Yarn Along

Big, deep sigh.

After several nights of Mike teasing me about my rather large stack of cotton squares, I decided that I could launch myself into a sweater. I started to knit a gauge swatch on Berocco Comfort yarn but it kept becoming impossibly unwisted. Desperate, I told Elizabeth that I certainly must be doing something wrong.

Her solution was to spin me some yarn that couldn't possibly come untwisted. I'm allergic to wool. And alpaca. And I didn't want synthetic. So, she did what any good friend would do and found some cashmere in her stash and dyed it an amazing shade of pink and spun it into an incredible untwistable yarn.

I'm totally serious. If I were ever sure God intended to help me over every obstacle of knitting it was when that yarn arrived in the mail. Cashmere for my first sweater. For a two-year-old? Seriously? Seriously. She had included a gauge swatch in the package with instructions to knit my own swatch before doing anything else. I set off to do just that. Comfortably next to Mike while he worked, I knit away at yet another square. When I was finished, there were no holes; it was nice and tidy. And it looked oddly unlike Elizabeth's.

Mary Beth took it in her hands, held it to the light, squinted at it a bit and then did this little number of sandwiched criticism:

Mom, it's really pretty. I like the way it's got this cool, unique texture. I don't think it's really a regular stockinette, but I love those little diagonals.

I wrote to Elizabeth about the diagonals. She asked I were somehow knitting from the back.

Um. Yep. All the time. I was twisting every single stitch. I'm here to tell you that that was some very difficult knitting.

Elizabeth responded with this video. And so the lady with the pink hair and lovely accent taught me all sorts of things about knitting. And then I knitted another gauge swatch. The proper way.

And it was so much easier!

So while I waited for more yarn, I made another cotton washcloth--the new way. And then another. They were awesome. I actually had rhythm. Even in cotton!

As soon as the new yarn arrived, I looked at the directions on the pattern that Carmen had suggested for me. Carmen's Tess and my Sarah are the same age. See Sarah here? And Tess here? Don't they look so cute in that same sweater? Carmen knitted both. She told me I could do this delicious sweater for Sarah. Elizabeth agreed. Elizabeth even suggested she knit one for Karoline at the same time. A three-way knitting club across three states and two time zones. :-)

I cast on. Then I had absolutely no clue what the pattern was telling me. Carmen broke it down into simpler terms. Elizabeth later broke it into even simpler terms. I was really feeling slow and utterly out of my element. Those pattern directions? They might as well be in Aramaic.

Ladies, I knit the first three rows of this sweater six different times. I'll spare you the details of my mistakes. But around time three it occurred to me that I have children for whom some things are very difficult. Their learning curves are really steep. And they were watching me. Flopped across the bed late at night while l listened to my Lenten "reading," they watched my frustration. They saw me tear up when I recognized that I had messed up so badly I'd have to start again. They watched me shake my hands to get the tense ache out. They watched me slide stitches off needles and take it all out, re-wind that incredibly precious yarn, think myself utterly unworthy of these beautiful needles, this beautiful fiber. And so, I have been very careful not to give up. Not to hesitate to admit I don't know. Not to wait too long to ask for help. Not to fail to be grateful for the people willing to patiently pull me along to do something that comes to them as naturally as breathing.

This is a tiny little cropped sweater in raspberry pink for my very smallest child. All those things are necessary: small enough that I might actually finish it before Easter; pink enough that I still love the yarn despite my frustration.

But I sort of wish it were going to be a sweater for a six foot tall boy who is always cold. Because my prayers for him are being knit into every stitch.


Check in with Ginny to see what everyone else is knitting and reading.

{Update: Christian has a complication related to a blood donation. We're on our way to the hospital. I'm bringing my knitting along. Your prayers are very much appreciated.}