Do you remember the commercial about the Tootsie Pops and how many licks it takes to get to the center? And the wise old owl determined three to be the correct number?
It turns out I feel a bit like that odd little boy seeking the answer. Only for me the question is less about Tootsie Pops than it is about sweaters. How many sweaters do I have to knit to get over my fear of knitting the wrong size sweater? I know the answer is NOT three. Because I’m on
five four and I am definitely not there.
The sweater that shall not be discussed is probably the reason I’m still stuck in this knitting purgatory. I started that one thinking I don’t need no stinking gauge swatch. I knit normal like. And it turns out, not so much. I’m a loose woman. Turns out I need to go down at least one, sometimes two needle sizes to achieve gauge. At least with everything I’ve bothered to gauge swatch that is. Come to think of it, this is very likely why certain other things have come out so beautifully when I’ve gone down a needle size either out of necessity (I have no size 9, I’ll just use an 8. Or my size 7s are right here. I’d have to go dig for 8s. I don’t want to get off my arse. I’ll use the 7s). Well there was a lightbulb moment.
So anyway, the sweater we shall not discuss was painstakingly knit over many weeks time only to come out positively ginormous. Seriously. I think the word ginormous was coined just for the occasion of describing it’s hugeness. So it was banished to indefinite time out. It has since been frogged. And I’ve gone on to knit other things.
Sweater #2 was a cardigan. I figured a cardigan was “safe”. It really doesn’t need to fit to fit. As long as it’s not too small, it’s the perfect size. So I knit Autumnal. By the way, she’s still white. I haven’t worn it enough to stain it and create a need to dye it to match the stain. And I love the sweater. It’s big. It’s cozy. It’s soft. Its perfect to curl up in on the couch with a cup of tea. Perfect. And it birthed a streak of boldness that allowed me to try another sweater.
This time I was really brave. No cardi. A sweater that actually needed to fit to look right. So this time I swatched. Three times. Cuz it took four different needle sizes to get the gauge called for in the pattern. So this time the nerves kicked in. Would it fit? What if it doesn’t fit? I’ll cry if it doesn’t fit. OMG I can’t knit this green again if it doesn’t fit. I better not finish in case it doesn’t fit. Yeah. That’s it. It’ll be better to not finish it than to have it not fit right? Obviously I finished it. In reasonable time. And it fits! So apparently, if you check your measurements when selecting the pattern size AND knit a gauge swatch before you start.
I used this newfound knowledge (confidence would clearly be an overreach, but knowledge seems appropriate) when I fell in love with Elphaba. I bought the pattern. I had the perfect skeins of Malabrigo sock in the stash. It was PERFECT I tell you… Perfect. And I know I can knit a sweater that fits. I did it once. I can totally do it again. Only then I read the pattern. And I got skeert all over again. It used scary terms like “negative ease” and “waist shaping darts”. ACK. What if it doesn’t fit? What if I spend all this time knitting and it’s the wrong size? I’ll CRY if it doesn’t fit and I have to banish all this work to the permanent time out pile. ACK.
After much consternation and frantic knitting, I’m happy to report, it fits like a glove. Couldn’t have worked out better. It fits so nicely and was such an enjoyable knit I bought the yarn yesterday to make another one. (Remember that delicious purple? Elphaba needs a sister).
So you’d think when I cast on Lambton I’d have gone forth with the confidence that only experience can bring. No sweat. I swatched. I measured. I highlighted my pattern to make sure I had the correct stitch counts throughout. And I cast on. And I knit. I decided to follow the designer’s suggestion on the Ravelry project page to knit the smaller neck opening. And all went pretty well. And I got through the bust darts. And as I was knitting the shirred waste panel, that same old doubt crept back in.
I knew too small wasn’t going to be an issue. It was definitely NOT going to be too small. But what if it’s too big? GAH. This thing is going to fit an elephant. Or at least me before I lost 25 lbs. Seriously. I’m going to put all this time and all this yarn into knitting a sweater for two of me and it’s going to be awful and I’m going to hate it and oh my word why did I ever think I could knit a sweater?! What was I thinking?
So last night I finally got brave. I knit half the stitches onto a second needle and I tried it on. Guess what…
So now I think I can finish knitting it at a normal pace, not the snail’s-look-over-there-at-the-sparkly-chicken-what-are-the-kittens-up-to-should-I-be-doing-something-else-maybe-I-should-knit-the-blanket kind of pace I was stalling with.
Maybe the next sweater will be the one I overcome my fear of knitting the wrong size. Or not.