I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself

Like the Burt Bacharach song (but the White Stripes’ cover). Back in the throes of the semester, I was sure that when I reached this point, I would feel like walking through the streets of Paris singing We’re Here like Fyfe Dangerfield. But that’s not the case at all. I’ve spent the last three days on quotidian tasks: cleaning, organizing, et cetera. It’s quite perplexing.

Why don’t I cut to something interesting: last weekend. The trip was just what I needed to take my mind off my Spanish final. Somehow, not knowing how to talk about paying import and export taxes in Spanish just doesn’t seem that important when you’ve just discovered you’re on the road to Ventura and you’re about to be run down by an H3. We got lost to varying degrees every single day we were there, and at one point, I just had to toss Mapquest’s directions out the window (figuratively), backtrack to the last Barnes and Noble we’d passed, and get a LA area map.

We learned about one of Mapquest’s least enchanting features the night of the Nutcracker: end at. Reading that, it sounds as if, after traveling x miles, one will be beamed up out of his or her car and beamed back down right in front of his or her destination. Ha. In the pitch black, in speedy evening traffic, it took us three tries to get into the theater we were supposed to magically “end at” to see the Nutcracker.

But the show was so worth it. The scenery was awesome, the dancers were incredible, the choreography was stellar. The whole thing was just fun to watch, and I’m not just saying that because Hermanita was in it. Among the most impressive dances were Snowflakes, which is all corps dancing in perfect synchrony with not a spangle out of place, and Arabian. I took just enough ballet to know how hard a slow dance (adagio) is, and this adagio blew my mind. The whole thing was a masterpiece of balance and control.

And what about the sweater? I wore it. In a moment of panic, I envisioned myself freezing to death in a crowd of high-powered stage mothers in nothing but my plaid miniskirt and my beloved but decidedly low-key Tokyo Police Club shirt, and so I dragged the sweater out and finished it the night before we left. It was marvelously warm without being suffocating, and quite adorable if I do say so myself. Here’s a picture, taken on my bed because the light in my bedroom is atrocious and all my attempts at photographing myself sans flash with the sweater on blurred.

The specs are as follows:

Pattern: The Fitted Ribbed Turtleneck from Hollywood Knits. Suss has terrific design sense, but a) she is OBSESSED with knitting flat, which is anathema to every knitty principle I hold dear, and b) her instructions are spare, to put it mildly. Check out the bottom of the sleeve on the front cover of the book. That’s a tubular cast on, but nowhere in the pattern does it tell you to use a tubular cast on. I would not take exception to this except for the fact that the entire book is marketed as a treasure trove of patterns for *beginning* knitters. I have been at this 9 years now, and if it hadn’t been for my last fiasco–I mean sweater–I never would’ve thought to use tubular cast on. At Monita’s urging, I used tubular bind off for the neck, which meant going back four rows to do the setup, but as she pointed out, it makes the whole thing look very finished. My final tweak was to move the raglan shapings in one stitch from each edge so they made a nice line down from the neck.

Yarn: Just under 16 skeins Meunch Goa, as called for in the pattern. It was muy caro and I had to special order it from my LYS, but after the above-mentioned fiasco, I didn’t feel quite up to a yarn substitution. The yarn does have an unusual texture, as Suss noted, but I really enjoyed working with it: it wasn’t inordinately stretchy, and the pieces worked up incredibly fast.

Needles: I cast on with a straight size 10, then worked the pieces on a size 10 circular. I admit to a Zimmermanian fondness for circulars, but think–between the bulk of the yarn and the width of the pieces, doing this on straights would be quite unwieldy. That, and you would run the risk of disemboweling anyone seated nearby with the ends of your needles.

Seaming: I used mattress stitch, which was a bit bulky. However, it is essentially like doing one of those laceup toys, especially at this gauge, which is about the extent of my sewing capacity, and I didn’t have the vim to search for another seam that was both invisible and doable.

Weaving in: DO NOT weave the ends in before you seam. This is another thing that goes against everything I hold dear, but I tried weaving in some ends before seaming, and it was a mess. Grit your teeth, do the seams, and then hide the ends by running them through the seams.

In sum, a fast, functional retro piece that anyone *ought* to be able to whip up in a few weeks, 2 months max. I will be the first to admit that I have a terribly short attention span when it comes to sweaters. I usually get in over my head, and it’s so unbearably hot here 8 out of 12 months, I don’t have anything to push me along.

Here’s to a holiday full of successfully completed projects.

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