Sunday, November 1, 2009

A couple more glitches...

And, because you always get a few curveballs, I got this message, one day:

"So at first when I dropped a stitch I was too afraid to try and fix it, but after two holes, those little buggers really started to bother me. But I don't know how to go back a row, and when I try, I inevitably drop more stitches and the whole thing is such a mess! I looked in Sally's book, and other than convincing me me that every mistake MUST be fixed, she wasn't very helpful. Pulling the whole thing off the needle is a little scary.

Sally has good directions for when you have one loose thread on the back of your work--- what do you do when there are two?


I have to admit that I had no idea what she was talking about. I could feel her panic, but wasn't sure what to tell her. This is a good thing to note if you plan on sending me any questions about knitting. Make sure you tell me *exactly* what the problem is (or send me a photo), so that I can help you quickly and precisely. I sent her this:

"ACK! This is your step-by-step plan:

1. Ok, don't panic.
2. Grab a needle (any needle - even a stitch holder, or a bamboo skewer for making shish kebabs) and pick those dropped stitches up, so they don't unravel completely, like a run in stockings. Heck, even use a safety pin just to hold them in place.
3. Go and look at page 146 in Sally's book and double-check to see if this might help.
4. If it does not help and you have a Skype account, look me up and ring me on your computer (it's free). I'll be sitting at my computer all afternoon (well, at my sewing machine, beside my computer).
5. If you don't want to set up a Skype account, call me at the number listed below my signature and I'll walk you through it. We'll keep it real short so your phone bill doesn't give you a coronary.

I'm not *exactly* clear on what the situation, so it's a little tough to give you instructions in an e-mail. If you've dropped a couple of stitches and then proceeded to knit several rows, you'll see those stitches hanging out (probably on the wrong side of the fabric), with their loops all exposed and naked. THAT's what you want to catch on your extra needle/bamboo skewer. You don't want them cascading down until they disappear. If they've disappeared, let me know - we can fix that. If they're still a row or two down, that's easy to fix. If they're 5 or 6 rows down, we might have to do a bit of "ripping back" (really not as scary as it sounds) or "tinking" (get it k-n-i-t, spelled backwards is t-i-n-k, so it basically means un-knitting, one stitch at a time)."

She fired me off this message:

"I am home with the kids today, so I won't get back to my knitting until tonight after they are in bed. I don't currently have any dropped stitches, instead, when a stitch was dropped for a minute it became unknitted in two rows before I grabbed it. I don't know how to reknit that second row -- Sally only has directions for one row (or one loose thread.) I'll check my email tonight."

Ah, that's a little clearer. I put this together for her and she was able to fix the glitch.

This was her response, the next day:

"Hooray! It worked! I'm knitting forward again instead of just staring sadly at my project.
Your instructions were perfect. I fixed the problem that was on my needle (the stitch had slipped back three rows) and then as I knit around, I fixed three other holes caused by one loose thread, each of which were about ten rows back. Each time I purposefully dropped the stitch to get back to the row where the loose thread was, my heart beat so fast and I felt a little sick to my stomach. But I followed your instructions (I had to look at your pdf each time), and I managed to fix each hole. Now the only obvious error in my project is the seed stitch in the beginning.
Even better than having the holes fixed is knowing that if a stitch slips off and gets unknit for a row or two, I know how to fix it. It makes it so much more fun to knit now that I'm not in fear of making a mistake.
Thanks again. I am so relieved and excited to be moving forward. Oh, and as a status update, I have about three inches completed. I'm considering doing an inch or half-inch more than the 7.25 the pattern calls for. I figure that way it'll be size 1-2 years in width, but more like 2-4 in length. As I mentioned, my son is on the skinny side, and I'd rather the sweater be snug, which is why I picked the smaller size. Can I adjust the length, or will that screw everything up?"

My answer:

"Oh, I'm so glad it worked! Keep in mind, you'd have to do something a little different if you were doing a knit/purl pattern (like the seed stitch), but it's all a matter of how you place that "bar" and how you work the stitch over it. Maybe I'll add that to the tutorial...

I *totally* understand the "sick to your stomach, leaping off the edge of a cliff feeling" you got when you intentionally dropped your stitch to go back to the source of the problem! Imagine THIS (and yes, you will want to barf when you read it): there's a type of sweater that is made by knitting up a huge tube (much like we are doing), but instead of creating armholes by binding off and casting on (which we will do), you just keep knitting all the way up to the neck (you decrease, of course, as you get up past the shoulders). THEN (oh my god, I can't believe I'm about to tell you this - it's like ripping your heart out), YOU C.U.T. ARMHOLES INTO IT. Yes that's right: you take your beautiful handknitting and you CUT slits in the tube with SCISSORS to create armholes. Granted, you sew the knitting on either side of the cut, so it doesn't unravel, but STILL! It's called "steeking" and if someone ever proposes it to you, try not to tremble and cry. I'm sure some people can bring themselves to do it, I'm just not one of them (yet). CUTTING my knitting? *shakes head in dismay*

Oh! I forgot to mention that lengthening the sweater is absolutely no problem - that's the joy of handknitting. You may also consider making the sleeves longer, when we get there (you can always roll the sleeves up on it if they're a bit long - the little seed stitch cuffs will make that super easy to do). However, whenever you make a change like that, you should write it down on your pattern. I know it seems dumb, but if you get in the habit of doing that, you'll save yourself a lot of misery later.

Like when you're designing a sweater on the fly and you cast on a bunch of stitches and you knit up a sleeve and you don't write it down and then you get to the next sleeve and you have no effing clue what you did the first time and then you have to take 2 hours meticulously charting your entire completed sleeve to make sure you make the second one to match and you still manage to get it wrong... *cough cough*.

Yeah, like that."

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