#WIPWednesday: the Annual Sweater Finishing Apocalypse

My office smells a tiny bit like wet yak right now, but this sweater is worth it.

My office smells a tiny bit like wet yak right now, but this sweater is worth it.

Einstein is frequently quoted as saying that “[i]nsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (it turns out it actually wasn’t Einstein, but mystery novelist Rita Mae Brown, but that’s another story for another day.) Misattribution aside, the sentiment remains a valid one….and also a pretty reasonable descriptor of my design-life for the last three Februaries. I suppose I am comforted by the fact that it has been this way twice in the past and always worked out, but…we’ll cross our fingers for a different 2020 plan.

In theory, there’s a reason for the deadline soup that makes at least a little bit of sense. Stitches West, my “hometown yarn show” is in Santa Clara in late February, and this year, like the last two, I’ve partnered with some of my favorite yarn companies to release not one but two new sweater patterns to premiere the week of the show (see, e.g., 2018’s Howell Mountain, and 2017’s Montelena and Silverado Trail). For reasons that currently pass my understanding, those projects always seem to get hashed out between Rhinebeck (in late October) and Thanksgiving. I have also, at the same time, had the good fortune to end up with one or more magazine deadlines in early February for the last three years running. Even with help from my long-suffering sample knitter extraordinaire Jenn, the end result tends to be a flurry of finishing, a lot of trying not to trip over wet wooly things drying on the floor of my office, and a little more panicked breathing than I’d prefer in a perfect world (isn’t knitting supposed to be SOOTHING?!?!). But, these are great opportunities, and ones I’m thrilled to have, so it’s worth a little crazy eyes during this short month.

That said, the actual sweater-finishing-palooza is going rather well. My sweater for next fall’s Interweave Knits went off to the team at F&W this weekend, garnering a request from my daughter that I make one in her size “because that yarn is so fluffy!” (that yarn is Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist, and you should knit with it). The luxurious cowl-neck I planned for the cabled drop-shoulder pullover I designed in Green Mountain Spinnery’s wonderful Alpaca Elegance no longer looks like climbing Mount Everest, and though there are pockets to be dealt with and seams to be sewn, the cabled cardigan I designed for mYak has completed most of its journey from note-on-a-cocktail-napkin to wearable garment. Michelle came by yesterday to model two magazine sweaters that are getting ready for their self-published debuts, and she’s coming back Tuesday for the next two new ones. In six eye-blur-inducing hours on Monday, I managed to turn numbers into words for three sweater patterns (don’t worry, my TEs and I will check my math. Extensively.). Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.

And this is, more or less, the way it always goes. Deadlines and tasks that seem insurmountable get chipped away, piece by piece, only to snowball into a sense that yes, it will all happen, maybe not with days to spare, but with time to take a breath or two. Projects that seemed a bit Not Quite Right for reasons you couldn’t put your finger while you were knitting them suddenly emerge looking radically more like they did in your brain when you set out to make them than they did as piles of pieces three days beforehand. You make peace with the list of things that would have been nice to have and won’t get done, and eventually you and your to-do list meet in the middle.

Sometimes, though, as Barbara Kingsolver once put it, deliberately misquoting a psalm, we are delivered “not out of our troubles, but through them.” And the path from here to next week goes through a lot of mattress stitch and a lot of 2x2 rib, so I’m putting on another pot of coffee and getting back at it. It’s pouring cats, dogs, and maybe even horses, and blowing hard here in, uh, sunny California(?), so send an Ark, and your favorite binge watch recommendations. Game on, friends!