• My Left Thumb!

    Will I ever learn!  
    Never, never knit to a Christmas deadline!

    During the Stay-cation with my grand dogs I set a goal to finish the two kid sweaters I am trying to complete for Christmas.  With hours and hours of knitting time available, I felt this goal was do-able.  After all - my grand daughter's sweater just needs two short sleeves and 3 buttons.  My grand nephew's top down sweater was almost to the point where you split out for the sleeves.

    And I have 10 whole days available!!  I can do this!!!

    Sadly, my left thumb feels different.  For me lots of knitting does not create over-use problems in my hands.  I feel lucky ... especially when reading about the repetitive use injuries of other crafters.  But my grand nephew's project requires more left thumb effort than normal.  My thumb is a little cranky right now.

    Photo Credit: Ravelry.Com
    Designer's sample

    The pattern is called Miracle Sweater by Nicole Montgomery.  I love the gender neutral look of the garment, the dense feel of the fabric created, the jacket-like style, and the unique stitch itself.  I also love that the proceeds of the purchased pattern are donated to a charity.

    Up close Twisted Basket stitch pattern.
    The first thing I noticed was that although the stitch was uncomplicated to create - for some darn reason "unknitting" the stitch (a function often needed to correct mistakes) was difficult to do.  I did several gauge swatches - to get gauge - but also to learn and practice unknitting the Twisted Basket Stitch so I could fix errors when they occurred.  I never reached a level of comfort in that unknitting effort for this stitch (actually not one single time.)

    My progress to date.  Sleeves will need to be picked
    up and knitting at some point.
    Regardless, I was not deterred by that failure.  I started the sweater anyway, determined to avoid mistakes.  I, of course, made a mistake within the first 5 rows of the woven pattern and made the problem even worse trying to correct it.  So I ripped out those 5 rows and started again - learning from that mistake, convinced I would, at least, not repeat that particular error again.

    And I didn't.  I made a different mistake!  You see, the stitches are stacked on top of each other in a very specific order.  Within 5 rows I made a stacking mistake - and one whole row along the back between the sleeve sections - was wrong.  And it clearly showed!  I couldn't unpack even a single stitch successfully and now I had a whole row of stitches that were wrong.  Damn.

    So I made a creative decision to hide that row of errors under the generous collar by tacking the collar down so the wrong row can't be seen.  It was an option I considered before I made the error because the collar had a lot of "bounce" in it and probably wouldn't rest easily on the shoulders when worn without tacking.  Now that decision was finalized and it killed two birds with one stone!  Excellent!!

    Second problem solved (without ripping out my progress.) I plowed on.

    But there are limits.  At this point, if I cannot fix or hide an error that can only be corrected by ripping out, I will stop this project and choose another pattern ... I don't want to start completely over.  Finding this pattern took a lot of time at the beginning.  And I still like it.

    When the third error rolled around (surprised? ... not me) I somehow miraculously managed to de-construct the stitch - and mostly get it right.  Right enough to be acceptable to the casual eye.  Not perfect, but acceptable.

    Is that the end of the errors knitting this beautiful stitch?  No chance - the risk is still very very much there.  But if I can avoid the blinding frustration that grows with each error maybe I can avoid pitching this project deep into my trash can.  It wouldn't be the first time I pitched yarn, a partially complete project and the pattern into the garbage.

    I secretly planned to maybe make this same sweater for my grand daughter at some point.  I really love the look of the stitch, and I love my grand daughter beyond all measure, BUT, no second sweater in this pattern for me - I also love my left thumb because without it - knitting would be very very hard.

    Finally, there is one other small problem with this stitch.  Besides eating up a lot of yarn (which I was prepared for), it eats up lot of time.   A . LOT . OF . TIME.  In the picture above, the middle white markers show where I began 5 days ago.  Each day was about 4-5 hours of knitting.  That is 20 to 25 hours of knitting on a child's size 3T sweater.  While I was knitting the gauge swatch I could see it was time consuming - but I figured that as I got better with the stitch, I would get faster ... and I did.  But now I see how grossly off I was on time needed.  I still have 4 inches of body to do beyond the lower edge - and 2 full sleeves!

    When I researched this pattern in Ravelry I saw comments like "beautiful," "worth the effort," "heirloom piece," and "appealing."  The other observations were "tedious," "time consuming," "patience needed."  All the statements are true.  My mistake?  I put more importance on the positive statements rather than the negative ones.

    And my thumb?  It cramped a bit this morning.  A sign that I am pushing it too much?  You betcha!  So today I am blogging about knitting and not knitting - giving this vital appendage of my body needed for knitting - my left thumb - a day off!

    Did you know that if you are a touch typist like me - 
    the left thumb does absolutely nothing when typing? 

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