Am I Blue
October 21, 2004
Of course I’m blue–didja hear about the Yankees? But, being a resilient person when it comes to sports, what’s been getting me down is Soccer Pullover. The KayCam reads the soccer ball motif as white, but trust me–it’s a lovely shade of baby blue. Which would be fine if soccer balls were baby blue, but they’re not. And what are we trying to achieve, in intarsia, if not accuracy and realism?
I’ve spent yesterday and today trying to get right with God about this. What befuddles me most is that I have done two previous projects mixing the darkest indigo shade of denim with the ecru, without the slightest tinge of blue creeping onto the white. My conclusion: it’s the washing machine.
In the basement of my old apartment building, we had three banged-up, well-meaning, coin-op Maytags. When you turned the dial to ‘hot wash/cold rinse’, they really tried, but it generally worked out to ‘warmish wash/coolish rinse’. And they were big. They held a lot of water. The whole procedure, from filling up the tub to final rinse spin, took about 30 minutes. Maybe clothes didn’t get too clean, but they didn’t get much of a chance to dye each other, either.
With the new apartment came a very intimidating German washing machine installed by the previous owners. This machine has nothing on its dial as namby-pamby as ‘hot wash/cold rinse’. Temperatures are calibrated in degrees, and those degrees are Fahrenheit, liebchen. Being all about efficiency and thoroughness, it holds a gallon of water and runs for a full 1 hour and 54 minutes. So when I set the Uberwascher to 170 and let it go through its paces, the effect was literally to steep Soccer Pullover in concentrated blue dye.
Afterwards, I did get out the Clorox and the Q-Tips. I did dab a little bit on the back side of two of the white sections. I tried to channel my inner Denim Person (did you see those sweaters in Denim People that were “decorated” with bleach—-shriek!). But my nerve failed me. I decided I could live with the blue, and the hope that if I keep up the 2-hour washes, it will fade over time.
But now that I’m right with God about that, I need to get right with Kate Buller about this:
Or rather, Kate Buller needs to get right with me. The trouble with this pullover pattern is that the sleeves are not set in. With drop shoulders, the shoulder seam hits the wearer partway down the arm, adding to the length of the sleeve by an amount that is hard to determine before you sew the seam and put the person in the sweater. With set-in sleeves, you can check that the length is okay by measuring the wearer from wrist to armpit; with drop-shoulder sleeves you don’t know exactly how much overhang there is going to be. So when Kate told me to knit the sleeve to 10 1/2 inches, I took it on faith. I added 15% for the denim’s shrinkage, bound them off, and flung them in das waschmeister.
When Joseph tried on the body and I held up the sleeves to it, it was obvious that they were too short. So I had to unravel the bind-off and add some length. I’m not worried about the color difference. The yarn is the same dye lot, so with a couple of washings it will even out. To amuse myself I put in a band of 2 x 2 ribbing to match the trim on the sleeves and edges. (Yes, this was amusing, I tell you.)
So that’s my story. I’m not happy about any of this, but it’s still going to be a cute sweater, and more importantly, after a year or two of Joseph rolling around in the gravel in it, I’m going to get what I long for: faded, ratty, ragged denim yarn to rip back and recycle into something totally rootsy.