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Slow and steady

I wrote recently on socks and why they’re so satisfying: it’s the speediness, the satisfaction at flying through milestones, one after the other. Cast on, toe, foot, heel, leg, ribbing, cast off — bam bam bam bam bam bam bam! Suddenly: a sock! I know this isn’t always how it works, and some poor knitter, labouring under the fourteenth rip-back of their thigh-high, cabled kilt hose in laceweight is muttering dreadful things about me for my flippancy. (I’d feel worse about that if I thought anyone was likely to read this. Especially if they have cabled kilt hose to be working on. Slack, that’s all I’m saying.) But it must be admitted, socks, on average, are a speedy knit.

Now I’m going to talk about the other side of knitting. While socks — or hats, or mittens, or whatever your speedypants knit of choice is — give you the psychological boost of ticking those boxes in quick succession, there are other projects whose satisfaction is slower. Much, much slower. I speak, naturally, of sweaters.

Exhibit A: Skinny Empire


This gorgeous crimson piece is from Wendy Bernard’s Fitted Knits and I love it to bits. (I love that book so much, by the way: I’ve never bought a pattern book that had so many patterns I wanted to make, not to mention the incredibly useful pieces in it about writing and customising patterns.) Cast on at the neckline and worked from the top down, it’s a snug-fitting raglan with a scoop neck. I’m thinking elbow-length sleeves, too. It’s taken me a couple of weeks so far, but I suffered a minor setback due to a problem with row gauge. The thing about row gauge is that I’m always inclined to neglect it. The thing about raglans worked from the top down is that you really, really can’t neglect your row gauge. So, having achieved stitch gauge, I gaily worked the raglan increases, only to find it far too short for my purposes. I did some maths to it, figured out the problem, and then had to rip back the whole thing and knit down. I would have been frustrated, but I was so pleased with myself for (a) figuring out the problem; and (b) knowing just what to do to fix it; and (c) having the chutzpah to rip back and fix it accordingly that I charged ahead. It took a viewing of Amelie and a fair few episodes of the X-FIles (we’re up to season 2) before I got back to where I was before ripping, but now I’m charging ahead.

As my really-not-very-interesting picture reveals, I have just reached the stage of separating the sleeves from the yoke. A milestone! It’s a happy time to be knitting! From here: a few inches of stockinette, then a decorative raised empire line, and then another inch or so of stockinette before the waist shaping. Charging on, but slowly. It’s great to reach these points that make you stop and take note of your progress.

There was going to be an Exhibit B for this post: I had planned to cast on the Silken Scabbard (only in wool, so it would be the Woolly Scabbard) but I just couldn’t get into the vibe of it.  You know the feeling? I got partway through the cast on and got thinking “y’know, I’m not really sure this is going to be right…I like the yarn, but maybe this isn’t the pattern for it? Maybe it would be better in…” and then I started hunting through Ravelry and the Knitty archives to see what else was on offer and now I can’t decide what I want.  I think I’ll roll with the Skinny (Red) Empire for a while and see how I feel later on.

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