Saturday, January 13, 2007

I Really Must Take a Knitting Class Sometime

I took a knitting class a few years ago when I'd been knitting for thirteen or so years. It was a knitting class that pretty much took you whereever you were and taught you a thing or two. You showed up with whatever you were working on and then she made suggestions as she watched you work or she helped you solve problems or whatever. At the time I was working on a baby outfit and trying to overcome my fear of anything sweater-related, and I was quite pleased to finally learn, after all those years, a second way to cast on.

This week it was brought home to me again that I am still essentially, the slowest-learning knitter in the World and that if it weren't for the internet and the occasional bit of luck, I'd never learn (or finish) anything.

Remember my Orenburg Warm Shawl? I was nearly done with the right border (which you knit first) and preparing to start the diagonal stripe that goes next to it. I went to the LYS's Calendar Club--this thing where you buy a Knitting Calender. This one:

And then get together at the shop once a month and start knitting something from it. If you come back before the next class and show them your finished object, you get to fill out a ticket towards a $100 shopping spree at the store (which would take me, like, five minutes to spend).

I wanted to do it mostly as an excuse to get out of the house once a month, but when Cynthia (one of the shop owners) suggested we do the monthly projects as future Christmas presents, I was intrigued.

At any rate, I was there for the first "class" on Wednesday when she went over all the rules and then we started knitting the first project. I won't say what it was, but I picked out two balls of yarn in a deep purple and then put them away to worry about later. I got out my shawl project and started knitting on that.

Well, to make a long story short (which I have to do now as I need to mediate the breathing treatments tonight. When they both need one, they rush each other, squabble--the next thing you know there's albuterol on the wall and none in the kids.) it was ultimately decided that I was knitting the shawl far too tightly. Like, hopelessly so. There was nothing to do but frog and reknit.

It took me another two days to get around to it, but I did. I frogged. I swatched. And then, on a whim, I decided what the heck--I know I've been knitting for awhile now and HOW basic is a yarn-over? But something had struck me a little while ago. I never once saw another knitter mention online how tricky it was to knit into their yarn overs coming back across on the next row.

Here's how you do a yarn over. You bring the yarn to the front of the work and around the needle. Whenever it was that I first read those instructions in print, I had noone around to actually SHOW me a yarn-over. So I read those instructions and I thought I followed them. And so, all this time, I've been doing a yarn-over upside down. You're supposed to bring the yarn UNDER the needle and then up and to the back of the work. I've been bringing the yarn OVER the needle and then back--you know, OVER as in YARN OVER.

This means you have to do some serious tweaking on the other side to slide the needle in to knit the stitch properly. Doing so, also causes a twist in the yarn that takes up half the slack introduced by the yarn-over. In other words, my yarn-overs do a great job adding a stitch, just like they are supposed to. But they don't leave much of a hole. They DO leave a hole, but you have to look for it.

So the biggest complaint that Kim (the other LYS owner who looked at the shawl as a second opinion) had was never mind that it was too small/short/narrow--it didn't look . . . lacey. It looked PRETTY enough. But not lacey.

So I googled the yarn-over, found an online video, watched the upside down yarn-over, and sighed. I knew this was the missing piece of the puzzle. I did the next row of the new swatch in the "new" way and my chin hit the floor. The new "holes" were three times the size of the other ones.

I frogged again. I went DOWN a needle size (from the three sizes I'd jumped up) so that now I'm on size 3 needles instead of the 1's I knit the first try on, and I swatched again. And it's really pretty. Much nicer than before.

So I feel STUPID and INCOMPETENT, but I can't say it's all for nothing. I tore out the new swatch and I'll cast on for the Orenburg all over again. Hopefully, for the last time.

(In the meantime I knit the purple project. I already finished it. It was blessedly free of yarn overs.)

Now. Do I rip out the Faroese shawl which is clearly rife with Yarn overs, but I'm only 12 rows into it? Or do I just . . . let the 12 rows go and start doing the yarn overs correctly from here on out? (whine, whine) I'm tired of frogging! (Mentally goes through her list of all of her projects on the needle. What else has yarn overs? I don't think anything else.)


Elizabeth said...

I'd take out all the wrong knitting and do-over. But I'm a glutton for punishment, and I'm awful at knitting.

I checked out a great DVD on knitting - it covered everything. It was "The Art of Knitting" and well worth buying, IMO.

Now I am noticing that you never knit for yourself. In all the years I've known you I don't think I've read a single blog entry about you knitting for you. Now what's up with that?

Dy said...

I have no idea. I actually changed projects today in the car rather than keep trying to do yarn overs while riding. It was just too much work to get my needle back through when I worked my way back. But then, it seems I was using a yarn over for the wrong purpose and the holes I didn't want were there b/c of the YO. Huh.

See, you're not the slowest learner! It could be worse - you could be me! lol. :-)


Writing and Living said...

As much as it pains me to say so, I'd frog and start again. The time spent doing it over would be much less than the time spent after the fact regretting that you didn't.

Did that make sense?

I will resort to great measures of self-deception to avoid ripping anything out. And I have a lot of stuff that doesn't fit right.

I had a similar experience when I first started thread crochet. I completely missed a concept that was integral to the whole thread crochet process. It's both frustrating and exciting to finally figure that kind of stuff out.

The Queen said...


I think you're doing yarn overs the way I was doing them. It really is a chore to get the needle through them on the next row and it shouldn't be.

Bring the yarn forward UNDER the needle as if you're going to purl, then bring the yarn up and back and knit the next stitch.

This should make a hole that is *easier* to knit into than a regular stitch on the way back.

Now, if you're just trying to add a stitch, use the stitch where you knit first in the regular way, and then knit into the back of the stitch. That creates a nice snug additional stitch, albeit one with a tiny purl bloop.

This site has videos for many of the stitches.

The Queen said...

trying again. You'll have to copy and paste the whole thing in your browser.

Dy said...

Ohhh, neato! Thanks!

Holly Burnham said...

I'd say fraog it and try again.

Also, don't be so hard on yourself. Until we 'see' a technique we can't know how to do it....written directions can take us just so far.

I really love the videos available now online.