To say that mistakes were made with regard to this sweater would be a gross understatement and yet I persevered right up to the second sleeve with only the neck to finish, playing chicken with the remaining wool, daring it to run out before I'd finished the final three inches. In the end it was a good half inch longer than the first sleeve and I had full yard of yarn remaining which was enough that I actually considered using it to bind the neckline once around and leave it at that. No. Stop the madness. There's got to be another way.
The problems began at the bottom and continued throughout touching nearly every section of the damn thing until I was convinced I should throw it into the hall closet for the mice to feast on having gone too far to rip it out and start over. But still I persevered. That wool was freaking EXPENSIVE. The sweater doesn't look bad but it doesn't look great either. The three things I can say for it are as follow:
- It is serviceable
- It is warm as hell
- It is one of the most comfortable things I've ever owned
Verdict: The sweater stays. In the future I'll use the same pattern again with a different weight wool and I'll probably get it right having figured out how to graft sleeves to start, not to end, knit inside out, measure CORRECTLY THE FIRST TIME, screw the Kitchener stich and stick with what what works for sure and all that other nonsense. Doing the math on the fly for the sleeves is the only thing that didn't go wrong. Failing to measure properly is on my head.
Four months ago when Elizabeth and I tore up the carpeting, painted her room and moved in the big girl furniture the only thing missing was a 30 x 36 inch bookcase preferably in Birdseye maple (example) but baring the lack of availability, either maple with a blonde finish (I've never even seen that) or light pine would do. Since Birdseye maple (see wiki) is frighteningly expensive (enough so that I periodically consider selling my grandmother's bedroom furniture except I never would) and maple with a blonde finish leads back to guitars and Birdseye we settled for the much more affordable pine (in my head cherry was an option for the four minutes it took to price it online at which point I slowly backed off the lumber site and wiped the smuttiness from my frontal cortex - no more wood pornography for me, it can be devastating when reality sets in).
I drew up plans, reviewed and obtained approval from Elizabeth and then spent an additional two weeks on the Facebook tag sale sites to see if I could buy it for less than it was going to cost to build. Elizabeth vetoed everything. OK fine, build it is. I had this horrible feeling we were going to see twenty-five 30 x 36 bookcases pop up ten minutes after we walked in the door with our supplies. Thankfully we did not. I would have been devastated although the end result is that Elizabeth would have had a bookcase and her books would have come out of the rather large, flat cardboard box which is currently living on the floor of her room.
We unloaded the car and brought everything into the house. There wasn't enough light. We took it back out to the garage. It was too cold.
We put it off until the following weekend when we'd either bring more light inside, bite the bullet and do it upstairs, or suck it up and be cold. Somehow this just never happened and the pre-cut lumber leaned up against the garage cabinets and every time I walked by I thought, you really need to turn those over and lay them flat because with each passing minute they warp and you're going to have a disaster on your hands.
During the two months when I was actively not looking for a job I went to the garage and stared at this mess thinking, why is it you're not building this bookcase? This is not rocket science. Otters, or men with the brains of otters do it every day. If you had pre-drilled holes and the barest of instructions you'd have this thing together in twenty minutes so what the hell is your problem?
It's the same as knitting. I am spatially challenged. I can't see it until I'm actually doing it and there's a great deal of risk in the process. I used to be a lot more willing to make mistakes or maybe not. The first time I knit a sweater I got as far as the armpits and stopped because I literally could not understand the instructions well enough to move forward and had no way to get help. Four months later the light bulb went on, I picked up the needles and knocked that sweater out of the ball park in two days. I used the same pattern for the next four, a new pattern for a vest and didn't get hung up until this last one but I didn't get hung up enough to come to a full stop. I just made a continuous series of nearly correctable (or coverable to the non-knitter naked eye) errors.
A few days ago, because Elizabeth was snowed out of school we carried everything up to the dining room where most of the light comes into the house. I'd gotten used to the drill again having taken down the vertical blinds from the sliding glass door leading out to the covered second story porch and replacing them with full length drapes clipped on with rings such that they slide back and forth with actual ease and having fought and won the battle of the mounting brackets from hell, I was dying to drill more holes into just about anything. In other words, I was armed and dangerous.
Elizabeth and I stood there staring at the pile of wood. I got my tape measure out to section off the pieces parts properly although it should have been perfectly obvious. (2) 30, (2) 35, (1) 36 assuming half inch pine with a precut 30 x 36 back panel. That's not what I got. The label on the bottom of one piece clearly read half inch pine. What I had was clearly 3/4 inch pine. That's problem number one. Work with me here. For any of you spatially challenged people that means the width of the walls will be a total of 1.5 inches instead of 1 inch which will make the total width 35 + 1.5 = 36.5 which is .5 too god damn wide for a 36 inch shelf. grrrr. The 36 inch shelf was 1 inch too long to become an inside top with the two 35 inch shelves. Of the two 30 inch sides, one was 1/8 of an inch too short. I thought about taking it downstairs and shaving it off the other side but realized I'd have to shave it off the back panel as well and while I can be nearly counted on to get it off a twelve in plank in a relatively straight line, 36 inches is asking way too much. I also decided I probably shouldn't shave half an inch off the top shelf either. I was bound to foul that up one way or another and have it slam down onto the second self the minute she put weight on it. I'm still pretty much convinced that structurally the top has to go across the top.
I walked away.
Six hours later I came back and stared at the mess. OK. I can live with a small gap at the top. I have 1.5" construction screws. Maybe no-one will notice the gap at the top. I can't very well put it at the bottom although either way that back panel is going to stabilize the hell out of it. Too much.
I walked away.
I came back early the next morning and started putting boards up against other boards and realized I could no longer visualize the damn thing. It wasn't working in my head. I couldn't very well start drilling holes on the assumption that I might have it right. By the time I got it right I'd probably have swiss cheese. I got a pencil, a fifteen inch straight edge, and a tape measure out anyway, marked off the shelf lines, and circled where the screws ought to go.
I walked away.
I came back two hours later, picked up a shelf and held it against one of the thirty inch sides. Nope. That's not right. I turned it around, braced it against a chair, and picked up the other thirty inch side. Yup. That's what's supposed to happen. Very carefully I reached to my right, picked up the second shelf and inserted it into the space between the two sides. I looked at the top board and thought. This isn't going to work. It's going to barely come across the top.
This is how my brain works.
I'll worry about that when I get to it.
I looked at one of my 1.5" contractor screws, picked out a drill bit and put in sixteen holes. I changed out the drill bit, zoomed in sixteen monster screws, stood the thing up, and picked up the top. Sure enough, it barely made it across the top. I put the drill bit back in and without marking anything I put four holes in four corners straight through the top and into the sides. When I put in those screws nothing came through the sides except for just one riding close to the edge. Fair enough. Except that 1/8 of an inch had disappeared. It looked fine. That worried me. Looked straight. Still worried me. Wobbled a little but it was bound to do that because it wasn't braced by anything yet. I flipped it over and placed the 30 x 36 panel onto the backside.
I walked away.
Twenty minutes later I stopped loading the dishwasher and stalked back into dining room. I'm going to finish this mtherfkr if it kills me. I put one screw in the upper left corner, one in the lower right, one in the upper right, another in the lower left and then two more up each side pushing and pulling such that the panel was squared off. Keep in mind I had to take the drill bit out each time I put a screw in. I would have put more in if I'd had them but I'd used up the entire box of twenty at that point treating that drill like a nail gun. When it was over I stood it up, pushed it back and forth, side to side and declared it good. Damn thing didn't budge.
I stepped back and laughed.
I built a box with gaps but for the most part it looks square enough. Books will not slide off the shelves and it isn't going to fall apart or go anywhere. When you push it or shake it nothing happens. This morning I put a coat of stain/polyurethane on and in six hours I may or may not add another. When it's completely cured in a day or two I'll move it into her room and she can get rid of the last box of stuff needing to be unpacked.
I see from the closeup that the first application is not even and the edge has dripped. I suppose that matters and the sanding between layers will resolve the problem but still I'm not all that concerned. Mostly I'm looking at this cattywampus thing and marveling over the way my brain works because in one moment I have literally no idea how to do this and in the next moment if I let my hands go a bookcase happens. If I'd stopped too long to think about it or write it down or draw it out I would have lost it, just like that it would have vanished into thin air. If I built four or five bookcases in a row I'd get really good at it. Things would square off, the finish would be perfect, and I'd probably use different screws but you never know. What I do know, however is that no matter how good I might get at this particular task is if I stopped doing it for any length of time I'd forget and be right back where I started. It's as if only my muscles learn; my brain has almost no part of this. I retain some of it; for example I will always be able to knit but if I stop doing a thing for too long I have to wait for the muscle memory to come back from the old brain as if it's been archived in the way back shelves and building that muscle memory in the first place takes an act of will that is simply astonishing because you know what? I should not be able to pull this shit off. My brain does NOT work this way.
Which is why while cattywampus might appall a great many people it leaves me downright delighted. It absolutely horrifies my poor father who really should have been an architect and simply cannot understand how I could possibly have a builder's IQ of about 12.