A cardigan with very long sleeves

Photography by Victor Hernandez

Photography by Victor Hernandez

When I was a teenager, I wanted to learn how to knit so I asked my mother to teach me. Some people say I'm impatient. I prefer to think that I'm the kind of person who embraces their passions. I ended up with a cardigan with very long sleeves.

My mother showed me how to hold the knitting needles. It was hard. I found a different way - one knitting needle was held upright between my knees, one in my right hand. Okay, it wasn't the classic technique but it served my purposes so I moved on. My mother taught me two basic stitches, knit and purl. I happily practiced for at least a whole day.

Back then you couldn't just go to the internet and find free patterns or watch video tutorials on youtube. I went to the library and checked out a knitting book. I flipped through the first few chapters. As you would expect, there were lots of simple beginner patterns. A knitted washcloth was not going to do it for me. I had passion. I wanted to make something big.

I flipped to the back of the book to the section for advanced knitters. It's not like I thought of myself as an advanced knitter but knitting was just pulling yarn thought loops. I mean, how hard could it be?  

I set out to make myself a cardigan. I bought yarn in my high school colors - blue and gold. I could see it before I cast on one stitch. I would wear it to school. Everyone would oooh and aaah over my handmade cardigan. So with the end in mind, I jumped in with both feet.

It took a long time, at least in teenage years, to stitch the front and back pieces. I was supposed to make some button holes but that part was too hard so I just skipped it. I would figure it out later.

I started the first sleeve. When I attained the length prescribed, I felt overjoyed. I had only one more sleeve to go and I would complete my goal. But when I held the sleeve up to my arm, it was a good 3 inches too short. Well, that sucks.

I was pretty tall for a girl so I was sort of used to sleeves coming up too short. I added 3 more inches and then made it's twin. 

It was finally time to assemble the most awesome, handmade, blue and gold cardigan. I stitched it up. To my surprise, it did look like a cardigan. Okay, so I might have had a few doubts about my ability to make it along the way, but here it was, laying on the table in front of me. 

With great pride I picked it up and slipped my arms through the sleeves - the very, very long sleeves. I would estimate that they were about 3 inches too long. 

The moral of the story? No, it's not to blindly follow the pattern someone else has written for you or even to start with a washcloth. At least not for me. I ended up with a cardigan with sleeves that were too long and no button holes - but I ended up  with a cardigan. That flawed cardigan was waaaaay better than some perfect washcloth.