Three years in the making. Three years because I'd abandon it for months at a time, especially hot months wherein the ugly prospect of spending an afternoon with a batch of hot wool on my knees forced me to nudge my completion date from one Christmas to the next, until I finally got the armpits sewed up a week after this last Valentine's Day (i.e., Monday).
The pattern was adapted from the seamless fair isle instructions in the remarkably good-natured Knitting Without Tears by the late, great Elizabeth Zimmerman. Here she is in chapter six, which is entirely devoted to the proper way to wash a sweater:
When far from home and wash-machine I have been known to sally into the out-of-doors with my dripping sweater in a salad basket, landing net, or pillowcase, and swing it round my head in an apparently lunatic fashion, to extract the water by centrifugal action, ending up by rolling it in several towels and even more loonily jumping on it. Anything to get rid of as much moisture as humanly possible, short of putting it in the drier. There is nothing more disheartening for a sweater than to lie in a sodden heap for any length of time. It can bring wicked thoughts of shrinking into its wolly little mind, as well as the idea of letting its colors run, just to spite you.
I actually learned the sweater washing technique that I still use today twenty years ago from Sam Shepard's Motel Chronicles:
He washed his red shirt in the sink. Laid a motel towel on the floor. Laid the shirt on the towel. As he smoothed the sleeves and crossed them on the belly of the shirt he thought of his own death. Of how they might cross his arms just like the sleeves on his own dead belly. He laid a second towel on top of the red shirt so the shirt was sandwiched then walked on top of the towel with his bare feet, making tight mincing steps, squeezing the water out. This was something he'd picked up from his mother. He'd seen her do this with her own bare feet on top of blue fuzzy sweaters with small synthetic shells for buttons. He'd seen her toes curl. Watched water squish out faintly bluer than water. Bleeding from dye. He thought of her feet and pictured them so vividly that his whole mother appeared before him.
I'll teach this to Jackson one day, so that every time he washes a sweater I'll rise up in the shape of a wet towel and give him a big kiss. Although, I've heard that the dead have to marshal an enormous amount of energy to visit the living. I learned that from an afternoon sick on the couch watching Crossing Over.