Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Odd Ball

I have a trip to Britain planned for mid-September. However, this blog post is not about that trip. It is about the "Traveling Sweater" I have been making to take on the trip.

This sweater has all the qualities necessary to make it a good travel companion. It is 100% wool, which makes it toasty warm. It is knit with worsted weight yarn, which means it will be lightweight enough to fit in my backpack. And it is a deep blue colour, which should hide any "travel grime."

I started this sweater over a month ago, which gave me enough time to knit away at a leisurely pace and still be finished well ahead of my departure date. Nothing sucks the joy out of knitting like rushing to meet a deadline. Ellen, my dear friend and fellow fibre enthusiast, was here for a visit last Saturday. I excitedly pulled out the partially completed pieces of my sweater - the body up to the arms, one completed sleeve and the start of the other - and spread it out on the island in the kitchen to show off.

It was A Disaster. I had only worked on this sweater in the evening. What I had failed to notice in the low light of evening, but was now glaringly obvious in broad daylight, was that one of the skeins of yarn was a different shade than the others.

It was probably good I discovered this while my friend was with me so she could talk me off "the knitter's ledge." After a restorative cup of tea I decided to phone the vendor. She is a lovely lady who runs a small family business. They raise sheep and have the wool made into gorgeous yarn - yarn I have knit with several times before. The company shall remain unnamed because I do not want to do anything to harm their business. It's tough enough making a living these days without someone bad-mouthing your product online. Mistakes happen, and she was very gracious about it and has refunded me a large portion of the cost of my order.

Still, there remains the problem of what to do with the sweater. You can see from the picture
that the finished sleeve matches the bottom half of the body. So does the second sleeve that is now in progress. Which leaves me with two choices.

1. I can knit on and have a very odd looking sweater. This has some advantages. For instance, I will be immediately recognizable to any of my readers in Britain when I am wandering around being a tourist. It also has some disadvantages. Such as the fact it is incredibly ugly.

2. I can rip out the yarn that is the wrong shade and reknit the top half of the body. This has some advantages. For instance, I will have a sweater I would actually wear. It also has some disadvantages. Such as the fact I am leaving in under three weeks and redoing a major portion of the body will mean I go from knitting at a leisurely pace to rushing to meet a deadline.

I have been in denial for the past few days, knitting on the second sleeve and pretending all is well in my knitter's universe. But that sleeve is nearing completion and I am soon going to be forced to choose. Opinions?


  1. Finish it and only wear it in the evening? ;)Honestly, I don't know. Love the color, or should I say colors! If it's going to bother you the way it is, you'll have to fix it. Just knit like a fiend. I'm sure you can do it.

  2. I say just pretend it's intentional. People will think you're the next design star!

  3. I like Aneta's first suggestion--and I like the sweater as is. It's unique.

  4. If you finish the sweater, could the dyer dye it again for you - perhaps one micro-shade darker?

    My only other idea is to finish the sweater and wear a coat on your trip!


  5. @Aneta - You and I think alike! I am leaning toward knitting like a fiend.

    @Tana - More like the next design loser! :-) It really does look odd when you see it in person.

    @Ric - Unique. Yes, it is definitely that! :-)

    @Lisa - I seriously considered dying it after I finished knitting it. It is still an option, especially if I don't have enough of the lighter coloured yarn to finish it with.

    @kate - But the real question is, would you wear it where you live, or only when you were far, far away from home? :-)

  6. Been there, done that! You have my sympathies. I remember the moment I discovered it on my project, and went through the same denial as you. I overdyed my entire garment when it was finished, but it didn't really cover the dividing line between the two shades. I think if it happened to me again I'd reknit to get it right, even if that meant I couldn't wear it as soon as I'd wanted to.

  7. I'm too much of a perfectionist to be able to enjoy wearing a sweater with that kind of a difference(notice I didn't say "flaw"). It sounds like you are, too.

  8. If you know you will never wear it like that, rip it back. If you don't have it finished in time, I'm sure you have other lovely knits to wear. There is no point finishing it, packing it to take to the UK and it staying in the case.

  9. Swiss embroidery along the line?Or make an I cord or small knitted cable the same as the sleeve and sew it along the line?

  10. @natureismytherapy - Thanks for letting my know your over dyed garment didn't work out. That was my plan if I just kept knitting. After I got back from my holiday I was going to try to dye it. But what you described is exactly what I feared - that it wouldn't get rid of the dreaded line. I am sorry this same thing happened to you!

    @Joan - I can let a lot of knitting errors go (I have a cable sweater that proves my point!), but yes, this is probably beyond my tolerance level.

    @Stitched Together - I think I am going to buy a nice fleece shirt, one that is designed for staying warm. If I don't finish the sweater in time then I will have that as a back-up. I own many hand knit sweaters, but not a single one is good for traveling. They are almost all too bulky to pack. They were all knit with the Canadian winter in mind, not for the space they would take up in luggage. :-)

    @Judith - Those are great ideas, but I think it would take me almost as much time to do them as it would to just rip out the offending section. I am very slow at I cord.

  11. I would keep knitting and call it a 'quirk'! But then, I like my clothes a little bit on the different side :)

  12. Knitter's ledge! Love it ;) Me, I'd probably stitch huge half lazy daisies hanging down from the dividing line ... quick to do, original, and the 'stripe' of different colours in the embroidery should hide the divide.

    Where in England will you be. Should I be looking for a woman with a unique blue sweater?

  13. Just wanted to add that just because my overdying didn't work doesn't mean that yours won't. The type of yarn matters a lot. I was using SWTC Phoenix, a tape yarn made from soy, and those dyes you can buy in the supermarket. If you're using wool and good dye you might get much better results. ~Kim

  14. I'd swatch the two and do a test overdye. I did with with two shades of off white and a pot of tea that worked out ok. Such a lovely blue, though.

  15. @Jazz - I am already so quirky I hate to add to it! :-)

    @Annie - I like your daisy idea, but it wouldn't make for a user-friendly travel sweater. I need something very basic. I will be in London for a few days, then in Scotland on a walk and to see Edinburgh. I won't be so easily recognizable now though because I ended up ripping out the top of the sweater. Where are you?

    @natureismytherapy - Thanks for letting me know about the dye. I have ripped back and am redoing the offending section though. I am a glutton for punishment!

    @Mary Lou - I have ripped it out. I just couldn't live with the two tones. When the sleeves get added on it was going to going to be even stranger if I left it the way it was. Sigh...

  16. It looks like a design feature to me. You couldn't have put the darker skein at a better place if you'd be aiming to.I wouldn't dream of ripping it.

  17. @Jean - I have ripped it. I was afraid it was going to reflect badly on all Canadian knitters if I landed on your shores with the sweater left as it was. Of course, now I am realizing I might not have enough yarn and could be forced to use the darker yarn near the neckline. In which case I might as well have left it the way it was. Good grief!

  18. I'm in Wales Kristie, but very close to Chester ... I shall wave in your direction as you travel north from London ;D Hope you have a brilliant holiday x