Reknitting or Sweater Maintenance

June 26, 2018

Thank you so very much for the marvellous response to my post last week. As I said, it wasn’t a post I expected to write and now I am so glad I did, as you really got me thinking and I am grateful for that.

Over the last week, I’ve been tending to our knitwear. I am always struck by our emphasis in the making world on acts of creation. Our use of the acronym FO for Finished Object suggests that once we have cast off and blocked our knits or pressed our sewing, the item is done, finished, over. In fact, as we all know really, that is just the beginning. The garments we make have lives, they wear out and must be repaired, our bodies or preferences change and garments must be adjusted or perhaps we were never entirely happy with how the garment fitted, looked or worked in the first place and changes must be made.

I have talked here about remaking where we transform one or several garments into something significantly different but reknitting is something less transformative. It is the minor adjustment, the tweak, the repair.

Several years ago, I made Stephen West’s Enchanted Mesa with some handspun and some local millspun yarn. I made it initially without the cowl neck (thinking I knew better than the designer…oops), thinking it really needed a more open look. And perhaps it does, but what I didn’t realise then is that the assymetric dropped armhole construction creates a tendency for the one shoulder to runch every time you use that particular arm.  This effect has been magnified by me becoming somewhat wider since the initial making. The cowl neck obscures the runching and means you don’t always have to be pulling your jumper down, it can do its own thing.

Fortunately I still had some handspun Finn left over from knitting that sweater so it was easy to pick up the stitches from around the neck and knit up the cowl collar. Hopefully I will get a lot more wear from this sweater now.

Despite making the Helm sweater pictured below to the specifications suggested by the wearer, it turns out, he would prefer it to be two inches longer at the hem. Since this sweater was knitted from the bottom up in pieces, I was a little concerned about this request. For those who are non knitters, it is easy to unravel knitting from the top of one’s knitting but impossible to unravel from the bottom. Top down sweaters make hem adjustments simple but not so, the bottom up sweaters.

I didn’t want the sweater languishing for want of two inches, so I decided to get the scissors out, cut off the hem and reknit the hemmed edge from the top down. It was a surprisingly easy fix and once its been block again to relax the new hem, I don’t reckon anyone could tell it’s been reknit.

It’s not glamorous or exciting but tending to the knits (or any of our clothes) is a vital part of our making clothes last a long time.  It makes us feel competent too, knowing that we can adjust our jumpers in case of zombie apocalypse.