I started this sweater last August as an Xmas present for my Dad. The Christmas before he had wanted a sweater with reindeer on it, it seems one of his fellow church-goers had one on and he wanted one similar. Mom and I looked everywhere in town, searched the internet, nothing. So I decided to make one for him.
I searched heaven and earth for a very simple men's crew neck done in the round, a drop shoulder sweater that I could then work the reindeer motif on the front. Couldn't find one, and finally had to wing it from a pattern with a different neckline that would at least give me the body dimensions and I was going to have to fudge the neck.
I got about 7 inches done in the round and realized that the 1/2 stitch I was off in gauge was going to mean a difference of several inches on the finished garment. So I frogged it, switched needles and started again and went great guns til after I had separated for the front and back. Now I had to stop and think... I found an intarsia pattern for the reindeer, now to plot it out onto graph paper and figure my repeats and how it would fit into the front of the sweater, how high on the chest, how much space in the center between the mirror of the image, etc. That took a bit of fussing and a lot of thinking. Once that was over and knitted (with what felt like 400 dangling, tangling bobbins), I had to figure out how to shape a crew neck, finally ended up taking out a sweater of my own and measuring the neckline dimensions and how they related to the sweater body, figured the percentages and then translated that to the neck of the now-PITA reindeer sweater.
So far so good, then I finished the back and did the 3 needle bind-off at the shoulders and the ribbing at the neckline. From here on in it's smooth sailing, right? So I picked up the stitches for the sleeve, figured how often I wanted my decreases and dove in. And after finishing the first sleeve, I laid that silly thing down to admire it and relive my triumphs before starting the final sleeve, now my grand knitting opus, and discovered that the 'no dye lot' yarn was a different tone of green for the bottom of the body! WAAAAAAA!! OMG! Now I'm plotting the deaths of the people at the yarn company! I only made the stupid thing out of acrylic because our LYS did not have ANY worsted weight wool, and the other LYS has a witch of an owner and I won't give her a penny of my money.
Now I looked at the neckline as well and realize that when I picked up the stitches for it, I picked them up to the inside (don't ask why, I've done it millions of times the right way, I was beginning to think the whole project was cursed, maybe I was knitting on top of an Indian burial ground!) and the area where the ribbing met the body of the sweater looked crappy. And that I had forgotten to switch to smaller needles for the ribbing and it looked loose and floppy.
I didn't like how the intarsia lay, how it pulled in some areas, and when I tried to block it with steam (I know, acrylic, but I was hoping for a knitting miracle) I killed the acrylic. It was too much to bear! But the different tones and the intarsia didn't bother anyone else I showed (all non-knitters, so what could they know anyway? I didn't dare show it to a knitter), so I convinced myself I was being too fussy and started the second sleeve, with the plan of re-doing the neck once I finished that. Well, I got halfway done with the sleeve, hating the whole thing the entire time. Nothing worse than hating what you are working on. Ran out of yarn, went and picked up more, taking the whole darned sweater into the store with me this time so that I KNEW the new yarn would match. Came home, wound the yarn into a ball and NEVER PICKED UP THE SWEATER AGAIN. I hated it, hated it, hated it. I could see every single flaw, how the intarsia didn't lay perfectly, the awful neckline, the color change. Hated it. And it has hung around my neck like a big rock ever since, inspiring huge feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction every time I saw it laying over there in its basket. I even seriously toyed with reknitting the entire thing with wool.
Well, Thursday morning I woke up with a wild hair up my um, up my nose, and decided that was it, I wanted that thing done and out of my life. I worked on the sleeve and finished that yesterday morning, and then yesterday afternoon frogged the neckline ribbing and reknit it on smaller needles. Worked in all my ends. Threw it in the washer and then the dryer and it came out great!!!
Part of what I see when I look at it is what a better knitter I am now than I was back in August. Sure, I was great on the knit and purl, increases and decreases and all that, but I know so much more now. How much I have learned in that time that would have made this a better sweater - a large part of that I have learned from the good people on the knitlist. But by working on this project I also learned all on my lonesome how to figure out a crew neck pattern when you don't have one, how to plot out an intarsia design so that you can have a mirror image on each side of the front and have that work in the amount of space and # of sts you have.
Other lessons learned:
Never knit on a deadline, especially for someone else.
Ann Budd's book will be worth its weight in gold for future projects of this nature.
Acrylic feels like nails on a chalkboard to me, I'm glad I got our shop to carry worsted weight wool.