I decided in late November to make Christmas sweaters for my niece (almost 1 year old) and nephew (5 years old). My logic was that they are small, it should not take too long. Somehow I never learn. I had what I thought to be an adorable idea too; I would make one sweater red & white and the other green & white so that they would not be too Christmassy on their own, therefore extending their usefulness, while still being obviously holiday-themed when worn at the same time. I decided to add pockets (which I now realize was a time-sucking mistake) and put little presents inside them. Finding small dinosaurs for my nephew was no problem but his sister presented a bit of a challenge. The pockets on her sweater are obviously smaller but the small toys she can play with have to be bigger since I obviously don’t want to give her choking hazards for Christmas. After much contemplation and some shopping, I decided upon adorable baby socks for her. I had ruffled pink ones in my hand when I changed my mind and went with the dinosaur-themed set instead. I am pretty sure that they are meant for little boys but I don’t see why. Girls can like dinosaurs too and since her brother is a big fan, I am pretty sure she will follow suit!
I kept doing other things when I should have been working on the sweaters. Playing Candy Crush, doing crossword puzzles, it didn’t matter really, my instinct is to put off anything that has a deadline and apparently it is too deeply ingrained after years of completing my homework just under the proverbial gun. The second problem was actually something I can mostly blame on someone else – I had a car accident. While returning home one afternoon, my car was struck by a county salt truck, sending me spinning off of the freeway and causing a hole in the side of my vehicle. I was unhurt but [not surprisingly] flustered and when the tow truck dropped me off, I neglected to retrieve the partially finished sweaters from my car. I did go to the body shop and get my knitting bag a couple of days later, but by that point I had unwisely begun another project which I had to finish in an even more timely fashion (a scarf for a Secret Santa exchange at work). Also, the kids were were on their way to Asia to spend the holidays with their grandparents, so I had kind of missed my window.
I brought the finished baby sweater and not nearly finished kid sweater with me to my parents’ house for my week of [sort of] vacation. My plan was to finish up the second sweater then leave them here for my parents to transport when they go to visit the little ones next month. Of course, everything takes longer than I think it will (“Thirty Minute Meals” take me like an hour and a half) and here I am, leaving tomorrow and the second sweater still has half sleeves and holes where the pockets should be. Part of the problem is the tangles I keep getting in my yarn.
As previously mentioned, I never learn. I don’t like to weave in ends, so I try to make garments as seamless as possible. This means carrying yarn up when making stripes and trying to remember to weave it in every few rows. It also means a lot of raglan sweaters because you can’t avoid sewing set-in sleeves and drop sleeves just tend to look frumpy. I also knit in the round a lot. None of these are problems in and of themselves but an issue I often end up with because of my habits is tangled yarn. I do not like to cut my yarn until I have to, afraid both that I will have to weave in extra ends and that I might run out. This is not such a large concern when knitting a single object, two balls or skeins can be un-twisted without too many problems as long as I keep up with it. The danger is when I am knitting from both ends of two different balls of yarn.
Why would I do such a thing? Because I want to make both sleeves at once. I find that when I am making up a pattern as I go (which happens more often than I should admit) I work decreases or pattern stitches differently on each sleeve because I am bad at paying close attention. Working both sleeves at once makes me much more likely to make them even and similar if not actually identical. When I am using a single color, this can be annoying, as the yarn twists around itself and has to be dealt with every few rows. When I am using two colors – for stripes, fair isle, or some other reason I cannot think of now – it becomes an unmitigated disaster. The two ends of each ball wrap around themselves and each other and cause such snarls as cannot be removed without tools and magnification. I have had to untangle my green and white yarn several times now. I have even had to cut it to do so, creating more ends to weave in than I would have if I had done something less stupid like cut the yarn in half to begin with and worked from two balls. Still, hope springs eternal. Either that or I am just punishing myself for something. I keep thinking that it will save time to do it this way, I won’t have to join more yarn later and nonsense like that. It doesn’t actually save time. I have spent at least three hours of possible knitting time untangling yarn in the last week; probably more!
Maybe now that I have admitted my idiocy, I can begin to move forward. Perhaps next time I think to knit stripes from both ends of two balls I will remember this post and the frustration which precluded it. I would like to believe that is the case. However, it’s more likely that I will think “this time, I’ll do it right” and end up right back here again. As for this project, I will likely take the sweaters back home with me and mail them to the kiddies sometime in mid-January. At least they don’t have Santa on them or anything.