on knitting and healing and other stuff

The Last Word on Christmas Knitting

Posted by Janis on January 2, 2008

Final score for 2007 holiday knitting:  Sweaters 3, Fetching 1. Here are my nieces with their sweaters and a pic of my Dad’s in its finished state. I didn’t get a pic of the Fetching, but they turned out nicely (you’ll have to take my word for it).


Christmas Eve included a mad dash to Jo-Ann (which I felt bad for patronizing after reading the horror story about the customer who wasn’t allowed to use the employee restroom…) for buttons and a bad moment of thinking I might run out of yarn for the button bands and bind-off, even though I had 3 MORE BALLS of it at home… But – WHEW – made it, with yards to spare. I did forget to buy regular thread to sew the buttons on, so I tacked ’em on with yarn for Christmas morning then put them on properly the 26th (back to Jo-Ann).

I feel really grateful that my family makes a big deal over my handknit gifts – even the girls. After reading so many accounts of rudely received knitted gifts on Ravelry and the Knittyboard, I breathed a big sigh of relief when the packages were opened and the girls were waving their sweaters and shouting, “Look! Aunt Jannie KNITTED this for me!!” Rachel put hers on immediately and wore it until the alpaca started to roast her like a mini Christmas turkey. Hannah modeled hers briefly and so did Dad. Annie the dog got to wear Hannah’s on her head for a Kodak moment, and I was basking in some knitterly glory.

Now I have a problem:  I miss knitting Dad’s sweater. It was so full of hope and ambition to be a great finished piece, and I really did my homework and did all the finishing right. When I didn’t like the way the picked-up stitches looked on the left button band, I ripped ’em back and did them again. I studied every tutorial I could find on sewing in the sleeves, and even basted them in with cotton thread before seaming. Even so, I sewed the first one in three times before I liked the way it looked. OK, it’s worth it.  All the things that used to scare the pants off me in finishing and sewing up, I managed to do and it turned out –  well. It turned out well.

I share these thoughts with you not to brag (well, maybe a little), but because I’ve learned a great deal by knitting this sweater. I learned that if I take my time, plan and prepare well, I can make something really nice. That may seem ridiculously simplistic to you, but to me, it’s a revelation. I always have delusions of grandeur when starting a project — “It will be the BEST lace shawl EVER! It will look just like the picture – or better! AND I will finish it in two weeks, washed, blocked, dried, and on my back!” But usually – especially if I’m knitting for myself – I let little mistakes go unfixed in my rush to finish and in my enjoyment of the process itself. I am notorious for making bad or stupid yarn substitutions and not admitting it till it’s waaaay too late to go back, even when I swatch first and have concerns about the swatch. (Full disclosure here, even though it’s rather mortifying to admit being so damn stubborn. But I am from Missouri, so I guess muleish-ness comes naturally.)

So my resolution in the new year is to remember these lessons. Take my time, do it right, and be proud of the result. It’s not rocket science, but I think it might take me over the moon…


One Response to “The Last Word on Christmas Knitting”

  1. Darcy said

    I am so glad your knitted gifts were received with the appropriate enthusiasm and relish. I also love your comments re: delusions of grandeur. I know exactly what you mean. I start every project with that same sense of nothing-can-go-wrong-ness. The sweater for your dad looks great. Very cozy.

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