Back in 2016, I started knitting a cardigan from a 1950s pattern. Most normal people buy clothes. But apparently, that's too easy for me. I need to make everything more difficult.
It wasn't complicated enough to knit a garment. No, I had to make things even harder for myself. I bought a sheep's fleece, washed it, combed it, and spun it into yarn. This sounds pretty straightforward, but the process of turning a dirty sheep's haircut into yarn took me months.
I split the sheep's wool into the lighter and darker bits and spun them as discreet batches.
I find every step of spinning yarn revelatory. It's amazing how much work goes into turning raw materials like sheep's wool into actual garments. In a pre-industrial world, hours of effort would have gone into making even the simplest garment. It's something we just don't consider anymore.
The pattern for this garment was fascinating, and unconventional. Cuffs were knit straight as usual, and then the additional fabric was created diagonally. Because the construction was so unusual, it was difficult to predict if the finished garment would fit. Vintage knitting patterns are maddeningly sparse in their instructions, either because space was at a premium in printed knitting publications, or because it was assumed that a knitter knew what they were doing, and didn't require a lot of hand-holding.
Sleeves in progress. It was always a bit nerve-wracking to wonder if I was going to have enough yarn to complete this project. What can I say? I worry. A lot. I tell myself that I'm trouble-shooting, and considering all the ways that things might go wrong, in order to avoid heartbreaking errors. But honestly, I think I just torture myself needlessly. (I had plenty of yarn, because sheep are huge.)
As always, the cats were very helpful. I swear, our cats don't need catnip. They get drunk on wool fumes.
I put a lot of effort into lining up the stripes in this garment. I really enjoy sewing together my knitting. I find it hugely satisfying.
Getting the sleeves to sit just right in the armholes was quite a challenge. Thankfully, the costume shop at work let me borrow one of their dress forms.
I got the button bands sewn on, and then I simply abandoned this project. All that was left to do was sewing on the buttons. This project sat on the Pile of Denial for almost two years. The button sewing ended up taking less than an hour.
I do this stupid thing where I bring a project almost to completion, and then I don't finish it. I suspect this is insurance against failure. If the project is never completed, then it’s still got the potential to be perfect. If I finish it, I have to admit my own lack of perfection. This is a stupid way of making things, and I’m trying to stop myself from behaving this way.
I'm going through a particularly rough patch, in terms of self esteem, these days. I feel ugly and stupid, and I'm not really liking myself or anything I'm doing. I don't know what this is about. The green-tinged antique mirrors in my house aren't helping with my self-esteem, as they make me look like the undead.
I should be celebrating this project, but I'm using it as an excuse to beat myself up. This his not healthy. I need to find joy in my world, and in the things I've made. But I can't get past thinking that I look like a hag, and agonizing over how rumpled my button bands appear in this photo. Button bands are easily fixed. But my feelings about myself? I have no idea what to do about them.