On Irregularity and the Rejection of Certain Notions
January 17, 2006
I don’t often write here about Hubbo, mostly because he likes to keep a low profile. I’m not saying he works for the CIA, or the NSA, or Wal-Mart, even. But he may be the last human who can qualify to be attorney general; he’s upstanding, he is.
He is literally upstanding, too, about 6’3″ of upstanding, which is why (I’m embarrassed to say) I’ve never made a sweater for him. The problem with potentially handknitting something for Hubbo is that not only is he on the tall side, he’s on the warm side. He is the warmest human I know–a marvel of metabolism, toasty when I’m frozone, coatless most of the time. Like a six year old. He’s just not a very good target for someone who likes to make sweaters.
Until now. I accidentally knitted a sweater for Hubbo.
I started this sweater last summer, the Summer of Green, when I decided I had to knit a Teva Durham sweater from Loop-d-Loop or die. I’ve run on about Teva before. Knitting from her book would put me in her world, which has to be a very interesting place. I wanted to diminish my stash, and I wanted something simple enough that it would suit my dissolute summer knitting habits.
Here’s what came of that:
Pattern: The Irregular Rib Raglan with Toggle (page 71, for you Teva freaks)
Yarn: Rowan Magpie, Tarragon color. The Gregory Peck of yarns, really. If Atticus Finch didn’t live in Alabama, and he was chilly enough that he actually needed an irregular rib raglan with toggle, he’d pick Magpie. Rowan’s decision to discontinue Magpie ranks right up there with the theft of the Nun Bun. Low! Cruel!
Why It’s EZ: One-size-fits-all pattern. I figured if the winsome young thing on the cover of Loop-d-Loop could wear this, so could the not-really-so-winsome I. More on this later. And it’s knitted in the round. What could better suit a dissolute summer knitter?
Let’s Go to the Videotape
This sweater was a ton of fun to make: it hits that sweet spot of rhythmic knitting combined with clever bits that keep you on your toes. But it was not without its weird moments.
After chugging up the body, which toward the top takes a freaky turn when you’re doing one set-in sleeve and one raglan with a flappy deal on one side, it’s time to sew the shoulder seam. (There’s only one. How irregular!) Because the ribbing is irregular, the ribs don’t particularly line up, which is fine because the word irregular is right there in the name of the garment and I would have been bummed to have this tidbit too orderly. But it is HIGHLY irregular when you somehow turn the tube inside out and do the seam inside out. This is BEYOND irregular; this is “incompetent.”
This really is inside out, no matter how many times you tell yourself it isn’t.
Here we see the dark moment of the soul. It is at this point that you doubt the whole project. The set-in sleeve looks so emaciated that there’s no way it’s all going to hook up. And the raglan sleeve looks five times longer than a sleeve ought to look. Teva Durham is completely nuts. I am filled with loathing.
But she’s not nuts. She’s clever. She understands ribbing, and stretchiness, and the fact that a human inhabiting a sweater can significantly change its shape.
When I finally got all the sleeves and raglan flaps and collar all done, I tried on this sweater, and it was just too much for me. I love the irregular ribs, I love the irregular sleeves, but it’s just a pound and a half of sweater (I weighed it), and I’m a half-pound sweater kind of girl.
I decided to see just how one-size-fits-all this sweater really is, and Hubbo gamely agreed to try it on. There are a dozen reasons why I thought he would hate it. It is not gray. It is not thin. It is not symmetrical, and for a guy who thinks a lot about symmetry, this should have been a dealbreaker.
“It’s cozy,” he said, after I jooged the sleeves and discovered that it fits him fine. “You made it. I like it.” He looked down. “What is this thingie?”
Now. You notice how Son David has artfully placed a hand over Dad’s chest. No, he is not offering fealty, nor is he propping up his father. He’s covering up THIS:
This toggle is a bone of contention, let me tell you. Hubbo can take some assymetry, but he cannot take a toggle. The toggle is O’er The Top; the fact that the flap that the toggle is supposed to hold together is actually sewed together means that the toggle is not functional. It is decorative. And we cannot have something DECORATIVE ON A MAN SWEATER. The man does not want to be photographed in a handknit which includes a toggle.
I can’t say I disagree, really. It’s a fine sweater, toggle or no.
Off it goes, to the toggle trash heap. Which is kind of a shame, because in attaching the toggle I discovered a new craft for us:
Leatherwork! We can tool our own belts!
PS Today is David’s tenth birthday. Here he is with small Clif after he and their four friends collected all the snow in Grundy County during their sleepover on the mountain. (Deliverance Meets Lord of the Flies–you weren’t kidding.)
The snowball ended up where all great snowballs end up.