I’m joining the start-over club!

I'm joining the start-over club!

It’s funny what a photo can show you. When I took the pic for last week’s blog post of my yoke laying flat, it was to accompany my paragraph about how I was chugging along exactly as planned. But what I noticed as I was posting it was (despite all my planning about how to get the stitch pattern to align correctly at the front neck) I had completely neglected to worry about how the stitch pattern aligned at the raglan seams. As a person who struggles with perfectionist tendencies, it’s funny that I didn’t notice or think to worry about it sooner, and it’s impossible to ignore now that I’ve seen it. So all last week I struggled with it. You’ve all made an incredible impression on me — all of the fearlessness and determination and good-natured ripping that’s been going on in the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 — and so there’s no way I was going to leave it. I didn’t even mind the idea of ripping back and restarting, in principle, but what was bothering me all last week as I thought about it was that I didn’t want to start this sweater over.

For me to knit an ivory cable sweater that isn’t the Aran sweater I’ve been talking about for the last five years is just silly. (I’ve already knitted a cardigan instead of that longed-for pullover.) And I also don’t think it’s the very best use of the Pebble, which is too good to waste on the wrong stitch for it. But with Slow Fashion October upon us, I’m more mindful than ever about not knitting a sweater just to knit it, or because it might be a cute sweater, or because there’s a knitalong going on. I’m determined to only to make garments that both A) I desperately want to exist an B) will have a distinct impact on my overall wardrobe. This ivory cable sweater was meeting neither of those criteria. So I listened to my apathy and decided to scrap it — and it truly felt like a #rippingforjoy decision, as Felicia calls it. The question was: What to do instead?

I spent several days pondering it, going back to my original thought of a light-colored, lightweight, lightly textured pullover, looking through the blog and Pinterest and stitch dictionaries seeking inspiration for what to do with this ivory yarn, and coming up empty. I kept finding myself wanting to incorporate a second color — a pinstripe? Mosaic stitch pattern? Stranding of some kind? Saturday night I found myself pawing through my stash bin, and my hand kept going to the two skeins of black Pebble in there. Karen, focus! Ivory Pebble, not black. Frustrated, I literally laid down on the floor of my little workroom, stared at the blank ceiling, and asked myself what my closet was really missing. Again my mind went to that black yarn and the idea of stripes. STRIPES! Not just any stripes — black and ivory awning stripes, à la Debbie Harry. I hopped up and pulled up the Fall ’16 Mood board I’d recently made to look for that photo I’ve loved for ages, and found it and a Jenni Kayne striped tee sharing space on the inspiration board I’d been neglecting to consult. The answer was right there the whole time.

And I have to tell you, the instant I settled on it, I could not wind that yarn and cast on fast enough. (I even already had a swatch!) The yarn is so happy now — the fabric is amazing! — and this is a sweater I cannot wait to be wearing.


Speaking of things photos show us, Jen also made a decision prompted by her photo for last week’s post. Fisherman’s rib in-the-round is sort of like garter stitch — it leaves a mark where you switch from knitting on one round to purling on the next. She hadn’t noticed it was causing two of the ribs to sit awkwardly close together until she took that pic of Jon wearing it. So after some discussion and deliberation and swatching, she’s settled on “half-brioche” which is a version of fisherman’s rib that includes a resting row, which should obviate the issue. I love her new swatch even more than what she had going — and the hope is it will also eat less yarn, be less onerous knitting, and lead to a less heavy garment. So we’re both starting over!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Panelist check-in

31 thoughts on “I’m joining the start-over club!

  1. I just finished a bold black and white striped sweater last week! I knew it would be a great wardrobe staple for my closet since it’s such a fun classic combo. I love it when the yarn tells you want it needs to be.

  2. Yesterday evening I was thinking about Jen’s decision to start over. It dawned on me that since I steeked I cannot start over even if I wanted. Thankfully I think I won’t have to although this morning I will be re-sewing on the collar for my sweater since the first go-around is too ripply. Self designed sweaters for me have a lot of reworking so I’m happy to see knitters I admire on your panel having to do the same thing!

  3. Every member of the panel has ripped their sweater back because they felt it could be better. It is a inspiring.

    What a great lesson for all makers and slow fashionistas!

  4. Ah, the lying on your back staring at the ceiling moment, I know that well!

    I was intrigued by your use of Pebble in a cabled pattern, it looked more suited to the yarn than I would have thought. But, I think using it in stockinette the way you’re going to now will really let you enjoy the qualities of that beautiful yarn.

    I’m enjoying this unexpected turn of events in the form of so much ripping! I rip back a lot and I sometimes have the sense that others don’t and, just like with so many of the stories we tell ourselves, I appear to be wrong! I’ve only been an observer in this KAL and I’m still gaining so much from it. Thank you for running it and creating a platform for people to share more about their knitting process.

  5. I love the stripes! And since you love it too, it will be entirely worth the start over.
    Looking towards Slow October I appreciate your comment about “I’m determined to only to make garments that both A) I desperately want to exist and B) will have a distinct impact on my overall wardrobe.”
    When knitting is your self soothing and creative outlet and brain chillaxer all at once it can be easy to make for making’s sake instead of for something truly beautiful and functional/necessary.
    It reminds me of a quote I read from Natalie Chanin: “If it is not exceptional, then it already exists; and no matter how ethical, organic or recycled the product is, it simply mimics or equals something already available, something that has already been produced, no matter how poorly. In terms of ecology, it is adding more stuff to a world already overburdened.” It’s kind of tricky when you’re just learning and you don’t know how much you’ll love it until it’s partially made and you’ve put so much time into it. But it’s amazing that so many have decided to frog entirely and love it instead of just continuing the not so loved because they’re mostly there. Good job all of you!
    “There is more than enough stuff in the world already – the idea of adding anything more that is not outstanding, seems unconscionable.” N.C.

    • However this is a bit dispiriting for novice knitters. I don’t think I will ever be good enough to knit anything outstanding, I’m just knitting for the enjoyment of making something. Perhaps I should just go back to shop bought after all.

      • Oh gosh, the enjoyment of making is a reward in itself! I haven’t seen it in context, but I think NC is probably talking there about manufactured goods (even small batch) more than DIY. But I think “outstanding” is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve only been knitting for almost five years, but I remember the first few superbulky cowls I made in the late evenings after long days at work and thinking they were pure magic. There was nothing to them, but they were outstanding, to me, each in their own way, but mostly in the simple fact that I made them with my own two hands.

  6. I’ve always thought ripping back was better than telling myself I could live with mistakes, bad judgment or poor color / fiber choices. I hate wasting yarn, especially handspun. And knitting a piece that just sits in my closet or gets donated because I don’t wear it is a waste. Good on you, Karen, for recognizing the problem early on and dealing with it!

    • I definitely don’t want to put any handknit sweater into my closet that won’t get worn. This one definitely would have, but since I have an LL Bean ivory cable sweater and an ivory cable cardigan already, it wasn’t going to add any new dimension or options to getting dressed. And I don’t want to knit a pointless sweater! So maybe the design will come back in a different yarn at some point.

  7. daaaaaang I was into your cable sweater but I am INTO this striped top!! this is going to be a dreamy knit for you. that picture of debbie harry is killer!! I want this KAL to be another month long lol

  8. I arrived at the divide for my latest topdown, and realized the drape and ease I wanted was not there. So I started over with a bigger needle and the next size up. If it’s not right, there’s no sense in continuuing. I wouldn’t go so far as believing this applies to everything in life, but certainly it applies to knitting. It is one of the wonderful luxuries of an endeavor that needs little more than strings, sticks, and a bit of thought.

    • Not to mention how reversible knitting is (and crochet)! I feel like this doesn’t get mentioned enough sometimes, as we fall prey to the outsized influence of sunk time costs and resist therapeutic frogging. I do a fair amount of other crafts where the points of no return appear much sooner and much more dramatically (granted, once you’ve cut your steek, you’re committed). With my knitting/crochet, I am so enchanted by the luxury of being able to redo it until it’s right with little-to-no wastage of materials — why the heck wouldn’t I leap at that chance?

  9. I am a serious cable lover, but those the stripes are working up something wonderful in those colours. This KAL is producing some gorgeous sweaters, but it’s also turning out to be a master-class for knitters to listen to their gut instincts. When you feel that something isn’t quite right, it probably isn’t. That’s when you have to do what you did: shut out the noise and let the yarn find it’s truth. :)

  10. This is going to be a great sweater, Karen. I’m going to start referring to this KAL as a RAL (ripalong).

    Seems to me that this process is also teaching us a good lesson in learning how to trust our intuition. I know this is something that I struggle with a lot, but am starting to accept the fact that if I am asking myself questions about what I am making, I most likely already know the answer and I’ll be happier if I just act on my instincts a bit sooner.

    • Exactly. Whenever I had a few minutes to knit at night, I kept reaching for my Channel cardigan instead of this. Now, that is a hard project to compete with, for sure! But I don’t want to knit anything that I don’t want just as much as that. If I’m not motivated to knit something, it’s pretty much always because I’m not motivated to have the thing. So important to listen to those cues!

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  12. You’ve inspired me to rip back the sweater I’ve been working on, and start again. I’ve had a bottom-up raglan on the needles for aaaaaaages, and have ripped back the yoke FIVE TIMES, because I can’t seem to get the fit right, even though I have this nagging feeling that the whole project needs a restructure. Ack. It’s time to just suck it up and do it. Looks like I’m joining the KAL after all!

  13. And you already had a swatch! Win #1. But did you make a swatch with both colors, and wash and block, to make sure the colors don’t run together? Not trying to be a downer; just looking out for you before you do all that knitting!

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  17. Hello! I didn’t know you were Fringe too…..There was something about that black stripe sweater on your IG posts – it looked happy to be even when it had no arms yet! I have found that we who create are entering into a contract with All who have created. A humbling experience if one pursues it wishing to learn about all of that process. The stress of needing to be perfect is unworthy of this journey and an affront to the act of creating….it is the imperfections that give us, well everything. They teach us what we will know have true value. I alleviated this pressure for myself by making a deliberate mistake somewhere in the first 30 rows of my project. Oh, it’s not perfect: now I can get on with what I am supposed to be learning while making this particular lesson.

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