dear yarn harlot or being slightly less insane at daylight savings hour

March 13, 2011

this post began as an e-mail to stephanie pearl-mcphee.
like many of you, i stalk her blog and on twitter.
like many of you, i’ve even met her a few times.
but somehow, this time, i realized i was being . . . really fucking crazy,
and sending a relative stranger my knitting worries is, well, insane.

instead, i’m writing this blog post
and asking you even more strange readers
for your advice as knitters.

to those few who are close to me, poke no fun,
for i know where you sleep.

the other day,
against all my better judgement,
and with much anxiety in my soul,
i cast on a . . . . project.

this is an important project to me,
and like so many others, is meant as a gift and surprise.
the clincher is of course that this project is . . . well i can’t tell you.
let’s just call it an item, one that has to fit the intended person,
or else i will die inside.

as knitters, we all know that “surprise” and “a item that fits” is a scary combination of concepts. yet somehow, i found it impossible to resist the temptation. i deluded myself with phrases like,

“i’m a good knitter!”
“i’ve knit this item before!”
“the area this item needs to cover is similar in shape and size to that same area on myself so if it’s slightly snug on me, it’ll fit perfectly!”

i even stole a comparable item from the intended person’s repository of things which is really the only hope any knitter has of ever pulling something this off.

but while the gift giver in me says,
“work for the surprise! it’ll be so worth it.”

the knitter in me is saying, “suck it up!
take some good measurements,
and it’ll still be a surprise.
just a less dramatic, exciting, and fulfilling one.”

so i ask you,
what should i do?

i really am extremely confident that this item will fit.
but should i do the smart thing?
the right thing?

i’m generally a rule follower when it comes to knitting.
i knit my swatch, and check my gauge.
i wash my swatch, and recheck my gauge.
i always make sure my contrasting color is in my left had for colorwork.
i buy much more yarn than the pattern requires,
and always in the same dye lot.

can i risk it this once? hoping beyond sense that i have enough good karma to say that maybe, this once, EZ owes me one?

or continue my orthodox ways, recognizing the knitting goddess as the hateful bitch we all know her to be? (praise be to her)

tell me what i want!
(and no. it’s not for you.)

23 Responses to “dear yarn harlot or being slightly less insane at daylight savings hour”

  1. Holly Harpy Says:

    Do eeeet. It will be more exciting with so many variables! That is what ease is for, anyway.

  2. Megan Says:

    Me and the knitting goddess had a chat. I was calling the softball goddess and she happened to be hanging out with the knitting goddess (I think they’re dating…but that’s another story). Anyways, I ran your dilemma by the knitting goddess. She said you’d be fine…and then she told me to remind you about that hat you owe me.

  3. Julie Says:

    Knitting is stretchy. It’ll be fine. Go for the more spectacular surprise.

  4. Kimberly Says:

    Oooooooh. You know, that’s exactly the same position I would be in…do I chance it or go and ask about it? But what fun is asking for measurements right?

    Go ahead and chance it, worst case scenario you can rip it back to where the changes need to be made and fix it. Like you want to do that right? lol

    do it do it!!! just make the damn thing and surprise her/him! lol


  5. Susan Says:

    I say if you know your other garment you swiped fits this person well and they wear it, be confident in making your other garment to match it. If you really need measurements, how about measuring lots and lots of body parts, not just the ones you actually need? Then the recipient has no idea what you’re making. I lucked out in measurements for my christmas gifts this past year- I have twin sisters so I got to measure the other twin to make fitting socks! But I’m guessing this person doesn’t have that cheat available 😉

  6. Sally at Rivendale Farms Says:

    I’m a total sucker for the surprise factor. Since you managed to pilfer an actual garment belonging to the giftee, you’ve knit the item before, and you’re a swatcher, the deck is stacked in your favor. Totally. Go for it.

  7. How about asking a sewing friend to take your giftee’s measurements, they will think someone is sewing for them not knitting, could go with another knitting friend doing this. Be devious. I would hate to frog something, that was a possibility of doing right the first time.

  8. Melynda Says:

    Ummm…wow- you really wash your swatch and remeasure? I can’t tell you how much more respect I have for you now.

  9. Cinnamon Says:

    I just read some EZ and she says it’s better to measure a comparable garment from the intended’s wardrobe to get a good fit. If you already have said item, I’d say go for the bigger surprise!

  10. Sue Says:

    Go for the surprise! It sometimes works for me – sometimes not. But it is fun to anticipate.

  11. Juliet in Grand Rapids Says:

    This is a no-brainer! Go for it!
    1. The knitting goddess is on your side.
    2. You’ve covered all your bases and if it misses up, it will be slight or better than expected.
    3. Wash your swatch? Really?

    How patient do we need to be for the outcome? A-waiting… hope it’s small.

  12. Linda Cannon Says:

    Go for the measurements on the swiped item, and make it a fraction larger so you have some ease, just in case and make a great surprise.

  13. Yvonne Says:

    Milo says he’s glad you came to your senses and posted on your blog. Keep on keepin’ on. It’ll be fine.

  14. Anne knitter Says:

    Live on the edge. It brings excitment and sometimes things are rewarded.

  15. Austin Val Says:

    Can’t you do the measurements without disclosing EXACTLY what it’s for? And throw in some extra, non-essential measurements just to confuse the recipient? The recipient will know that a knitted garment is coming (hat? socks? sweater? etc.), but won’t know exactly what, what color(s), yarn type, etc. Much more tantalizing that way.

  16. Kristen Says:

    The knitting goddess is smiling on you, you actually wash and remeasure your swatches 🙂

    I’d say go for the suprise, you’ve got a swiped article to measure, it’ll be fine. But, if you must measure the actual person, I suggest you take your notebook and measure every conceivable part of their body that you can. Tell them it’s for future gift giving reference…I do this periodically with my nieces and nephews who refuse to stop growing. I keep a notebook with measurements of folks I knit for regularly…so you could spin a yarn about how you’re trying to get organized measurements of all your giftees ahead of the Christmas brain fart 🙂

    Just knit it already, and show us!

  17. Tamara Says:

    SURPRISE!! Go for the surprise!

    Not like what I say will make a bit of difference…but I’m a romantic at heart, so I say go for the surprise…

  18. Debbie W Mann Says:

    seriously? if it’s a sweater you don’t need to worry about an extra inch or so (IMHO), except in the sleeves and lengthwise unless it’s a fitted sweater, and, 2:for a male or female? how do they usually wear their clothes, fitted or loose… sorry kiddo, I don’t seem to be helping you out much… :)) still, go for the surprise!!

  19. Alyssa Says:

    I agree with everyone who says that the deck is stacked in your favor, go for the surprise!!

  20. Sue Says:

    I don’t know you and have just recently begun reading your blog, but from what I have gleaned thus far, you seem to be a “details” type of guy. I would think if you got a little notebook and asked all your friends for their measurements and listed them in the notebook for future reference for surprise gifts, and just happened to include this person you are making the gift for, you could kill two birds with one stone. Get the person’s measurements for this project and the measurements of all your other friends for future projects. (this could also be done via email but it is my experience that asking others to measure themselves usually gets no response–you have to be there to do it for them) If you don’t have time for all that, you could always make a fake one, with a few friends in it with made up info and then ask this surprise person for their measurements to add to your collection. Then of course, you could always just trust your expertise and experience and go for the surprise without the exact measurements. Give yourself some credit, you’re good enough at this now that you can pull it off sans measurements. 🙂

  21. Kathy Says:

    if you wanted my measurements, you only needed to ask. 😉

    I love surprises so I think I’d go for it. There are about 5 bazillion charts with likely measurements out there that will guide you. Except for baby feet, I’m finding. WTF?

    Whoa, back to your issue… The other option is to take measurements and then wait a REALLY LONG TIME to gift it. I did this with my partner. But then the b*tch didn’t propose for two years, so no sweater for you. ;~)

    Another thought – what is the worse that will happen? Will they hate you if it doesn’t quite fit and you have to tear out a bit and reknit it? Probably not. And if they do hate you for it, better to find out now and save the yarn for yourself.

    I just read the consensus. I think SURPRISE takes the day.

  22. […] thanks to everyone who commented in support of keeping my super secret project super secret. i love you […]

  23. […] is why i decided to undertake this super secret knitting. i was talking to my good friend bill about knitting one night. he doesn’t knit himself, but […]

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