January 29, 2008


It was another trip to Portland for Allegra and me last weekend, this time so that she could attend the NYCDA dance convention.

Ballet class. Allegra is just to the left of center, in the long-sleeved black shirt. The boy ahead of her in the white T-shirt and black pants is Colin, and behind Allegra in the green tank top is Claire, both from Allegra's dance school.

There were easily 200 teenaged girls at the dance convention, maybe even 300 or more. And there were only about 11 boys. Oh, and Sabra and Jaimie from the television show So You Think You Can Dance were there as part of the troupe of demonstration dancers -- and those girls can dance, "and they're really funny," Allegra says.

Allegra took all of the classes, jazz, tap, and ballet. They danced six hours a day, with only the shortest of breaks to get a sip of water and eat a quick snack. She would be in our hotel room at night saying how tired she was, and go to brush her teeth before bed. Then she'd come out of the bathroom with her toothbrush in her mouth and dance around the room, practicing her combinations one last time.

Kind of like her mom saying, Just let me knit one more row - !

I thought of the trip as my own private knitting retreat. I popped in and out of the dance classes to check on Allegra a little bit, but spent most of the time in our hotel room, knitting. My goal was to finish the second sleeve of the top-down raglan that's an assignment for the Nihon Vogue class, and I daresay I succeeded:


Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed, color Midnight - approx 6 balls
Needles: Size US 5, with US 3 used for the ribbing

I still have a few ends to weave in, and to block it, but the knitting is over with and the sweater fits.

This sweater and I have had a long journey (and I don't mean just to Portland twice) since class met in November. In November, I had completed the body and one sleeve, and I was deeply disappointed in the fit. The sleeve was like a dolman sleeve at the upper arm, but then skin tight from the elbow to the wrist. (Okay, I exaggerate -- not exactly like a dolman, but there was a lot of extra fabric across the shoulder and at the upper arm.) Overall, the body was larger than I would have liked, too. That was a sweater I would have worn once and then relegated to the depths of my closet. Note that I had followed the directions we were given in class, to the letter, to the number, to the centimeter -- you name it, I had done exactly what I was supposed to do. So back in November, before I set out to knit the second sleeve, I consulted with Jean about the fit. And she discussed with me what I needed to do to make the armhole less deep and the sleeve, overall, fewer stitches in circumference. This essentially meant ripping out the sweater to a point about six inches below the neck. And in November I had a big heart-to-heart talk with myself, over four days, about whether I wanted or needed to do that much ripping and re-knitting. Was I a knitting martyr, or did this really make sense to do?

In the end, I chose to rip and re-knit, even though the consequence of this was that I am even further behind in my homework than my classmates.

But the class is not a race. I have learned good lessons about raglans, about ease and about how much depth I like in an armhole. (Less is more, for me!) And in the end, I have knitted myself a sweater that I will actually wear.

A footnote, in the "how much knitting can you get out of one ball" category: The first sleeve took exactly one ball of yarn, supplemented by a few yards more to complete the last four rows of ribbing. This was true of the first permutation of the sweater that I had completed back in November, and of this current version of the sweater, too. The second sleeve took exactly one ball of yarn and I have a few yards left over! Yes, the two sleeves are the same number of rows. I chalk up the difference to a slight variation in the put-up.

Posted by Karen at January 29, 2008 09:53 AM

The sweater is absolutely beautiful! congratulations! The dancers look great, too...

Posted by: Anne at January 30, 2008 10:29 AM