Well, this has certainly been what one may refer to as a "long-term" project, but it is finally done.
Pattern: Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Roughly 7 skeins of Cascade 220, in "Brown"
Needles: US 7, circulars and DPNs (I used knit picks Harmonies)
Time to knit: Forever
Ravelry tells me that I began this sweater on June 20, which sounds about right. I spent my summer knitting on this sweater. I knit on it during my lunch hour when I was working with the physical plant on campus, I knit it on the plane when flying to San Diego (although it never made it to the beach), I knit it while taking the Greyhound to Minneapolis. I knit on this sweater while carpooling to Chicago and, most importantly, I knit on it to keep me company while living on a quite desolate campus over the summer.
By the middle of August I was done with most of the knitting. I had knit the body of the sweater, I had knit the sleeves, I had done the saddles. All that was left to do was cut the front steek and knit on a button band and collar. And so, being the fearful knitter that I am, I stuck the sweater into a drawer rather than cutting it open and nearly forgot about it. It wasn't until the end of February (a full six months later!) that I was finally able to suck it up and cut the sucker open. I steeked it while on retreat with other knitters, and therefore was able to lean on them for support (thanks guys!) and you know what? It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
I reinforced the steek using the crochet method, and then promptly ripped it out and did it again (whether I was being cautious or simply wasting time, we may never know). I then laid the sweater on the floor and began cutting. Strangely enough, although I was able to control my nervousness, my camera (I'm convinced) went into hysterics and gave itself a heart attack. I, therefore, was not able to document the actual cutting (of course my camera regained consciousness after the steeking was over), but the fact that the sweater is finished proves that I did indeed do it.
Once the steek was cut (I had picked up all my stitches for the button band before I cut the steek because I had been entertaining the idea of knitting a false button band onto a "pullover" in order to both fool the viewer into thinking that I had indeed cut the steek and also to avoid the painful act of cutting one's knitting), it took me about the length of the season of "1940s House" to knit the button band. I then promptly ripped it out when I got back home from the retreat (what is it with me promptly ripping things?) and knit it again, much more to my liking. The first button band/collar had some strange short rows that I had added for no reason other than I thought I should and there weren't enough decreases in the collar, making it look a bit wonky. I like the new button band much better, although the back of the collar still leaves much to be desired.
I learned so much about knitting through this sweater. Elizabeth Zimmermann is not one to hold the knitter's hand whilst they work one of her patterns, and so I really had to be confident in my own abilities and decisions. Before I even began knitting, I had to choose my cables, do all my swatching and cable placement for the body and arms. I had to make sure my saddles were going to line up with the patterning (of my own choosing) and then I of course had to chart out each cable. Being the masochist that I am, I didn't bother choosing cables with the same number of rows per repeat (I had cables with 5, 6, 8, 12, and 14 row repeats) and ended up writing out which cables would need to be crossed in every single row. I also knit the entire sweater without a cable needle (a technique which I now think should be required of every knitter).
I often forget that this is only my second sweater, yet when I do remember, it really helps me to overlook the few odd choices I've made and I'm sure that I will learn from what I've done and be able to apply it to everything that I will do in the future.