Sometimes I Have to Rip

For those of you who don’t knit, we call this “frogging,” because you have to rip it, rip it. We knitters are hilarious, wouldn’t you agree? When the situation is less extreme, and doesn’t require actually ripping back, then all we have to do is tink, which is “knit” spelled backwards. To tink back a little bit hurts the heart less than frogging, I can assure you. But there are times when the ripping is unavoidable.

After knitting merrily along on my handspun colorwork mittens, and getting roughly halfway done with the first one, I had to come to grips with a reality I had been trying my best to deny: my colorwork was puckering, an indicator that my tension was off, despite my best efforts.

I let the mitten sit for a couple of days, then I took a deep breath, and then I ripped:

handspun mitten cuff

handspun mitten cuff

It’s emotionally difficult to rip. Knitters, am I overstating things? Those stitches represent time and energy, so it feels like a loss to undo it all. That’s why it’s so hard to do sometimes, even when you can tell you have made a mistake in your knitting. This ability to rip back, though, is a benefit of knitting that we don’t always have in life: the clean slate, the chance to get things just right. I’ll take it! So now I’m ready to try again. As I pay renewed attention to my colorwork tension, I am happy to hear any tips you might have!

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Take Time to Save Time

It’s one of those things that’s true no matter how long you’ve been knitting: take time to save time, make a gauge swatch. And I usually do! But sometimes I think I can just eyeball things and know how they’ll turn out. And sometimes that actually works. But this time it didn’t.

My mother-in-law asked me to make her a hat like my handspun Norie, and I was very happy to oblige. I spun up some Polwarth:

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(Hello Yarn, in “Troll” – 2-ply)

And I got to work. The hat went quickly.

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(shown folded) (with random bit of tissue paper that I’m too lazy to edit out right now) (I’m blogging from my phone, on the road)

The hat looked really cute on my mother-in-law:

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But it came out way too big. At first I thought maybe it was just because she has a pretty small head, which i had not really accounted for (with my ginormous noggin, the hat fit me fine, though not particularly snuggly). But then I checked my gauge. The pattern calls for 6sts/inch; my gauge was 4.5sts/inch! If you know how gauge works, then you will understand – even tiny differences in gauge can make big differences in the final size of a project. The difference between 4.5 and 6 stitches per inch can add five inches to the size of a hat, y’all. And it did!

So now I’m frogging and reknitting, which is fine because it’s handspun, so it’s a joy to knit. But still y’all, lesson learned (maybe). Take time to save time! Knit a gauge swatch!

(Instead of going down a couple of needle sizes, I have simply modified the numbers in the pattern to work with the gauge I’m already getting. I love how basic math knowledge empowers a knitter to be the boss of her knitting!)