Once upon a time, there was a Knitter who was very poor, and rather desperate for some Really Nice Yarn. So this Knitter, being young and innocent in the ways of Knitting, came up with a Brilliant Idea. When her mother-in-law (whom the Knitter loves dearly) wondered if this Knitter would be willing to knit her a sweater, the Knitter replied "Of course, if you get me the yarn, I'd be happy to!", little realizing the trouble she had just gotten herself into...
It probably wouldn't have been so bad, if I had suggested we get yarn that was the right weight for the pattern she wanted. But, supremely self-confident, I said "Oh don't worry about it! I can figure it out!" And I still think that is true. I certainly could have...if I hadn't kept having babies that sucked all the brains out of my head and obliterated my free-time.
So, the first issue was that the yarn was the wrong weight. I swatched it, and certainly could have made it work...except that I don't have that many brains left for my knitting these days, for the aforementioned reason. So, I looked for another pattern, that called for the weight of yarn I actually had. I found a beautiful one, from Harrisville Designs, with a lovely cabel/lace pattern down the front.
There were two problems with that. The first was, the yarn (alpaca) was really soft and had a bit of a halo, so cables and lace didn't show up as well as they might in something else. And that's a lot of work to put into something that won't show up very well. Also, (you may be aware of this) cables and lace take a lot of focus. And, frankly, focus isn't something I really have to give my knitting very much at this point in my life. So that pattern got scrapped as well.
Now, I would like to state at this point in the saga, that my poor MIL is a saint. She bought me this yarn (I think) just after my second child was born...roughly four years ago. I gave her the swatch that first Christmas, and then bought the second pattern just after my youngest was born (he's two and a half). And in all that time, while she has occasionally inquired as to the status of her sweater, she has never once made me feel badly that it was taking so long.
Finally, I came to a realization: If I wanted it to get done, it needed to be Stockinette Stitch. Something plain, that I didn't have to think about too hard, and that I could knit on in meetings. Because that's the only place I get knitting accomplished.
I decided to knit the Eyelet Cardi from Chic Knits, because not only is it almost completely plain stockinette, it is also knit in one piece, so there's no seaming at the end. It has one little stripe of lace around the shoulders, which adds a bit of visual interest without making the pattern complicated, and otherwise is just lovely, plain knitting. Perfect for showing off a lovely yarn, which this is. (I was using Prime Alpaca by Joseph Galler, Inc. A beautiful, soft, naturally colored yarn, "grown only between the altitudes of 13,000 and 16,000 feet.")
And, lo and behold, just a few months after finally admitting that a complicated pattern was a bad idea, the sweater is FINISHED!!! And I gave it to my MIL at Thanksgiving, because holding on to it until Christmas just really didn't seem right. I mean, I gave her the swatch FOUR years ago, and really, when someone's been that patient, it's not nice to make them wait any longer than necessary.
So, there are two morals to this story:
1) Never promise something (especially something big) before it's finished (or at least on the needles and well underway).
2) Knitter, know thyself. If stockinette is all you'll be able to work on in the life you have, don't pick a pattern with lace and cables. Trust me, you'll be a lot less frustrated.