I posted this series of tweets earlier today:
By about the fourth tweet, I realized that I was, in fact, writing a blog post. On Twitter. Social media, the lines blur. (Twitter, it’s not just for breakfast pics anymore.)
When last we left our intrepid Olympian…
I had finished at total of 6380 stitches and 27 rows of my SECOND try of Sandrilene. I finally had the right gauge, using a single needle size throughout. Look at these perfect, lovely, photo-worthy stitches.
And yet, something was nudging my lizard brain, something that kept hinting that I might just possibly maybe might want to put the thing on some waste yarn and have a little try-on check with reality.
But I’m a knitter. We knitters hate to do anything other than knitknitknit. We don’t want to put our needles down to feed our children, why would we want to put them down to try something on? (The horror.) One reason folks love top-down knitting on long circs so much is that “you can try it on as you go!” which really means that the time it takes to pop it over your head and assess the damage is minimized, so that you can be back to knitknitknitting before anyone’s really noticed the lack of needle clicking.
The truth is, you can try on bottom-up garments. It’s just more awkward, and perhaps maddeningly slow if the sweater is pieced. But Sandrilene is knit in one piece from the hem up, and I had two long circs on which to spread out the stitches, so I really had no excuse.
Factoid #1: Sandrilene is not an overlappy sort of cardigan. It’s supposed to have a wee gap in the center, or possibly just touch edges.
Factoid #2: That there, my friends, is an overlap of about 4 inches. Give or take.
Factoid #3: I am not really stretching the fabric. Notice the stitches? They are still pretty much in a relaxed state.
Factoid #4: That bit of cardi is being tried on over a pair of jeans. The jeans are secured with a bulky belt. The cardi is wrapped over both belt and jeans.
Factoid #5: This means this incarnation of Sandrilene is helluva too big. By about 5 inches around, unstretched.
FIVE INCHES TOO BIG.
Let us pause for a moment whilst I remind you what I do for a living. I teach knitters how to knit sweaters that fit. My classes are full of gauge-swatch this, and measure-yourself that, and math-is-easy the other thing. Folks love my classes, they send me photos months later of themselves in lovely, well-fitting sweaters that they proudly wear about town.
My Sandrilene (Sandrilene Take Two, I might remind the studio audience) is at least Five Inches Two Big, even with all sorts of math and measuring tape kung fu.
Jiminy Christmas Bells, Charlie Brown.
What Went Wrong, And Why I Don’t Care
I spent a fair bit of time measuring, doing gauge checks, analyzing the schematic, doing stitch counts, blah blah blah. Had I lost weight? That seemed to be part of the problem, seeing as I thought my hips were 46″ (last time I measured they were, anyways) and they had sneakily backed down to 43.5″ (0ver jeans + belt) when I wasn’t looking. Maybe I had mis-calculated the ease. Whatever.
In the end, I realized that I didn’t need a cute rocket scientist with a mohawk to tell me the answer: The damn thing was too big, and I had to make it smaller. I had my measurements, I had my gauge, I could multiply as well as any fourth-grader, and so I just tossed out all the fancy-schmancy rational analysis and dealt with Reality.
Sweater too big. Too big = Too Many Stitches. Take away stitches, make sweater smaller. I want sweater to be X smaller, so take away Y sts.
I think that in knitting garments, we forget one really important factoid: They are GARMENTS. They are meant to fit BODIES. Bodies change, and bodies are different. I do an exercise in my classes sometimes where I line up people with similar measurements, and show folks how different each person is from her neighbour, despite the fact that their measurements at bust/waist/hip are the same. (Incidentally, this is why I dislike putting folks into body type categories–pear/triangle/whatever–because have you ever found a category that describes you EXACTLY, now and forever amen? Neither have I. I don’t like starting folks off with the feeling of Being Different, or Being Someone Who Isn’t In One of The Normal Categories, or Being Wrong, that comes from not being able to match themselves easily to some category. This is why I do the You Are Beautiful thing in each class. You are unique; you are beautiful, and no category can adequately describe all the lovely bits that go into making you YOU.) (Whoops. My soapbox came out. Sorry. Put away now.)
When tailors used to make clothes for people, the people were always going to see the tailor for “fittings.” No tailor worth her salt would finish a garment without some sort of pin-and-tuck reality check session. When I had my wedding dress custom made for me, I actually flew to Washington State from San Diego to have my dress fitted. The maker was more than just an experienced tailor; she was an Emmy-award-winning costume artist with a sewing studio that made me stare in shock, jaw to the floor, for several minutes before I could function again. (I didn’t know about the Emmy bit. I didn’t know she designed for Hollywood. I just loved the dress when I saw it online.)
One would think she would feel confident with a zillion measurements and the skill of her hands, no?
Nope. Two fittings.
I rather think the results were worth a round-trip plane ticket to Walla Walla, don’t you?
So, if Emmy-award-winning garment makers think that they ought to do a fitting for a custom garment, why do we knitters think we can cast on, knit an entire thingie, and just by-golly end up with something that fits? Just because the pattern says so? Just because the schematic looks right? Just because our gauge matches?
Lesson learned for me: There is no substitute for a little try-on session, followed by some common-sense math.
The results of my try-on sweater session are as follows.
Onwards, with all good cheer. (And a slice of homemade berry pie, if you have it.)
A cuddly baby animal. An orphaned cuddly baby animal. Awwwww….
Look at who’s perched on top of this golf tee. Yes, I said on top of a GOLF TEE. Apparently he and his friends are taking the golf world by storm. (Or, more to the point, a hail of toads.)
I liked this article on what to do with Failure.
Lego gets warped: A working loom created out of those little colourful bricks we all adore.
If you’re not into looms, how about a seven-foot model of the Serenity? If you don’t know what the Serenity is, a treat awaits you. Take the afternoon off, go here and watch that. After you’re done there, start with this.
And if neither loom nor spaceships get you excited, what about a custom Lego portrait?
And one more inspiration: Origami artworks. Like street graffiti. Only…not.
I’m off to wrangle some beads and have a chat with that ball of yarn pictured above. It’ll be a good chat. Maybe I’ll even get a sweater out of it eventually.