Life is funny sometimes. Or closets? Maybe closets are funny sometimes. Not ten days ago, I was a person with a trusty charcoal shawl-collar cardigan nearly always by her side, and another (lighter, woolier) shawl-collar cardigan in progress. Then in the space of a few days, I went from two shawl collars to none — and somehow all of this is ultimately a happy tale.
My parents came to visit toward the end of the week before last. My mom wanted to see the sweaters I’d finished since she’d last been here, so we got into my little closet. As I was pulling things out, I was reminded that I’ve wanted to have her try on my Bellows. She’d had it on pretty much exactly two years ago, right after I finished it, and I’ve never gotten over how perfect it was on her — like I’d made it just for her. Some part of my brain is always wanting her to put it on again so I could confirm that, and then I would know that the Bellows dimensions were perfect should I ever knit her a sweater. I didn’t say any of this to her — only that I wanted to see it on her again — and sure enough, it slipped onto her just like Cinderella’s slipper. She started beaming, turning back and forth in front of the mirror, and joke asking “How much …?” and I had a hard time folding it up and putting it away.
That evening, we went our for dinner on the screened porch at our favorite restaurant and I loaned her the sweater, knowing it would be more comfortable to eat in than her jacket. Again that happiness on her face. As we were sitting there eating, I knew I couldn’t take it back from her — it was hers. As much as I minded that it was not brand-new or made specifically with her in mind, she apparently couldn’t have cared less. The next morning when she put it on to leave, my heart melted again — I was sad to see it go of course (my companion!), but so happy it was going with her and that she was so happy.
And then it hit me: What on earth am I going to wear now?!
But there was still my Channel in my near future, right? No worries. Once they were gone, I blocked the Channel pieces I had finished a few days earlier, and left them to dry over that weekend. For me, seaming is a daylight (and thus weekend) task, so I knew I’d have to let the pieces lay there on my table untouched through last week, and I dutifully set about swatching for the bands and collar (by which I mean starting one, measuring, starting over … with three different needles). By Tuesday evening, impatient to see how it would come together, I clipped the pieces to my shirt, and I knew almost instantaneously that it was a good thing I hadn’t gotten any farther with the bands. This would no longer be a shawl collar.
The sweater I’ve had in my sketches and my head all this time has been based on the photos and the sample I tried on three years ago, when I first decided to knit it. It hit me mid-hip, the sleeves were a tiny bit short, and the V of the neckline hit just below my bust. I made a mental note that the only thing I’d tinker with was the sleeve length and that I would move the top button placement up a bit — I like a shawl collar to be high and snug. As I started knitting, I made the decision to stick to the pattern dimensions so as not to require any tweaks to the length or shaping of the collar itself, since it’s a bit of a job. So rather than scrutinizing the schematic, as I usually do, I just followed the pattern as written. When it said to knit the body to 17″, I thought that seemed longer than the one I’d tried on, but longer wouldn’t be bad, so ok. What I failed to notice in my non-scrutiny is the depth of the V. So what I have on my worktable is gorgeous and useful … just a different sweater than the one I thought I was making. This sweater has a very deep V that hits right at my belly button, and the hemline falls below my crotch. In other words, it looks exactly like my modified-Vidje sketch, only with a different surface texture:
For me, these proportions call for a plain button band, not an elongated shawl collar, which feels like a disservice to Jared’s stunning pattern, but also the right thing to do for my garment. So all of a sudden, instead of filling the (now larger than anticipated) shawl-collar gap in my closet, this one is filling the gap Vidje was going to be meant for! And now that there are no shawl collars in my closet, the landscape of my queue is taking a completely different shape. Suddenly I have all kinds of options and considerations I had ruled out, some exciting rethinking to do, and a gorgeous-albeit-unintended sweater almost finished.
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