The Finishing of Fern
August 30, 2005
In case you haven’t been keeping track (you always keep track, dontcha?), today is the first Official Turn-in Day at the Tennessee State Fair.
The good news is that
I have something to turn in.
Fern is finished. Done. Mercifully done. Utterly done. Beyond done. Super Done!
Let’s Go to the Videotape
When last we visited this subject, I was still shaking with fatigue after weaving in all the ends. Embroidering the fiddleheads loomed like a slug on the doorstep: not too appetizing, no getting around it. It’s not like I’ve embroidered anything since I was 10 years old. Whose idea was this, anyway?
On the flight home from LA, I settled into seat 10E, directly next to a woman and her five-month-old girl. I descended into a deep and profound fugue state and embroidered my way through Large Baby Girl’s four-hour trip over the Rockies. I’m not saying she was screeching like a rusty wheel and throwing her clammy Elmo at me every two minutes–OK I am.
Now, I know you’re thinking, Aw Ann, it’s a baybee. You just went cross country to see a baybee, remember? You love baybees, right?
Shyeah. Lemme tell you, I was a regular W.C. Fields by the end of this trip. Focus on the fiddleheads, I muttered to myself. Little ones and long ones and mostly, warbly ones. I chain stitched over the seams, over the front and the back and at one point on Large Baby Girl’s Pampers.
(By the way, I continue to be unable to get true colors here. The fiddleheads are actually a perky greeny yellow and yellowy green, as this shocking flash photo shows.)
The Devil Wears Buttonhole Bands
Next excruciating yet life-affirming step: the slightly stretched buttonhole bands up the front of Fern. What continues to puzzle me is why, when I was the one driving this bus, when I was the one making up this sweater, why did I include the slightly stretched buttonhole band? Maybe I thought it was just the perfect little detail? Maybe I’d forgotten the last time I made one? Maybe I’m a total doofus?
As I futzed and sewed and re-sewed the six-stitch strips of woe, I listened to The Devil Wore Prada, the roman a clef by Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s former/disgruntled/not-a-novelist assistant. Night fell, and I kept at it, wallowing in the delicious awfulness of poor Andrea’s boss from hell.
When I was in LA, I sought collar advice from Julia. She studied Fern and suggested a wide Peter Pan collar to balance the volume of the bottom of the sweater. Excellent advice and clearly the thing to do. Next time, I will do this. But, feeling the pinch of time, I figured I’d just pick up a bunch of stitches and end up with a big collar. Well . . . a wide Peter Pan collar takes more engineering than I could manage on the fly, so I just did a spread collar that I made up as I went along.
One of my few superstitions is never to buy buttons until a project is finished. Bad mojo to have buttons on hand. Besides, there is nothing more tasty than going to the fabric store, laying your precious handknit out on the table, and holding up button after button.
These buttons violate a sacred rule: buttons must be made of shell. I always use shell buttons (it’s Mother Rowan nagging me). But these buttons looked to me kind of like frog eyes, and frog eye buttons seemed appropriate for a sweater of the woods. Besides, they didn’t have any darkish shell buttons so what was I going to do?
So that’s my tale. Despite the bellyaching, I have loved making this sweater, and I’m sad that it’s done. A real end-of-camp feeling. I’m off to take Fern to the Fairgrounds. A thousand thanks to everyone for their advice and counsel. It’s a much better sweater because of all the brilliant/clever/subtle suggestions.
Which gives me an idea. Stay tuned, y’all!
Lots of love,