I’m trying to keep things light hearted with that title. It’s only knitting after all. But HOOOOWWWL! My beautiful Dark and Stormy cardigan is beautiful no longer. It is about the right size for a child of about two. Fortunately I will have one of those within the next six months (Myrtle is currently approaching 18 months old).
After I finish a knitted piece I block it. Always by giving it a soak in some lovely smelling stuff called Soak, unless the yarn advises otherwise. The yarn did not advise otherwise. It said it was suitable for hand washing. I wouldn’t have bought it if not. I always feel aware that when you knit the yarn passes through your hands, rolls around on the floor a bit, gets handled by small children, sits in my bag for a while. I try to be clean about it, but if someone offers me a chocolate whilst I’m knitting I’m neither going to say no, nor am I going to get straight up to go and wash my hands. It seems like a nice clean thing to do, to give it a good wash. And I noticed how much it helps. It straightens everything out, makes it hang better, gives you nice sharp edges if you pin it out. It really makes a difference.
Except when it makes all the wrong kind of difference. After the wash, Dark and Stormy was everything I hate about the wrong kind of hand knitted garment. Didn’t fit really at all, all misshapen, hanging odd and looking worse. Everything that justifies the position that says ‘isn’t it better just to buy a jumper from a shop’. I don’t think it is better to buy one, but I also don’t think it works to wear something that is all wonky and looks awful.
I felt things were fairly dire at this point. There wasn’t a lot to salvage. I’m not anything like skilled enough to be able to steek and remove yards of fabric from the right places, which is to say, most places on the cardigan and even if I gave it to an enormous person (I don’t know any big enough) it would still be really wonky and dreadful and they might feel obliged to wear it.
I had a go at giving it a wash in the sink with warm water, then hot water. Nothing happened. So I just shoved it in the washing machine on quite hot. I had asked for advice in a ravelry group and basically was getting the impression there really isn’t much you can do with any success and also that this is happening to other people with this yarn. That is really, really annoying. It’s lovely yarn. It’s mislabelled. They should fix that. And I should swatch.
I’ve learned some things from this.
1) Swatch. It’s not a waste of time. It’s how you get to know your yarn so you know what it will do. If I had thought this yarn was not washable I would not be making a cardigan with it because cardigans need to be washed fairly often, especially when you have small children, but also if you are a human which I am.
2) Listen to that really tiny voice that was saying, ‘this will grow in the wash’. Somewhere inside I thought this could happen but the Optimistic Knitter inside me said it would be fine.
3) Sleep on things a bit sometimes. I’m thinking I dived into shoving it into the washing machine I think because the ordeal would be over sooner. If I hadn’t done that, I could have salvaged the yarn. Maybe even one day I would have come back to it and made something else with it. That’s £50 of yarn all squished in to a tiny jacket that I’m pretty sure Myrtle will hate. Ok so right now I never want to see that yarn again but I could have gifted it..
4) I’ve wondered a bit whether I’m actually just a terrible knitter who should try a new hobby. I have had a few disasters. But not that many and I’ve had some good successes so I’m sticking to it, in
the belief that you shouldn’t let one time of getting knocked down put you out of action forever.
5) I was right, I’m not a process knitter. Just because I’ve been able to find a few things I’ve learned (there are probably more..) I’m not sure it was worth it. I want a beautiful cardigan!
Well, on a more positive note, my dream of hand spun, maybe own design beautiful cardigan is moving forwards. I’m half way through plying my first two singles and I’m really excited by the yarn that’s coming out! I’m hoping that while I plan my design the painful memory of Dark and Stormy will fade. Maybe one day I’ll even find it funny…