are beautiful! You are
very talented.
Have a wonderful Christmas and good luck in completing it by the day after Christmas. I think you will make.
Marsha

meezermeowmy said...

What a kind gift. You KNOW he'll love it!

Denise said...

You could only do the front in the pattern and then do the back plain and knit the sleeves with cables. It's a shortcut but if you dont think you will have time to finish it before Christmas you could do it that way. I hope he knows how lucky he is...:)

Lynn said...

It may not get done until Christmas but I have a feeling he'll be blown away by it whenever he gets it. It's a jumper worth waiting for :)

beautiful, just beautiful.

kg said...

Amazing! and compared to me, you are speedy too!

knittingmama said...

It's a beautiful sweater, and you are very kind to take it under construction. If it were me, I would offer to knit it for Christmas right around tomorrow. At least you got a head start. Good luck! I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

Bo,

You made me laugh with your responses to him. I hope he understands how lucky he is.

I myself have one wool hat and the edging and finishing of a crochet couch blanket to finish. I can't imagine undertaking what you did.

Good luck finishing in time!
~jennifer

knitacat said...

Looks fantastic! Good luck Bo! You can do it. Think of his expression and smile. Merry Christmas to you both. Louise

Where fibers meet mud said...

You are an angel. Godspeed with the sweater. I use Neosporin on my fingers at night with Cortaid mixed in - it speeds the healing process.

From someone who has been there and done that!

CraftyCarole said...

it's incredibly beautiful... i'm sending speed knitting vibes your way.... he will so LOVE this gift... what a great niece you are!

June said...

I have really enjoyed looking at your blog! Good luck with the Aran sweater, it is looking really good. I love it! I knit an Aran for my daughter's birthday every year & am done with mine until next year!!

cinzia said...

it is truly beautiful and I am certain he will love it although he will think it is easier than it is simply because you managed to finish it in such a short time.. such is life.

Bo... said...

Thank you so much, you guys!!! I'm knittin' as fast as I can!

donnac368 said...

Enjoy the process. Give it to him wrapped on the needles if necessary.

Carol said...

The sweater is looking great. If you only started after Thanksgiving, I'd say you have a decent chance of finishing. I enjoyed your description of Thanksgiving, bayou-style.