It won’t surprise you at all that we have customers come in every day asking for help with their knitting. We love to oblige. But there are a few common, one might even say universal rookie mistakes that it’s so easy to avoid, once you know what to look for.
#1 The Accidental Yarn Over:
When you knit a stitch, your yarn travels from the back of your work, around the back of the back needle, and naturally falls to the back.
When you purl a stitch, your yarn travels from the front of the stitch, around the front of the front needle and naturally falls to the front.
If your yarn starts in front of your work when you knit, an extra loop of yarn gets wrapped around your needle. This extra loop is not anchored at the bottom to the row that came before. It will increase your stitch count by one and leave a hole underneath it. (NOTE: this extra loop is also called a yarn over and is the essential component of lace where you want the holes!)
The most common time for these yarn overs to appear is when you set your knitting down or put it in your project bag. The working yarn can easily slip from one side of your work to the other and never cause a problem. Then when you pick your work back up again, you don’t realize that the yarn is on the opposite side from where you want it and knit blithely on, only noticing rows and rows on that you have a hole and too many stitches.
To Fix It: To avoid adding stitches and holes when you didn’t want them, just make sure that the yarn is in back when you are forming a knit stitch, or in the front when you are forming a purl stitch.
#2 The Accidental Short Row: If you stop knitting in the middle of a row, turn your work around and go back across the partial row you just knitted you have worked what we call a Short Row. It makes the stitches you just worked two rows further on than the stitches you didn’t finish.
Like the yarn over, it will leave a small hole though the yarn over hole will be round-ish and the short row hole will be more like a vertical slit. (NOTE: short rows are an essential component of sock heels and bust shaping where you want some parts of your knitting to be taller than others!)
The most common time for these short rows to appear is also when you set your work down in the middle of a row. To avoid making these accidental short rows, always look at your work when you pick it up. Find the working yarn and follow it toward your needles and find the stitch it is leading straight to. This is the last stitch you worked.
To Fix It: Put the last stitch you worked, and the needle it is riding on, in your right hand and proceed to knit as you always do, confident that you are going the right way!
#3 The Backwards Stitch Mount: If you look closely at a knit stitch when it’s lying flat, you will see it has two legs. When a stitch is on the needle, it is turned in profile and the right leg is closest to you and you knit into it from front to back. But some times you can see or feel that there is something just…well, weird and funky about a stitch. It might feel too tight when you begin to knit it. If you look closely at it, you can see that it is riding on your needle with its left leg closest to you.
Sometimes this happens when you are picking up stitches that have slipped off you needle. Sometime it can happen if you wrap your yarn around your needle in a clockwise rather than counter-clockwise motion. Either way, there is nothing to worry about.
To Fix It: Simply slip the stitch off the needle and put it back on so the right leg is closest to you. Or, better yet, just knit it through the right leg even if the right leg is in the back.
These are the simplest ways to avoid rookie mistakes and really start to be the boss of your knitting!
So…I promised modification details later. When I went looking for a sweater pattern to knit for NaKniSweMo, I was thinking about something with stranded colorwork. I haven’t done it in a while and thought it would be fun and a little bit challenging without being overwhelming.
But I have trouble with traditional round yoke sweaters. The round yoke has never worked with my figure. I need some armhole and shoulder line shaping, and I have to be careful about where the colorwork falls in relation to my bust line. I’m also a big fan of unexpected details that shake up traditional forms.
I love the wider neck and the deep plunge v-slit neck line. It’s a little demure, a little sexy, kind of traditional, kind of retro and very contemporary all at the same time. I swooned. But the more I looked at it the more I was thinking about modifications. The sizing is a little odd for me so I would have to do some of my own math to make the shaping come out right. The colorwork comes down pretty far onto the bust line. And there is no shaping at the armhole. And, while I love the shape of it, I don’t love the Bohus style, with it’s purls in the colorwork, as much as I love traditional Faire Isle or Scandinavian.
So, while I fell in love with the details, the general shape and style would require a lot of fiddling to get what I was looking for .
It’s always a lot easier to modify a pattern by adding, subtracting or changing details than it is to modify the basic architecture of a sweater. I’m capable of doing it, but I wanted this NaKniSweMo sweater to use a little bit less of my brain power than that. Hmmm. What to do? I kept on looking.
The next lovely thing I ran across was Plum Rondo a la Turk, by Julia Farwell-Clay first published on Knitty. I am a big woman and I can carry a big concept sweater. This one is a stunner. The “Turkish” style motifs of the yoke are very different from anything traditional I have ever seen in a round yoke sweater. But there’s the rub for me. Again the round yoke has no shaping, and the colorwork comes well down to completely cover the bust line.
If I were to bring the armholes up to give my upper sleeves the shaping they need, I’d be cutting into the color motif. If I were to leave the sleeves as they are, my arms would look proportionally short and my upper arms look like an extension of my bust. I have joked in the past that round yokes and most raglan sleeves make me look like I have four breasts instead of the allotted two. With color spanning all the way across, this problem get worse.
I really need that differentiation between my bust and my upper arms. But, again, modifying this pattern would mean modifying the entire architecture. Way more brain power than I want to put into this project. It’s easier the find an architecture that I can embellish by changing details. The things I love the most about this sweater are the boldness of the colors and the simplicity and large format of the motifs.
Looking deeply at these two gave me a list of things I like and don’t like. I like the surprising details of the neckline in the first example and they are things I could carry into another design. I could certainly hold onto the brilliant and bold colors of the second beauty. But I needed to find the right architecture and sizing to make the basic template.
The next design I ran across was Chickadee, by Ysolda Teague, first published in her book Little Red In The City. Now I was getting somewhere. Ysolda has an understanding of how to scale patterns from smaller sizes to larger ones without just making everything bigger. Chickadee has color work well above the bust line so it frames the face rather than emphasizing the arm/bust area. It also has the beginnings of raglan shaping high up on the arm line that differentiates between the arm and bust before the round colorwork begins. Looking good so far.
The sizing and proportions work for me. No need to do a lot of math on my own to alter the underlying template. But I’m not so much in love with the actual motifs themselves. The birds are darling, but I wanted something more abstract like a traditional Scandinavian motif with bolder colors.
And it’s a cargidan. *sigh* Not what I was looking for.
Then it occurred to me that Ysolda might have other designs that have the same basic architecture of Chickadee, but in a pullover. I went looking through her catalog and…Bingo!
Meet Strokkur, by Ysolda Teague, published in her Ravelry store. I love the semi raglan arm shaping above the bust that will clearly prove that my arms go all the way up and are not actually extra breasts on top. I love the subtle waist shaping. I love the short row shaping that makes the neck line a flattering scoop. I love the higher, narrower round yoke that frames the face and slightly broadens the shoulders. I love the traditional Icelandic look of the motifs. I love it.
Except… You knew there was going to be an except, right? I find that full length sleeves drag through stuff and get caught on things unless I push them well up onto my forearms. Hence, I’m a big fan of 3/4 length sleeves. Easy enough. I can adjust sleeve length easier than almost anything.
Almost every day, I wear full skirts the come to my actual waist, which is rather higher than strictly normal so I don’t need all the body length of Strokkur. Again, easy enough.
And this is where the fun begins. I also have trouble with ribbing if it hits even a little bit below my natural waist. And one of the things I loved about Three Second Kiss was the hem at the bottom. In fact all the things I love about Three Second Kiss, the wider split neck, the color on the sleeves, the hem, are easy to apply to Strokkur. And I’ve Chosen bright bold colors very like the colors of rondo Plum a la turk. Body in Cascade 220 Mallard #2448
Yoke in Cascade 220 Dark Plum #8885, Ruby #9404 and Mimosa #2436.
I think I’m going to love this beautiful creation that I’m cobbling together from bits from here and inspiration from there. I’ll let you know how I get on.