Christmas Knitting Fails

Jan 5, 2016 | Knitting Life |

Whew! A belated Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I’m over here on the other side of the world from where I usually blog, in my childhood home in California. I had a really special holiday that included… nearly no knitting! (I know, how is that possible right?) I’d been really excited for some quality knitting time. I’d thought, with all the adults and relatives who’d want to hold and play with him, I’d hardly see my baby, and my hands would finally be free for hours of clacking needles. Well I don’t know what planet I thought I was living on, but certainly not this one. Traveling with a 13-month-old is hard! The flight was sleepless, the nights quite jet lagged and restless, and the days so exciting that he’s been clinging to me like a barnacle since we arrived. 

Even the final objects I’d intended to finish as Christmas presents did not get finished. I’d been sharing some sneak peaks of this baby sweater over on Instagram in the days before Christmas, fully expecting to share an awesome finished product with you by today. But knits have a mind of their own, and this one decided to totally flop. 


Can I walk you through my sweater vision anyway? Based on the panda bear character in one of my son’s favorite books, I dreamed of a panda sweater, with a white belly, black arms and a panda face on the front added at the end using duplicate stitch. I decided to try out a new-to-me sweater construction, based on a sweater my grandmother had made for my baby that he wore for over 6 months. That sweater seemed to stretch as he grew, and I wanted to make a sweater with those magical powers too!

my little guy wearing his great-grandmother’s sweater back in April

Studying my grandmother’s construction, I saw that she’d knit the sweater flat, starting at the front of the bottom. She’d cast on stitches for the sleeves, and bound off for the neck as she got to those sections. Then she knit the back, folded the entire thing in half and seemed up the sides. In diagram form, it looks something like this: 

I did a quick swatch, and cast on. The body was easy. I decided to be generous and cast on for extra long sleeves, figuring we could roll up the sleeves the first couple of months he wore the sweater, thus extending the sweater’s magical growing properties even longer. This generosity was my fatal mistake. Those darn sleeves were taking forever to knit up (I find that sleeves always take longer than you bargain for, don’t you?) When I was nearly done with my black yarn, I was thankful to have an excuse to cast off the sleeves and switch back to white for the sweater back. I finished the knitting, bound off the back bottom hem, and only then noticed what should have been obvious for a long time: I’d been so desperate to be done with those darn long sleeves that I’d made them way (way!) too narrow for baby’s chubby arms. This sweater would never fit him. 


Now all I can do is used this botched sweater as an opportunity to come up with clever ways to unravel the middle section of a knit while keeping the beginning and end in tact. I’ve frogged the sleeves completely, and the sweater front and back are on holders. Maybe once my frustration has ebbed a bit, I’ll be able to sit down and turn it into something wearable. Maybe I’ll finish this sweater by, Valentine’s Day… or next Christmas. 

the current, sad state of the sweater

Cheer me up by telling me of a recent knit you’ve botched. Did you toss it in the back of your closet, or pick it up again and rework it? 


P.S. A much more successful baby sweater!