Monday, February 24, 2014

What I've learned from the Green Sweater

As the end of the green sweater gets closer I find myself looking back at what I've learned. I've read lots of comments from people who've never tried anything complicated. If that's what you like that's great. I'm a firm believer that you should knit what you love. If however you've never tried anything complicated because you're scared or don't know where to start I want to share a few of the things I've learned from this sweater. One of the best things I read when I was learning to knit was that all knitting can be broken down to the knit and purl stitches. If you can do those two stitches you can knit anything.

I struggled a lot with reading charts when I first started this project. Check your pattern to make sure your designer isn't trying something wonky, but most knitting charts I've encountered are read right to left and bottom to top on the right side rows. When you're knitting in the round every round is a right side row. When knitting a piece flat, like the body of the green sweater, the wrong side rows are read left to right. I love the magnetic chart keeper I got from KnitPicks, but I found out that highlighters are really nice with complicated charts. I don't have to worry about my magnets getting moved, and by using different highlighters for each day of the week I can see how much progress I'm making. 

I've also really perfected the art of tinking. Several of the cables in this sweater have seed stitch in between.   It's not uncommon that I put a knit where a purl should be or vice versa when working the wrong side. I've gotten really good at using a crochet hook to drop down a single stitch and turn it into a knit or purl by pulling it through the front or back of the loop. (Insert the crochet hook into the front of the stitch for knits and into the back for purls.) I've also learned how to drop several stitches four or five rows to fix miscrossed cables. 

Take the stitches for the wrong section off of your needles. (I also find it's a good idea to move the stitches that are staying on your needles far back so you don't have more loose stitches than you want.) Pull out the stitches to the row below the mistake and place on a DPN. In the background you can see the chart keeper and highlighter trick that I was talking about.

Working with a second DPN, and possibly a cable needle, knit the stitches according to the pattern using the loose yarn from the rows that you've ripped. Make sure to keep your yarn tension steady as you work so that you have enough yarn to knit the last stitch, but don't have lots left over. (It does take some practice, but if you do it wrong rip it out and try again. It's just yarn.)

I like using DPNs when I'm doing this so that I can slide my stitches to the end of the needle and always knit on the right side of the fabric. Continue to knit the stitches that you're fixing following the pattern until you get back to the row you were on when you discovered the mistake. You can either slip the stitches back on the needle or just knit them off of the DPN. It's a little scary to see all those loops of thread hanging loose, but I prefer this method to the options of leaving the mistake or ripping out four or five rows.

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