It started with the left arm. There was a dropped stitch, a slight irregularity in the smooth, sweet rhythm of the yarn. The sweater-in-process, lovely and green, the color of wild asparagus, lay in pieces across the dining room table – its back, two arms and cabled front the eventual shape of loving, hand-knit warmth.
Still, that dropped stitch was causing consternation. Halfway up one sleeve, it would have nestled into the bend of an elbow, barely detectable and probably unseen to even a well-trained eye until it began to pull apart. But the knitter – proficient, quick, given to knitting argyles and Arans in darkened movie theatres – spotted it and felt it looming like an accusation. “I’ll just unravel that sleeve and do it over,” she said. “It’ll take a little more time than picking up the stitch but after all – we want it to be perfect.”
With the sleeve unraveled and the yarn gently re-wound, she began to knit again. This time there were no dropped stitches, no errors, but a more subtle issue soon emerged. Intent on re-doing the sleeve perfectly, she may have been a little tense. While she knit, the tension worked its way through her hands, down the needles and into the yarn, making the stitches in the repaired sleeve noticeably tighter. On a completed sweater the separation of the sleeves might have negated the difference in appearance. Side-by-side on the dining table, the variation was obvious. “Humph,” said the knitter, who had plenty of time and a tendency toward obsession. “I’ll just do that sleeve again.” (more…)