I started knitting a Tomten at the end of December. It took a couple years for this pattern to grow on me, the pictures in Knitting Without Tears are just not all that appealing, but then I found the Zimmermania blog and started seeing gorgeous cute Tomtens on gorgeous cute toddlers and decided that I had to knit it. I decided to knit it for one of my fellow alums' toddlers (not really sure who yet, as I can think of 6 fellow alums with toddlers) in our school colors. I don't think any of us were really big on the whole dress with school spirit thing, but the maize and off-black cotton-ease yarns appealed to me and are sort of spirit-ish without screaming "I've got school spirit yes I do, I've got school spirit how 'bout you?" So I bought 3 skeins of Cotton-ease in maize and one skein in the off-black. 880 yards should be enough for a toddler sweater right? [cue ominous music]
The tomten is a really fun pattern when it isn't completely boring. I knit a rectangle with just over 1-220 yard skein in garter stitch before I got to any of the interesting bits of the pattern. And last week, I finished the hood (don't try to graft/kitchener after 11 pm is my advice) with 7 inches of the second skein to spare. But this is where I ran into a problem: my vision for the tomten involved knitting the entire body and hood in the muted yellow and then finishing it with an attached i-cord in the off-black. And if one skein of yarn gave me 24 1/2" by 8 1/4" (or 4,256 square garter ridge stitches*) I didn't think I was going to get two sleeves that start out 6 1/2" deep (or approximately 2,380 square garter ridge stitches each). So I had a dilemma. How should I knit the sleeves?
All off-black (letter jacket-eh)? Black and maize stripes (bumble-bee)? Neither option appealed to me so I took the third route: hunt like crazy for another skein of maize in the same dye-lot as the 3 skeins I already have. The crazy, one-in-a-million route (well, thanks to Ravelry I did have slightly better odds if I stash-stalked).
Before I started digging through the mountainous number of cotton-ease owners on Ravelry (2164 entries in "stash") I checked at a fabric store I happened to be at that also carried yarn, no luck. And as we headed home from dinner tonight I asked The Husband to stop by Michael's, I mean it is where I bought the yarn four months ago. The bin with maize cotton-ease was pretty full and I pulled each one out to check the dye lot number and stashed them in other bins, they had between 15 and 20 skeins of this color. The very last skein, when I was convinced I was going to knit the Tomten sleeves in a contrasting color, ended up being my dye-lot number – it was the only one of that dye-lot. Hurray! In disbelief I checked the number again. And then I put the rest of those skeins back in their bin and headed to the register (5 minutes to closing no less) and then I triple checked that number while waiting to check-out. But silly me decided to tell you more happy ending instead of actually knitting.
*garter ridges stitches are a completely fake unit of measure that I made up for purposes of figuring out if I had enough yarn. I simply calculated the area of the primary body rectangle and the area of the sleeve trapezoid using stitches and garter ridges as though they were inches/feet/your preferred measurement unit for length.