The Crochet Foe

By Caissa "Cami" McClinton – 14 Comments

Did you ever have a project that just haunted you? I mean, a project that you were really, really excited about but just fell flat? A project you have labored over for hours and hours only to have it look completely hideous when you put it on?

Let’s be honest, folks, they can’t all be winners.

Maybe you have guessed by now. I have such a project and I must be a glutton for punishment, because I am considering taking this crazy project up again. I can’t let it rest!!!

The project in question is (in theory) a really pretty sweater called the “Lacy Cropped Cardi.” No, it’s not one of Rachel’s amazing designs, rather a sweet little number that innocently graced the cover of Crochet Today magazine years ago. It was my first sweater project. I’ve since made only one other adult-sized sweater. Yes! I was traumatized by this sweater!!

The sweater has been haunting me since 2009, and I am afraid the only way to put it to rest is by taking the plunge and making it again, but doing it right. In order to avoid the deep trauma that I experienced with the first one, I’ve taken a moment to analyze my mistakes in the hopes of making my next creation turn out right.

Mistake 1: The substitute yarn. In my defense, I was living in a foreign country where the called-for yarn was not available. I *had* to substitute, but unfortunately, my lack of experience and knowledge led me to substitue a wool and bamboo blend with cotton. Uh, wrong answer. Yeah, I got gauge, but (as I experienced later) cotton stretches and stretches in a way the drapey bamboo/wool would not.

Mistake 2: Taking too long to choose the yarn. Armed with knowledge from podcasts about the importance of swatching, I experimented with a few different options before settling on what I believed was the perfect color and fiber. I was wrong. Oh so wrong. But going through that long and arduous process made my investment in the success of the sweater that much higher, and the sting of failure that much sharper.

Mistake 3: Not matching color lots. Going back to the yarn here… they *looked* like the same color, until the sleeve was a shade darker than the body. There was no going back. I could have lived with that if I hadn’t made the next mistake…

Mistake 4: Trying to modify the pattern at the last minute. I didn’t notice how terrible it was until I put on the final border. This border was a pretty important design element. The sweater doesn’t look good without it, and in my case, didn’t look good with it. But at that point, I was feeling very impatient with just getting this sweater over with and on my body, so I did a few things to try to make it look better… They didn’t work.


Mistake 5: Being stubborn. Hindsight is 20/20. I should have let go, frogged the sweater, and reclaimed the yarn as soon as I had my border fiasco, but something told me I could fix this sweater. And my stubbornness let me drag this horror on for three years. It’s not like I worked on it all the time, but every so often I’d open that drawer where I’d laid it to rest and it would stare at me… It would challenge me. This led me to ripping out the border and trying yet again. BAD IDEA!

I didn’t win with this sweater. The sweater didn’t win either. It was a lose/lose situation. I don’t ever know where it is anymore, and that is probably a good thing. If I see it again, I am just going to get rid of it. I’m not even going to reclaim the yarn!


Halloween is approaching and this project is haunting my mind yet again. Dare I try again? Give me your advice in the comments.

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  1. Hind says:

    Yes,it is definitely worth to give it a try again . Such a beautiful stitch !, and a nice form too.
    As much as I can see from the photo, it seems to me that the border is knitted ,and that you have picked too much stitches ,which caused it to become wavy .In that case I suggest to replace it by a simple border of single crochet.It is easier to handle ,and I think that it will make a nice contrast to the lacy stitch of the sweater .
    Good luck this time .

  2. pat says:

    How about trying to make the button band a ruffle between the buttons by using crochet thread or embroidery floss to gather it? i think it would be cute, but you won’t know until you try it. Very cute lacy patter and worth another go. Sometimes we learn more from mistakes than by following the pattern requirements exactly; and then again sometimes it’s just best to quietly slip it into a bag and let it go on to another incarnation!

  3. Dvora says:

    You should totally try again armed with all your new knowledge and improved capacity for yarn buying. 🙂

  4. Tina says:

    hmm,I have had such luck as you . I would personally not do the sleeves, and work the ribbing as a ruffle and discreetly work sc around the armholes.
    It IS a beautiful stitch and color.
    🙂 Good luck, and please, post a pic,will you 🙂

  5. dorothy says:

    Definitely try again. Crocheters NEVER give up!!

  6. Tina says:

    @ Dorothy : Hear,hear !!! Totally agree !

  7. Kitty says:

    Go for it, Cami! I tend to agree with Hind … try SC border with last round maybe reverse SC? The sweater itself is quite lovely and nicely made. Let your mantra be: “I can do this, YES, I can!” heheheh and good luck.

  8. Kathy says:

    The pattern is very pretty, but it may be worth your wile to start over with the proper yarn this time. Frog the old sweater and make something more appropriately from cotton,

  9. Robyn Gough says:

    Yep. Know the feeling. I have a project that I have left after taking it right back to the balls of yarn. Next winter I will try again. It is a hot spring in Oz at present- too hot for yarn.

  10. Jane says:

    The sweater is sweet-looking and you’ve learned a great deal in the intervening years. Give it a go!!

    Also, FYI, you’ve given me the second wind I’ve needed on a sweater that started off a bit rough bit is doing just fine now. I just got tired of it — but it’s going to be a Christmas present and I’ve got to get going!

  11. Terri says:

    Of course try it again! Practice makes perfect. One of the things I love most about crochet is that no matter how messed up a project might get you always have the OPTION of pulling it apart and starting over or using the yarn for something else. There are other crafts that are not so forgiving, sewing is a good example. After the fabric is cut, and with some fabrics -sewn, you really have very little options to “fix” or change the project into something else. Crochet is a very forgiving craft, and while, yes, it can be heartbreaking to pull a project apart that you have spent, hours, weeks, or even months on, you can! It’s the phoenix of the craft world – when out of a dying project rises a new and beautiful crochet item. That’s how I like to look at it 🙂

  12. Marilyn says:

    I admire your tenacity. Go for it, don’t give up. I’ve just recently run into this very problem and am fit to be tied. But will practice what I’m preaching – keep at it until you get it right. Because you will get it right, just remember to go in with positive thoughts and get out of your own way. It’s easier said than done but we must charge on! Break a leg, kiddo.

  13. Nina says:

    Lo! Life is too short for the losers! Though I bet if you were to try it now you’d make it perfectly in half the time. When I look back at the projects which got the better of me, I realise how much I’ve learned, even in the last two years. But I’m totally with you on just chucking the whole thing away. Out of sight is out of mind! Nina x

  14. Maureen says:

    I am new to your emails/newsletter, and already I love them! Thank you for sharing your experiences! Makes me feel better…that I’m not the only one! My worst problem is starting a project and halfway through not finishing….I probably have a minimum of 15 projects throughout my house that are unfinished…and I am terrible about marking the spot where I leave off so it’s even more difficult to come back to….

    Oh well

    Just wanted to say thank you for the patterns, stories, etc. Love this!

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