a (not quite) silk purse from a sow’s ear…

… or, How to Rescue A Long-Abandoned UFO From Hell (be warned in advance… a rather lengthy tale!)

Yesterday, while sourcing stash materials for my Swatch Log Cabin, I came across this long-neglected not-quite-FO crumpled in the back of my closet:

The photo does not quite do justice to the tremendous hatred and angst I had over this sweater (my attempt at the Unisex Desconstructed Sweater by Leigh Radford in Alterknits):

(I am reminded in writing this of the Glamour mag Dos and Dont’s page at the back of the mag… remember that? The last time I saw a copy was probably 20 years ago. Do they still do that? But I digress… anyway, perhaps the appropriate picture of me in that light to highlight the DON’T side of this tale is:

I had fallen in love with the pattern the first time I saw it (perhaps in part because the guy’s hair looks like mine would if I had the patience to grow it out for another 2 years…!). I also liked the fact that the seaming called for (a reverse bulky seam) would actually look as though I meant to do it like that rather than yet another Kristina seaming hackjob. However, in my early and misguided experimentation days, and because I hate the way chunky knits look on me, I decided it would be a fabulous idea to substitute some Cotton Fleece (worsted) for the chunky yarn called for.

I started the planning for this sweater on my birthday in August of 2006. Merrily I traipsed to the LYS, found colours, etc. And then I sat down with pencil, measuring tape and another sweater of mine in the correct size, smiling as I calculated the stitch and row ratios, etc. I felt like SUCH a genius…

Except I forgot to mention – I suck at math.

And, even worse – I thought I was above doing a swatch because I had worked with Cotton Fleece before and knew all about it. Right?


The sweater turned out about two sizes too small. I also managed to knit the yoke that fits into the next and middle backwards, and screw it up some other way as well. When I stitched in the yoke there were big huge gaps even before I tried the sweater on. It looked absolutely horrendous.

I lack the words to describe just how much I detested this sweater. Suffice it to say that I nearly took the scissors to it there and then (after cursing and throwing things around the apartment for half an hour). Instead, I flung it in disgust into the closet.

I took it out again maybe six months ago to see whether I could gift it to a friend more petite than I. Again, disgust, horror – it nearly got pitched into the ravine at that time, but DH said “just put it back in the closet”, so I did.

So, when I came across it yesterday, I expected to be infuriated. Yet, I wasn’t. I don’t know what has changed. Perhaps it was my having frozen half to death in the office earlier that day (air conditioning full blast, outside temperature 15 degrees and me in a cute little summer dress and no cardigan at work for cover) and thinking “hey, maybe I could turn this into a cardigan to leave at the office”.

At any rate, I was willing to play with it a bit last night. I took out the yoke and knitted on a garter stitch mitred border in its place (thanks to Barbary Gregory and her fantastic Bacardi pattern in No Sheep For You). There was a knitted in hem in this pattern and I was a bit concerned about that but just decided to hang it all and forge on ahead. I did not put in buttonholes as a buttoned version would be too tight fitting:

So, this is the end result – the Deconstructed Cardi:

and the back – note the stockinette and reverse stockinette panels:

It fits about the same as me as on Aphrodite… that is, it is meant to be worn somewhat open.

And the requisite DO shot:

Just to keep up my cynical sourpuss image, I’m still not 100% thrilled with the piece. The sleeves are still too short (although now for some reason this has mutated into a cutesy little “pushed up sleeve” look in my mind). However, the colours are cute, most of the knitting in the piece was just fine, and the offending yoke and seaming hatchet job is (mostly) gone. So, all in all, a serviceable little cardi to leave in the office – and in fact I think I just might wear it to work today!

PS – I did wear it to work today:

And now for the moral(s) of the tale:

(a) ALWAYS DO A SWATCH (sorry for yelling, but this experience was my ultimate lesson in that wise though. Er, well… maybe my penultimate lesson, come to think of it)

(b) put aside those dreaded U/FOs for a while… maybe a year, and see what you think then.


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