Tuesday, July 10, 2012

on the needles

Last August I knit my first Alga pullover....and while it was bliss at first, the combination of losing a little weight and it stretching soon rendered it a little too big for me.  Rather than unravelling the whole thing and essentially throwing away all of those knitting hours, I decided to give it away.  Which was a great deal for my mum, but a little sad for me because I really liked it.

Fast forward to this spring, when I paid a visit to the Needle Emporium and picked out some more Tosh Merino Light to knit another one.  Manor is a lovely greyish colour with little hints of turquoise - it should compliment my new Mother Nature hair nicely.....LOL.

The above photo shows the colour with the Ott light, and the following picture is a more natural light.  I think the actual colour lies somewhere in between. 

I'm by no means an expert or even a very quick knitter....but I do really enjoy it.  I am also very familiar with how frustrating it can be to make a wrong move and have to unravel backwards.  So I've learned a few tricks along the way that can help reduce the number of silly mistakes I make.

First, I knit a swatch.  I never used to do this - I was always too eager to just cast on and get started - but over time I've realized that it really can make or break your project.  More times than not, it saves heaps of heartbreak.  I am not so good about washing the swatch yet, though – I am going to have to work on that. 

Second, I try to read over the whole pattern before starting.  I circle all of the numbers in the instructions for the size that I am knitting, to make them quick and easy to find later on.  I also make notes in potential stumbling sections - especially areas where the pattern says to do something and then do it X more times.  I cross out the X and write in the total number of times (too often I've referred back to the pattern and missed including the first time in my count).

Third, I  make little cue cards.  When I have to repeat two rows (each with different actions) multiple times, it can be hard to remember where I am at.  I usually just take a little Post-it note folded in half or heavy piece of card and write the instructions for each of the rows on its own side.  At the conclusion of each round, I just flip over the cue card.  When there are a couple of hundred stitches in a round, there are bound to be interruptions before you get to the end....and this is a quick way to keep on track.  All it takes is a quick glance down.   If I need to work the same row a certain number of times, I can just keep track on the cue card. 

When I knit with hand-painted yarns, I try to work from two balls at once - switching every two rows.   My little note on the cue card reminds me when to switch.  I don't even need to think about it - just glance down and see if it's time....

Hopefully these little tricks are useful.   Do you have any tried and true tricks of your own to promote knitting success?