I'm one of those people that always looking for life lessons in my craft projects.
In fact, maybe that's my book title. Lessons in Craft : 25 Things Making Stuff has Taught Me. Or another option: Tales from the Craft Supply Store : Excuse Me, Ma'am, Weren't You Just Here Yesterday?
So before I get into the lessons, first let me throw this on the table: knitting a sweater has been on my list of things to do since I turned 23. If you're counting, we're coming up on SEVEN YEARS of setting and not obtaining a goal.
The only difference between 2008/every year since (including 2011 when I had so much time on hands) and now is that in 2014 I actually sat down and did it.
Lesson one : you gotta do the work.
I think it's also safe to say that after 29 knit blankets I was anxious to do something else. Enter the striped cowl. Enter this sweater.
I used Jane Richmond's Oatmeal pattern and Lion Brand chunky yarn in silver gray. The pattern was simple and the yarn was easy to work with yet I still ended up googling eight different techniques. Eight times I had no idea what I was doing until I watched (#thankyouyoutube) someone else explain it. A knitting pattern, if you haven't tried to read one, is like a different language. You need it translated to make any sense of it.
Lesson two : ask for help.
When I sat down to do this, I could cast on and off. I knew how to do a knit stitch and how to knit in a round. THAT'S IT. But I read through the pattern just one line at a time and learned how to do each technique as it was required. (This is exactly how I learned how to quilt.)
Lesson three : take it one step at a time or you'll overwhelm yourself.
And the result is a sweater...albeit a messed up one. Somehow I made the collar too big and the ribbing on the neck looks totally off (because it is... likely I had an odd number of stitches to start). The gauge throughout varies a bit. The sleeves ended up too large and sort of bell like which I think is due to poor counting and picking up extra stitches and probably a handful of other user errors including being awful at double pointed needles.
But again, here's the good news: it IS a sweater. It HAS sleeves. It HAS ribbing at the bottom! I properly added stitches to create the arm part. I understand how to purl stitch now. I get the concept of double pointed needles (though they are the bane of my existence). I fully respect that I need to focus more on keeping a consistent gauge. I also understand that I have to be precise right from the beginning (this is a weakness of mine). And I can (kind of) conceptualize how knitwear is made.
Lesson 4 : you have to actually go through the process to learn anything.
This is far from my best project ever but it's absolutely one of my favorites. Thanks to this project, I can read a bit more of a knitting pattern. I can purl! I can greatly appreciate the art of making well-fitting knitwear. I have a new addiction and something to build on.
Lesson 5 : it's totally okay to mess up that first pancake - you're learning.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the craft supply store.*
*another book title option.