Friday, 28 March 2014

Purple monstrosity update

About a year ago I was highly enthusiastic at the prospect of knitting my own jumpers. It amuses me that the last time I posted an actual photo of my first ever jumper was 11 March 2013, so, as you can tell, my jumper knitting has been going well! In the interim, to be fair, I did make a seemingly endless array of scarves and cowls, as well as a pair of socks, so it's not like when I periodically abandoned this particular project I didn't knit at all. I just didn't make the progress I expected on the jumper. Or any progress at all, for long periods of time, if I'm honest.

So, here it is as of today. It's been this level of complete for about 10 days now but I've been struggling with a return of my Medical Mystery illness and so I haven't really felt like taking photos and writing blog posts, other than to laugh at Burda earlier this week.

As you can see, the body is complete and I've picked up the stitches for one of the sleeves ready to knit. The distance of the camera hides many flaws, and it's really pretty terrible if you get at all close to looking at it. Even more problematically, it's basically a TERRIBLE fit. It's long enough, but my weight has changed enough since I started knitting a year ago that it's not at all the right size, plus it's really not the right shape for my body. I've more or less decided to knit short sleeves and an inch of ribbing, then do the ribbing at the neckline and call it done just so I can "finish" it, rather than knitting proper long sleeves. My reasons for this decision are based on:

Things That I Have Learned From Knitting My First Jumper (So Far)

  1. Cheap yarn is a waste of money and effort. It's taken me forever to knit this jumper and the single biggest problem with it is that the inexpensive acrylic yarn I used that felt so soft as a yarn ball quickly starts to acquire a plastic-like texture as you knit and, worse, actually started pilling while I was knitting. I still love the colour of the jumper, but I hate the texture and clearly, if it's already pilling now, it's not going to improve any with wearing and washing. All this time and effort, and at the end of it a sweater that already looks shabby? Ugh.
  2. Don't start to knit a long project on cheap needles. I bought a very inexpensive set of circulars to try them out and they haven't been all bad, but I knit about a quarter of the body with sellotape holding the needles together and eventually had to replace them. The original needles were so cheap that I don't consider them to be a bad buy, irrespective of this failure, because if you're just doing a small part of a project on a different needle size, and you're just starting out, it doesn't make sense to buy expensive needles in a dozen sizes. But I wouldn't start a major project on a cheap set again.
  3. The trade-off between time spent knitting and yarn weight is way more critical than I realized. The problem is, basically, I really only like wearing fine gauge knits and almost all my RTW jumpers are fine gauge. That's mainly because I'm a big fan of layers and would rather add warmth through many thin layers than one thick layer. I do have a couple of RTW jumpers that edge into DK weight, but I tend to wear them less often and I would probably never wear a sweater made in e.g. chunky weight, because I just don't like them (and, to be honest, they're just too bulky on me, given that I am top heavy to start with). However, just the thought of how long it would take to knit anything substantial in e.g. 4-ply or lace weight fills me with horror. I kind of knew this intellectually before I started, but it's taken actually making a sweater in DK for the real force of this trade-off to become apparent to me: I haven't got the crafty stamina to knit in the weights I like to wear best; I hate the idea of knitting in heavier weights where I'm more likely to finish before I get fed-up because I'm much less likely to use the output. I'm such a utilitarian with my sewing, and it's clearly also the case with my knitting. If I make something, I expect to use it, I WANT to use it, and I will consider my project a failure if I don't.
  4. Whereas with sewing I feel an urge to learn about technique and improve how I do things, I feel a bit impatient with knitting intricacies. I can see why people are into it, and why it could potentially be fun to get into all the ins and outs of patterns and fitting and technique but... I don't really feel like I want to. Basically, what I'm saying is that I am happy doing basic, easy knitting and I feel lazy and unmotivated to achieve a higher skill level. I'm actually OK with that.
  5. I really really hate WIPs and wasting time and resources making things that I don't want to wear or use. This jumper hanging about in a bag for a YEAR has actually been like a rock in my shoe -- a tiny but highly irritating nuisance. I feel like I am probably better off with shorter, smaller projects, and also with putting my money into better materials so that I WANT the thing I finish.
Funnily enough, not all that long ago I wrote a post about the things I do and don't want to sew and knit for myself, and on the knitting side I've had a complete reversal of opinion. At the time I did really want to knit jumpers (despite the fact that my purple monstrosity was already proving problematic) and I was TOTALLY opposed to the idea of knitting socks. It turns out my Socks Of Terribleness improved 100% when they were washed and dried, in terms of the knit tightening up and the flaws becoming less apparent. They're still terrible, of course, but I love them to absolute pieces and can't wait to make more. Maybe I'll just become a really really good sock knitter. :D?

18 comments:

  1. Oh westmoon please, please quit the sweater if it isn't making you happy!!! There are tons of other fabulous projects waiting on you! Tons!!!!

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    1. I know, but I really HATE the idea of not at least getting to a point where I can legitimately say it's done. I actually don't know what would be worse: finishing it up and having a basically useless jumper that's at least DONE, or frogging it, or packing it away and pretending it never happened...

      In the meantime, I waste a lot of time looking at yarn websites picking what pretty expensive sock yarn to buy for myself!

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    2. Stuff it in a bag and put it in the back of a closet and see if you're still thinking about it later!

      Spending additional HOURS(!!!) knitting it and you know you won't wear it is worse. Worse thing ever. Worse thing ever in the history of the entire universe! (too much? hahaha!)

      I started a new pair of socks last night. Size 1 needles are stupid. I wanted nice tight ribbing but I think I'll just use my 2s

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    3. 2.25 vs 2.75. Dang imperialists :-p

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    4. When you put it like that, I suddenly feel a great deal less enthusiasm (less than the ALMOST NO ENTHUSIASM I already felt, that is) for continuing to knit it. Ugh. Maybe I WILL just stick it in a box and pretend it never happened for a while. :| And if I do that, I get to think about what I want to do next instead, which is MUCH more fun. I think I may go for something a bit fancy and buy a really high quality sock weight and do another pair of Socks Of Terribleness.

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    5. SEE! Purple monstrosity + Box + Closet + Yummy yarn for better project = WIN!

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    6. This is the yarn I am thinking about buying for my next pair of socks: http://www.oldmaidenaunt.com/shop.php?rn=2148&action=show_detail&edit_item=0

      SO MUCH NICER than the purple monstrosity!

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    7. Yessss! You should go for it!

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    8. You are SUCH an enabler. ;)

      If I recover a little bit this week I am going to wander down to the local yarn shop as a reward for surviving and see if I can get something. Then I can cast on some socks :D

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    9. I do a "public service"! Feel better and get that yarn!

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  2. I can sympathise...I am teaching myself to knot and I know I will stay with scarves, socks and maybe hats. Life is too short to try to be wonderful at everything (as I keep reminding myself).

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    1. My problem is competency envy of the bloggers who are churning out both amazing hand-knits and amazing hand-sewn clothes. In reality, I have too much going on to master two major crafts to that level and you know, I don't know that I even WANT to or that I could. I also have a career and other hobbies, you know? And for whatever reason, the craft that I am more drawn to trying to be good at is sewing. Socks and scarves and hats are totally useful items though, and there's definitely something to be said for knitting the kind of stuff where it's pretty easy and mindless to knit even at my level of (lack of) expertise. I tend to knit while I watch TV, and in airport departure lounges and hospital waiting rooms.

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  3. knit, not knot. Perhaps that is my problem?

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    1. ha! I spend as much of my time untangling myself from the knitting/needles/yarn as I do knitting it seems!

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  4. I lean towards Nakisha's view of putting it away if it isn't satisfying. However, I also understand the satisfaction of completing a project for the sake of finishing. I have a box full of part way done knitting, I do have some guilt, but not enough to do anything about it.

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    1. It's the most unsatisfying knitting EVER, seriously. I am leaning harder and harder towards boxing it up out of sight and mind for at least a while. Life is too short to keep knitting something I really don't want to knit.

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  5. Oh my, if the purple monstrosity is beginning to pill while you are still knitting/knotting it, what are the odds that you would actually wear it if you finish it? My bet is zero. Toss the thing in the trash and be done with it. Then go buy some nice yarn and knit yourself something you will like.

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    1. You're totally right. I'm pretty sure I'm just going to bundle it up and stick it in a cupboard for now and move on to something new. Life's too short, right?

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