If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Like Project Runway, Only More Stressful

Dear Kay,
QUICK! The Noro afghan auction ends within the hour! Go make a last-ditch bid, everybody.
I thought I’d have a free and clear 16 Olympic days to crank my test-knit of the Perfect Sweater, but I have had to put it on the back burner for a minute to finish My First Commission. For a very demanding client.
Clif, Mr. Six. (For those following Clif’s budding career as a photojournalist, here are some recent works which reflect his interest in TV, Legos, rodents, and his brother.)
The boy is driving me nuts about his dragon sweater–you know, the one that adapts the intarsia dragon from Cristina’s baby jean jacket project in our book? I’ve never had such a situation. For the past four days he has asked me about it on the hour, every hour, wondering when it’ll be finished, how many stitches I have left to do, never letting an opportunity pass when he can say, “Isn’t it ready YET?” He’s going to be an excellent lobbyist someday–the perseverence! The relentlessness of it all! The corner-her-in-the-kitchen-until-she-stops-fixing-supper-and-works-on-the-sweater persistence!
The thing is, he wants it done yesterday, yet he doesn’t care how the thing looks. Really. It just doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care whether it has sleeves. It doesn’t need a collar. The dragon doesn’t even need an eyeball, never mind the cute little embroidery doodads I was planning to add to cover up my crapulous intarsia. When he told me that he really didn’t need sleeves, I said, “Well, we’ll need to put some armhole edging on the vest, you know?” to which he said, “No way.”
While he’s at school I’m sneaking in a steam blocking. He wouldn’t care. And I just can’t stand to let the holes at the edges of the dragon go unrepaired. He wouldn’t care. And I am going to give that dragon an eyeball. But I may just let this go.
Look at what I discovered during my mattress stitch sew-up:
That blue stripe? The one that is seven rows long on the right, and five rows on the left? This would normally send me into a trough of despair. But hey–who cares? The Client won’t!
So. The end result is going to look nothing like what I intended, but The Client will likely be very happy. All I can say is: be careful what you wish for, if you’re wishing that your children would pester you for a handknit sweater. This is worse than ants in the kitchen.



  1. The Client will love it. I do, too. It’s adorable. Santino et. al. would bow down in awe and admiration. At least you don’t have to knit a purple novelty yarn bag that promises to look like a Wookie who took a wrong turn at the hair colorist. Good luck! It’s going to be great.

  2. No sleeves? Makes sense to me. A photojournalist needs to have his arms feel free for all that, uh, camera arm action.

  3. Sounds like a client I sometimes have at my house!
    Is it ready yet?
    Is it ready yet?
    Is it ready yet?
    Is it ready yet?
    No. Soon.
    When is soon?
    This week. Sunday.
    SUNDAY! Awwwww….that’s forever!
    I am going to have to swipe your genius again–that dragon on the front is fantastic. BoyWonder wants a vest–but a vest with a dragon…..that’s almost as cool as Pokemon. Spiderman even.

  4. Who needs sleeves when you have a DRAGON on your chest?

  5. The First Law of Motherhood…the things that make people capable, functioning adults are the very same things that drive their mothers CRAZY when the children are young. Persistence? Intelligence? Artistic skills applied to inappropriate locations? Budding chemists that mix together all the shampoo and shaving cream in the house? Incipient engineers that take things apart and put them back together with pieces missing?

  6. PS – Just checked the closing price on the All-Noro Afghan. Over $600…that will help a lot of people, y’all!

  7. Ah, LOVE the brother picture. And you know all those intarsia ends are designed for weaving such a way that tightens up the holes, right? right! Then when you block it, it looks Perfect.

  8. Clif is so cute!! Love the sweater and the eyeless dragon LOL. I am sure Clif will start singing Puff the magic dragon for his talented mother when the sweater is worn for its inaugral debut!! Keep us updated!

  9. I actually had to look up from my Olympic knitting long enough to scowl at my older son (“why aren’t you knitting on my blanket? you never knit for me!”) and husband (“you never knit for me, either!”). The fact that son was holding recently completed Squarey and husband was wearing recently completed socks did not seem to deter them one bit.

  10. At least your Client doesn’t burst into a fit of weeping when you tell him no, Mommy hasn’t made him a sweater to replace the beloved Dalmation sweater he outgrew two years ago. (Hello! inexperienced knitter + intarsia dalmations = psych ward).

  11. I’m impressed that you cook supper.
    That’s it.
    You continue to amaze me.
    She knits, she writes, she publishes
    AND she cooks meals.
    Just so impressed by that.

  12. I wonder if there’s a six year old counterpart at school who has been told of this impending dragon-themed article of clothing and is waiting to be impressed. I’m also wondering if there is a girl involved. One on whom he wipes gross things, but who nevertheless might find him intriguing with a dragon splayed across his chest. But then I don’t know six-year-olds except that I once was one.
    Great job, btw. I don’t intarse, so I can’t even begin to critique your work fairly. Looks great to me!

  13. It’s a great sweater. I have another “be careful what you wish for” kid — while his sister hardly wears my knitting, my son wore last year’s sweater EVERY single day in December. So, I nicely knit him another for Christmas, so he could have a change. Un-uh — he wears the new sweater EVERY single day. The old one is currently clean & waiting on his top bunk.
    Kids . . .

  14. Just to let you know, the Noro Afghan is coming to live with me! Hooray! I’ll always let you come visit it. And you know, that dragon looks terrific. I’m still thinking I need a knit-yoked jean jacket.

  15. Well, Ms. Shayne, I think the blue stripe is perfect inspiration. If the boy notices it at all, just tell him that the rolling blue represents the undulating sea on which the dragon is riding. Personally, I think it’s another example of your innate creative brilliance. Anyone can be symmetrical (is that the way it’s spelled?). It takes an artist to deliver design that’s evocative of nature!
    love and best,

  16. I love The Client’s photos, particularly the one of the Hooded Brother, who appears to be in pursuit of The Client.
    Petty as it may be, I was pleased as all-get-out to see your wonky row. It’s nice to know that even knitting goddesses mess up. Makes me feel so much better about my own wonky knitting.

  17. W/R/T that brother picture: Nan Goldin’s got nuthin’ on Clif. Can you say “Cindy Sherman” and “Untitled Film Stills”?? Man-oh-man. Can we stand another Clif with a BFA in Photography from the vaunted Rhode Island School of Design? I’m reserving a room for graduation in 2022 NOW.

  18. YOU MUST GET IT FINISHED and this is why. Yesterday, as I was leaving school, I saw your second born. He admired my handknit Kira shawl, but only because I made him admire it and promise to send along my compliments to the chef. DID HE?? He clearly had much more serious things on his kindergarten mind. He could barely give it a look. He had Sometihng to tell me.
    C: Guess what?
    RLS: What?
    C: My mom is actually (and he did use this adverb with a bit of shock in his voice) finishing a sweater today?
    RLS:Really, which one?
    C: (I don’t have enough time to type every detail of color and yarn and stuff) …dragon…blue…stripes…
    RLS: OH YES! I know that one. Is it the one that is part jacket?
    C: Yes, and she is finishing it today.
    RLS: Wow, how do you know she will be finished?
    C: She said she would.
    NOOOWWWWW, I must admit that I did not run down and interrupt the divine Mrs. H while she was teaching today, but, tomorrow morning I have a free moment while my cherubs are in library (libarry, if you are in grade 2) and I think I will have to go and see if there is a dragon swimmming anywhere in the vicinity of C’s classroom.
    I will be looking…I might bring my camera…
    PS I once knit a striped sweater for a child and it was not until the boychild was WEARING it that I noticed three orange stripes to the left of the v-neck and two orange stripes to the right. It was quite a Knitting Moment of Shame.

  19. My little client was crazy about the blanket I finished for her Sunday evening–the first item for my Olympic Finishing Challenge. Its been in the works since October. She loved it so much she took it to bed with her Monday. And about midnight…threw up all over it.
    Poor baby, she felt so bad. So, now its very clean and very blocked (wet-blocked, forget the steam this time) and very beautiful.
    I should add, its made of Cascade 220–a very PRACTICAL yarn, as it turns out.
    Please show a pic of Mr. Six in his sleeveless sweater!

  20. The Dragon! He will not be able to FLY without an eyeball! Bam! Right into the Mountain. Yes, definitely, give him an eyeball!

  21. Pestering you to stop cooking dinner and get knitting? What an angel. It is quite the opposite in my house…

  22. Looks like I have to hurry up and knit a stockpile of garments for my little niece before she starts to learn to ask for them!
    Have them all on standby just in case.


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