There is an episode of The X-Files in which a man by the pseudonym Pusher, handcuffed in the back of a police car, wills the cops to crash their vehicle into an oncoming tractor-trailer by repeating the words “cerulean blue.” Cerulean blue. A colour that has plagued me for the past year. In actuality, the blue I’m working with is a bit darker than cerulean; but so long as we’re on the topic of The X-Files, let me tell you about my most recent UFO experience.
Knitters out there will know that UFO, in this case, naturally stands for Un-Finished Object. I’ve had one crumpled up in a tote bag for the past year. I can’t seem to will myself to complete it, no matter how much I repeat the words “cerulean blue”. It is, however, very important that I finish it because it’s for a friend and she paid for the yarn. The guilt that I feel every time I think of this project doesn’t motivate me to pull it out of the bag and work on it though. On the contrary, it’s a real deterrent. I’ve had to deal with so much this year that I keep thinking somehow I can just ignore this project until everything else settles down, then I’ll magically fall in love with it as soon as I touch the needles again.
What’s so bad about this project? Why am I having such a difficult time with it? It all starts with the pattern but then becomes much more symbolic. Don’t get me wrong, the pattern itself is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the Opposite Pole sweater by Joji Locatelli. My friend Tammy saw the sweater on display at her LYS and asked me to knit it for her. I loved it when I saw it. It’s so light and flowy but with the squishiness and coziness of a cabled sweater. And the yarn she picked – Berroco Vintage – creates a really soft and lofty fabric. Plus the deep, not-quite-cerulean-blue is delicious. Particularly unique about this sweater is its construction.
The body of the sweater is made up of a square surrounded by a large disc that is attached to the top and bottom, leaving openings on the sides for sleeves. It’s totally unconventional, which suits Tammy’s personality to a T. When I originally cast-on, in February of 2016, I was really excited to be able to create a garment that embodied the originality, beauty, and daring character of the person who was going to wear it. A few wedges into shaping the disc portion of Opposite Pole, I began to acknowledge that Tammy and I are polar opposites.
In many ways, I am a very traditional person. Not in all respects, but I certainly like to stick closely to routine, and I have very strong opinions about how certain things should be. Always be. I don’t handle change very well, and I don’t like to stray far from the safety of things that are familiar. That might make me sound a bit boring, like I’m too scared to take risks in life. Except that when I do decide to take a chance on something new, it tends to be big. Like randomly deciding one day that I am going to climb trees with a chainsaw for a living. On the topic of sweaters though…no. No. I simply couldn’t get over that mental barrier; the voice in my head that kept saying “this is not how a sweater should be constructed!”
Short-row shaping on the wedges that compose the outer disc makes this project come along very slowly. It’s difficult to gauge your progress because it takes a really long time before the garment begins to take the form of something that even slightly resembles a sweater. While I know to many knitters out there, that’s the appeal. It’s different, it’s clever, and unique. I can certainly appreciate that in theory. But in practice, it’s been difficult to overcome my aversion to change.
With that in mind, I’ve had to knit a lot of things, at people’s request, that I didn’t enjoy. Despite those patterns not meeting my taste, I’ve never had a problem completing them. So I know there is a deeper issue at play here. After much consideration, I think it has a lot to do with where I was emotionally at the time that I cast-on Opposite Pole. I had already uprooted my entire world, was living in a new place, and had no idea what was going to happen next. I was filled with anxiety and apprehension. This was one of those major risks I was taking in my life. Things had already changed so dramatically, there was no room for sweater techniques to change too. As I knitted away, I infused each stitch with the negative feelings that engulfed me. My heart was not in it, and neither was my brain. I kept making stupid mistakes and would have to rip back large sections of knitting, only to have to re-live those painful stitches over again.
This half-finished project represents a very unstable and emotionally trying period in my life. One that I am in the midst of overcoming. Times are still difficult, but nowhere near what they were like at this time last year. I’m ready to try again. Ready to take on this project and reclaim it in a positive light. Most importantly, I don’t want to give Tammy a gift that is soaked in negativity. She is a very special person to me and we’ve been friends for ten years. She deserves something as special as she is. Now that I’ve started the new year off by completing two very satisfying sweaters (Millisande
and the West Coast Cardigan
), I’m in a good knitting headspace and I can approach the project with fresh eyes. When I block the finished product, all the bad energy can be washed away in a sudsy bath of wool wash, leaving the garment saturated only with good intention. And the scent of freshly-picked fig.