Nov 222014
 

I am now in possession of this mysterious almost-finished sweater, knit by a stranger’s hands. Brooklyn Craft Company hosted a craft swap where people gathered to exchange art supplies. After the event, I came by to look through the leftovers and pick up materials for the nonprofit organization I work for. Going through the boxes and bags of yarn, I found this:

mystery-sweater

No one seems to know the sweater’s true story. Word has it that someone came in, dropped off the sweater and left without sticking around for the swap. I picked up the sweater a few times as I was looking through the assortment of yarn and choosing which materials would work for my office. I felt the soft hand-dyed yarn, felt the hours of handwork in each inch of the fabric.

Someone put all this work into making a sweater, and then just gave it away?!? I’m so curious about the sweater’s story. Or really, about the knitter’s story. Did the sweater not fit and the knitter simply got fed up? Why not just frog (unravel) the sweater and re-use the beautiful yarn? Was it a gift for someone else, and then the relationship changed and the knitter couldn’t bear to look at the yarn anymore? Did someone die?

Dramatic perhaps, but giving due weight to dozens of hours of work mysteriously abandoned feels fitting.

I have plenty of unfinished projects, ones I know will never get completed in their current iteration. But at the same time, the materials are very precious to me, and I can envision myself re-purposing them one day. Or at least unraveling the project back to raw yarn. Offloading the partially finished project feels categorically different to me.

When I took more time to explore and think through my catalog of unfinished knits, I did eventually find a project or two I could picture myself abandoning the same way of this sweater. Like that striped felted laptop messenger bag (Ravelry link) that seemed like a great idea in 2005, which I have zero desire to line and finish. It just sits in a craft bin, waiting for the day when I decide its final fate. I would gladly offload this onto someone who would make use of it. Seriously, do you want it?

felted-messenger-bag

Given my sizable yarn stash and backlog of projects, I was hesitant about taking ownership of the mystery sweater. After the third time I picked it up and again commented to Brett (bkcraftco’s founder) about it, she said the sweater would get tossed out if I didn’t take it. OK, that did it!

mystery-sweater2

I’m this yarn’s last chance. So I took the sweater home – I love the yarn color, and have dreams about giving it new life.

I tried the sweater on for curiosity’s sake, knowing full well that I wouldn’t wear it even if it did fit (which it didn’t). The design doesn’t suit my style. The yarn, however, is perfect for me, and the semi-solid (hand-dyed?) colorway will take very well to complex and simple stitch-work alike. There was an extra skein of yarn along with the balls still attached to the sweater, but no yarn label. It feels like wool sock yarn, plied with a fairly tight twist.

I feel a twinge of sadness about unraveling a stranger’s handwork. But my excitement about giving this yarn a new life – in the form of a wearable sweater – is much greater. I’m thinking of a long sleeve cropped pullover, with a horizontal cable band at the waist.

Do you have any projects you would anonymously abandon part-way through like this sweater?

Nov 022014
 

I’m feeling the startitis bug set in. I want to start a new sweater, pursue a few toy design ideas, knit slippers with leather soles, chart some colorwork for a pair of mythological tree armwarmers…basically, I want to craft ALL OF THE THINGS. I’m learning that I feel more gratification in my craft world when I finish some of the things too, so I’m forcing myself to tackle the final stages of Charles’ argyle sweater before I start on a new sweater for myself.

argyle-BO1

When I last worked on the argyle, stopping (predictably) when it got hot outside, I was stuck on stitching a tidy bind-off for the 2×2 ribbing on the neckband. Ribbing bind-offs need to be elastic enough to move with the stretchiness of the ribbing, but not so loose as to cause the ribbing to flare out. I tried following Monste Stanley’s tubular 2×2 rib BO instructions, and the results were pretty awful. A loose strands spaghetti yarn kind of mess. I’ve tubularly bound off 1×1 ribbing successfully, but this was tripping me up and I got annoyed. How dare I not immediately grasp a knitting thing I’ve never done before? Aah, those high expectations and admitting I still have things to learn…

argyle-BO2

In the clear light of early fall, I got over myself and decided to knit a couple of 2×2 rib swatches and practice different bind-offs to determine which I wanted to use for the neckband. So far I’ve tried the following:

-convert to 1×1 rib (as follows: *k1, cable next k st over p st, p1, k1, p1*), work 2 rounds of double knitting, and work a tubular BO on one needle (a la Revknits’ instructions)
-same as above, except work the tubular BO on two needles
-2×2 invisible rib bind off: video instructions

In this case, the second option gave me the tidiest finished edge. I’m happy I experimented and learned a few new bind-off techniques in the process. Now I can bind off the neck for real, seam all the pieces together, and call this sweater finished!

argyle-BO3

Resources:
-I enjoyed the 2×2 rib bind off explorations in this Ravelry post though I didn’t end up using any of them.
-TECHknitting’s tubular cast off
-Ysolda’s tubular bind off