I have been working on knitting a ballet sweater for Abbey (5 1/2) to wear at her Friday ballet and tap class at the local dance school. Their class meets in the downstairs room, and it gets very cold down there due to a secondary entryway to the building that is used by another business, and wafts brisk, cold, alaskan winter air into the hall and dance room.
For weeks, Abbey had been complaining about it being cold, but wearing a hoodie or sweatshirt didn’t work out well. So, the question was asked:
Mommy, can you knit me a ballet sweater?
We looked at patterns, picked one out together, and I ordered a nice fingering weight yarn. While I waited for the yarn to arrive, I practiced the pattern to make sure my gauge was good and that I understood the cabling part of the pattern, in order not to make a mistake with the real yarn. And when the real yarn arrived, Abbey and I both squee-ed together at how pretty and soft it was and I set out knitting the sweater for her.
For weeks, I worked on it. Every Friday she would ask if it would be done in time for ballet class, but she continued to wait, while I finished it. And when I finished it, she was so excited! Except, of course, there was something the matter: the sleeves were too tight under the arms. *doh!*
I promised her that I would try to fix it, and I did try, but I failed. Thankfully I had warned her that if I tried to take it apart, it may not work out, and I might not be able to salvage the sweater. I say thankfully I warned her, because of COURSE that is exactly what happened when I tried to take the sleeves apart from the bodice (which fit great!) and fix the size of the cap sleeves.
When I realized that I had ruined the sweater beyond repair, I lost it. Abbey was at school, Joseph was in his room playing, and Hubs had just arrived home from a busy day, and fallen asleep on the sofa. So, thankfully, only Hubs witnessed what I did. I had a major, giant, massive adult fit. I pitched this fit like a pro. I cried. Vehemently. Profusely. I cried like a little girl, and then I screamed like a sailor, and then I bawled like a baby. And then I repeated those things again, with body language added.
Hubs woke up very confused as I flailed about, sobbing and throwing knitting around. I was not very proud of myself at all when it was all over, but I was so distraught over the work and time and beautiful yarn that was lost by my inability to separate the sleeves without unraveling the whole thing beyond salvage. And more, I prayed that I wouldn’t break Abbey’s heart when I told her I had failed and she would have to wait longer for a ballet sweater knitted by mommy.
What I learned
Gauge is SO IMPORTANT in the sleeve area. The slightest tightness in your knitting in sections like the sleeves will make the sleeve too small.
There are different types of sleeves and ways of adding them in knitting. I am currently starting a new attempt at a ballet sweater, with raglan sleeves instead of sewn in cap sleeves. Adding sleeves by knitting raglan can help to ensure that the sleeve openings are large enough and somewhat stretchy.
I’m a knitter, not a quitter. At a certain point in my grief-stricken mommy-fit that I threw when I realized I had ruined the first sweater attempt, I screamed “I will NEVER EVER knit anything EVER again!” Yeah, that’s not true. As soon as I had calmed down, I was googling and messaging knitting friends on Facebook to find out the reason that I had made a mistake and made small sleeve holes, even though I followed the pattern exactly. Hubs was in the middle of reassuring me that it was okay to be upset and a little irrational about my mistake and the loss of Abbey’s sweater- and I was already trying to figure out what had gone wrong and how I could make sure that I could try again with better results.
Behind her strong-willed, intense personality, Abbey is incredibly forgiving and compassionate. Her response to my somber explanation that her sweater had to be thrown out?
“It’s okay mommy. If you want, you can try again, but it’s okay to be sad. You worked really hard on that sweater, and it hurts that its gone”
Seriously: what a sweetie. She might be catty at times (okay, a lot of the time.. . . )
but with a compassionate reply like that, I guess I really am doing something right.