Monday, November 14, 2011

The Swatch

I had a really laid back attitude as far as Rhinebeck prep was concerned this year. I didn't have a buying plan, didn't have any specific itinerary. Honestly? It's been a rough year, and I was just happy to be going at ALL, you know? Me and my peeps, going to spend a weekend with people who know and understand the awesome power of yarnz.

It was going to be great! I was happy and at peace. Right up until Phil asked me what I was knitting for Rhinebeck, 17 days before the big day.

At first, I just dismissed the idea. Knitting something (aka a sweater) in 17 days? Was he mental? The schedule was crazy! I was starting a new job! Things were just WAY too hectic. 17 days to knit a sweater? There was just no way, right?


I mean... it just couldn't be done.

Could it?

The thing is... you can't just plant an idea in a knitter's head like that and have nothing happen. In knitterly parlance, by asking someone what they're knitting for Rhinebeck, you've effectively drawn a line in the sand. You've challenged the knitter's skillz, dedication, and fortitude. Shit is going to go down, one way or the other.

And so it went. Fester, fester, fester... the idea of knitting a sweater in 17 days gnawed at me. I was as excited at the prospect of a good knitdown as I was pissed at Phil for even suggesting it in the first place. And to add insult to injury, it's not like I had nothing appropriate in the stash. I just happened to have 11 skeins of Shelter lying around, earmarked for Gudrun Johnston's Kerrera, for the better part of a year.

- "OK," I thought. "I'll knit a swatch. See what happens. Maybe the Shelter won't be a good match for the pattern. Maybe I won't get gauge. And that'll be that. It'll be out of my hands."

Naturally, I got gauge. On the first try, no less, which never happens. The knitting fates were just laughing at me at this point. I stared at the swatch. Tumbleweeds blew across the living room floor. Time seemed to stop. There I was, on the cusp of knitting greatness. Deep down, I knew what I had to do. I couldn't back down. I couldn't let it go. I was Knitter, and I would knit a sweater in 17 days or go crazy trying.

And for the next 16 days, I knit like the wind, people. Every chance I got, I knit. A few rows here, a couple of stitches there. By the time we left for Rhinebeck, I had completed the body and 2 sleeves, but I still had to finish the hood, make the pockets, and knit about a zillion miles of edging (in double garter stitch - aka endless time suck stitch - no less).

Luckily, Kate understood. Without my even having to say anything, she sensed my desperation, my knitterly angst, and graciously offered to drive the entire way to Kingston, all so that I could maximize the knitting time. (Or maybe she just didn't want me driving her swagger wagon. Heh.)

When we got there, while other knitters were whooping it up with cocktails around the pool, Kate was right there with me, giving me oxygen offering words of encouragement while I knit furiously into the night. Eventually even Kate couldn't hold on any longer, fatigue got the best of her, and still, I kept knitting.

I wove in my final ends at a few minutes past midnight, the night before the festival. I sighed in relief, and not a little disbelief too. I had done it. I had knit a sweater in 17 days. Wow.

Bug eyed and stiff from hours of intense knitting posture, I turned off the lights and shuffled off to the bathroom, my sweater grasped tightly to my bosom. Again, pride washed over me. I had done it. I put on the sweater I had knit in 17 days, and...

It looked like ASS.

Crumpled, egg-cartony, misshapen ASS.

My eyes widened. I may have sobbed a little. I had hoped it wouldn't come to this, but it was just staring me in the face at this point. I was going to have to block the sweater.

What was going through my mind as I dunked the sweater into a warm bath at half past midnight the night before Rhinebeck? Resignation. Acceptance. Maybe a touch of insane hope as well.

- "Shelter isn't really a dense yarn. It'll probably dry quickly" I thought as I blindly patted it into place in our now pitch black hotel room, as Kate dreamed happy dreams beside me.

It didn't quite work out that way, of course.

The next morning (you know... 6 hours later?) it was still wet as... um... water. I wore it to the fairground anyway, draped over my arm when I became concerned it was going to stretch beyond repair if I continued to wear it. But eventually I came to my senses, mostly because I was tired of lugging a heavy, dripping, slightly smelly sweater around.

Still. I knit a sweater in 17 days, y'all. I rule.

Besides, she may not have been ready to make her debut at Rhinebeck, but she's still a damn fine sweater. Which is good enough for me.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!


Anonymous said...

It's been a while since I've laughed so much with a blog post. The sweater turned out lovely you knitting ninja! And I totally get what you went through--when people say things can't be done I'm known to say, a la Barney from How I Met Your Mother, "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!"

kate-the-enabler said...

I've got to make a huge confession here....
It's WAY fun to be your enabler. I really enjoy the knitting adventures that I get to sidekick along for, and this is absolutely one of the great ones ;). You can drive the swagger wagon ANYTIME (I a) wanted you to get the sweater done. and b) was enjoying driving the van with adults in it for a change and c) wanted to see how hard driving all the way there would be (not, it turns out).)
You knit like the wind, and I think it's hysterical (and kind) that you blocked the darn thing in the dark, on your own FPS. (I might feel a little bit bad about that too. I shoulda stayed AWAKE!!)
and FWIW -
I like the smell of wet wool.
BOOYAH! to you :) (and that formal photoshoot? Sooo purty!)

cauchy09 said...

what an excellent sweater! you are my knitting hero this week.

sapphireblue said...

Geez! I can't believe you got it done. Very hilarious posting. You've made my day.

Mrhide said...

Ah! see how could a motivator I am?! That crazy-happy jumping picture is just da bomb.

never doubted it a second!

Vicki Knitorious said...

That's amazing and gorgeous and... GO YOU!
; )

Maryse said...

Félicitations Tara! Vraiment en 17jours c'est plus qu'impressionnant! Très beau en plus! Y a de quoi être très très fière! Magnifique!

Anonymous said...

I am totally cracking up. :) I did the same thing, also with Shelter, but it was a basic roll-neck pullover for my 11-year-old son, finished at 1 a.m. the night before we went to Ireland to visit my family. Mercifully, I didn't have to block it, or I think I would have cried, but of course, the first time I had to wash it and dry it in Ireland, after a week of its owner rolling in haystacks and grass, being chewed on by puppies, etc., it sort of blocked itself and is now verrrry long from hanging on my aunt's drying line. Ah well-- the boy is 11. He'll grow. :) Your Kerrera looks gorgeous, by the way. Wish I could knit a sweater in 17 days. :)

Knit and Purl Mama said...

I can't believe you knit that in 17 days! That's insane!

That's too bad it was still soaking wet and you couldn't wear it all day. It's stunning nonetheless!

margaux said...

seventeen days. bravo! haha your blowdryer to the sweater reminds me of the time I had to clean my undies in a hotel room in Rome before going to the Vatican... that's for another time tho.. ;-) it's a gorgeous sweater.

Dawn said...

I love it, and the color looks great on you!

Jennifer said...

I'm cracking up at the thought of you walking around in a wet sweater, dripping trails of water in your wake, and shivering 'cus of the damp and the Fall weather, saying, as your teeth chatter, "b-b-but I kn-kn-knit it in s-s-sevent-t-teen d-d-days!" (Tres great sweater, by the way).