Smackhead Smackdown: Gabby of Rowan, Smackier Picture
I don't really believe in writing hate mail. I'd like to feel that I've grown enough as a person that my days of gathering all objects associated with one who has betrayed me, setting fire to them, salting the ashes, driving a stake through each individual piece, and burying them at a crossroads are behind me. But let me tell you something: Kim Hargreave's patterns would have Penelope on the lookout for some accelerant and unconsecrated ground.
Knitting her Gabby from Rowan: Smackier Picture is rather like a high school relationship. There's the infatuation phase: You're knitting pretty, pretty stockinette to beat the band and you want nothing more than to feel the weight of your Cheeky, pullulating, 100% merino boyfriend in your lap 24/7. It's all you can do to keep from sleeping with it under your pillow. Under persistent questioning, you might be forced to admit that you lick him from time to time, even though this is a very, very bad idea with natural animal fibers.
But every couple has to have its first fight. This will usually occur when it's about time to start shaping the armholes on the back. "Complete to match first side, reversing shapings." Well what the hell does he mean by that? How could he strand me here on the wrong side of cast off stitches this way? Why does he think that I am arranged in some kind of nonstandard shoulder, shoulder, THEN NECK anatomical order? And then on the front, you can either choose to have a different number of rows on each side OR you can end on a wrong side. Is this a test? IS HE GETTING BORED WITH ME?
But you get through it. Your 100% merino boyfriend is no less soft and he's given you so much in such a short period of time. You think back to your old and busted wool and mohair boyfriend and you know that HE'D never have given you a whole front and back so soon.
The sleeves are a second honeymoon. You're older and wiser and your love is richer for it. Yes, you resent the fact that you're increasing as you knit upward toward the shoulder. But you don't complain. You don't point out that one should always decrease while knitting down toward the wrist as the elder gods intended. Instead you smile a secret, smug, self-satisfied smile and think of yourself as a giver.
The collar is the Cape Horn of the relationship: You will either weather it or wreck on it. My 100% merino boyfriend and I had a little from column A, a little from column B. Accusations are traded: Would it really have KILLED him to provide a freaking picture of the fucking 168-row, 800-lb swag from hell?
It's time for third-party involvement. No, not a threesome, but I suppose that might make for some highly reconciliatory make-up sex. A mediator. A counselor. And if you are lucky enough to have chicagowench play that role for you, you might just make it.
She tries to break the news about the collar gently, but there's bound to be rage. Does he SERIOUSLY mean to tell you that the thing is only to be attached in the back and left hanging free in the front to expose the stockinette AND the shaped neck, which features a freaking HOLE where one side's shaping leaves off and the other's picks up? No, you didn't fucking realize that the geometry wouldn't work if the thing was attached all the way around, because there is NO FUCKING PICTURE and not a single mention of any such thing. And little does he know the reckoning he is bringing down upon himself when he points out that you knew about the set-in sleeves before you set needle to skein. Don't lecture ME, 100% merino boyfriend, because I look like a serpent guard and I carry the wrath of the Jaffa. In my culture, I would be well within my rights to dismember you, indeed. (Still, serpent guard or not, it's kinda hot, even without side seams sewed. So, yah, the 100% merino sex is still good.)
If you're lucky, you emerge from this process with 98% of a sweater and a lot of wisdom. (And if you're SUPREMELY lucky, you get to observe 100% of the odious sewing, rather than living it.)
And then there's that last, baffling 2%. Not even chicagowench can lead you through the yarn fowards (which might or might not just be a goddamned yarn over). Not even she can tell you what the hell it looks like beyond: "Um, I guess it makes kind of a jagged line?" Not even she can save you from dorking on a row and ending up with one of the goddamned triangles pointing up. And she's probably not going to fly in to sew that new, improved, 100%-triangles-pointing-down motherfucker.
I'm goin' in.
Send lawyers, guns, and money.