Do you ever start a project just because it's difficult? Like deciding to cook a souffle for the first time, or, on a more timely note, an entire Thanksgiving dinner? That's how I felt about the Debbie Bliss cabled hoodie, the most challenging pattern in a book of baby knits, and by far the yummiest. Something about the combination of that all-over twisting texture, the soft cashmerino yarn, the faded lavender color and the pearly buttons: luscious.
If there's a lesson to be learned from knitting, it's how intricate a creation you can build out of one basic stitch. As long as you know how to read knitting instructions and have a good dictionary of pattern abbreviations by your side, you can make anything, once you know how to knit a single stitch. I recently listened to an interview on NPR with the artist Chuck Close (creator of giant photorealist and pointillist portraits), and was struck by his description of his work style as akin to things like the needle arts, "women's work," things you can work on for awhile, put down, then come back to without worry of having lost your place. (I think this is something writers can relate to, and he likens it to writing, a process where you have to keep the whole in mind, but focus on one particular piece at a time.) He said he works on one grid of a painting per day, so he doesn't have to reinvent the wheel each day, and so he feels a sense of accomplishment as he completes each segment.
So, this sweater took a long time, picking it up while watching television, riding in the car, flying on a plane, putting it down for weeks at a time. Although its intended recipient was born before I finished it, at least she hadn't outgrown it by the time I finally got to meet her.
Turns out, in addition to its many other appealing qualities, it tastes great, too!