If you're not a knitting enthusiast, just don't even read this. If you don't know a knit from a purl, you will not possibly understand just how gripping this story is, how desperate my circumstances looked for a few dark moments, how cool and steady I had to stay to emerge victorious.
But if you are a knitter, please join me as I tell you the tale of a cardigan and some lessons learned.
This is a pattern called Merriment. I've wanted to make it for Little Miss almost since she was born, and this year I decided it would make a good birthday present.
With only a little trouble--I was reading the pattern upside down for about 12 hours, I wasn't carrying the floats perfectly-correctly for several rows--I got it to this point. The fair isle took concentration, but I got through it. Then it was time for the steek.
There are about three methods for doing a steek. By the end of this cardigan, I had done all three. (No, you're not supposed to do more than one per sweater.)
Here we go....
First, I tried the crocheted method. It looked so neat and tidy! It made so much sense! I got it all finished, then I took a deep breath and made the cut.
All looked well, until I started doing the (necessary and expected) pulling and tugging necessary to pick up stitches for the button band.
"Is that a stitch slipping out? That's coming unraveled. OMG! OMG!"
I put the knitting down and retired to bed with a case of the vapors.
The next morning, I did some research and discovered that, while the crocheted method works well for sticky-felty wool, it is inappropriate for superwash yarn. Such as the Cascade 220 my sweater was made of. Sigh.
I examined my work. It wouldn't be pretty, but I thought I could still save it, by doing a sewn steek.
I pulled out my sewing machine and got to work. When I was done, it looked as you see above. Not pretty, but mostly secured.
Then I decided to get it wet and throw it in the dryer.
I know, I know! Crazy! But, I figured, at best it would felt and firm up just a little--even the most superwash of yarns will felt a bit in a hot dryer, after all--and at worst it would...fall apart. But then at least I'd know, yes?
My gamble--see results directly above--was a limited success. It did firm up. It didn't fall apart. But it still looked like crap, and I was still concerned about it unraveling in places with wear.
Enter the third way you can finish a steek--with a pretty piece of ribbon.
Now, to help anyone who encounters this looking for help (Lord help you, I'm so sorry!), experts advise against using ribbon to cover a crocheted steek. It can make the edge too bulky. But, given the state-of-bulky my edge was already at, I figured a half a millimeter of ribbon couldn't possibly hurt anything. So, I hand stitched down some snowflake ribbon.
Between it all, well...it's not perfect. Not even close. But it is functional and secure. And, maybe more importantly, I think I learned more by working through my problems than I have on any other knitting project I've done in years.
(And yes, I did fix the crooked second button after I saw these pictures--lol.)
I've decided that if I am ever blessed with a little grandaughter I'm going to make this again and see how much better I can do it with twenty or thirty more years experience under my belt. In the meantime, this Little Miss is pretty into it, so that's good enough for me.