Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Knit Knightmare

Quilting and needle work are my truest crafty love. But once upon a time, it was all about the needles - knitting needles, that is.

After a few short instructions from a local knitting shop coming on 40 years ago, I taught myself to knit. For many years, I kept all kinds of knitted items--mostly sweaters--on my needles at all times. Like any good crafter, I was always thinking ahead to the next project or two, purchasing and storing yarn for its turn.

When quilting came along, my knitting interests turned to more portable sock-making projects. That means that some of those stored yarns for future projects landed on the dreaded shelves in my storage spaces.

Quilters: Think "UFOs."

So a few weeks ago, just before I headed out for the quilt cruise, I received an email from Purl Soho with a pattern for a knitted shawl.

I needed a travel project, and I immediately thought of these giant skeins of yarn that have been 'temporarily' gracing a prominent shelf in my master bedroom closet since the day we moved in (the house was completed in 2000).

I grabbed the appropriate needles from my stash and a skein of the cream color and got to work.

As an experienced knitter, I'm pretty familiar with lots of different stitches--complex fisherman knit sweaters were among my favorites back in the day. But I never really experimented with the various stitches--like this honeycomb cable--without something else to start it off, like a rib. If you're a knitter, you'll understand, quilters, maybe not (after all, this is a quilting newsletter). I mean, knitters know that there are some stitch patterns that are meant to be used in combination with other stitch patterns to keep them flat.

Some patterns curl, irreparably without their tempering counterparts.

In the photo below, do you see what I see? That curl at the bottom materialized right from the first few rows. . . But I kept going, surely it'll 'press out'--this part should sound familiar to quilters and knitters alike - it's kinda like making a cardinal sin in the quilt piecing and hope that 'it'll quilt out' knowing full well that the rumple will be there no matter how much thread painting layers are applied!

I couldn't bear to rip it all out.

So I tried a different tactic. I grabbed another skein of yarn. In a slightly different color and started anew, this time I started with about 1" of rib. Then the honey comb.


Not enough rib, apparently.


Let's try 2" of rib. Honey comb. Curl. Rip.

How about a different pattern (I was beginning to think all those pretty photos in the pattern were some sort of evil photoshop trick).

The Trinity stitch doesn't have any cables, but it's a lot of knit three togethers and knitting and purling in the same stitch across 170 stitches. A little tedious but it has really nice bumpy texture.

I should add--for none of these attempts did I start with a smaller swatch to test the curl/no curl issue.

The trinity stitch seemed to be the answer! It was perfectly flat, and I was on a roll. I finished up a skein of yarn, and went to get another from that shelf stash.

Guess what?

Yep. I only had ONE giant skein of that color. At first I thought I just had a different die lot. Nope. Three skeins of cream (that's what I used on the honey comb), One skein of this natural stuff. And 8 skeins of wheat. These last two look similar, but they really are two different colors.

Not the look I was going for (a color switch about 12 inches in).

I've got maybe 30" of knitting between these two failed projects (for a wrap that will ultimately be about 60-80" long) and I'm starting over. . . .AGAIN!

This time, I took up the wheat color.

And a new pattern, a really soft and squishy fisherman rib (purl, then knit in the stitch below - same pattern both sides).

HOWEVER, my first attempt started with a plain rib, then a switch to the fisherman's rib. 



Start over.

I think I may finally be on the right track. (Don't sneeze!)

And this pattern isn't tedious at all, it's rather soothing to make, in fact.

From the chair opposite me across the family room, my husband has mainly kept quiet these last few weeks as yarn keeps going in and out of projects.

Smart man.

I don't want to think about how many quilting stitches I could have made while I was attempting to make/start this shawl.

How much you wanna bet the thing doesn't fit (yes, it's a one-size-fits-all kinda project) whenever I finally get it done.

And the honey comb curl thing. Maybe that'll become an infinity shawl. . .Is that even a thing?

Shaking my head! Does this happen to you, or am I the only one having knit knightmares?

Happy Stitching!



  1. No I have knitting and quilting nightmares, too. I'm not as experienced as you, but it seems to take several starts on every project to get it going satisfactorily. The darn curl at the bottom is the big mystery to me and I have a beautiful shrug that I'm going to have to summon the courage to rip out because the dealer (who wrote the pattern) didn't sell me enough of the hand died yarn to complete the shrug. But oh how soothing it is when it all comes together :).

    1. Ooh. Perseverance is definitely the key! And very, very satisfying when you get to the finish line!

  2. I think the amount of knitting UFOs I have rivals the amount of quilting UFOs but my fabric stash is MUCH larger than my yarn stash . . .