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The Drama of The Kauni Cardigan

In 2007 when I was a beginning knitter I got ambitious after reading the Yarn Harlot’s blog about the Kauni cardigan. I was on fire, I *had* to make it, it looked so cool!

Photo:  Ruth Sorensen's pattern

Photo: Ruth Sorensen’s pattern

Knitters from all over the world, were making this cardigan and the color variations were fascinating.

If somehow you missed hearing about it, the Kauni cardigan is a geometric patterned 2 color stranded fair isle style cardigan knit in the round and steeked, using 2 balls of Kauni fingering wool 8/2 Effektgarn EQ yarn – or the rainbow yarn – at a time, a gorgeous and modern pattern by Ruth Sorensen. According to Ravelry there are 383 cardigans in progress out there and I bet there are even more because in 2006/2007 Ravely was still in beta mode with a long waiting list for membership.

The Kauni yarn was not easy to get. I found a Danish website and ordered from there and it took several months to arrive. The lady was so sweet though and gave me two skeins of Kauni sock yarn in bright red as a thank you and for apologies for the VAT and export taxes I had to pay.
Kauni yarn!

My first order of Kauni yarn

I had never knit in the round before and made many mistakes. I remember it was in August in 2007 and I was sitting by the pool in the shade at my late beau’s home, in my damp swimsuit and wet hair, trying to cast on in the 90+ F heat, counting the hundreds of stitches and joining in the round until I got it right, I think it took several weekends to get going properly but I was determined and excited. Then I ran into trouble.

Kauni cardi 1_edited

Interesting color combinations but you have to go with the flow

I made an error with the pattern and had to start over. Then I joined a KAL (Knit A Long) and learned about the different techniques for the bottom hem and decided I wanted to do a folded hem without a ribbed band, so I started again. Then my gauge was off because I was a new (and very loose) knitter and after knitting a good third of the sweater body in the the XL size the darned thing was over 70″ in circumference! This was a major ooops, I could have fit two of me in there.
King-sized Kauni_edited-1

My circus tent Kauni, even Pogo was amazed. Miss that cat.

So I started again, and tried the Large pattern this time and things went swimmingly. I finished the yarn body and it was the right size and looked nice! But I ran out of yarn.

Kauni cardi 4a

Finished sweater body, ready for steeking. Love the color combinations here.

Another order was placed to Denmark and I ordered a boat load, literally, thinking I would make an identical, as much as one can with the variables with the yarn, for my sister.

A few months hiatus occurred until the yarn was delivered and then I cut my first steek. It was tremendously exciting. I did well, steady hands and heart. This was somewhere in the spring of 2008. I picked up the stitches for my first sleeve and breezed through it. I have a vague recollection that I did some modifications to the sleeve but who knows, I kept going. Why did this matter anyway, I thought.

Then life intervened, I left my job under traumatic circumstances and severe illness, I was on a medical leave and simultaneously unemployed. It was so nice to be “fired” while on medical leave, never mind the legality of this, and so it wasn’t until the fall of 2008 that I tried to knit Sleeve #2. Things were not going well. I was still very stressed and traumatized and not quite well yet, I was tense and my gauge wasn’t matching the gauge of the sweater body. I looked as if two different people had worked on the project. I breathed deeply, frogged the sleeve and started over. And again. And again.

When I got the gauge right I realized the two sleeves didn’t look the same in the colors. How could this be? After frogging Sleeve #2 a total of nine times I made a martini, looked at the pattern and my knitted work and it hit me. I did not follow the pattern correctly on Sleeve #1. The words written on Ruth’s pattern mocked me.

God fornøjelse/
Good luck

In my glee and haste and stress I really messed up and there was only one thing to do – frog Sleeve #1 and do both sleeves exactly as written in the pattern.

Meanwhile I was feeling better and formally on unemployment and looking for work. It was 2009, the worst recession in recent memory hit the United States. Even temporary agencies were not hiring. I had a temp job for a total of 8 days. I was frantic. In 2010 finally I found work after I my unemployment was “adjusted” to reflect the income I earned in 2009 – a whopping $40 a week. But my new job was lovely. The bag containing the Kauni cardigan mocked me from my knitting corner. I knew I needed to work on it but I just lost the heart to rip my hard won work back to balls of yarn. I know it’s only a sleeve but still it felt like utter destruction.

Fast forward two years….

Last night that I had a really harrowing experience trying to meet friends for drinks after work. I injured my ankle that is healing from surgery and got on the wrong bus because I wasn’t paying attention and I am taking pain medication and the stupid MUNI busses all have signs on the front that say GO NINERS or GO GIANTS and not the actual bus numbers and I missed that I got on an Express instead of the regular bus.

Don’t mistake me, I love our sports teams but these “team spirit” signs are really irritating when you are trying to figure out what bus is coming. Anyway, the bus driver finally relented and stopped in the middle of a block in a very bad part of town South of Market Street. I couldn’t walk, let alone, run away from the two different fights that broke out on that block or the man with the hypodermic syringe who was waving it in a stabby fashion at everyone near him, or the thuggish guy who asked me if I had a cell phone and then kept hanging around me. I walked a block with my cane looking as pissed off as I could and called an Uber to come and get me. It took 10 minutes, by then I was about ready to fall apart. I went home instead of meeting my friends, sobbed in the Uber while the driver handed me tissues and water, and took more pain medication and flopped on the bed with my TENS unit and ice packs until I calmed down.

To re-establish normalcy I looked at what was in my knitting corner and lace was out of the question. Then I saw the Kauni cardigan and thought, “F*** it, I’m going to do it.” And I did, I unravelled the entire Sleeve #1, it took several hours to do and by 9:30 pm I was done.

Since tonight was a disaster, I'm frogging this sleeve

Starting to unravel Sleeve #1. Isn’t it gorgeous though?

Looking at the cardigan I fell in love with it all over again. Sleeve #2 awaits me this weekend. I made a vow to my dear knitting buddy E___ that I would not start a new project until I finished this cardigan, and I will finish it before the end of the year.

Please wish me God fornøjelse.

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Knitting on a Deadline

I volunteered to work on a secret project, a commission for a knitting sample and I am excited about how it is coming out.

I am not excited, however, about the feeling of knitting on a deadline. Time is running out! I am making good progress but I feel the pressure and the strain of it all. This is not what knitting should be, for me, nerve-making.

I realized that I have quite a few unfinished objects that I would like to work on, but lack the time/focus/energy.  To keep myself honest and to out myself for my Unfinished Objects (UFO’s), here is my list:

  • Weaving in the ends of the Craftsman Afghan, a very late Christmas present.  This has been gathering dust on the back of my settee, so I will probably have to wash and reblock it. 
  • Finishing the final 1/4 of the back of the Sea Tangles sweater, a gift that is a surprise.
  • Seaming the Sublime Sweetheart sweater
  • Blocking the Sublime Ruffled Edge sweater (I would really like to be wearing this now, it’s cold out!)
  • Knitting the collar for the Fog Chaser jacket, another late Christmas gift
  • Another commissioned project, the Brain Hat. I bet my friend thinks I totally failed on this request.
  • I should start up the Foggy SF Sky Scarf too, since I bungled it last year.
  • Then there is my albatross, the sleeves for the Kauni Rainbow Cardigan by Ruth Sorensen, from 2007!
  • I would also really like to knit socks with my new bacon sock yarn, I think the Skew pattern will be perfect for this yarn.
  • Socks needing darning. Would you believe I have six pairs of socks that need darning, and one that needs a moccasin sole created? I only have 3 pairs of socks to wear and we are in the thick of winter.

I am ashamed these projects have lingered so long, but this year has been an unusual year for me with the ankle surgery and the accompanying brain fog and lack of interest in doing anything.  Last year’s shoulder repair also hampered me greatly, I am so glad it is better now.

Struggling with fatigue and burnout from the persistent SSS (stiffness, soreness and stabby pain) of my healing ankle is not helping my knitting time.

Meanwhile I look at the clock and watch it tick, tick, tick, and worry that I won’t make my upcoming deadline.

Worrying about knitting, no bueno.   Sigh.

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