What’s in my knitter’s toolkit? Denial, apparently.

In my last post, I showed you some progress photos of my Callum – a linen tee with drop shoulders.  It was clear from the photos that it is too big.  Really too big.  Not only is it too big, but the arm scythes are cut too low, meaning it can only be worn over a tank. I repeat one of the photos here which shows the bad fit around the back of the arms:

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After publishing the post, I had the very good idea to transfer all of the live stitches to a spare piece of yarn and wash the unfinished project.  Then I put it in the dryer (something that still makes my heart stutter, even though I know I can do it with linen). I carefully steamed down the edges of the sleeves.  Many of you left encouraging comments on the post, suggesting that a good wash and a steam would make a big difference; you are right, they did make a difference, but mostly in the look of the linen and the neatness of the edges.  It had no discernible effect on the fit.

Others mentioned that you don’t want a fitted linen garment for the hot days of summer. And, guess what?  We were having a heat wave in England last week.  I sat, sweating in the heat, and I thought “Ease is good.”  I put the stitches back on the needle, picked the project back up and knit an entire other skein of the yarn – over 4 inches of body, adding two more sets of decreases.

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Why did I keep knitting when I knew something was wrong?  I don’t know – maybe I am delusional?  Or maybe one of the things in my knitter’s toolkit is denial?  Because the truth is that no matter what I do to the body of the tee, it is unlikely to change the fit across the back and the sleeves, and that is where the problem is.  How easy to think that if I could just finish it, the drape would magically fix itself.  Denial apparently also helps disguise the fact that I am knitting the 44 3/4″ size, in order to give me 3″ of ease, but it is actually measuring 50″ around (two sizes up from what I was aiming for), for almost 9″ of ease.  I did swatch; I swear it!  I don’t know why my swatch lied.

Not only that, but I am in denial about two of the issues that I worried about long before casting on – knitting this tee in the round, and the tendency of the yarn to bias (which manage to compound each other.) Knowing that these were both issues, I blindly cast on anyway, because…well, denial.  And the yarn was pretty.  And it looks nice in the pattern picture.

Maybe I should have waited to get some of this advice from readers:

  1. “It is way, way too big–and knowing linen it will not shrink that much. Either re-do the entire back or, as you said, throw it in the WIP basket for another time and go on to the jacket.”  (from my Mom)
  2. “Me, I’d make sure I have copious notes and photos, frog the whole damned thing and put it in a bag at the back of the closet for another year.” (from Susan)
  3. “The arm scythes are low and it looks like a baggy knit. I think it should go into the time-out basket, for an eventual frogging. I’d re-knit one size down.” (from Ann)
  4. “The lace pattern of the linen top is really beautiful. I agree with you about the back sleeves, though. I knit a cardigan once with sleeves that ended up looking a bit like wings and I found I never wore it.” (from Leah)

This last point, from Leah, really struck home:  am I ever going to wear it if I am unhappy with the fit?  And furthermore, her comment really targeted the defining issue – there is something about the sleeve, especially from the back, that is a problem to me.  I can fix this, but only if I frog and start over.  (The pattern and yarn are both very pretty; so starting over and making it right would be a good thing in the long run.)  That would mean figuring out what went wrong with my gauge (as other readers very kindly pointed out).

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What next?  Doug is away and I won’t see him for a few weeks.  Once we are both in the same place again, he can help me take some new modeled photos of it, with the extra length perhaps giving an indication of how the tee will drape.  I suspect that the only practical solution will be to frog.  I also suspect that if I do that, it will be next summer before I try to re-use the yarn.  Why not just frog now instead of waiting for the inevitable?  Because I still have a good dose of DENIAL, and I am going to keep it!

In the meantime, there is always the Falkenburg:

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Thank you so much to all of the readers who left comments for me.  You mean a lot to me and I am grateful that you take the time to leave advice, suggestions and good wishes.

8 thoughts on “What’s in my knitter’s toolkit? Denial, apparently.

  1. I like frogging now. It’s not so bad if you wind it directly from the garment to the ball winder. Then, as someone said, put away with copious note, measurements and needle sizes. When you take it out, there will be nicely wound cakes that look like brand new yarn. And then you start over, happily I think.

  2. Here’s what I have found by reading several knitting blogs/forums. Professional knitters seem to frog A LOT. And while they like it about​ as much as the rest of us, they do it anyway to fix issues that arise. So I have changed my mindset: 1) if it’s not right, I wont wear it 2) why put in the $ and time if you aren’t going to wear it? 3) just frog and fix – that’s what even the most practiced and gifted do. It makes me feel (in my own mind) like a better knitter.

  3. We all have denial in our toolkit, so you are in good company. But we can also learn by our mistakes. I’m much more open now to frogging, even if I’ve spent hours on a project, because I too have those garments that were just not quite right and I never wear them. The colour of that linen is gorgeous though, so I hope this top or another pattern makes good use of it someday.

  4. How about I corporating the lace into something else? How do you like the cap sleeves? Are they always going to be a problem, albeit a smaller and proportionally less annoying thing?

  5. In the past I have buried my head in the sand about project sizes as I am knitting along! I am trying to get my head around looking at it was knitting practice if I decide to frog and reknit. It’s a difficult one! I just gifted a shrug I finished three years ago to a charity shop. I didn’t measure as I went along. It was way too big. It (like yours) would not have shrunk to fit me. I loved the colour and the pattern and I had learnt a new technique when making it, but have never worn it as it looked like I was wearing totally the wrong size clothes. I take a little satisfaction (and hope) it will do someone proud when they buy it and the charity will gain a little from selling it.

  6. I know I’m always amazed at my ability to think “this time it will be different” when it comes to continuing knitting despite the fact that it is just…not working. Although hey, at least you decided to frog now instead of waiting until you’ve finished the entire top?

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