On Saturday my knitting mom gave me a call. She had to make a baby sweater by Friday and she knew I had the knitting machine – which I still hadn’t really learned how to use – and was wondering if we could figure it out together so she could try to whip out the sweater in time. Monday we ran into her and her grandkids at one of the stores while doing the after-Christmas shopping and it turns out she went out and took advantage of a 40% off coupon, so bought her own knitting machine, but she wasn’t getting any further than I did. So we made plans to meet today, both of us with our machines, rightly figuring that if the two of us were fighting with them together, maybe we’d be able to make heads or tails of the whole process and also get a baby sweater out of the whole ordeal.
So this morning I packed up all the pieces and parts of my knitting machine and I headed off to her house, and we set both the machines up and got started. There was a lot of grumbling under our breath and not a small amount of swearing, and each of us managed to produce a decent sized swatch. So then we decided that if we could do that much we might as well tackle the sweater because, it being for a baby, it is made of small pieces and maybe we could handle them. She cast on for the back and her machine started giving her a lot of trouble, but I cast on for a sleeve and miracle of miracles, it worked. There was a small kitten zipping around the house while we did all of this, and I think this was actually a good thing because there were a few times when we were very much in need of a kitten’s rattley purr and comic relief.
By this time we had been at it a few hours, so we took a break for lunch and I got to try all the traditional Swedish Christmas foods, like pickled herring and creamed herring, and headcheese (which is sort of like a gray lumpy liverwurst kind of thing) and some kind of beans which were surprisingly sweet, and cardamom rolls and pickled beets, and a strangely pale and gray potato sausage that was quite delicious, and then paper thin spice cookies with slivers of almonds in them. And then fresh from lunch and starting to get excited about finally figuring out this darn contraption I whipped out the second sleeve in about fifteen minutes and while her machine still wasn’t playing nicely I also did the two front sections. And by the time I was finished with those she had finally wrestled her machine into submission and even though she ran into one more snag, the back piece was pretty close to done by the time we finished with our afternoon. So it was all very exciting, especially in that we were able to crank out all the pieces for a baby sweater in one day. It amused us because a knitting machine is actually hard work and we can see that if one used it a lot one would build up some impressive upper arm muscles. There is still finishing and seaming to do so no matter what, there will always be some work that has to be done by hand. But for the boring long stretches, this machine is marvelous.