Saturday, November 07, 2009

It Was About Time For Another Disaster...

But this one struck to the heart. I mean, Anne of Green Gables with the iron entering her soul had nothing on today's cosmic mother-of-all disasters. Nothing, I tell you!

This is the cropped jacket somewhat-after-Ragna, on which I have been working for months. Almost a year. I was knitting on this when we were in Norway in late May, I know, since I photographed the WIP by a frozen lake. It survived being lost in that roving yellow suitcase, and gradually, slowly, painfully, the pieces came together to be worked in unison to the neckline. Trying to keep track of a dozen different pattern pieces, as well as where they did and didn't overlap wasn't exactly plain sailing. But at last, during the past few weeks, I began to think that perhaps, just perhaps there was a very faint glimmering of light at the end of the tunnel. Only another repeat or so of the braided pattern and we'd be there. I had even started mulling over designs for a cabled collar.

Then - this afternoon - was it really such a short time ago that the world was bright and every prospect pleased? - I spread it out to gloat. And saw that at the centre back, where for some idiotic reason I had decided to put a double cable where two patterns met, instead of leaving them separate as I'd done everywhere else on the jacket - I'd missed out one of the double cables. A whole repeat back from where the work was now at.

What would you do? Of course hindsight (and DH) tell me that it would really really REALLY have been better to ignore the non-crossing, put in a decorative stitch or two if necessary, and GET ON TO THE FINISHING LINE.

But of course I knew better. Nah, we can fix this, can't we?

Now ripping back twenty or more rows over hundreds of complicated stitches was not an option. No it wasn't, and I don't need that voice from the back of the class, thank you! We're talking innumerable stitch markers, decreasing-point markers, different sets of stitches for this, that and the other - no, not ripping back. Not nohow.

But Celtic Memory is something of an expert on cables, isn't she? I mean, she's Irish, it's practically in the bloodstream, isn't it? Why not simply (simply, hahahahaaaa!) drop the relevant stitches right down to where the crossing should have happened, and then work them up again to the present point? Yes? Of course. Easy!

Oh ye heavens!

Here (and those of tender susceptibilities may wish to look away now) is the current situation. This is after a very unpleasant session involving several circular needles, seventeen stitch markers, three crochet hooks, two daylight lamps and a lot of swearing and hissing, which I don't want to remember. Ever.

That stitch marker is roughly the point to which I pulled back the relevant stitches. Above it is the pig's ear made of the reknitting process. Loops where there shouldn't be, holes where there shouldn't be. Skintight stitches next to wide gaping gaps. This is never going to look right. Never.

What would you do NOW?

I know what I wanted to do. I wanted to throw the whole thing on the ground, scream and stamp on it. Then hurl it out into the bushes. Possibly set fire to it if it ever stops raining round here, which it might do next May. Or give it to Muffy the Yarnslayer for her bed.

But I have spent so long on this jacket. It is (was) my pride and joy. I'd worked out all the stitch computations, the side slits, the coming together at the armholes, even kept track of the decreases across hundreds of stitches from then on. I was so looking forward to wearing it, showing it off, maybe doing a little quiet boasting here on the weblog.

It's down there now, still lying on the ironing table where I left it. I couldn't trust myself near it. I retired to an armchair with a bag of Jelly Squirms and Patrick Leigh-Fermor's A Time of Gifts. Reading about his travels through pre-war Austria, one night shivering in a hay barn, the next dressing for dinner in a crumbling schloss, had a calming effect.

But that jacket is still there, waiting. Wondering, probably, what's gone wrong, and where I am.


Enough. Let's try to think of something else. Like De Book, which is still slouching heavily towards the publisher to be born.

We went hunting for a couple of pictures still needed the other day. First an ogham stone at Templebryan, not far from Shannonvale.

It's quite an awe-inspiring sight when you see it from the muddy track below, dominating the top of a little hill. It's inside an ancient enclosure which was apparently once a monastic site, but this stone is a bit older than Christianity. Ah well, not the first time the new rulers took over the old symbols. Just to the left there you can see a bullaun stone on the ground. These were specially hollowed-out rocks which held water or something else during ancient ceremonies. Best not to enquire too closely.

And we weren't alone as you see. This charming Irish draught horse colt has the confiding nature of his breed and came up to bid us welcome to his field.

Then his mama came over to check that we didn't intend any harm to her pride and joy.

And finally this wild looking little mare climbed into the enclosure to check us out. The smaller the horse, the more you should beware of their nipping tendencies so we kept a sharp eye on her as she sidled around. She may have been looking meanly at us, but you can't really tell, can you? She wasn't too impressed at being immediately christened Templebryan Tumbleweed though. Honestly. These tourists they come up here, climbing all over me field, and then call me out of me name! Honestly! As if everybody didn't know I'm Theda Bara of That Ilk!

Then we went hunting for a famed holy well down by Lough Ine. This one has a reputation built up over centuries of curing all kinds of eye ailments. You have to go up a rough track, cross a stream, and there it is, standing quietly in the woods as it has done for millennia.

It's clearly very well visited, being hung all round with every kind of token, from beads to statues, scraps of cloth to handwritten notes, shells and small stones, even ferry tickets. So many hopes, so many prayers, so many dreams.

Here is a closeup. You might like to make a virtual visit. I'm sure it would work just as well over the Net, if your intentions are clean and clear. It's a lovely quiet peaceful place, the moss-covered trees and rocks sheltering it on three sides, and the bubbling little stream on the fourth.
A good place.


heidi said...

how terrible:(

what I always do, is that I use bigger needles when I have to rip back a section. I usually go up one or two sizes - and I also make sure that every row looks good before I move on to the next row!

and using bigger sizes needles when having to rip back sections will actually give the same gauge as the needle size that you have used for the rest of the sweater:)

now, guess I how learned about this:))

good luck:) I'm sure it will end up looking great:)

Windybrook Spinner said...

What a lovely place you live. I'm sure you'll be able to fix the sweater and maybe the holes will disappear with a final washing? Here's to hoping. It will be truly incredible when you have figured out a way to rescue it.

Angeluna said...

Aach Jo, my heart soars every time you take us wandering around your isle with R's beautiful photos.

I think Heidi made some good suggestions for your beloved cable sweater. Very calm and sober, slowly, slowly just follow the pattern. Ummm, do I detect that you knit this with several strands held together? It's too late, I suppose, to tell you to change the cable sequencing and make it a design feature?

Katie K said...

Here's what I do (not that I think you've asked): Replace the top needles with life lines. Pin the working area to a pot holder to work it flat. Count the number of rows down to the problem and mark the strands odd/or even (especially with lace which I know this is not). Draw up a chart of the section to rework. Use coilless markers to hold individual stitches. Good luck!

Helen said...

All I can advise:
1. Leave it till you're fresh. Look at it in the morning. Often it doesn't look so bad.
2. One stitch at a time...count count count!
3. Slooooooowly.
4. Safety pins come in handy for grabbing stitches.
5. Don not drink alcoholic beverages until after you've finished.

Jo! You can DO THIS! :-D

Sea said...

you must be gutted...but I always think that one mistake is allowed, as nothing is perfect. And if there are no mistakes I tend to weave a little of my hair in....sounds odd, but makes the result very personal

Debra in Seattle said...


So sorry. There are times I make mistakes and I wonder how I could ever say I am a knitter, much less a competent one. Trust your instincts on this - calm and steady and you will do it. Loved the pictures today. That well was splendid.

Always thrilled when you post!

pacalaga said...

Jo darling,
So long as you got all the stitches, it will block out after a good soak or two. Maybe the bigger needles as Heidi suggested will help. I know that in my current sweater, I miscrossed the center cable and ripped back as you did to fix it. It was obvious when I did it, but having been stuffed into my bag and jostled around for mumblemumble weeks, you can't even tell where I did it.

Linda said...

I can really feel your frustration. (I have done the same thing and just wanted to throw it away) Definitely put it away for a day or two. Look at it again when you feel your best- for me early morning. I am sure you will make those cables work. Too much time and thought not to save it and the color looks beautiful.

Dez Crawford said...

I wish we'd had a way to visit that well before Dave's eye cancer became severe. Somehow, meditating on it has had a quieting effect on me this evening after several trying months in my life. Thanks, Jo.

Knitski said...

Oh Brother and Oh so many other things! Sounds like you have some wonderful tips here for ideas to fix this beautiful jacket/sweater.

I am sure it is best to do this in a relaxed slow fashion but I would make sure I have a bottle of Irish Whiskey at hand.

Anonymous said...

I am glad I am not the first to comment since Katie K and Helen and others came up with much better suggestions than I.

My (lack of) skill is such that I would grit my teeth, frog it back, and do it again.

That's why I liked THEIR suggestions better.

Laurel said...

Ugh, you have nothing but my sympathies for the quasi-Ragna. No useful suggestions, I'm afraid. I had a similar experience with lace a little while ago and I'm still not sure if I fixed it right--won't know until I block it--but I had done all I could do.

Your last photo, however, is a balm to the soul, which makes me think--if there isn't a little knitters' well out there in the Irish woods, there should be!

Holly said...


After you have finished a couple of days of wait out, several glasses of wine and a whiskey or two -

consider the following - this is not a light colored yarn, splices are not going to show.

If it was me, I would go, row by row, first from the front, then the back and CUT each strand, splice in a new section, get the correct tension and weave in the end. Caveat below.

Yes, it is a lot of weaving in, but with this many rows and the moving of the cross from one row to the next, at least on the knit rows, it is not going to be possible to get the correct tension since you just don't have the right amount of yarn available. The purl back rows should be fine, since there are no moving stitches. If you have cables on all rows - bets are off - see para above.

I estimate this might take you 1-2 hours.

Figure that it is a lot less than reknitting the whole thing. It is too late to just ignore it.

Besides, you are going to impress everyone with the repair work that I know you can execute flawlessly.

Good luck!

EGunn said...

Oh...ouch! Honestly, I'd leave it for a day or two and come back. By some miracle, this seems to change most fixes from end-of-the-world to just careful plodding for me. And I find dpns ever so much easier than circs for re-knitting. You'll get it, and the sweater will be absolutely beautiful! =)

Love the pictures (as always).

Roggey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roggey said...

You know what I'm going to say...only because it's what you know I would do: put it away for a week. Then...suck it up, rip it back, and redo it. You are stronger than this jacket!

Anonymous said...

((Jo)) Sob!

In the morning when the light is at its best: move your chair close to the window with the most light, turn on a lamp, perch reading glasses on your nose, and put on some of your most cheerful music.

Take a deep breath and a drink of good stout coffee. Then commence bravely. One stitch at a time.

It will be worth all your work.

Ruth said...

Me, I'd throw the rotten sweater away. And then I'd curse and complain and generally be miserable for an entire day. and then, to soothe my aching soul, I'd start another sweater, perhaps even a gansey.

and she tiptoes quietly away.

I am going to need your book!

shandy said...

That looks like too big a mess to recover. Likely to lead to complete abandonment of project. I'd do what you have done, then realise it had to be unravelled nearer to the base of the problem.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

The other commenters are right. Using slightly larger needles can help, go slowly and check each row before moving on, and time is a great healer of uneven stitches. Only rip back and start over as a last, last resort. Good luck!

Vicki in So. Cal.

Lindy said...

Hello Jo, I'm usually a lurker here but I simply must comment.

First, your pictures are always so wonderful. Someday I will travel from the US to Ireland.

As for the sweater - that gorgeous blue sweater - I would have considered the mistake a new and very special design element- and simply finished the knitting. :-D I would not have had the patience to rip back as you have already done. You must truly be a very patient person.

Lindy in AZ

Leslie said...

How very brave of you to attempt the repair. I probably would just grow my hair out to cover it!

Wudas said...

I'd probably put it down for a year or two. Then one brave day pick it up and rip it back. Crazy.

Gail in Seattle said...

You can fix it.

Being a bumbly knitter who loves cables with an unholy passion, I think of dropping down and reknitting as a necessary skill. I used to get upset about it, but now...I've done it so many's just part of my personal gift of knitting without a brain.

The last time I did this was last week, dropping down to reknit the center front knot in Inishmaan. I use a size smaller circs to do it, and leave the sweater to sort itself out tension-wise. The thing heals itself, I swear.

So think of it as expanding your skills. You're not alone, dear.

Thank you for a lovely blog. Persevere!