Amy Clarke Moore: The Ten-Year Cardigan

Today we proudly present the first in our series of posts by Guest Star Editors—this one is from Amy Clarke Moore, editor of Spin-Off magazine.

This is the time of year that I pull out the brown cardigan I’ve been knitting for my Dad for since 1996. I work on it every year between November and February (the beginning of the holiday season until his birthday in February) with the hope that this will be the year that I finish it. In the ten years that I’ve been working on it, my Dad has lost about 30 pounds—so the sweater will be a little roomy. I’m so fortunate that he is so understanding and patient.

Also—even though I’ve managed not to run out of yarn and I haven’t (yet) lost the pattern—it does take a little bit of remembering each year to figure out where I am. I started leaving notes to myself to help out. Of course, then I have to figure out what my cryptic note to myself means. I thought that I left it last year having knitted a little bit too much on the back and I needed to do some frogging, but now looking at the note, it looks like maybe I frogged it a little too far and have to knit back. I’m sure Sandi’s frog could help me figure it out.

I have to confess that I made a decision error when starting this project—I let my Dad choose the yarn and while it is a lovely brown and a wonderful yarn, it does not inspire me. I tend to choose reds, oranges, and pinks most often, and also gravitate to greens, blues and purples—but always in groups—no one solid color by itself. Of course, that wouldn’t be appropriate for my Dad. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not afraid to wear color—I have seen him wear some pretty colorful shirts—but usually they are just one color—not a riot of colors. Or plaid. I want to make him something that he’d actually wear (and that my brother and sister won’t make fun of!).

And also, I probably shouldn’t confess this to a group of knitters—I so much prefer handspun yarn. I thought I’d be saving myself time by knitting this sweater for my dad in millspun yarns. . . but it turns out, I probably would have finished it years ago if it was handspun. All my projects in the UFO basket are millspun—I tend to finish my handspun projects or use the yarn in other projects if the project I initially embarked were misled. I mean! That’s handspun there. A little bit of me got caught up in the yarn as I was making it. I can remember the books on tape I was listening to when I spun it, and catch a whiff of the sheep barn mingled with the aroma of roasting almonds at the Sheep and Wool Festival where I browsed dreamily among the booths looking for fiber.

But maybe this will be the year that I finish my dad's ten-year sweater. And I really do want to finish it. I’ve been imagining my Dad wearing it these ten years—knowing how much he enjoys a good, hardwearing garment that will keep him warm while he goes about his work. I’ve finished the sleeves, worked a little too far up the back, and am nearly done with the right front—there isn’t that much left to do.

I also discovered that I prefer working on circular needles, even when I’m doing rows instead of rounds—so I made a lot more progress once I switched the needles out. It makes it easier to stick in my bag and take with me—which helps me get things done as I am a waiting room kind of knitter.

The hour between when my toddler Hannah goes to bed and when I go to bed is usually reserved for beading (if I haven’t put myself to sleep reading her books and singing her sleepy songs), and Saturday mornings are the best time to spin—when the sun is streaming into the living room and Hannah is playing quietly (or not so quietly) with her toys, so knitting occurs here and there in the unexpected free moments when I’d be waiting or in a meeting when it is better for my hands to be occupied with knitting (otherwise I’d have to sit on them). Apparently, I can’t just sit still—or that’s what my grandmother used to tell me. “You can’t sit still, can you!” Nope. But that means that most of my family members have socks or scarves or hats or sweaters that I made them over the years—not a bad thing for a waiting-room knitter.

I know I'm not the only one with 10-year projects (mostly because I've been reading Knitting Daily and have read the responses!). Do you also work on them a little at a time or do they lie dormant for years? Also, would you call my dad's cardigan a WIP (work in progress) or a UFO (unfinished object) or does it matter?

Learn more about Amy, spinning, and Spin-Off magazine on the Spin-Off website.


Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.


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