Posts Tagged ‘mistake’

That Mistake? It’s Part of the Design.

March 29, 2017

I’ve written often about important it is for knitters to learn to spot their mistakes and figure out how to remedy them.  I firmly believe that one won’t become a Fearless Knitter without learning how to fix mistakes. If you allow an error to ruin a project — in your mind — then you’ll abandon it, be discouraged, and be less likely to try something else.

I’m also a firm believer in each knitter finding the best remedy for his or her particular project at the time. This will differ based on complexity, how far into the project you are, how long you’ve got to go, the scope and scale of the mistake (among other things).

How far back do you need to go to fix the mistake? How obvious is the error? It’s nearly impossible not to see an error — since we knitters can spot our own mistakes from across the room.

The real question is: How comfortable are you with letting go of a mistake and just letting it be? Every knitter has a different tolerance for mistakes, one that may vary depending on project, mood, and deadline for finishing.

Just as each knitter develops her or his own way of holding needles and yarn, there is no right or wrong way to handle a mistake. As The Yarn Harlot says, “there are no Knitting Police.”

Like me, Fearless Knitter Marcia is comfortable with finding her own way to deal with the inevitable mistakes. You may recall how she treated a few errant stitches  on the complex Aran Afghan square that she worked on during her girls’ fishing and drinking weekend.

At class recently, Marcia shared how she remedied a mistake in the button band of a baby sweater. See that row — opposite the button hole — that she forgot to purl (or maybe knit, depending on the direction)?

mistake in garter stitch button band

Well, Marcia didn’t see it until she’d knit a couple more inches of the top-down sweater. So, rather than rip back all that work, she incorporated the new “design element” into the rest of the button band, lining up the next line opposite the next button. Damn clever!

garter stitch button band with mistake incorporated

What mistakes and/or fixes have you been particularly proud of?

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Knitting Mistake as Memory Marker

November 5, 2016

I’ve written before about the inevitability of mistakes in knitting and about the many mistakes I’ve made in a variety of projects. Learning to fix mistakes is one of the key steps in becoming a Fearless Knitter.

I believe that every knitter has a different approach to mistakes, which can vary given the project, mood, or phase of the moon. Some are just fine with ripping back inches to fix a single dropped stitch. By “just fine” I don’t mean they’re happy with said ripping back, but they prefer the ripping and re-knitting to leaving the error. Other knitters prefer to think of the error as a personal “design element,” something that makes their particular project unique.

After a weekend visiting two dear sister-friends, Fearless Knitter Marcia discovered a few errant stitches in a square of her Great American Aran Afghan. Can you see it here?

aran-afghan-square-front

Hardly noticeable amidst the reverse stockinette stitch. It’s easier to see the knits (that should have been purls) on the reverse side.

aran-afghan-square-back

Now, perhaps a complex knitting project was not the ideal take-along for a girls’ weekend together since lots of conversation, cooking, and wine were on the menu. But that’s beside the point.

Marcia’s general practice is to fix mistakes, tearing back or tinking as needed. However, this time she decided to leave those four stitches. “Every time I see them, I’ll be reminded of that fun weekend,” she declared. Mistake as memory. I love it.

aran-afghan-squares

Knitting House Call

August 9, 2016

On a recent evening, Marcia — neighbor, friend, and knitting student (among other talents) — dropped by for a house call. She had a couple of skeins of lovely yarn that needed winding, and she needed a scarf-in-progress that was in need of rescue.

Like me, Marcia often visits local yarn stores when she travels, bringing home a souvenir of sorts with which she makes a new creation. This summer, her travels took her to London (England, not Ontario) where she bought a yummy skein of I Knit or Dye’s “At Last” silk 4 ply. It’ll probably be a shawl the next time you see it.

I Knit or Dye yarn "At Last" in Swizzel

She’s also picked up some “Extra” from Blue Sky Fibers (here in Ocean Deep), which will become a soft, cozy sweater. Stay tuned for that, too.

skein of Blue Sky Fiber's Extra yarn

Never one to shy away from a knitting challenge, Marcia had modified a cabled scarf pattern by adding an addition “twist” to her latest project. As an accountant, she’s very adept — and particular about — numbers, a very useful skill for a Fearless Knitter especially when it comes to rewriting a pattern.

However, while airplane flights are often fabulous knitting opportunities, Marcia discovered that they’re less-than-fabulous is the knitter has taken a muscle relaxant because of back spasms. It was no surprise that she got her cables in a bit of a twist!

With some careful tinking [to tink (knit spelled backwards) = to unknit, stitch by stitch) and picking up of stitches, we were able to put the scarf back on track.

cabled scarf close up

She can’t recall the name of this natural handspun yarn, but I can assure you that it is lusciously soft and squishy.

 

Making a Too-Small Sweater Bigger

September 5, 2015

As I’ve mentioned previously, the sweater that I knit for Michael is finished but not done. What I really mean is, it’s too small. This may have something to do with his increase in size from when I started the sweater. At the beginning of the year, he was on the high school wrestling team and was pretty lean — for a six-foot tall 16-year old. But after wrestling season, he started lifting weights and training in anticipation of football and, well, he got larger — much larger — as in 35 pounds heavier (“increased muscle mass” is his phrase).

We both managed not to get too upset (well, mostly) when he barely squeezed into the finished sweater sometime around the end of May, an event I did not photograph. We agreed that it’s beautiful, but there’s no way he could wear it. Here it is blocking before sleeves.

front of nordic sweater blocking on bed

Kevin, who’s older but smaller than Michael, volunteered to take the sweater, assuring both of us that it would fit him just fine. How very generous! But I resolved to figure out how to fix it.

I consulted other knitters, looked through several knitting books, and searched online for “how to make a enlarge a sweater” and “my sweater is too small.” I settled on the following strategy:

  • take apart side seams
  • remove lower ribbing,  add 2″ to the front and back, and knit the ribbing (This involved using “lifelines,” a technique I’ve found very handy!)
  • knit two 2″ gussets to sew into the side seams, thereby adding 4″ to the circumference of the sweater (well, minus maybe 1/2″ total of seaming). The gussets are rectangles up to the underarm and then tapered to a point over about 4-5″. I hadn’t reached the tapering in this photo.

two rectangular knitted  gussets for enlarging a sweater

I’ll have to open the underarm sleeve seam for a bit and add the tapered part of the gussets there.

I really, really hope this works. Wish me luck!

 

Throw Me a Lifeline (or Two)

June 17, 2015

Knitters won’t be surprised to learn that the definition of “lifeline” in most dictionaries, paper and digital, does not include this handy technique that has saved the life of many a knitter. FIguratively, not literally, of course.

But learning how to use a lifeline can enable you to finish a project, thereby “saving the life” of the project, and that should count for something! Last year, when the cuff of a sock was too tight for the intended wearer, a lifeline allowed me to cut off the offending section, pick up stitches, and make a new cuff.

In the past week, I’ve used lifelines to rescue two projects, Michael’s finished-but-not-done sweater and the recently started Old Shale Wimple.

Michael’s sweater is about two inches too short. It’s also too tight across the chest, but that’s a more complicated issue to be dealt with at another time. Rather than tear out the ribbing around the bottom of the sweater bit by bit — too slow and painstaking a task for me — I wove a strand of white yarn into a row above the ribbing, catching each stitch.

Creating a knitting lifeline by  inserting yarn into each stitch of row

With that row firmly held by the lifeline, I cut the ribbing off the sweater.

yarn lifeline holds row of stitches

And then picked up each of the stitches held by the lifeline. I picked off the extra bits of yarn from the ribbing side, so the stitches on the needle were ready to be worked. I’ll need to add two inches to the body of the sweater and then add the ribbing.

pick up each stitch from the knitting lifeline

The wimple’s rescue was similar but was necessitated by my carelessness in following (i.e., not following) the pattern. I’ll save the specifics of that adventure for another post, but here are the steps of the wimple lifeline.

lifeline inserted in knitting

picking up stitches with knitting lifeline

Learning how to fix mistakes is the key to finishing projects. And I’m getting lots of practice these days!

A Different Kind of Lifeline

April 25, 2014

When we last were together, I was nearing the finish of Claire’s first sock. Although I love this anonymous yarn, I wasn’t thrilled with how it looked with the mini-cables of the gentle waves. But I was determined to finish.

And I did, but the result was a sock that looked nice but didn’t fit, at least not without a lot of pulling and tugging. The foot was fine, but the leg was too small. Who wants that when you’re getting dressed in the morning?

Rather than tear out the entire sock, I embraced the opportunity to show my class how to use a lifeline to tear out a large amount of knitting. I stitched a contrasting strand of yarn around the row where the leg met the heel flap, picking up the first side of each stitch.

Sock_Lifeline

I planned to pull out the sock from the top ribbing down to the lifeline. I knew the ribbing would involve a fair bit of picking rather than easy pulling out of the stitches. But I quickly figured out that unraveling the back-and-forth of K2 P2 would be nothing compared to the ins and outs of the “gentle waves” cable pattern. After about 5 rounds of picking out stitch by stitch, I reached for a different kind of lifeline.

Sock Cutting

Scissors work wonders. And I knew just where to stop, thanks to the lifeline.

 

Good Thing I Enjoy the Process

October 13, 2013

In the past 5 years or so, I’ve come to realize that I’m a process knitter. I really enjoy the act of knitting. Don’t get me wrong — I like to finish a project, too. But I don’t have to wait for the end to enjoy myself.

This is a good thing because I regularly find myself having to tear out stitches rows and rows of a project. Take my latest sock (please). I had a feeling it was too big shortly after I finished the ribbing.

BigSock 

I tore it out and started again with 8 fewer stitches. Did I check the gauge? I think you know the answer.

Every time I picked up this somewhat smaller sock, I thought “hmmm, that looks kind of big.” But I reasoned with myself that I’d already started over with fewer stitches so it couldn’t be too big — could it?

Yes, it certainly could. And while the eventual recipient of the socks is an 18-year old athlete, he does not have elephantine calves or ankles.

IMG_2674

But I had carried on longer than was sensible because I was enjoying the process: turning the heel and knitting half of the foot. I finally got a grip on reality and decided to ditch the whole thing and start over.

UnwindingSock

Tearing out is much more fun when you use a ball winder. And you get a lovely ball of yarn…again.

Rewound

 

When in Doubt, Read the Pattern

August 29, 2013

My Mom is full of old sayings, many of which are prefaced by “As my mother would say….” One of her favorites is “when in doubt, read the directions.” So true, so true.

I figured out why Square 2 of the Albers cowl was turning out to be significantly bigger than Square 1.  It wasn’t an inexplicable change in tension (I’m pretty steady in the tension department). Nor was it because the yarn used for the outer border of #1 was different than all the other yarns.

Nope. I’d just misread the pattern and had knit many more rows than I should have.

I also figured out that ripping out is much less distressing when done while drinking beer on the ferry to a beautiful island.

RippingFerry

Zig-zags on a Crescent

August 14, 2013

After a binding-off miscalculation, which resulted in a bit of tinking back and re-binding-off, the crescent shawl is done.

CrescentShawl

It’s a variation of Ann Weaver‘s basic triangle shawl; actually, a smaller version of her Saturated Shawl.  I didn’t discover until I’d blocked it that I’d been less than consistent in my increases. The result is that there are two zig-zaggy lines of increase “holes” from the center to the edge. I blame this mistake “design element” on the frequency with which I knit this while in a bar and/or while chatting with lively, engaging, and downright funny fellow knitters.

crescentshawl2

I used some lovely sock yarn that I bought in Ottawa earlier this spring: Blue Faced Leicester Sock by Riverside Studio in Quebec. The dyer is Kathryn, katdry on Ravelry, where she seems to be more active than her  Etsy shop (where I was unable to view the beautiful yarn that I know is there).

I added a couple of stripes of light gray that I took from the stash that Ann Weaver shared on our cruise. I wanted to set off the second triangle that starts about shoulder blade height. Of course, if you wear it wrapped around neck, the stripes appear every which way.

crescentwrapped

I used a new bind-off, taught to me by wonder-knitter Barb. One that’s looser and more stretchy, just right for the edge of a shawl that you want to drape every so loosely.

Instead of the usual knit 2, stitches then bind one off (looping one stitch over the next, resulting in one remaining stitch on right needle), you knit 2 stitches, then knit them together through the back. Like this:

bindoff

This leaves you one stitch on your right needle. Knit one more, then knit 2 together through the back again. Repeat until the end of the row. The result is a nice, loose edge – like this:

stretchybindoff

I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with the Albers Cowl.

MAalbers

Piecing it all together

July 11, 2013

By the time I’d finished each piece of the Illusion Cube blanket, I’d knit more than the required 56 hexagons. There were a few mistakes along the way — duplicates of color combos, short-sided “cubes” (at least two of those). But finally, I was ready:

56 knitted hexagons for blanket

Sewing it all together seemed pretty easy-peasy as I started. The blanket is stitched together in quasi-stripes — based on the border colors of the hexagonal pieces (don’t you love that word?!). I was so pleased with the first 1 1/2 rows that I captured the progress in a photo.

Beginning row of stitched blanket

Wait a minute — THAT doesn’t look right. The colors were lovely but something about the stripes caught my eye — and not in a good way.

Blanket pieces sewn together at wrong angles

Fortunately I hadn’t gone too far with the second row. So I snipped and un-sewed, laid the whole thing out on the table, and placed each piece in the correct spot. And started sewing again.

THAT doesn’t look right…. (take 2)

June 23, 2013

As I’ve noted before, there’s no such thing as a knitter who doesn’t make mistakes. Learning to spot mistakes and figuring out how to correct them is something every knitter must do. If you don’t, you’ll end up frozen — confronted with a mistake that you’re unable to fix and unable to continue your project.

In the course of knitting the pieces — all 56 of them — for the Illusion Cube Blanket, I’ve made multiple mistakes. Sometimes I’ve spotted the mistake right away and been able to correct it with relatively little effort. Like forgetting to switch colors and realizing that I’ve knit four rows of periwinkle instead of two.

Another kind of mistake sneaks up on you. You think you’ve finished a cube just fine until you look carefully and realize there’s something not quite right. Like this:

AppleMagentaCube

It wasn’t until I took a photo of these two cubes, made with the same colors but in different combinations, that I spotted my mistake. Do you see it?

CubeShortSide-20130622-112705.jpg

There should be 5 stripes of the alternate (non-border) color on each side of the cube. In this one, I’d only knit four.

While sorting and counting the cubes I’d completed, I discovered a couple more that had mistakes.

CubeMistakes-1

But, I hear you asking, what do you DO when you find a mistake? Do you have to correct it? Or in this case, make new cubes with the proper number of stripes?

The answer depends on your preference. There are no knitting police or inspectors who will check your work and mark you down for errors. What do YOU want to do about it? How daunting is the correction? How will YOU feel when you look at your finished project — will the error seem glaring to you even if no one else can see it without your pointing it out? Do you care?

For me, for this project, I decided to knit new cubes with the proper number of stripes and correctly matched borders. After all, when you’re knitting 56 lovely striped cubes, what’s 3 or 4 more?!

 

 

THAT doesn’t look right…

March 1, 2013

When my children were first learning to skate, I took them to a community rink for a lesson. They spent the entire first lesson falling onto the ice, flopping onto the ice, protected by their snowpants and jackets, and learning to get up.  “On your hands and knees and bark like a dog,” the teacher commanded. “One knee up, and then the other.” Brilliant teaching. Everyone falls at least once, and if you can’t get up, you’ll never learn to skate.

Kind of like knitting. Unless you learn how to fix mistakes, you’ll never learn to knit — or you won’t learn to enjoy knitting. Mistakes are inevitable. Like these purl stitches that I discovered on this sweater for a colleague’s baby-to-be.

PurlNotKnit

I didn’t notice the errant purls until a few rows later, of course. With a crochet hook, good lighting, and a few calming breaths, I slipped the stitches of each vertical row, one by one, and then “re-knit” them with the hook.

FixMistake

Until each purl had been turned into a knit. Problem solved. Move on to the next row.

FixMistake2

Third Time’s a Charm

January 5, 2012

Recognizing your mistakes and know how to correct them is one of those things you need to do if you want to succeed — with knitting and pretty much everything else in life.

And so it was with the Brattleboro hat. The pattern, in the copy of  New England Knits  that I borrowed from the library, caught my eye  — a ribbed band and a moss stitch crown. Add a button for flair and you’ve got a lovely headcovering, one you can pull snugly over your ears.

Take 1: As I’ve said before we are a large-headed people, so it didn’t take me long to realize that the crown I was making just wasn’t going to fit. See how I’d already been decreasing for a few rows (line of stitches near marker) and it was only about as wide as the ribbed band?

Even though I didn’t know who the recipient of the hat would be, chances were it would be a member of my extended clan and that meant Big Head.* So I ripped back to before the decrease and started again, fully intending to modify the pattern. That’s when I discovered that I hadn’t followed the pattern correctly. That pesky “every other row” had escaped my notice.

Take 2: Flush with the excitement of discovering that the error was mine and not the pattern, I moved quickly to reknit the crown. A bit too quickly it turns out. It’s easy to get overly confident when you’re knitting moss stitch in the round, giving the piece a quick glance every now and again.

mismatched moss stitch

Note the seismic shift in the moss stitch. Seems obvious, yes? Well, it took me several inches to notice it.The second ripping ensued, ready for the next attempt.
Ripping out crown of knit hat

Take 3: It really is a lovely hat. My dear niece Nora (even more lovely) approves.

Nora in Brattleboro Hat

*When my kids were younger, they and cousins Ben and Nora (she of the hat) would play a game that entailed hiding from their parents, as they sat around the supper table, and tossing the occasional stuffed animal, sock ball, or other soft item toward the parents. Giggling and scampering were involved. They dubbed this game “B.H.” It was only after several years of observing (secretly, of course) this game that we parents discovered that B.H. stood for Big Heads. Yup, that’s us!

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