Holiday Knitting, or The Saga of the Dad Sweater

Who knew holiday knitting could be complicated? I guess is what happens though when you plan more gift knitting than you have time for. I had been fairly happily cruising along with my sweet little brother's socks when this reality finally forced its way into my conscious brain.

Let's call it the ghost of the tennis sweater past, present, and future. Remember Love? My first official published pattern, in last fall's Son of Stitch and Bitch. You may remember that this pattern began with a request for a traditional tennis sweater from my dad, after seeing my new-found skill at knitting.

Apparently he'd commissioned this same sweater from my grandmother and paid for the yarn not once but twice. Both versions came out with long monkey arms and plenty of exposed belly button. Years later as a new knitter, and a cocky one at that, I carefully designed a lovely Davis-cup style tennis vest based on all of his preferences, carefully chose the yarn, and set to work. I knew it would take some time to get the sweater right, and this was okay with both of us. Nine months later I submitted the pattern to Deb Stoller for her new men's knitting book and a year later, I sent the completed pattern and sample to her in New York.

A few months later, during a yearly summer visit, I completed the sweater as a vest. When i tried it on my dad before blocking, I discovered a few things. First, that it was a few inches short. It did reach his belt, but did not conform to an original request that he have enough length to fold it over at the waist like he likes to do. Next, the armholes look terrible. Before i decided to make this thing a vest, I'd planned for a modified drop shoulder design. This type of armhole does not translate well to vest design at all. And finally, it seemed a little small around the waist. At the time i accused my dad of gaining weight (charming, no?) but measuring it again, and again, and...well, it's not him, it's me. New knitter (at the time) gauge problems, i believe. Heh. Don't tell him, ok?

Dad said he thought all those problems would "block out" and he wanted his sweater now, please? I said, let me just take this and make a few changes and I'll have it back to you lickety-split. And time passed.

My next brilliant plan was to complete my dad's sweater by that Christmas and give it to him with his very own autographed copy of the book. Apparently, though, I was overcome by malaise and perhaps the lack of desire to re-knit the same sweater, and wound up giving him a biography of a revolutionary-era politician instead. He let me know then that, while the book was nice and he would enjoy reading it, he had really been looking forward his sweater. And how long did it take to knit a sweater anyway? apparently, a really long time. And did i ever finish anything? Little did he know i'm fairly well known within my Stitch and bitch for being the one who finishes things.

Fast forward to christmas 2008. Still no sweater. I consulted with the lovely Jack, who suggested that, in light of my father's difficulties this year, this would be the holiday to give him the sweater. I agreed that I should shelve all the other projects and just jam on this one until it is done.

I ripped back to the armholes and, for added length, I dug up some old yarn that looked like the right color ( I can't remember now why I have so any colors of white in this yarn i used for the sweater (Cleckheaton Country 8-ply, in case you are keeping track:), knit about three inches and discovered that the color white was too "white". Ripped back, did a bunch of research, ordered "ecru" from Perfect Touch yarns, received fabulous customer service, and knit, oh, let's say a good 8-9" on the sweater in ecru, and then, last night while knitting a few rows to calm down and go to sleep, noticed that the color is NOT the same. AAaaggghhh!

We leave for our annual Christmas pilgrimage to New Orleans tonight. I'm packing the sweater. I'm not sure what to do now. Yes, i did buy what i knew would be enough yarn at the time of the original purchase, but alot of time has passed and alot of knitting ad dyeing has passed as well. It just may be that I dyed a few hanks of yarn along the way. Who knows?

My first choice would be to give it a proper burial and knit a whole new sweater in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. The yarn comes in a nice ecru color and will work better for his tropical climate as it is 80% cotton with 20% merino for some bounce and stretch. I think i will ask him if he wants a short, skinny,but completed sweater (I don't think as a knitter that i can live with two tones of white, but he is color blind) or if he would like to wait for another sweater to be knit "properly".

I think I already know the answer.