The one where I can’t tell you about my knitting

You know how some projects start out with the best of intentions, but just seem… cursed from the start? Yeah. This is one of those stories.

Back around the beginning of November, one of my favorite yarn companies contacted me to see if I’d be willing to knit them a sample. HELLS YES, was my answer, not really caring what the project was, just wanting to have the opportunity to work with this company. Well, OK, I *did* care because I emailed her back and allowed as how I’d just about knit anything except a mohair clown suit. Fortunately for me, that’s not what this project was.

I can’t tell you what it was, yet, though, because it was in an as-yet-unreleased colorway. But that colorway is being debuted at a trade show this weekend, so in a week or two I’ll be able to show you some pictures. OH! Wait! I think I have a black-and-white teaser photo that lets you see neither the color nor the project. I’ll put that, and the rest of the story, after the cut. This is turning out to be a rather long post.

Hot chocolate and knitting

OK. So anyway.

I got the yarn – gorgeous, luscious stuff – and proceeded to swatch for the project. Swatched with the needle size given, even though I was pretty sure I’d have to go down a size. Swatched with the next size down. And the size after that. Still not getting gauge, which at 24 stitches over four inches, is practically for a sock weight. This is a sport weight. The ball band calls for a 7; I am now swatching with a size 5, which is what the pattern calls for. Still not tight enough. Go to a 4.

I cast on my 212 stitches on a size 4, and start knitting. The whole time I’m telling myself “this looks too loose, this looks too loose”… but I don’t have a size 3 in the right length. An inch is done. It really does look too loose. Knit another inch. Decide that I should listen to my inner voice and I lightly block it… I’m getting about 18 stitches over 4 inches. Waaaaaay too loose. See, for those who aren’t knitters but like math… 212 stitches when you’re supposed to get 6 sts/inch is 35.3 inches. 212 stitches when you’re actually getting  4.5 sts/inch is 47.1… or about 12 inches larger around than you need it to be. YIKES! Time to order the right size needle online. I rip it out, wait a few days for the needle to get here.

At this point I’ve had the yarn about a week, but am not worried. It seems like a simple enough pattern. Que music… WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!?!?!?!

So I get my new needles, and cast on again. Knit. Knit. Knit. It’s Thanksgiving; we go to Amy and Isaac’s for Thanksgiving, I get a lot of knitting done in the car. Knit knit knit. Get to the charted part of the knitting. “This is going pretty quickly! This is awesome! I’m totally going to finish this by the beginning of December and send it to them with plenty of time!”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

So here I am at the charted part of the pattern, and… it’s more… intuitive directions than verboten directions. I get to a part where it’s a little unclear, because of increases and decreases that’s happened, which is column one and which is column two. “No problem! I’ll just hop on Ravelry and see what other people’s patterns look like!” HAHAHAHA. Four people have made this pattern. One ripped out and didn’t take any pictures. One’s pictures aren’t close up enough for me to use them to help solve my question. And the other two… don’t look like each other. It appears that I could go either way, and whichever column I choose as column one will determine which of the photographed items mine will look like.

At this time I start to panic a little. Not panic that I might not finish, but panic that maybe I’ve gone stupid and can’t understand an easy pattern; panic that I’m not doing the right thing; panic that I might  not send this fabulous company the product they want. What if I choose one way, and they wanted the other way? Nobody else on Ravelry seems to have had any trouble with this pattern AT ALL. Nobody has written any notes that say “hey, I couldn’t figure out what THIS meant so I just did THIS” or “when doing THIS, do it THIS WAY.” Oh my god, I’ve gone dumb. I can’t figure out how to knit! I’ve turned stupid! I’m in a panic! Sigh. Did you know most of my internal panic is caused by overthinking? IT’S TRUE.

So I kept plugging along, and about the time I divide the pattern from back to front (I know, this is vague; I’ll be able to tell you more in a few weeks) I see that there’s a typo in the pattern charting. At least… I think it’s a typo. See, there are five charts in this pattern, and three of them are based on a 2/2 design. Suddenly, though, I have one chart that’s 3/1. The reason I think it might be a typo is, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but my copy of the pattern was bound incorrectly. This has since been brought to the attention of the pattern makers, and is fixed. So I’m hoping that the sudden switch from 2/2 to 3/1 is a typo, like the pagination. But… what if it’s not? What if I’m really supposed to throw a 3/1 set in there? “I know! Back to Ravelry! I’ll look at those other two projects!”. Neither one of them seem to suddenly break into 3/1, so… I’m choosing to believe it’s a typo. I hope.

You’d think this couldn’t get any worse, could you?

Except that it’s about halfway done with the front, so I’m about… 75% done with the whole thing. And I look at the amount of yarn I’ve used so far… and I keep eyeing the dwindling amount of yarn I’ve got left. I’m still not getting exact gauge; but it’s much closer. Instead of 24 over four inches, I’m getting about 22 over 4 inches. This is making the item about 3 inches bigger, overall, than the size they asked for. I start to guestimate that I’m going to be about 100 yards short. I start arguing with myself. “I can make it.” “No you can’t.” “Shut up, yes I can, I totally have enough yarn.” “No you don’t.” “SHUT UP.” “I am the smart one! You’re running out! Listen to me!” and so forth. Meanwhile, I also keep knitting. I’m almost done with the front. It’s the beginning of December. If I finish the back and get it washed and blocked in the next five days, I can get this to them with enough time that if they don’t like it, I still have time to reknit it before the first week of January. Except that … I really don’t have enough yarn.

Panic sets  in again. What do I do? Do I rip out and go smaller? Do I contact the company and ask if they have another skein? This is an as-yet unreleased colorway – chances are very slim that more than what I have here has been made. But if I rip out, I won’t have time to fix any mistakes if they want to send it back to me. I so want to please them, I really do love both their yarn and them as a company, how they run their business. I don’t want to disappoint them. I turn to my friends, who all agree that it would take less time to ask them if they have more yarn and get it sent, than it would to rip out and start fresh.

I decide to contact them.

They don’t have any more yarn.

This was all they dyed.

I take a deep breath and look at the other things going on around me. I look at the hat I’m trying to design to release in January, the complicated cabled sweater pattern I’m knitting, and the chemo cap I’m knitting for a friend. At the same time, I am making and packing soap like a fiend; dyeing and rewinding both December sock club and a gorgeous slew of Grey Gardens special orders; and firing the kiln as often as I can. Did I mention that this was about the same time that I got my new kiln? I think the same week that the kiln was delivered, I got the request. So about the time I really started facing trouble, was about the time I was loading the new kiln for the first time. Oh, and I think some holiday was just around the corner? I was going to have to decorate for that soon (needless to say I only decorated Aunt Gay and Uncle Joe’s; Tim and I didn’t even put up lights this year, let alone a tree). And some of you have heard part of this already – at the same time that all of this was going on, Tim’s truck died, then he got sick (about five days of true ick, plus about a week of coughing), then his car died, then I got his sickness (same sick schedule), and my car died. Of all of those the easiest to fix was my car – Tim was able to charge it off the dead truck (it’s engine trouble, but it’s battery was fine) and slap a new battery in my car. BUT STILL. At one point I was so nuts with things to do that Jenn came over to play with my dog in the back yard and cut some soap labels for me because MY GOD. What a crazy couple of weeks. I’m shuddering a bit just writing about it. The whole time I was so happy that I was doing HaldeCraft, because if I’d had a day job I would have been up a creek. As it was, I could work all day, every day, breaking only for dinner and sometimes lunch. That really sounds worse than it was – I was making sure when all this was going on to get enough sleep, eat enough, and take time out during my days to meet with friends. Sunday SnB fell by the wayside, as did a couple of social invitations, but really even though it sounds stressful it wasn’t nearly as bad as … well, as having a *real* job.

Where was I…?

Right.

I took a deep breath, looked at all that other chaos around me, and ripped out. The whole thing. Back to square one.

This time I started with the next smallest size. I got about two inches done on the ribbing and… well, as Han said, I just had a bad feeling about that. So I ripped out AGAIN (have I mentioned that the yarn I was using was not only luscious and sensual, but held up like a MF to all the ripping I was doing?!). I cast on the very smallest size. I knit like the wind. I had, by this point, had some contact with the designer through the yarn company, but wound up having another question when I got past the part I had gotten to when I had emailed her. I emailed her but didn’t really feel like I had time to wait for a response, and kept going. I made a few executive decisions that I’ll go into more when I can post about the project. I finished knitting on… I think… it’s all a blur now, but I believe I bound off on (… checks Ravelry notes… ) December 22nd. I thought I could get it washed, blocked, and dried to get in the mail on the 24th… giving myself about 2 weeks before the due date of when they needed it by. It was less time than I wanted – heck, I’d wanted it out the door by the 10th! – but it was still in before the due date.

HAHAHAHAHAHA

And then we had about three days of rain, and it was so freaking humid both inside and outside that it wound up not drying until after Christmas. HAHAHAH! JOKE’S ON ME!!!!!

Jenn, trooper that she is, came over and tried it on and let me take pictures of her wearing a still-damp garment while cavorting in my yard in 40-degree weather. ALL HAIL JENN!

I got it in the mail the Monday after Christmas and swear I don’t know what I was thinking – I should have gotten on a plane and delivered it by hand – because I spent the next five or six days compulsively checking USPS and tracking the package. But it got there, and they loved it, and the show is this weekend, and hopefully all is right with the world because MY GOD that was a bit more of a production than I thought it would be. Which I would totally do again for them, if they asked, in a heartbeat, because I love them JUST THAT MUCH!

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