sweet deadline

Meeting a deadline is one of the most satisfying things for me. I usually make it just in time, and it’s not unfrequent that I cut it dangerously close (my online application for grad school was submitted at 23:38, the deadline was midnight that day), but breaking a deadline is really something that makes me feel like I’ve committed a grave offence (even if it’s for matters less serious than the one above), so if necessary – I’ll work night and day to try to make it at all costs.

Now, for this project, I had no such problems. I gave myself a reasonable deadline – about a month to complete a child-sized sweater. I had never done such a big project before, but it seemed to be a good chunk of time. And when I started knitting, things went incredibly fast! In five days I was done with two thirds of the whole thing. And then, the unanticipated ocurred. Always, always, always, when you’re trying to set a deadline, always count on something unexpected happening and allow time for it. What happened was that I ran out of yarn. The situation was really out of my hands because the store was out of it too. So two weeks went by completely worthless! And suddenly I was in a rush to finish by my deadline. Luckily, I made it. As I had initially planned, the package was postmarked on the recipient’s birthday, and I hope it will get to her in the next 10 days. I’ll let you know what the reactions are and hopefully I’ll be able to show you a few photos of the pullover actually being used. In the meantime, here are some technical details on my Owlet.

The pattern, which is one of the most popular on Ravelry, was written by Kate Davies. Kate originally wrote it up in adult size and offered the pattern for free. Unfortunately, due to lots of problems with copyright infringement, she had to eventually put a nominal price on it, but it’s still highly affordable. Later, she adapted the pattern for baby, toddler and child sizes and put it on sale. Even there she ran into problems. The pattern was supposed to be released as a kit in cooperation with a yarn company, but again, in one other European country someone simply stole the whole idea and Kate in the end gave up on the whole kit plan. It’s quite sad to see how much theft there is in the knitting world.

As recommended by the pattern, I used a bulky yarn – Rowan Felted Tweed Chunky. I reall have to commend Rowan here. Due to problems with running out, I ended up using three different dye lots, but there is no hint at all of any variation in color between the different dye lots. The color is consistent throughout – this really made my life a lot easier!

That said, the pullover turned out to be very expensive. But I knew this going into it, and still decided to do it. All in all, the yarn cost me about 50 pounds. I needed 10 skeins (2 more than the pattern stated) of 50g each. On top of that, I needed 32 buttons for the Owls’ eyes – I found these adorable vintage mother-of-pearl buttons that change color depending on their surrounding, and they were really the perfect match – another 7 pounds there. A few more for postage… When I wrote down the value of the contents of the package on the customs declaration, I was very aware of the fact that I was, well, embellishing the truth. But the last thing I needed was for my niece to have to pay customs fees as well! It’s a gift anyway.

But let’s go back to the pattern. This is my first finished seamless pullover! It is knit from the bottom up and is suprizingly simple! The majority of the project is just stockinette in the round, with a little bit of waist shaping thrown in.

The only slightly more complicated things come in the last third of the project, and they are: joining sleeves and body, cabling to create the owls and working short rows. The cabling is super-simple, and even if you’d never done cables before you’d get it down in no time.

What I dreaded was the short rows. I had tried them once on a pullover before, and failed miserably. So I approached these very cautiously, and kept looking at my knitting reference book for step-by-step instructions… I was so happy and super-proud of myself when I saw that I had actually succeeded!

Once that was done, the only thing left was to finish with a rib for the neck opening. I like that the pattern calls for a pretty wide neck opening, so it will look a little bit like a boatneck…

Once the bind-off is done, there are still a few crucial steps. “Professional finishing techniques”, as my knitting manual calls them, are key here. First, graft the few live stitches on the underarms. This gave me quite a bit of trouble, especially because I also had to close up some nasty holes that had showed up due to stitches being stretched too much. I figured it out in the end. Second, weave in ends. My dear, there were many! I’d say around thirty! I put on a nice documentary and tried not to think about how many I had left… Third, blocking. This yarn is really heavy – it took more than three days to dry! It was finally dry this morning, just in time for me to meet my deadline!

The sleeves are knit longer on purpose and then folded up during blocking to form this nice detail.

But if you think you’re done with this one when it’s dry, think again. The final step is sewing on the owls’ eyes. Since I was knitting the largest child size, there were 16 owls. Times 2 eyes each, you do the math. One thing is sure, I am now definitely an expert on attaching buttons. Practice makes perfect…

And then, take some photos, before the rain gets it too wet, hurry so that the post office doesn’t close, run, run…

…and finally, breathe a sigh of relief – you made it. :) Now we sit and wait, hoping it arrives safely and is well received.

Before I go, I’d like to thank the little ghost that helped me take the photos – no way could I have done it without her sneaking inside the pullover to give it some shape… I promise to come back for another tea party with her some day… Hopefully in sunny weather this time…