Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. Recently I found myself in the unaccustomed position of having Finished Something. A sweater, no less. Small, to be sure, but a sweater.
I have had completion problems lately. (Perhaps you’ve noticed that, while waiting almost a year for that wonderfully morose Olive cardi I’m meant to be finishing up for you. You can wear it on overcast days that are a touch too chilly for your fab—and I note, FINISHED—new jacket from Habu Textiles.)
But babies will be born, and they must be knit for. This is Scamp, from Rowan’s Pipsqueaks book. It is for the first grandchild of a dear friend in North Carolina (let’s just pass over the fact that I HAVE A FRIEND WHO IS NOT THAT MUCH OLDER THAN ME WHO IS A GRANDMOTHER–shriek!). This baby arrived in July 2003. He has been biding his time, sweater-wise. Growing into that perfect sweater age.
Scamp has a tortured history. Which I will reveal to you now.
Textured knit-and-purl stitch patterns were meant for Rowan Denim. After a few washings, the higher terrain gets whiter than the lowlands, to beautiful effect (an effect that I have great difficulty capturing on the KayCam).
For some reason, I have a horrendous time with these simple, charted patterns. They cannot really be memorized. A purl is either one stitch to the right or the left of where the purl was on the row below, and there is no way of telling except by looking at the chart. In this particular pattern, in the center of every row, the zigs and zags suddenly reverse direction, for a mirror-image effect. (Oy! Like I needed THAT?) Of course, I don’t need to tell you (but I WANT to tell you) that on the wrong side all the knits are purls and all the purls are knits. This is easy to understand, but for me, hard to execute. Especially hard to execute in dim light while watching a reunion of folksingers on PBS that was exactly like the film A Mighty Wind, except they weren’t, you know, kidding. (The Smothers Brothers! Glenn Yarbrough! Green, green, it’s green they say…)
What is the solution to this difficulty? For me, there are two options: quit, or cheat. On Scamp, I did both. I put it aside for months after starting it, and then when I finally finished it, I cheated. Do I have to spell it out for you? When I finally arrived, exhausted, at the little sleeves, I subtracted the zig-zags and just did the furrows of moss stitch. Hey–the kid is a year old. He’s gonna notice?
See how the pocket flap has 4 buttons, instead of the 2 shown on the pattern? I did that on purpose, because I didn’t like the pattern’s use of velcro to keep the pocket from gaping open. (I think I deserve extra credit for making twice as many button holes.) And see how the pocket flap is the dark ‘Nashville’ shade of Rowan Denim, and the rest of the sweater is the softer ‘Memphis’ shade? That was on purpose, too. Just ’cause I felt like it.
I had to sew the buttons on twice. The first time around, I used a shiny blue, vintage set from Grandma Mabel’s Great Depression Button Box. They faded to murky yellow-gray when I (compulsively) washed the sweater one last time.
This turned out to be good news, because I found perfect, pre-faded blue ones at the sewing/notions department at Hildreth’s, America’s Oldest Department Store of the Founding Fathers on Main Street (where else) in Southampton, New York. I sewed them on, threw Scamp in a box with a ‘Congratulations on Your (Sort of) New Baby’ card, and ran to the post office. Goodbye! Get out of here! Go wear yourself out getting drooled on!
I promise you I am almost done getting the Sew-Up Afghans ready for their close-up.