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Never (Ever Wever) Wash It

Dear Ann,
The Blogger’s Canon of Ethics states that if a blogger shares her marvels and blessings: the intricate lacework that catches the sun just so, the well-scrubbed children heading off to do their charity work, the homemade biscuits cooling on a vintage plate, the tiny terriers romping on windswept beach–well then, the blogger is duty-bound to publicize a few of the things that aren’t working out quite so well. If you’re going to blab your prouds, blab your sorries. In the spirit of living up to my ethical obligation to confess wrongdoing, I give you:
This matted tangle, composed of highly compressed wool and kid mohair of the finest quality, for which I paid full price, used to be on its way to being a Best Friend cardigan by Twinkle. You will recall that I was making this for Carrie when we were at Rhinebeck. Last weekend I decided to git r’ done. All that was needed was a quick wash n’ block to see if I could get the thing to expand a little before sewing a few short n’ chunky seams, putting it on my girl and snapping some self-satisfied photos in an idyllic setting.
I was cocky. I had been having great success using my little Euro-washer, a front loader that uses about a half-cup of water per load, on the “handwash” cycle, to soak my knitting and spin most of the water out before blocking. I had just done it the day before with my Red Scarf 2009. No more tedious soaking-in-sink (requiring removal of dishes), followed by rolling things up in towels to squeeze out the water. The gentle washing machine would barely jostle it, in cool, harmless water, and spin it to damp-dry perfection.
It didn’t work out that way. It came out of the washer so boardy that even if I sew it up for a much smaller girl, it’s just not what comes to mind when one thinks of “garment, human”. I’m trying to console myself thinking about what a sturdy little jacket it will make for Olive. Warm enough for picturesque romping in snowdrifts! Mohair is her favorite fiber (next to Number 2 pencils)! I can make trivets out of the leftovers! Still, not a very satisfying conclusion. When you’re knitting a dog sweater, you want to know that early on.
Moving on.
Red Scarf 2009, done and blocked (using aforesaid washing machine, prior to The Mishap). I highly recommend not skipping the blocking stage for a mistake rib scarf like this. It really opens up and looks a lot more interesting when it’s blocked. Off it goes, with a gifty or 2, to the Red Scarf Project. (If it’s getting too late for you to knit a scarf by December 15, it’s not too late to send them a giftcard, or other collegiate goodies, to tuck in their care packages for college students who have aged out of foster care.)
Random Photos

On a quick round-trip to Washington, D.C. last week, my knitting matched the pavement as I waited for the Bolt Bus back to New York. (This is the Noro log cabin I started in a fever last summer. I’m still knitting on it. God’s perfect bus knitting, just not very newsworthy.)
Looked up from my knitting to see this.




  1. Oohhh, oooh, ooooohhhhh. My mouth gaping open, covered with mouth at the blocking disaster. Sad. Ok, I’m moving on, you obviously have. Bad, Euro washer, bad!

  2. I have one that looks like that, but it was for a child and had some wearing before disaster struck. Can you reuse the yarn after? Maybe it wouldn’t shrink any more?

  3. I’m so sorry about Carrie’s sweater. Once, before we were married, the husband decided to be helpful and do my laundry with his. Needless to say, my colleague’s 10 year old was quite pleased with the sweater haul! It still looks a tad large for Olive. On the other hand, the red scarf scarf looks great!

  4. The lot where you waited for the Bolt bus is right where my trapeze classes used to be – a few weeks earlier and you’d have been kept occupied by watching us fly through the air. (I knew they were good people when I found out one of the instructors is a knitter, too!)

  5. Biscuits? I missed photos of biscuits?

  6. Oh dear. :0(
    Find some different, better, yarn for that cute on Carrie cardigan ? Or has the love withered completely ?
    My knitting is not going well, considering that it’s something I’m good at. Supposedly. Oh well, that’s life.

  7. “Blab your prouds, blab your sorries” is sooooo
    I am thinking of “Bolting” next time I go see my DC daughter. (Can’t Bolt for the LA one!)

  8. Gasp. Out loud.
    Followed by sigh of commiseration.
    Followed by “ooooooo!” at sight of scarf. Lovely scarf! Perfect scarf! Moving on!!
    But the pavement/blanket shot is the icing on the blogpost cake, I think. The knitting gods certainly let loose with the occasional dope-slap, but sometimes temper it with a special little treat…like suddenly, for just a moment, making the environment match a work-in-progress.

  9. oh no — but you did a great service for knitters everywhere – I know when I do it I won’t feel half as bad because Kay did it too πŸ˜‰
    Olive is going to be the most toasty dog in the area wearing that and so stylish for her too …
    and when that log cabin is done you must go back and take a pic there again with it all laid out and matchy

  10. Ouch. That kind of thing just … hurts. Your poor sweater!

  11. In knitting as in life, in the words of John Denver(of all people):
    Some days are diamonds, some days are stones
    Sometimes the hard times won’t leave me alone
    Sometimes a cold wind blows a chill in my bones
    Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.
    Best wishes as you navigate the holidays.

  12. I love love love mistake-ribbed scarves, but for the very LIFE of me I can’t get happy with a bind-off! What do you do? I’ve tried with a bigger needle, a smaller needle, with a sewing needle, but it never is as “bendy” as the cast-on.
    Any ideas? Anybody? Yes — you, there, in the back?

  13. Think patchwork dog bed. Put it on Carries lap, then put Olive on it. Have the kids sleep with the bed, then put it in Olive’s crate.

  14. Oh no! Oh, the blocking mishap suuuuuucks.
    I live in FEAR of blocking mishaps. Have had a particularly brutal one where my sweater grew about four inches all around. It was a very nice sweater that went to a friend of mine. Sigh.
    And, can’t wait to go to DC. Will be there for Christmas. YAY Bolt bus!

  15. Oh, felted doggy blankie… That should have been a cool girl sweater…
    I just pulled a ton of cotton fluff out of my dryer, having washed and shrunk (on purpose) some knitted bits of denim. Now I have to sew them together, but I’m sort of scared to see the end result. It certainly got softer, and shed like craaazy!

  16. Oh, no! Olive will love her new sweater, but poor Carrie and poor you! However, I lovelovelove the scarf!

  17. Bummer about the unintended felting, but I said very complimentary things about your creativity when I saw the scarf. I even showed it to my husband, who does not knit, and he said it was pretty, too. (That’s like AMAZING in guy-talk, right?)

  18. Just wanted to say that the sweater episode really, really sucks. I remember way back when (early 90s), I knit a sweater for DS in La Gran Mohair (no idea why since he was 2 years old). DH helpfully put it in the washing machine after DS wore it ONE TIME, and that was that. Definitely stiff as a board and useless. Makes you wish life had an “undo” button!

  19. Hey good news for us procrastinating- or busy with Stuff-types. The Red Scarf folks said we can mail them in as late as the first week in January. Spread the word!

  20. When I first saw your felted disaster, I thought it looked just like the hat I just finished! πŸ™‚
    Even felted knitting can be cut, and sewn, and repurposed!

  21. Aw man, I thought it was a picture of Olive, and I thought it was pretty cute.
    Loving the Mistake Rib, as ever. That one never fails to cheer me up.

  22. Oh. Dear. Just for the record, I’ll tell you that Rowan Kid Classic does that too. Shame you didn’t have Olive then as my red jacket would really have suited her. I’m sure Olive will love her new, super-luxourious felt bed though. x x x

  23. and one day I might be able to spell luxurious….

  24. dang.. hate it when that happens.

  25. Brutal, just brutal. May need an Olive picture to recover. Have you read her “Olive the Other Reindeer” yet?

  26. I do know Olive doesn’t celebrate Christmas, I was thinking of it more as a name-based literature event.

  27. I too have a lovely front loader which has been terribly gentle on my handknits and “special” items. I thought, as you did, to save a bit of time and dish removal and put a couple favorite NONhandknit wool sweaters in and let my wondrous new machine do all the work for me.
    I now have very warm, slightly felted, more fitted sweaters to wear. Luckily they were largish men’s sweaters, formerly used as the top layer in multi-layer outfits perfect for sub-zero temps. And luckily, ahem, we are having sub-zero temps today.
    So, now you get to knit another sweater for Carrie. Lucky you. And lucky Carrie.

  28. I really love those colors! What yarns did you use?

  29. I have a “Bad Drawer.” When I seem to have lost my Knitting Mojo, and the only thing to do is Go Outside and Eat Worms… it goes into the Bad Drawer. Opening the Bad Drawer months later can be a bit of a shock!

  30. I’ll say I’m sorry about the matted pretty expensive object. Because I truly truly am….
    But what grabbed me most was the Noro log cabin on marble. WOW – visually a feast even if it IS garter bus knitting!!!
    It’s gorgeous.

  31. Oh, my goodness, Kay…the very same thing happened to me with a sweater I had spent time and treasure to knit for my grandson-to-be! My husband tried, with all his might, to pull it back into shape, realizing with a heavy heart that…”what mechanical manipulation has joined together, no man can pull asunder”…I did, however, rescue the buttons!! We are enjoying a snowy, blowy day here in WNY…just perfect for knitting!

  32. Ouch. My little front loader doesn’t get used to wash the handknits, but when I’m done washing them I load them into a lingerie bag and put them in the washer’s final spin cycle. I’m loving that, because it makes them much dryer than the towel method!

  33. Some people fear steeks. Me. . . I fear felting. Intentional or not. So sorry. . .

  34. I had the same thing happen the one and only time I tried to make anything from Twinkle. It was a disaster; never again.

  35. I had the same thing happen the one and only time I tried to make anything from Twinkle. It was a disaster; never again.

  36. I had the same thing happen the one and only time I tried to make anything from Twinkle. It was a disaster; never again.

  37. So sorry about your knitting disaster. Holy crap, that’s bad. I’m also sorry that it makes me feel better about my knitting disasters, but it does.

  38. Sorry about your washing machine incident. Mine usually only involve a missing sock (store bought in origin). Now, I am absolutely smitten with your Noro Log Cabin photo and yarn. Can you please share what color you’re using (or is in that picture)? Noro always seems to be a bit ‘bold’ for my DH’s taste and I think this might slip by.

  39. Oh man.

  40. I, too, like the Noro log cabin, and was really impressed with the juxtaposition of your knitting and that colorfuk sidewalk.
    However THE most impressive thing was that you looked up from knitting that lovely to see the world’s biggest–knitting needle!
    Knit ON!

  41. may your hanakkah bring peace
    with in your hearts and the lights
    bring a joy to the year to come

  42. At least the scarf is FABULOUS!

  43. I appreciate seeing the “sorries” too, but it would take a lot more than one accidental felting to bring you down off the knitting/blogging pedestal I have reserved for Mason-Dixon. πŸ™‚
    I love the photo of the log cabin matching the sidewalk.

  44. Kay, you were in Washington? And with a Noro log cabin that matched the pavement? (Gorgeous shot.) Next time come by train and check out the holiday model trains in Union Station. Hope you had a good trip!

  45. Oh, the lows and the highs and the sighs and the grins in this post. (love Olive’s favorite fiber outside of No. 2 pencils. cracked me up.)
    That scarf is pure loveliness and will be soooo appreciated. Thank you, my dear.

  46. I’ve given up on the “wrap in a towel” part and have instead created the “mad dash from sink to cellar” to get my freshly soaked item to the washer for a spin. Do make sure the cats are not in the area. Need I say more?

  47. Kay, I’m all a-giggle over your Bolt Bus Stop photo – I walk over that little “bridge” all the time! Those benches are strangely comfy to knit upon, especially when it first gets warm in the spring.

  48. Could you share the name of the yarn for your mistake rib scarf? Also, which pattern. I’ve seen several different suggestions. I want to make a scarf like this one! So very pretty. Thank you.

  49. I, too, would love to know the yarn you used for the mistake rib scarf. It is beautiful!


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