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The Cure for Finishitis: Actually Finishing

keava08laststitch.jpg
Dear Kay,
Well, I know you’ll be relieved to hear that last night, at 9:48 pm CDT, in my favorite knitting chair, I finally arrived at the mountaintop. There it is: the last stitch of Alice Starmore’s Keava.
For the record, I started this sweater in March 2004, back when George W. Bush was our president, back when our trade deficit was huge, back when we were in a two-front war in the Middle East–O how times have changed!
When I started this sweater, I gave myself the outlandish deadline of 2008 to finish it. As I read through the moldy archives of the blog to see what my frame of mind was when I began this project, I’m surprised at how chipper I was, how ready for adventure–how foolhardy and YOUNG. Who was that starry-eyed knitter? What was she thinking?
Things I Have Learned While Making This Sweater
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1. The Pleasure of Finishing Something. It is an excellent feeling to finish a Fair Isle sweater, even if it’s one that I will be wearing only under extreme weather conditions. It’s funny: this morning we have freezing temperatures, which are unusual this time of year, so Mother Nature provided me with an unexpected chance to give Keava a test-run. With unwoven strands trailing from the cuffs, I took the fellas to school. I am telling you, those Shetland islanders have it figured out: this yarn is remarkably lightweight, spongy almost, and insulates better than any other sweater I own. Despite the stranded knitting, it’s not heavy. I felt like a toasty, loud-colored sheep this morning.
2. Getting Better at Something. This is a big if obvious one: by the final sleeve of this Keava, I was clicking along much faster than I did at the beginning. I worked half of that last sleeve in one day, as we watched the final nine holes of the Masters which I usually watch and wished for Tiger Woods to win, even when it was clear that he wouldn’t. At this point, I’m pretty sure he is a cyborg.
By the way, golf may be the perfect sport for a knitter. You watch, you knit, you accidentally fall asleep or otherwise enter a fugue state, yet you never really miss much. All those whispering commentators. I’m zoning out right now, just thinking about them.
3. Patience. I think this is the single biggest lesson of this project for me. There are a number of irritants about Fair Isle. At first, things like switching out yarn colors, knitting with two hands, and following a chart gave me moments of high annoyance. But something very interesting has happened in the past FOUR YEARS of intermittent knitting on this project: I stopped worrying about the irritants and realized that this is just a different sort of knitting. There’s speed knitting, and there’s this. It doesn’t appear that I’m going to stop knitting anytime soon, so what’s the problem?
4. I Think I Want to Make Another One. This may be akin to the sort of conversation I had after walking a half-marathon with my friend Frannie. “There’s one in Phoenix! We can do that one next!”
Haven’t been walking in Phoenix much.
Love,
Ann

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63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. Beautiful sweater. Regarding point 4.: How you feel like knitting another one is similar to how you feel in the first days after giving birth. I’ve heard women say they feel like having another baby right away. Hopefully one comes to one’s senses before this happens. In the case of your sweater though, follow your urge and knit on.

  2. You don’t normally knit with two hands?!!
    The sweater is GORJUS!!

  3. Totally like having baby #2. And you have that kit ready to go, which is sort of like having the changing table all set up, so why the heck not? Git on it!
    Clink! So proud of you!
    xo Kay

  4. Keava is inspirational! You are inspirational. #3 is my favorite subject when it comes to knitting and that’s the process. All the things you mention are part of the process and when you gave into it and realized that, enjoyment came your way. If you decide to do another it will take you less than four years…I promise!!

  5. I decided to have my second child not long after my first was born. No regrets.
    That sweater is STUNNING. I’m sure you will not have any regrets either.

  6. Oh, you make me laugh! Congratulations on finishing that sweater. I am in awe.
    I was also knitting during the golf on TV, also yearning for Tiger to win and knowing he probably wouldn’t. And also falling asleep. ;-)

  7. Having a second child would definitely be easier. Congratulations! I fear I will never knit again.

  8. That is great! But didn’t one of the guys take a picture of you and your trailing strands for posterity?

  9. Your sweater is beautiful. I am also enjoying this recent bit of cold weather to wear the Tangled Yoke Cardigan I finished last night.

  10. Fashion show! Fashion show! We want a fashion show!

  11. I was watching the Masters and knitting as well. I was cheering for Imelman though, how many green jackets does one man(tiger) need? The sweater is absobloominlutely beautiful (or beauty-full as we say in Phil-uff-ya).

  12. PS I went and played the Font Game in the snippets, and got only 16 out of 34 right. At least I can identify wingdings…

  13. Yes, golf is the perfect sport for a knitter and the similarities are endless: dont’ talk to a knitter when she’s counting stitches, and don’t talk to a golfer when putting, just to name one.

  14. Last November I finally got the knack of stranded knitting with a yarn in each hand (after years of seemingly fruitless attempts) and immediately ordered two more Starmore kits. It’s so much fun, I felt exactly like a kid who’s just learned how to ride a bike– I want to do it ALL THE TIME.

  15. Beautiful! I’d love to see some modelled shots!

  16. Ha Golf! My boyfriend put golf on this weekend while I was knitting and I quickly made him change the channel. Maybe I was wrong. Next time I’ll let him watch for a while to see if I can get in “the zone” and knit like a fool.

  17. Keava is beautiful.
    As for half marathons. I’d be more than happy to walk a half marathon with you. I’m running two this year, and am just happy that I am in shape enough to make my way through!

  18. the font game went a bit wrong and skipped me from font 1 to font 8 (6 missed chances!) but even so I got 17! Not that I’m going to do it again, oh no. No. Honest. Well, perhaps.
    4 years is some time. I would not be that patient (actually, I would not like anything I started 4 years ago, and would have ditched it long ago). Well done! Hurrah! And all that sort of stuff. But do the pattern for the next one yourself, it will be even lovelier and in a myriad of greys and storm colours….
    your fellow grey and murk admirer x x xx

  19. Congratulations! It’s a lovely sweater and I totally appreciate your knitting-lessons.
    Just imagine what you might learn if you knit another….

  20. Stunning sweater. Louisville’s half marathon is Saturday, April 26; part of the frenzy known as Kentucky Derby Festival.

  21. Phoenix has been experiencing triple digit weather.. no humidity doesn’t make a snit of difference at that temp. Stick to the Fair Isle. It’s gorgeous.

  22. Oh, thank you. Your comment about golf inspired me: http://nograndmother.blogspot.com/2008/04/crafting-skips-generation.html

  23. Congratulations. I’m looking forward to the modeled shot.

  24. Congratulations! You should post your photo on Ravelry. Unless you’re worried about ruining your rep as a Rav underachiever. ;D

  25. Really beautiful! I like your thoughts on patience!

  26. Lovely sweater…definitely put it back on during happy hour and toast it with something celebratory! I was also knitting during the Masters/baseball game Sunday afternoon. They both work well for knitting with men/boys in the room. I must say though, most of my knitting is late night with Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Did you hear him sing the National Anthem last night in two-part harmony in PA? It’s going to be an entertaining week.

  27. Fabulous sweater. Come to Canada to wear it. We still have snow.

  28. Nicely done!
    i finished a…um…a sock? but i have a big project n the works! its a umm….ahem…a mason-dixon bib. Maybe i should join that underacheivers club.

  29. Phoenix is expecting a(nother) high of 94 today. Don’t wear the Fair Isle in the half-marathon.

  30. Congratulations! It’s gorgeous. And for a second I thought you were talking 1994/George HW, but I guess that version of the Prez and his War were over by then. Wait, let’s not think upon that.
    Huzzah again!

  31. Congratulations on finishing your gorgeous sweater. I love the colors and it definitely is not “loud” (at least not to me in my color comfort zone.) I’m so glad that you were able to wear it this morning (it was 30 at my house). Today is traditionally the last frost date in TN so it had better start staying warm around here. I can’t wait to see fair isle #2.

  32. Congratulations on finishing this wonderful sweater. I’ll never do one, but I love to cheer on you Knitting Type A’s who accomplish great things over the course of 4 years. It’s beautiful. Good knitting.

  33. Beautiful, congratulations. After knitting all of Barbara Walker’s 63 squares, I feel like I can knit anything (sewing it up is a whole nother thing though).

  34. OMG, how could you root for Tiger and not that beautiful boy from Nashville with the hair and the GRIN!
    Your sweater is almost as beautiful as the azaleas at Augusta.

  35. Oh Ann! It is beautiful. I remember back when you started it and thinking “I’m glad it’s Ann and not me.” I’m so impressed with the sweater but more impressed that you finished it! Congratulations. I can’t wait to see it in action.

  36. Oh and now I don’t feel so bad about still on sock#2 from last January (2007) – Lovely sweater and not loud at all, beautiful, gorgeous, but I-I-I’m still not ready for fair isle. With ya on the 1/2 marathon – did the St. Jude in Memphis 12/06 – supposed to do it last year – but we’re still walking 4mi every Saturday (almost) so that counts for somethin!

  37. We need a modeling shot! That’s the best way to get the whole colorway thing.

  38. in the immortal words of Popeye, “Oh my gorshk.” That is a great photo of a beautiful sweater. Congratulations!
    Can we see the inside?
    Oh, and that is the best description of watching golf I have ever heard. :)

  39. Wow ! Well done ! It is a most beautiful, expertly knitted, finished object.
    It’s a finished object !
    I’m in awe. Fab !

  40. Oops ! Sorry. I’m out of practice, or something.
    I’m sure I only clicked once …

  41. I remember when it all began. I cain’t believe I’ve been hanging out in this wonderful basement of yourn so long. Will you bring me back down a ginger ale after you store Keava in archival tissue and head back down?

  42. Yay, Ann! *gets out pom-poms* Sweater is fab, marvy, far out, and all them other weird 60s and 70s superlatives. Makes me want to try colorwork, which I have never attempted beyond stripes. The awsomeness knocks my socks off.

  43. congrats on finishing Keava – um – I’d love to get my leftovers back – any chance on giving me the ETA?
    all best to you -
    mhv

  44. It’s just breathtaking.

  45. Ann, what a beautiful sweater. Four years was worth the wait. It’s gorgeous.

  46. Dear Ann,
    M computer opened up to the shot of the last stitch, and I thoght: Ah, yes! Such a beautiful sweater you’ve made!
    My forways into 2 color strand knitting were years ago, with some Christmas stockings. I couldn’t get the stitches to lie flat; they pulled. Santa didn’t care, but Yours truly did.
    As for the changing times, well, the more things “change”, the more they stay the same…
    Thank you for sharing your accomplishment. It’s quite inspiring.
    LoveDiane

  47. Fabulous! Love some Starmore Eye-Candy first thing in the a.m.!

  48. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! I am in awe of your tenacity in completing a sweater over this amount of time — I understand it but I am in awe. Someday, I aspire to count an Alice Starmore colorwork design among my FOs. My hero!

  49. Nice work! Now, we want to see it on you of course.

  50. WOW, that is beautiful! I am full of admiration. And to think I have had a simple striped blanket (not even a very big one) lying around for even longer than that!

  51. Congratulations. Being really finished with a project of that magnitude is truly satisfying.

  52. Ann
    What an accomplishment. Amazing. You are a fantastic knitter. 4 year project? I won’t even think it…….of course I am a monogamous knitter pretty much.

  53. I endorse each and every one of the lessons you claimed to have learned, including, and perculiarly enough, the last one. As I close in on the last stitch of my own fair isle odyssey (a solveig hisdal), I am plotting my next, how did you put it? Mountaintop? Perfect. The Matterhorn, or maybe, Everest himself!

  54. it’s lovely! well done you for finishing it!

  55. it’s lovely! well done you for finishing it!

  56. The sweater is lovely. Congrats for finishing it!
    As another commenter mentioned, it’s getting warm here already…so if you do plan to walk, make sure it is in the dead of winter…but don’t plan on wearing your sweater. :)

  57. Congratulations! I too had already declared (as part of my knitterly New Year’s resolutions) that 2008 would be the year I finished MY Starmore that I cast on back in 2004. However, it has yet to make it into the rotation, which is not a good sign with the year almost 1/3 gone! I’m going to take heart from your finishing fortitude and stay with the plan, though.

  58. Oh my. I am So Jealous.
    It is perfectly gorgeous.
    Congratulations.

  59. Beautiful sweater and beautiful philosophy.

  60. Your sweater is beautiful. Congrats on finishing!

  61. I knit while watching golf too, especially on Sunday afternoons. I was actually rooting for the cute blonde kid, but he choked during the last round.

  62. Many, MANY congratulations! How exciting. You just finished a four year birth.

  63. That is an incredibly stunning sweater! Don’t forget to leave instructions in your will for incinerating both the sweater and the pattern!
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