Off The Shelf...
Monday 18th June 2018
When I owned my wool shop, I was always encouraging my customers to come back if they have any problems with their knitting so I can try to help. This happened fairly often - someone came in and 'couldn't do it', had 'lost my place', or simply 'cant understand the pattern', and usually all it took was for me to show them once, or give a simple explanation to get the 'light-bulb' moment where they said.....'oh of course, why couldn't I see that?'.
One lady came in who just couldn't get her increase row get the correct number of stitches. She had tried for hours and had unpicked the row many times - in desperation she had trudged up to the shop to ask me what she was doing wrong. The simple answer was that she had cast on too many stitches! She just hadn't counted properly right at the start of her knitting and never thought to count before she started to increase!
Needless to say she was a little embarrassed, but how often have we all not been able to see the wood through the trees, or the 'knit through the purl'?? I certainly have done some daft things with my knitting over the years - I once knitted a whole back of a jumper with two different size needles having forgotten to change BOTH needles after the rib resulting in an 'interesting' effect...why hadn't I noticed while I was knitting? The answer is....I have no idea! But it seems we are not alone (thank goodness).
So using the most common mistakes/questions I was asked in the shop, I compiled a few tips for those of us who do get in a tangle every now and then whether we have been knitting for 5 minutes or 50 years. I have blogged this list before but these are still my:
Top tips to stop you Fraying at the edges
1) Read the pattern through before you start so you can find out if theres anything you dont understand BEFORE you start to knit
2) Use a highlighter to mark on the pattern the size you are knitting - this is especially useful if you are knitting one of the middle sizes and helps stop you knitting different sizes throughout the garment (hands up who's guilty of this one!)
3) COUNT your stitches regularly to make sure you are on the right track, and if you have lots of stitches place a stitch marker every 10 or 20 stitches to help you keep count
4) If you are anxious about a new stitch or pattern, do a sample square before you start the garment so that when you come to the pattern you know you can do the stitch
5) Do keep checking your knitting - there's nothing worse than getting right to the top and then finding a mistake halfway down!
6) Use a row counter, especially for complicated patterns with a repeat - its easy to forget where you are if you are distracted. There are simple row counters everywhere, but also some great 'Apps' on your Smart phone which you can download easily and often for free :-)
7) Make sure your stitches are pushed to the back of the needles when you have finished knitting, or use point protectors to stop your stitches coming off the needles when your knitting is in your bag
8) If you do need to unpick, dont just pull the yarn - unpick the stitches carefully one by one (this is sometimes called 'Tinking') if you only have a few stitches to undo. If you have to unpick several rows place your work on a flat surface, carefully remove the needle and gently pull the yarn to unravel one row at a time until you get to your mistake (this is called 'Frogging'). Using the flat surface makes it easier to control the unpick and to re insert your needle when finished
9) Dropped a stitch? Don't panic, you can pick it up with a crochet hook and work it back up to your needle
10) Do have a look on line for tips and tricks on 'how to's' - YouTube is very full of simple videos and tutorials, and there are so many bloggers out there also giving tutorials and help.
My main tip though, is to just have a go! While I take my knitting seriously, it IS just wool and sticks and is not life and death stuff so if you do make a huge mess of something, it really can be as simple as undoing it all and starting again....or asking someone for help
That's it for now, I'm off to start a new project with cables and I really do need to read the instructions first!
Have a great week