Just ask Lexie’s Sweet Pea cardigan.
I cast on for this project on July 24, 2009 (my 35th birthday, actually). I loved it from the first stitch, and only 3 days later, I was already screwing up the armholes (they got fixed). It was a lot of stockinette stitch, but it’s a cardigan for a 2-3 year old, so the pieces are small. I loved the feel of the soft alpaca yarn and watching the changes in what the colorway was doing as the stitch count changed.
So, I really can’t say why I got away from working on this. But I let new yarns and new projects seduce me–some of which, like the hooded sweaters and mittens I knit for both kids, were essential projects to finish before a spring cardigan. Sweet Pea got tucked away.
I’m currently in the midst of a Stashbusting Knit-A-Long (KAL). Basically, the focus is on using yarn, needles, notions, and patterns we currently have to create projects, rather than buying new. You get points for doing the former, lose points for doing the latter. And you get points for finishing WIPs. So yesterday I decided it was time for Sweet Pea to see the light of day again.
I couldn’t remember exactly where I was in the pattern, but I vaguely remembered starting one of the sleeves. I figured I probably had a sleeve and a half to go, along with the front bands and seaming…so I was quite surprised (happily) to pull out 2 completed sleeves and a back and 2 fronts already seamed along the shoulders. In fact, I’d already started picking up the stitches for the the front bands, so all I needed to do was pick up the rest of them.
And that’s where Sweat Pea made me pay for my neglect.
I use a crochet hook to pick up stitches, which really works well for me. I pick up several at a time, and then slide them off the back of the hook onto the needle. The hook I was using was slightly bigger than the US4 needles I’d be knitting with, and because I slip the stitches off the back they have to be big enough to slip over the wider thumb rest on the hook. They went straight on the needle and then I’d pick up some more. All told, I picked up 192 stitches.
It was when I started knitting that I ran into trouble. I absolutely could not get the stitches to slide up the needle to knit them. The problem wasn’t the needle–all the joins were smooth–but the stitches were incredibly tight. I knew I wasn’t pulling the yarn tight while picking the stitches up, so I’m not sure what happened. All I knew was that it was taking a lot of pulling and pushing to get the stitches to move (if you look at the top picture, you can see the ragged thumbnail I broke trying to move stitches!) and that the friction was starting to really fuzz up the yarn. Finally, I had no choice: I had to take the needle off of the left side of the cable and knit straight from the cable. Once I did that, I was able to get the first row knit and move on.
I’ve got the band knit and just need to finish the seaming. Hopefully, Sweet Pea feels I’ve been punished enough, and the rest of this goes more smoothly.