Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Here we are. Today's ordeal is to be the washing of my husband's hair. Any joint enterprise brings out the worst in him – and it's fairly near the surface at the best of times. If one is, for instance, hanging a picture, this can be a good thing, Adrenalin flows. One does not err from inattention. But washing is different, It would go better if we could laugh about it like friends.

Knitting continues to go forward smoothly. I've clearly reached the endgame of the Unst Bridal Shawl – I can see that, from the way it hangs from the long needle when I turn around at the end of a row. This final side is proving remarkably disaster-free: that's good, too. Now I must find a place to block it.

I am fretting a bit about the length of Archie's sweater. I have an old one of his here – not a fave, but I've seen him wear it. And it's perhaps a bit short. It measures 25” from the highest point of the shoulder seam to the bottom. I've just looked up the measurements for the most successful sweater I ever knit, Joe Ogden's Grandson Sweater. 26”, is the answer. Joe is tall, but not nearly as solid as Archie. Probably not quite as tall.

I was grateful for Kristie's comment the other day, that big men need a bit more length. On the other hand, men don't snuggle down in oversized or even just overlong sweaters as women sometimes do. Men need fit. Rachel once bravely said that a sweater can't be too big – when I had just finished knitting a too-big one for her, from “Kaffe Fassett at the V&A”. I can think of at least two too-big sweaters I have knit for men.

The schematic for the pattern I am knitting from “Knits Men Want” shows a rather alarming 31” from top to bottom. The fact that it ends in shirt flaps, rather than ribbing, may justify a bit extra. And there seems to be a mistake – although that remark usually means that I have misunderstood something. My current target, according to the book, is 17” from the underarm. Then 1 1/2” of flap. But the schematic shows that length as 19 1/2”.

Laying the current project on top of Archie's old sweater, mentioned above, it looks as if the new one is about an inch deeper in the armholes. An extra inch already, therefore.

I think my conclusion to all this is that I will skimp a bit on the 17” prescribed.

One undoubted advantage of top-down knitting is that an error here will be easy to rectify. A Boys' Weekend is planned, fairly early in January, when James' and Cathy's son Alistair, now in his first year at Glasgow University studying computer science, will come over and Archie will get away from school overnight. (Alistair is finding things rather Glaswegian over there, as I certainly did in my first year at that institution.) The cousins are close in age – the pregnancies overlapped, so to speak.

Surely by then I will have finished the body of Archie's sweater, and he can try it on with only the sleeve stitches to be put on waste yarn. When he tried it on before, to assess chest size, it took three days of knitting time – one to put the stitches on the waste yarn, two to retrieve and unsplit them and sit them aright.

A message from Loop yesterday says that the red yarn, for the inside of the hems, has been dispatched – first class, and requiring a signature. If our usual postie is doing the round, she'll sign for me. But you never know, this time of year. One skein will go easily through our big letter box, unless Loop has some very unusual packaging. But it's one more thing to fret about, at least somewhat.

I do like Kate Davies' new hat pattern, based on one of the designs in her Yoke book. The actual pattern not yet released, but soon.

I have an early dental appt tomorrow, so I won't be here.


  1. rosesmama1:20 PM

    re: Archie's sweater: Could you complete the seventeen inches, put the body on waste yarn and then begin the sleeves? Then Archie could try it on before you complete and hem the flaps, saving you a possible.pick out.

  2. Anonymous1:26 PM

    I'm sorry that washing your husband's hair is an ordeal. That is just the sort of job an aide could help with-and he'd be likely to be more cooperative with an aide. I really think you should look into it after the holidays to save your energy for those tasks that really demand your, and only your, attention.

    Re Archie's sweater: why not put it back on waste yarn when you reach 17 inches, and begin the sleeves? It will save unpicking the hem, in case the length is wrong.

    Beverly in NJ

  3. Anonymous1:33 PM

    Oh Jean, your knitting deliberations and other observations are a delight. Thank you so much for sharing. hope your appointment goes well.
    Where the hair washing and other care issues are concerned, could not the family get together and work something out? It really does seem that some extra help is needed.

  4. Just a comment on the length of a man's sweater. I knitted one of the Alice Starmore Fisherman's sweaters for my son. He selcom wore it because it was too long and interfered with reaching into his trouser pockets.

    It was knit from the bottom up. I dutifully snipped, unraveled, picked up stitches and re-knit the bottom ribbing and now dh wears it and can get his keys and change out of his pockets without raising his sweater.

    With women the length of the sweater has more to do with us feeling that it lengthens our silhouette. I guess men (at least my men) have more practical concerns.

  5. Good news about the bridal shawl. I don't envy you having to block it though. As for the length of Archie's jumper I'm afraid it's hard to judge. I did an Aran for my husband and measured him and the jumper many times before deciding what length to make it. I didn't want it to be too long. When he wears it, it seems to widen out and get shorter for some reason. I wish I had made it longer.

  6. Anonymous3:18 PM

    About Archie’s hem: instead of waste yarn, could you “park” the stitches on a very long circular needle, with point protectors - and possibly even rubber bands too, as added insurance - to keep stitches from falling off? Even if the circular needle is not the right size but the right length, you could have Archie try it on then proceed to knit off the circular needle back onto the correct sized needle and finish the ribbing or add length as needed. This would eliminate the tedium and time of shifting live stitches to waste yarn and back. - Just a thought. - cheers!

  7. Ellen4:13 PM

    Not disagreeing with any of the above(including the need to get an aide to help with the hair washing; it's a safety issue as well as everything else mentioned), but I wanted to offer another 2 cents worth of advice on the length of the sweater:
    My husband is 6'1", and wears an extra large (46" chest). I measured two of his sweaters this morning: both are 18" in length, measuring from the armhole edge to the bottom of the sweater, and the total overall length is 28.5", measuring from the highest point of the shoulder (just before the neckline ribbing begins) to the bottom edge of the sweater. Both allow pocket access...he would complain about that, definitely! Perhaps that will give you a basis for comparison with the measurements you have.

  8. And here's my 2 bobs' worth: I can see pocket access could make all the difference to the success of the FO. The flaps will make pocket access easier than the joined-up-to-the-hem style though, so I think you are right to start the flap so one rather than later. Perhaps you could knit the flaps as well before the trying-on, but leave the stitches live rather than casting off? Then, it will be easy to see how it is working, and to add a little more length if need be. I don't think longer flaps would matter much in the overall scheme of things.

    Let me also wish you and yours all the very best over the holiday season, Jean. I've very much enjoyed hearing about all your adventures in knitting and life, and look forward to more in the New Year.

    Merry Christmas!

  9. Oops, that's sooner, no so one!

  10. Anonymous9:19 PM

    Jean, Ellen wrote my post for me...I couldn't agree more w/ her...have the exact same size DH. love, Mary in Cincinnati