Since February 27, 2008, the day I started swatching for my Cardigan for Arwen, so much has happened in the world.
- Marcus, Samantha, Erica, and I all celebrated birthdays.
- I spent 5 weeks in America and 2 weeks in Tuscany.
- I went on a girls’ weekend getaway to Spain.
- Marcus and I took the train to Edinburgh for a weekend without the girls.
- I knit three other sweaters.
- I knit multiple pairs of socks, hats, cowls, and other adorable projects.
- I edited my novel.
- I wrote for Associated Content.
- Kiki and Andrew got engaged.
This is just a brief sampling of the ways that life has gone on, while Arwen languished on the needles.
I’m here today to announce the end of an era. Arwen is finished.
Insert crowd going wild here.
She is beautiful, if I do say so myself.
The best thing about the completion of Arwen, however, is that I have the potential to bring everything full circle for you, my blog readers. I can write about Arwen, but it can appeal to the non-knitters in the crowd. I promise. Wait, you’ll see.
For the knitters, there are, of course, the specifics. I cast on on February 27th, and finished Arwen on November 7th. So, just under 9 months of on again-off again knitting. She’s knitted in Cascade 220, in the soft pink colorway. Her construction is unique–Kate Gilbert certainly outdid herself. Being a new knitter when I started working on her, I didn’t realize just how weird the construction was. I’m glad I learned it, but if there are mods out there for knitting her with the sleeves in the round and the front pieces and hood separate, I might suggest that you use them.
Now, there are the things that I learned about knitting from Arwen. There’s the night that I finished the back, proudly announced to my knitting group that it was done, and they promptly informed me that while it was lovely, my stitches were twisted. That prompted in depth research into my knitting technique, which proved that, in fact, I was knitting backwards, wrapping the yarn around the needle in the opposite manner than most knitters. So, I taught myself to knit correctly, but decided to continue knitting Arwen in the twisted stitch manner, as I couldn’t bear the thought of starting again.
I learned how to cable without a cable needle, though because Arwen is a 24 stitch cable pattern, I don’t recommend it and rarely used it.
I learned to do the backward loop cast on method, how to seam properly, how to actually recognize my stitches, how to do short rows, how to pick up stitches, and how to bind off properly.
That’s what Arwen taught me about knitting.
But really, Arwen taught me so much more about life.
I learned perseverence from knitting this cardigan. She was, by all knitting standards, out of my knitting ability. I shouldn’t have knit her. In fact, when I started messaging people on Ravelry asking how they liked her and what yarn they used, they told me I shouldn’t make her my first sweater. But I did it anyway. And I persevered, even though there were times that I wanted to put her away and be done with her. Because I loved her so much, and I knew that she was the perfect cardigan for me.
I learned that I am a process knitter. Wait, I promise this is a life lesson. Because it’s all about the process, isn’t it? I didn’t really enjoy knitting Arwen because of the awkward construction and the complicated cabling. I won’t pick another project like this, no matter how much I love the FO. Because if the process isn’t enjoyable, is it really worth it?
I learned that it’s ok to need help. And man, oh man were there times that I needed help with Arwen. As Anne, Sue, Sue, and the rest of the Nutty Knitters. I needed help, asked questions, and talked about this cardigan incessantly for almost 9 months. But with other projects, where I was all the happier to let someone else seam it up or fix something, I wanted to do this one all on my own. And for the most part, I did. Even though the seaming might have been better if Anne had done it, and even though there were sections Sue could have easily frogged for me so that I could fix them. I wanted this to be mine.
Most of all, I am proud of myself. Arwen certainly isn’t perfect. But she’s mine. I did it. This really is Arwen’s song–the end of an era.
Like her? I promised my friend Samantha that when people complimented me on her, I’d simply turn around and say, “thanks.” No excuses, no faults. Just, “thanks.”