So, I’m working on my third (count ’em) Melbourne Pullover. As with the first two, this one uses Kathmandu Aran. The first two knitted up well — the yarn is a bit stretchy, but is generally predictable. Ergo, a rational person would think that the third one would be really straightforward, right?
Before I cast on the first stitch, I diligently measured the intended wearer and a sweater that he already owned that fit him well, because I am rather persnickety when it comes to knitting sweaters to someone’s precise measurements. That’s just the kind of knitter I am — I hate surprises.
I knit up a six-inch square gauge swatch, washed it and blocked it to see how it would behave and to double-check gauge. As with the first two sweaters, the gauge swatch washed up nicely and did not stretch or shrink. I always knit, wash, and block at least one gauge swatch per project, because that’s the kind of knitter I am — and a little OCD isn’t necessarily a bad thing, is it?
I did the math and cast on the correct number of stitches to obtain a sweater exactly 22 inches wide. Once I had a few inches knit, I cast off the sweater-back-in-progress onto a piece of waste yarn so that I could measure it accurately — 22 inches exactly! Periodically, I cast off to re-measure, because that’s just the kind of knitter I am, and I still like myself, despite being a wee bit neurotic.
I knit and knit and knit until I had a sweater back that measured 22 inches by 27 inches, which is the exact length I needed for this wearer. I cast off the back, and the next step was washing and blocking. I always wash and block each piece as it comes off the needles, because that’s just the kind of knitter I am. Come to think of it, no, I’ve never sought psychiatric intervention for this proclivity. Why do you ask?
When I pulled the sweater back out of its bath, it looked . . . large. Huge, actually. “Well,” I thought to myself, “It’s a little stretched out from the bath, but will pat nicely into its proper shape on the blocking boards.”
I gently squeezed out the excess water using my customary succession of towels, and lay the sweater back onto the blocking boards. It was gigantic — the largest piece of knitting I’ve ever made other than an afghan.
I took my tape measure to the knitting and confirmed what my eyes had already told me — the sweater had surprisingly morphed into hugeness in its bath. It now measured 25 inches wide by 30 inches long, and no poking, prodding, smooshing, or wishing was going to get it back to the requisite measurements. Heavy, heavy sigh.
What next? Knit up the front to match the back and plan to give this to a linebacker, and make another sweater for the original intended recipient? Um, no. Perform major surgery on it with my sewing machine to cut it down to size? That might be worth the risk if I had already put the entire sweater together, but not at this stage. No, I decided to re-knit the back, taking into consideration that this yarn is going to stretch out three inches in both directions when washed and blocked.
I’ve cast on for Sweater Back No. 2, allowing for the likelihood that the sweater will grow three inches when washed, because that’s the kind of knitter I am. And I really hope that this sweater does not hold any more surprises.