Preamble: Some of my dearest friends already lived through the saga of Ryan’s sweater, so this story will not be new to them. However, the visual progression of the same sweater may still provide some amusement. I first cast-on in 2012. I finished in December 2015. This is my story.
It’s age-old advice to never knit your man a sweater (unless you’re married…which makes no sense to me, but anyway…). In fact, I have a book of this same title, all based on the fact that your knitted garment may outlast the relationship. Well here I am, and I’m rather lucky that I’m still married given my unfortunate judgment when it comes to handknit sweaters. Poor Ryan.
The year was 2012. It will be fun, I said. He’ll love it, I said. I’ll handwash it forever, I said.
Well, he did love it. For exactly two seconds.
I poured over patterns, thinking, dreaming, researching, finally choosing this Raglan-Sleeved Henley. I also spared no expense (he’s worth it, right?) splurging on some Mirasol Nuna, and I even swatched. I had high hopes. I started the sweater with great zest, and began to knit. Did I forget to mention? Ryan is a 2X… Nuna is fingering weight. Ya. It took FOREVER. I was literally knitting forever. Not even figuratively. I mean FOREVER. Knit knit knit knit knit knit knit FOREVER.
It’s actually a great pattern, and I had very little trouble other than figuring out Ryan’s custom arm size (which I must have re-knit about three times), but can you imagine my exhilaration when it was done a year later?
It. Looked. Awesome.
I felt liberated. Not only was it finally finished, but I had accomplished something, and he actually really liked it. I felt so confident in fact, that when it came to wash it, I put it right in the washing machine.
Uh, wait. Did I say the washing machine? Yup. No joke.
I blame it on the fact that I was pregnant, but COME ON. Silk? Wool? Bamboo? WTF. The good news is that it’s now an amazing outdoor cropped sweater for Me! I love it! It’s now my go-to fall piece. So warm and cozy, and it looks great.
But wait a minute, wasn’t this supposed to be a sweater for Ryan? Er, oh yeah. Let’s do it again!
So, scratch that first mistake. It’s 2014 and a whole new year is on the horizon! Hello 2015, I’m ready for you.
This time I picked Knit Picks Gloss. Still grey, but a definitely less finicky. And I opted to make the same damn sweater. I mean, by this time I was an expert, so let’s just go for gold.
Then, in less than a year, it was done!
It. Looked. Awesome.
We brought our matching sweaters to Newfoundland on vacation and had a fabulous time. I feel right at home there! Despite the summer season, it was freezing so we got lots of use out of those sweaters. I was so proud of my comeback! But there was one naggy thing I just couldn’t stop thinking about. That sweater. Didn’t it look a bit too big? I mean it’s definitely too long. I really didn’t want to hem it.
So, when we got home, I started to do all the laundry and the sweater came up for its turn.
I looked at the sweater. It looked at me. I looked at the sweater. I looked at the washing machine. Then enter a
brief and rational internal conversation about whether I should maybe wash it for 5-10 minutes on delicate, juuuuuuust so it might shrink a teeny tiny bit.
I really don’t need to go into much more detail here, except that if you haven’t guessed it by now, apparently I can’t be trusted with my own handknits. I mean who…WHO labours over something for years, just to spend the next half hour ruining it all?
I didn’t leave it in for just five minutes. Sigh.
Same thing. Same sweater. UGH.
Now, my only saving grace was that the sleeves were indeed ruined, but the body of the sweater was surprisingly intact (minus an inch or two). So I hatched a plan cut the sleeves off and re-knit them. So I did! Of course the texture would need to be resolved, but here is the process I underwent:
Felted on the left, unfelted on the right.
- Step 1: Cut sleeves.
- Step 2: Order more yarn.
- Step 3: Pickup stitches and re-knit sleeves.
- Step 4: Use Unshrinkit in an attempt to — surprise — unshrink the sweater. (Check out my review of this product)
- Step 5: Cut hem and add new mock rib hem, adding a tad of additional length.
- Step 6: Hand-felt sleeves to match body texture. Use tons of lotion to replace damaged skin on bare hands. Go cry.
- Step 7: Handwash and hang to dry. DO NOT PUT IN THE WASHING MACHINE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.
It. Looked… Awesome 🙂
So, the moral of the story is, knit your man a sweater. Knit him a sweater anytime. But wash it according to the instructions. It’s not that hard. Just be smarter than me.
(If you’re up for a laugh, you’re also welcome to check out Knit Picks Podcast 248: Handmade Holiday, in which I tell the tale of my sad sweater #1. The whole episode is gold, but my moment of podcast fame is at timestamp 13:20)