As I have mentioned, I haven’t been knitting a whole lot and what I have been knitting has been going very well. This Monday’s Mishap has been totally ruined by not trying anything complicated and reading all the instructions!
This mishap was not strictly knitting related, but I think it is funny nonetheless. I am knitting something for Sara (which will be blogged about this week) and I took it out to send her a progress photo. After taking the photo I left it on the table beside me, because I planned to continue working on it. My cat, Lucky, would NOT leave this project alone. She kept getting up on the table and sitting really close to it. If it were my own knitting, I wouldn’t be as adamant about keeping the cats away, but it is not mine and I don’t want anything to happen to these mittens.
Usually when Lucky sits beside some knitting, she is trying to lull you into a false sense of security. She sits there with an innocent look on her face like, ‘oh, I just want to sit beside you and your knitting while looking cute. See? I am no threat at all!’ Mind you I have figured this out, the sitting usually precedes pawing through the yarn, selecting a choice ball and attempting to run away with it in her mouth.
Every time she got close, to what I refer to as ‘the danger radius,’ I chased her away. Usually I only have to chase her away two or three times and she gets the idea; I’m not falling for it today. However, she was absolutely adamant about this yarn. I couldn’t figure it out! The yarn is Cascade 220 so it doesn’t smell particularly sheep-y or anything. Why was she so entranced with it?!
At this point I happened to look over at her food bowl, I had fed them this morning and usually if I just top off the bowl, she is a happy little camper. The food was fresh, not 15 minutes old, but the water was running low. It was at this point I realized my cats have me completely trained.
If they want more food, water, attention… they threaten the yarn. After I gave her more water, she was fine! The water bowl wasn’t even empty; it was just low! She wanted fresh water, so she came and PURPOSELY tried to mess with my yarn!
I don’t know about you, but I think she might be slightly miffed I’ve discovered her evil plan…
I have finished knitting the body for my Stripes Gone Crazy Cardigan. The end result looked a little… asymmetric. However! In the pattern itself, the designer wrote that this is totally normal and it will bock to look like a regular cardigan. I thought nothing of this and threw it in the washer to wet block.
I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but I use my ‘damages’ to knit samples from my own yarn. A ‘damage’ is a skein of yarn that had something wrong with it and I deemed it not fit to sell. This could mean anything from a knot in the skein to the colour not looking quite right. The skeins I had designated for this sweater looked fine, so I assumed there were knots in them or something. Little did I actually know, when I had dyed the purple, I had used too much dye. The yarn was very saturated and I was having trouble rinsing it out. I was afraid the colour would bleed and this would equal my whole business failing horribly.
I am really glad I didn’t sell those skeins because they bled onto the yellow and turned it a weird purple yellowish colour. Which I was totally not impressed with, so I washed it again. When I say I washed it, I mean I threw it in the washer on the wool cycle with some soak. There is no agitation and the soak is actually rinsed out. After the second wash the yellow was still a gross colour and then a light bulb went on in my brain. This is made entirely of superwash yarn, it doesn’t need to be on the wool cycle.
I put the sweater in again with the regular cycle and detergent to see what happened. Most of the purple came out of the yellow, but it still wasn’t the sunshine yellow that it was.
The yellow is now the exact same colour as the gold yarn in Gilt Leaf and Rule the Night; so that is what I will market it as. The sweater itself doesn’t look bad, but I am a little bit sad the really bright yellow didn’t stay bright. Perhaps I will have to make another one…
If there is a huge problem with you knitting, the answer is obviously that you need more coffee, right? I mentioned before that I had spilled my coffee all over when I was knitting on the Crazy Striped Cardi, but that was perhaps an example of too much coffee. I am going to lay out a couple shorter stories about time when I could have used more, or less, coffee for my knitting.
With the Crazy Striped Cardi, I was sitting in the morning, next to computer with my knitting and pattern. This is a familiar morning ritual for me; some quiet time before I start my day. It was going as well as a pattern full of short rows and an early morning can go when I reached for my cup of coffee and knocked it over. It spilled everywhere, luckily missing the top of my computer. I jumped up and got a towel to wipe off the bottom of my computer case and picked up my pattern. The pattern was still legible, but obviously ruined; I will tell you with complete honesty that the pattern marker didn’t move an inch through all the coffee and rough handling as I tried to dry it off.
I didn’t notice until later that I had actually gotten some of the coffee on the sweater itself. I can’t exactly wash it when I am half way through knitting it, so whenever someone commented on the stain, I just told them that I could block that out with any sweater problems.
A couple examples of when I could have used more coffee include when I have been blocking. My washing machine has a wool cycle, so when I am blocking things, which are super wash, I put them on the wool cycle of the washer with a little bit of soak. This works perfectly for me because the cycle doesn’t agitate it at all, the drum simply fills with water and it slowly rocks from side to side. There is even a section of this wash cycle where it allows the garment to soak in the water before it drains the water out.
After the cycle is done, I will get my garment and pin it out on a towel to block. The last TWO TIMES I have blocked anything, I completely forgot I had a knitted garment soaking. I left my green shawl in there for a good few hours. Luckily it was all balled up and scrunched so it didn’t start to dry while in the washer. If I had to guess, I would say I forgot about it for about five hours; just left it there. Knitters everywhere had a collective aneurism at the thought.
One more example of a need for coffee, or perhaps just more sleep, is when I started the Crazy Striped Cardi ribbing on the hem. You have to knit along a stripe of about 27 stitches then pick up 120 then continue knitting along other stitches that were held. As complex as this sounds, it really wasn’t too bad. It was just a hell of a lot of stitches. Knit one round plain, purl one round plain, then start the ribbing. It is a 1X1 ribbing done on size 3.25mm needles; needless to say it took me a second to pick up the rhythm of it. I was also using the Addi needles I have because I didn’t have a circular needle with a cord long enough and a gauge small enough to pick up the hem. Using unfamiliar needles and 1X1 ribbing a hundred billion stitches, it was not the most fun I’ve ever had in knitting. Along the second row of the ribbing I noticed that I had a seed stitch going instead of a ribbing. Smacking myself in the head I started looking back to see where I had gone wrong, I had actually messed up my foundation row and put two purls together instead of a knit and a purl. This was an easy fix though; I un-knitted back to those two purls and just purled two together and kept going like it was nothing at all.
It’s the small mistakes that happen the most and there is usually something that can be done about them, but the huge mistakes that involve very elaborate corrections are usually better to write about. I think I will end up trying to do a small anthology of stories like this once a month. Otherwise I might lose my mind trying to think of huge mistakes I’ve done. Let’s be honest too, if I had a huge mistake once a week, I would probably put all my knitting in time out, cover my ears and rock in a corner.
Today is a little bit of Monday Mishaps and Technical Tuesday mixed together. A while back, when I was knitting quite a few Fair Isle sweaters, I was really into colour work. I’ve done mittens, sweaters and all manner of garments in Fair Isle. This also means I have made my fair share of disasters with colour work.
When you make a mistake in a colour work pattern, it is usually pretty obvious; there is a pixel the wrong colour, so to speak. I will drop the stitch and go down to fix it if I can, but there are times when you can’t just make an easy fix that way. There are times when you just have to rip it out and ripping out colour work is just not fun.
The first time I ripped out a couple rows for a Fair Isle sweater I got the multiple colours of yarn hopelessly tangled. You almost need one person to do the ripping and one person to do the balling. If you don’t, the mountain of fiber before you will turn into something monstrous or it will just take you forever to complete.
When doing this by yourself, I recommend ripping out an arm’s length of stitches, then balling them. If you do much more than that you’re bound to get criss crossed. I had to rip out part of Paul’s special request sweater and untangling the yarn was a nightmare, especially since there were so many. I think there were something like five colours in his sweater, they weren’t all happening at the same time but at the point I ripped it out there were more than two.
You don’t always have to totally rip out your colour work either, there is always a chance you can drop down and change the stitch colour. I wrote a previous post about that here.
This post ended up being a little shorter than I anticipated, so I will regale you with a story about two colour knitting. I have a knitting bowl for my yarn, it’s exactly what it sounds like; a bowl you put yarn into. When I am doing two colour knitting, I can only put one colour in the bowl because it is just not big enough to accommodate two. Usually this bowl is situated in the living room with all my other knitting paraphernalia; I do a lot of knitting on the couch in front of the TV. The cats usually wander by and demand I pet them a little bit, but not too much; can’t mess up the fur. I have three and two of them cuddle up with me while I knit, but the other one is much more aloof. She will usually sit at the end of the couch while I knit, or on the floor.
While I was knitting this sweater for Paul, she kept getting closer and closer. I thought she may have finally been getting over her antisocial behaviour, you know, trying to associate a little more. Then she casually popped up onto the coffee table, grabbed my ball of yarn in her mouth and started to run away with it. I can’t even express how funny this was in the moment; it was like she was a cartoon character. It was that perfectly laid out. I had to chase her down and get my yarn back, and she maintained this interest in the yarn for the rest of the project. I think the Eco Plus yarn from Cascade must have smelled especially sheepy to her sensitive nose.
Today’s Monday Mishaps is brought to you by a lack of knitting mojo! Seriously. I know from the outside it may not look like it, but everyone loses the will to knit at some point in their lives. I had a point when I was working a minimum wage job and going through a rough time thatI didn’t knit a whole lot. Come think of it, that probably would have been a stress reliever, but I just had no inspiration and I was still fairly new to knitting. What brought me back was the seventh Harry Potter movie. I made Harry Potter scarves in order to go to the movie. It is just this kind of whimsy I would like to talk about today.
I know this is technically not a mishap where I have messed something up beyond belief, but to lose your knitting mojo and not knit, would be a far greater tragedy than snarling a ball of yarn.
Aside from that first time with the Harry Potter movie coming out, I have never really lost my knitting mojo. I have always been or become inspired by something, but in the past couple weeks, I lost it. To tell the truth, I didn’t even really realize I lost it. I was still knitting and blogging and talking about knitting; I’ve been elbow deep in fiber for the past several weeks. How could I have lost something that was right in my face the whole time?
While I was still knitting diligently, I was knitting to get samples done for the show. I was not taking any joy in the process; it was mechanical and needed to be done so I was ploughing through it. On a whim I sent out a bunch of messages to random Ravelry friends and the responses were just what I needed to get me back into the swing of it. By hearing about all the things they were working on and patterns they were discovering, I felt a renewed sense of curiosity and passion light within me.
I stumbled upon one of the many ways to get back your passion for knitting without even realizing it, but the first part of the battle is to realize when you are losing. If you ever think you should knit, then say, ‘I don’t really feel like it.’ Not a physical thing, like your hands or wrists hurt, but an emotional and mental resistance. For me, personally, that is the first clue and I seek help!
One think you can do it go on Ravelry, participate on the boards for the groups you have joined. Talk to those people about what they are knitting or how their lives are going. Usually there is some kind of knit-a-long to participate in going on somewhere. If nothing there is striking your fancy, I will move onto trolling for patterns. I enter terms into the pattern search like ‘long sweater’ or ‘mittens’ and just scroll through the hits.
I have found though, that the best patterns come from my friends. Some people on Ravelry favourite the things they like, other people add them to their queue. I add the things I would like to knit, to my library. Find out where your Ravelry friends keep this list of gold and go through it; this is especially amazing when you have friends with the same taste in knitted garments, they will always have something you will like.
That excitement of first finding the most AMAZING pattern is one of the best feelings in knitting, the other is finding the perfect yarn. Going out to your LYS is an excellent way to keep you motivated. The LYS will have yarn and people, which are two of the most crucial remedies in getting out of a knitting rut.
I really don’t think I should be advocating retail-therapy though, because I have problems on the best of days and if I am in a depressed place… I spend all the money. Just imagine that I said that with a Gollum voice and you get a better picture of that state of mind. If you have a stash, go stash diving to be re-inspired by yarn. There was a reason you bought it, if that reason is still valid and in your tastes, make it happen. If the yarn in your stash is dated or you don’t have enough for a given project try to set up a yarn swap, check the Ravelry boards and people in your area, there may be someone willing to trade.
Another technique that might help is to work on something different. If you’ve been working with lace for the past five months without a break, try knitting in something that is a DK weight, or aran; we could talk totally crazy and head straight through to chunky weight. It will totally change the dynamic of your knitting.
There is another place to re-kindle your romance with knitting, and it isn’t a place most knitters like to go; the unfinished objects box. I have one, I am sure we all have one. Sometimes those projects weigh on my mind and I put them down for no reason at all. If the UFO box holds something near to complete, or just something you forgot you started, it might help chase away these feelings. Whenever I start feeling like I haven’t completed a project in a long time, I finish a few things from my UFO box and I feel like a knitting superstar!
There is no tried and true way to get excited about knitting, but you will know what works best for you and your situation. What are your favourite ways to get excited about knitting again?
The anticipation can end! We are finally going to talk about how I messed up the Stripes Gone Crazy pattern. Let’s be honest for a minute though, it IS a complicated pattern and I don’t use a whole lot of brain power on the best of days.
In the beginning, the shoulders are shaped by doing short rows. Now there are lots of ways to start a sweater and I think the designer thought for a minute ‘oh, now I am really going to screw with people’ then decided to do short row shoulders, or it could have been an aesthetic thing since the sweater is already so busy.
As I was knitting, I was trying not to look at what I was doing, or think about it too hard. Just following the pattern was enough to think about and, like I said, I’ve been lacking brain power. The lights are on but no one is home, so to speak. I had all the markers placed for the increases and was doing them the way the pattern specified, I followed the instructions to a T. When I actually started to look at it though, it didn’t look right; I checked my stitch count. I counted the total amount of stitches and I was bang-on. There was no room for mistakes because I counted them twice and then got Paul to count them twice. At this point I went to the section break down, the part where it tells you that you should have X amount of stitches in the front lapel and X in the arm. It turns out that I had the correct amount of stitches, just not in the right sections. The front and back were too large and the arms were too small. This was not the end of the world though, the stitches were all there, just not on the right side of the stitch markers. I hadn’t gotten to the neck shaping yet, so it didn’t REALLY matter where the increases were, as long as they weren’t so close together that they create a ruffled effect.
I got all my ducks in a row and started on the stripes, this was the easy part of the stripes, you just have to make two plain ones, no increasing or decreasing, just two stripes. I had no problems here, I actually added in two more because the pattern specified If you like your long sweaters, add another couple stripes here. I had no problems separating the arms either, it was the pattern that foiled me later on.
In the pattern there are quite a few lines that tell you to go back and repeat lines X through Z. You’re not exactly reading instructions so much as thinking ‘okay, now go back and do those lines too.’ While I was working on this cardigan, I was listening to a podcast and sitting at the kitchen table thinking about how awesome I was and how awesome this cardigan was. Then I realized my stripes looked a little bit smaller than the ones in the photo. I blew it off and thought they would get bigger as the pattern goes on, you know, like a gradient…. It’s not a gradient. Instead of repeating rows 1-10 I was switching colours and starting a new stripe.
Theoretically this could have worked, because I would just have to do the same thing for the rest of the sweater. I did not want to do that much thinking through the rest of the pattern though, it looks like it only gets more complicated. So I ripped out about four inches of sweater with short rows. Heartbreaking right?
I started again and I am back to where I would have been if I hadn’t needed to rip out all that knitting. I was working on it the other day and I was mentally grumbling to myself about having to rip out that knitting when I realized I had dropped a stitch. DROPPED A STITCH?! Doing short rows and colour work, I dropped a stitch. I sat there and stared at my knitting for a few minutes, then grabbed a crochet hook and brought the errant stitch to the top. Since there are so many short rows I had to hang my crochet hook off the knitting until I managed a row that would pass by that area and I could pick up the stitch.
I am not even done the sweater so let’s hope the last bit goes easy…. Even if it does look the hardest. I am sure I will be fine though, I just need some quiet time to work on the cardigan and maybe a glass of wine. Wait. Short rows in the cardigan…. Scratch the wine.