Sunday, December 12, 2010

Second knitting project

I have crocheted for at least 10 years and have made a number of projects from dishcloths to sweaters.  Here are a few links with posts about two of my sweaters:  New crocheted sweater and More on crocheting....  I have done more sweaters than just these two, including a sweater that ended up being far too wide and short to wear, made with some pretty stiff yarn.  That one got donated to Salvation Army after I was laughed at one time too many.  If the yarn wasn't stiff, I probably could have worn it.  I've also made a sweater for my stepfather that fits him well, but he's always warm so rarely wears sweaters.  I've also made a few cute things for my friend Sherri's daughter, Sydney.

Okay - you twisted my arm.  Here are a few pics of Syd from when she was a few months old and when she was 2 or 3:

Sherri put her IN a pumpkin wearing this.  She was less than thrilled.

This jacket turned out really cute, and I even made toggle buttons with polymer clay.

So, the upshot is:  the construction of a sweater does not scare me, nor do I find it daunting.

Emboldened by the bag I discussed a few days ago I picked a hooded jacket (the kids call them "hoodies" nowadays) from the cover of the Fall 2010 Knitscene magazine.  It looked pretty easy.  I thought it was well within my skills and could be knit with yarn that had survived my stash-purge before my move up to Milwaukee

Yeah.  Looks can be deceiving.

Okay, folks!  Hold on to your hats and buckle up...  This is going to be quite a rocky ride.

The first thing you generally work on is the back, starting from the bottom.  The first 18 rows of this sweater is worked in seed stitch, which is knit one, purl one across the row, then the next row is purl one, knit one, so you're purling on top of a knit stitch and knitting on top of a purl.  There is a lot of yarn movement (yarn behind the needle for a knit and yarn in front of the needle for a purl), and you can't easily tell what's going on until you're a few rows in.  In this regard, crochet is pretty easy - you can generally tell if you just did a single crochet or a double.

I mainly worked on this when Mom was in the hospital.  I do not recommend this unless you're very familiar with what you're doing.  I got interrupted a lot by techs, nurses, and doctors coming in, Mom needing something, my phone ringing, or whatever else you can think of.

Attempt #1:  16 rows in
I finally figured out what seed stitch is supposed to look like, and my version definitely did not look like that.  It's the band at the bottom of the sweater that fits a little tighter but will expand if necessary.  It did resemble that in spots, but there were expanses that looked like jumble.  If you don't get the stitches exactly right, it doesn't work.  I was keen to leave it as is, but my husband said, "You're going to have to rip it out.  I know my wife - you won't be happy with it like that."  I threw the ball of yarn at him.  So he could wind as I ripped it out.  That's the only reason - I promise!

Attempt #2:  3 rows in
The phone rang, and I set my knitting down without pushing the loops farther on the needles.  I dropped a stitch, and being a new knitter, I didn't know how to fix it.  (I think I got the hang of it now, though!)  The worst part about this?  It was a wrong number.

Attempt #3:  14 rows in
I was doing well.  Really, I was.  But I got confused on which row I was supposed to do - did I start with a knit or a purl?  I undid the row and tried again, but I misread my tick marks and got it wrong.  I didn't realize it for a few more rows.  Argh!

(As an aside, by now I was doing great with the seed stitch as long as I moved the yarn right after the stitch.  I still got confused but usually could straighten myself out by counting "knit, purl" or "purl, knit" on the loops of the right needle.)

Attempt #4:  about 15 rows of stockinette past the 18 of seed stitch
Everything went great.  I finished the band and was working on the rest of the body, which is worked in easy stockinette stitch (row of knit, row of purl).  I kept looking at it, though.  The pattern calls for size 7 needles, but I didn't have any.  I had size 6, though, which I purchased for something else, so I figured I'd use that and up the pattern by two sizes.  I crochet tightly, so I assumed I'd knit tightly, too.  After I showed it to Steve, he said, "That's the whole back?"  I threw the yarn at him again and tossed my needles into the bottom of my bag.

Attempt #5about 4 rows of stockinette past the 18 of seed stitch
Now for reasons I don't remember, I purchased size 9 needles instead of the recommended size 7.  On the up side, I decided to knit my own size instead of two sizes up.  Less stitches = quicker sweater.  Theoretically.  I got really far that day at the hospital, finishing at the end of a row to make sure I didn't drop any stitches.  After dinner, Steve and I watched TV, and I picked up my knitting and dug in the bottom of my bag for the other needle.  Do you see where this is going?  I didn't... for about 6 rows.  I was wondering why some rows were really tight and some were really loose.  Then I finally looked at the size 9 needle in one hand and the size 6 in my other.  Oh, crap.  Both are the really nice, smooth bamboo needles (the same color, of course), and it didn't even occur to me to check the sizes before I started.

(Now, a sane person would have thrown both sets of needles, the very tired yarn, and the magazine in the trash.  I am, obviously, not a sane person.  My darling husband is now very good at winding yarn back on the skein, and the size 6 needles were banished to another location.)

Attempt #6:  SUCCESS!!
I'm now pretty good at seed stitch.  I really ought to be at this point, ya think?  I flew through those 18 rows and have completed 18 rows of the stockinette stitch so far.  I have put it aside to work on jewelry the last few months, but after this post, I may just pick it up again.  Want to see what I have so far?

That part on the bottom is the seed stitch.  Imagine how it'd look if you get off the pattern even one stitch.  I did not take pictures of attempt #1.  I weighed the options of humor vs. humiliation, and I opted to just tell you about it.  So sorry!  (not)


  1. If nothing else, you sure are determined. Didn't get that from me. Sure looks good so far.
    Love ya!

  2. From one frustrated knitter to another: Set a lifeline! This is just a contrasting piece of yarn that you thread through the live stitches on your needle. Mark on your pattern the row the lifeline is on, then if you mess up you can unravel back to the lifeline (which holds all your stitches so you can pick them back up again) and start again from there instead of going all the way back to the beginning. I usually move my lifelines at least every few inches. It's a sanity saver!