So you want to knit 8 – Fixing Mistakes and Life Lines

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Welcome back! It has been a busy few weeks for me, but I am finally sitting down to continue with this series. I debated on what to do next, but I decided that before I move on to other techniques, that I should take time to look at how to fix mistakes in your knitting. I will go through a couple techniques. First up will be the simple, but very time consuming option, which is ripping out your work. Most people will refer to this as frogging because rip it sounds an awful lot like ribbit. hehe A fun word for a pain in the behind task. lol This is very time consuming, but it is also the easiest way to get back to your mistake. I will use this if I find I made a huge mistake, like I completely missed a row in a chart, or there is a larger section of error. Technique two is the scary one, and will require an understanding of the make up of the stitch. However, it is the method I use the most. If I find that I purled a stitch instead of knit, for example, and it’s 3 or 4 rows back, it’s a lot easier to fix that one stitch than it is to rip back those 3 or 4 rows. Now, while this can be a difficult technique that will require some thought on your part, it’s not impossible. And after a few attempts, you will find it gets much much easier. It also gives you a great understand of the structure of your piece. I would not consider this a beginner technique, if I were to rate it on difficulty, but it’s absolutely something a beginner can learn, and it’s something that can really benefit them, skill wise. I will try to take the best pictures possible to explain everything that I am talking about.

Before we get into the fixing of the mistakes, there is a get out of jail free card, so to speak. When you are knitting lace or have a particularly complicated pattern, it can be scary to contemplate frogging all those rows or dropping your stitch down to fix a mistake. My preferred method when knitting lace is to put in a life line. This method uses a spare piece of yarn (waste yarn) to thread through each stitch on your needles, so that if you find a mistake, you can just pull out your needles and pull out the yarn, until you are stopped by that waste yarn. Once you get to that, you have a piece of yarn in each stitch, holding it in place for you to simply slip your needle back into, to begin knitting once again. Also, when you put in a life line, it’s important to mark what row of the chart or written directions you were on, so you can pick up with little thought. To insert the waste yarn, thread the yarn onto a tapestry needle, and then thread the needle through each stitch on your needles. Pull the yarn through all those stitches, but leave them on your needle. Those stitches are now secure in case you need to go back to that spot.

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Now what if you want to just go back a couple stitches in your work. Perhaps you made a mistake on the row you are on, or you don’t have a lifeline and need to keep frogging back to fix a larger mistake? Knowing the construction of your knitting will help you know where to insert the left needle to get the old stitch back. First, we’ll look at knit stitches, since they are easier to see. Looking at the right needle, where your new stitches are, you want the loop that is below the needle.

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Insert your left needle into that loop, so that your new stitch falls off the right needle, and you can pull the yarn out from the stitch. You will now how the old stitch back on your left needle.

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If you are purling, you will be looking for the bump under the needle.

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Insert your left needle into that bump to pick it up, and then let it drop off the right needle and pull your yarn free. You now have the old stitch on your left needle.

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One of the more difficult fixes is when you have one stitch that is wrong, but it’s a few rows down. You don’t want to spend hours frogging stitch after stitch to fix just that one stitch. The fastest way, but for many the scariest, is to drop the stitch down to where the mistake is and pick up all the little threads of yarn to get back to where you were. In the picture you can see a little purl bump where a knit stitch should be. A crochet hook will make this much easier to do. The first step is to use your crochet hook to catch the stitch that you need to fix, so you don’t pull down too many stitches. In this case, you slip the hook under the purl bump to hold it in place. If you don’t have a crochet hook, many places sell small hooks that are made for fixing stitches. Amazon even has a set of three little hooks to give you a range of sizes to match the yarn you are using.

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Next, pull that stitch off your needle, and gently pull the yarn out of each loop until you get to your crochet hook.

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In this case, the last thread of yarn is sitting in front of your stitch. You will want to adjust it so it sits behind it, like all the other threads.

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Once everything is where you need it to be, and is neat and tidy, you can begin recreating your stitches. All of these stitches need to be knit stitches. Grab the lowest strand of yarn, and pull it through your loop to make a new stitch. Do this for every strand of yarn, working from the lowest to the highest.

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Once you have worked every strand, place the loop back on to your needle.

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If you are trying to fix purled stitches, you will want to have all your strands in front of your loop.

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Just like the knit stitches, you will grab the lowest strand of yarn first, and pull it through the loop, working from lowest to highest until they are all used.

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As you are fixing your stitches like this, you may find that you get a line of stitches that is looser than the stitches around it. You can fix this a bit, by pulling on your knitting both lengthwise and knitwise. This will pull the yarn a bit to even it out among some of the stitches. The other thing to be careful of, is that when you are pulling the yarn out of the stitches to get to the one needing to be fixed, make sure you don’t pull too hard on that yarn. Same as when you are pulling it back through the loop. If you pull on it too much, it will tighten the stitches beside it, and give you too much slack when making your new stitch.

I hope these tips help you as you increase your knitting skills. Fixing a mistake can be daunting, but it can be done easily. If you are knitting lace and want to use the lifeline method, don’t be afraid to put a lifeline after every 10 rows, or every repeat of the chart, or however often you want to put in a new one. You want to be able to rip back a few rows, and not have to redo too much of your work. I prefer to go no more than 10 rows between lifelines, but that is just my personal preference.

Thanks for reading and happy knitting!!

New Release – Leaf Baby Blanket

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About a week ago I released my Leaf Baby Blanket. I haven’t written about it, because it was actually a gift for my cousin who was expecting a baby girl. Now that they have received the blanket I can post all about it here! This blanket pattern has been a couple years in the making. In addition to making it a couple times to make sure it worked well and was sized well, it also went through tech editing to make sure it was as good as it possibly could be. πŸ˜€ I love that this gift is covered in leaves that is great for a new little one. It can also be made in absolutely any color, and with all the leaves it work really well with a fall color scheme. For my cousins baby girl I decided on a grey/green hybrid yarn. I used Miss Babs Keira sport weight yarn, and is so light and airy. It is also a superwash yarn which makes it great for baby items. I like to make sure the new parents are able to easily wash the baby items, because let’s be honest….baby stuff happens. πŸ˜€ I also thought that would be perfect for a July baby. Baby girl is small enough right now that it can be doubled to make it thicker for those days inside with air conditioning. πŸ˜€ When it comes to making an heirloom blanket, you don’t always want a bulky type of blanket, but one that is light and flowing and perfect for any season. I hope you love this as much as I do!

So you want to knit 7: Reading a chart

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As you progress in your knitting, you will inevitably come to a pattern that contains a chart. The chart is simply a pictorial depiction of how the pattern is to be worked. Many patterns will also come with written directions that you can use instead of the chart, but this is not always the case. Either way, it’s a very good skill to learn, and it’s not as intuitive as many people think. We’ll go through a simple chart that I have created, and I’ll try to answer many of the basic questions I see. Also, a chart is read differently depending on if you are knitting flat, or in the round, so I will be sure to give the proper instruction for both.

First of all, here is your sample chart (this is just a simple triangle shape, but I wanted to show how decreases and yarn over’s work in a chart).

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To start, lets look at the numbers on the side and bottom. Every time you begin a chart, you will begin at the lowest number, in this case 1. You may find if you are working a large shawl, this will not always be a 1, because there could be multiple charts and the shawl progresses. The number on the right (and left) sides of the chart are your row numbers. The numbers on the bottom are the stitch numbers. In this case, you begin by working stitch row of row 1 on the chart, on the first stitch of the row on your needles. You also have a key with your chart, which in this case appears to the right of the chart. It will tell you what each symbol and box means. For the very first stitch of the first row, the box is empty and white. The key explains that this is a knit stitch on the right side of your work, and a purl on the wrong side of your work. Since row 1 is our beginning, that is our right side, and will be a knit stitch for us.

Box 2 of row 1 is a circle, which the key tells us means we are to do a yarn over. This takes up a box, even though it creates and extra stitch. That is because somewhere in our pattern we have an offsetting decrease that will bring us back down to the correct number of stitches we need. So, move your yarn to the front of your work, to create your yarn over, and get ready for box 3 of row 1.

Box 3 is an SSK. There is our offsetting decrease. As you can see this only takes up one box, even though we are working two stitches. Again, this is because that yarn over is the other part of that stitch count.

Box 4 through 8 are all empty boxes, so knit each of these.

Box 9 is another decrease. This time it’s a k2tog (knit two together). Like the SSK, this only takes up one box even though we are working two stitches. That is because we have a yarn over coming up that will balance it out.

Box 10 is our next yarn over.

Box 11 is the last stitch of our pattern, and it’s another empty white box, so knit this stitch.

This first row, is worked on the right side of our work, and will be worked exactly the same for in the round and flat. The differences begin on the even numbered rows. That is because when we are working flat, these even numbered rows are going to on the wrong side of the work, but if we are working in the round, we never have a wrong side row.

In this pattern, I have kept it pretty simple, and left all of the even numbered rows as blank white boxes. As you can see from the key, it has each item labeled as to how it is worked based on whether you are on a right side (RS) row or a wrong side (WS) row. Another difference between working in the round, or working flat is how you read the even numbered rows. Picture this chart as being how you are looking at your knitted piece. If all the odd numbered rows are the right side, then as the chart sits, you are looking at the right side. When working in the round, that means that you are always going to be reading your chart from right to left. However, if you are knitting flat, you turn your knitting piece. That means, you need to mentally turn your chart. So, when you start row 2 (and all even numbered rows), you are actually reading your chart from left to right. Then Row 3 you go back to right to left, etc. This is one area that can really throw people off. But, if you think of it as if it’s a piece of knitted work, and you turn put your finger on the last stitch of your right side row, and then turn your work, you will see that it’s like you are looking at the back of your chart. You are still working your knitted piece right to left, but it’s as if you now have to work the mirror image of your chart to get the pattern to line up. I hope that makes sense. πŸ™‚ That means that if you are working a flat piece, you will purl all of your stitches back. If you are working in the round, you will knit.

As you work your chart, you work your rows in order. You begin with row 1, then do row 2, then row 3, etc, until you have completed the final row in that chart. However, if you are not done with your piece yet, you will likely be given instructions that say, “repeat the chart until you reach your desired length”, or “repeat the chart 3 times”, or some variation of those. The first one, which is the length option, means that when you finish the last row of the chart, you begin the chart all over again, back at row 1. And you do the chart over and over again, until you have a piece that is the length you want it to be. This instruction is very common in blankets, sweaters, etc. The second option tells you how many times to repeat the chart. That means you work through the entire chart once, then go back to row 1 and work the entire chart a second time, then go back to row 1 and work the entire chart a third time. Then you can move on to the next instructions in the pattern.

Another part of the chart that you will see quite often is that red border that I have around the chart. This is called a repeat. It can become very confusing, because you will hear the word repeat thrown around a lot. Repeating the chart until x length or x times, refers to how many times you repeat all the rows of the chart. However, what happens if you piece is 33 stitches wide, but this chart is only 11 stitches. You will be given instructions that say “repeat the chart across the row 3 times”, or some variation of that. This repeat means that those first 11 boxes of the chart will be done again and again, until you have finished 3 repeats. So, in the case of our chart, after you have finished stitch number 11, you go back to row 1 box 1 and work all 11 stitches again. There are a few reasons for it be done like this. One reason is because you want to save space on your page. When a designer is working on something large, like a shawl, you don’t want to list all 300 something stitches in the chart. So, you showing all the ones that have this exact same section as a repeat, you can significantly reduce the number of stitches in your chart. You will very often see that they outline box (in this case the red box), will not be all the stitches, as I have it here. You will very often work a number of stitches, then see the outline box show up with instructions on how many times to repeat it, and then work more stitches afterwards. Again, this is very common in shawls because they have so many stitches, but they also have increases on the ends that need to be shown separately from the repeat chart.

Something else that you will see that can be very confusing is a grey box in the chart. They key will usually just label this as “no stitch”. Most people look at it and go okay, but then what. The reason this shows up is because stitches were decreased in the work somewhere. When you come across this grey no stitch box, you simply pretend it doesn’t exist, because that stitch no longer exists. It was decreased away in a previous row.

I really hope that this helps with chart knitting. If I have not answered a question you have, please let me know. Another great way to double check that you are reading the chart properly, is to compare it to the written directions. They should be identical.

New Release! Always the Weekend Socks

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These socks were created during the heart of the quarantine when I no longer knew what day of the week it was. It felt like a perpetual weekend. I had grown frustrated with everything, and needed to really take the time to refocus myself. These socks were born of that extra attention to my craft. I wanted something with interest to keep someone engaged in the knit, but also simple enough to not make it be laborious. I mean, it’s not like many of us want something supremely difficult right now. When we get frustrated with life, we really want to drown ourselves in something soothing. Hopefully this pattern will tick those boxes!