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Pulling a Penelope (without the missing husband, creepy suitors, or battle in the dining room)

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In January of 2011, on the tail end of my season of frantic knitting, I made a sweater that was never worn. Literally. I mean I put it on to take some pictures for record-keeping purposes, but I never wore the thing for regular, sweaterly duties. There are many reasons the sweater was never worn – I moved to DC where there is less cause for warm woolen garments, it ended up fitting weirder than anticipated, but mostly, my ideas about what I am looking for in a sweater changed. I like buttons. If I’m going to wear a sweater, I want it to stay shut without me fussing with it. I like more tailored shapes. The flowy, unstructured sweater thing just annoys me. And I like set-in or similarly shaped sleeves. Gravity drags the bulk of a knit sweater out of shape even with a neat, structured shoulder. Drop-shoulder sweaters just feel sloppy and not office appropriate (which rather defeats the purpose).

The sweater in question is the Hampton Cardigan. To be fair, it has an unusual construction which I found very rewarding to knit, but my cardigan preferences ended up conflicting with the resulting sweater. Sometimes this just happens.


I love pretty clothing. I love to make pretty clothing. However I am also brutally practical about said pretty clothing. If it is not useful, what is the point? When this poor sweater sat in my trunk unworn for two winters, I started to give it suspicious glances. It was clearly not pulling its weight. When I recently started getting the itch to wear a blue-green sweater layered with certain clothing, the suspicious glares turned speculative. In its current form, the sweater would not serve. But what if it was something else?

This is the beauty of knitting. You start with some string, you create and shape the fabric and form of the garment at the same time, with complete control over its outcome, and if it is not to your liking, you can rip it back to its component parts and begin anew. Talk about infinite possibility.


However, the decision to frog a sweater is a serious one. There is a great deal of time that goes into knitting, even if most of mine happens while I am doing other things (computer-based hands-free reading = knitting time). But over Spring Break, I gathered my courage and frogged it. For those not up with the knitting lingo, “to frog” is the preferred verb for undoing large quantities of knitting and returning the yarn to its initial wound state. This supposedly originates from the similarity of “rip it” to “ribbit” – the act of ripping out stitches is said to mimic the sounds made by your average frog. In similarly charming parlance, “to tink” is to undo a row or two of knitting by undoing one stitch at a time, “to knit” backwards.


I had hoped that I would be able to get away with not washing the frogged yarn, but it came out so crinkley that it was necessary. Someday I will do a nice, long post about wool and blocking and explain why. In short, I made the yarn uncrinkley by dunking it in water and waiting for it to dry.

So what will I be doing with all this pretty, newly free yarn? Which is, by the way, Cascade 220 in Vermeer Blue. I will be making the Miette Pattern by Andi Satterlund. It is fairly close to the sweater I have in my brain, and while I am perfectly capable of making up the sweater as I go, I have neither the time nor the mental energy to do that math. So for now, it is turn off brain and get busy fingers. Well I say turn off brain – I mean do your schoolwork.


About autumnyarn

I am a graduate student who sews and knits to satisfy the creative urge, makes clothing to keep the creativity useful, and writes about it to de-stress.

2 responses »

  1. warmspringrain

    Re: your title: so without all the fun bits then 😛
    It’s a beautiful color; good luck with the new project!

  2. Pingback: Miette Cardigan, un-Penelopied | Autumn Yarn

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