Knitted garments have a tendency to grow lengthwise. I know this and have known it for years. So, why, in my rush to get on with Isabel's cardigan did I fail to properly block the body before knitting on the front borders? Impatience. It's the only answer. I knitted the sleeves and left the ends unwoven so that their length could be easily adjusted post-blocking, but I finished the body off completely. Stupid!
Isabel tried on the sweater and, while it looked terrific, we both decided that it would be even more terrific if it were about 2 inches shorter. That's how much the garment grew through blocking. For some perverse reason, the sleeves remained the same. Go figure.
Now for the solution. Knitting surgery. Here's what I did. First, I dragged out the sewing machine and stitched across the front border only (not catching in any of the cardigan body) at the exact spot where I wanted to pick up stitches to re-knit the cardi's fun ruffley lower border. Then I whacked off the lower part of the front border and picked out its bits and pieces from the body. I frogged the body back to the point where the border was removed, picked up all the body stitches, and re-knit the lower border. Fortunately, the lower border is the type that curls back on itself, so I used the yarn ends to tidy up the rollover bit so it hides the machine stitching at the lower front border. Finally, I steamed the ruffle back into shape.
Was it worth all this to avoid having to re-do the entire front border and neck? Yes, definitely. But it would have been even better if I'd used some common sense and blocked the body early on before attaching the borders. Maybe someday I'll graduate from the school of experience.