Need a holiday handknit? Time for a Schmatta!

Clean Slated

Dear Ann,
In the immortal words of the Indigo Girls, the hardest to learn is the least complicated. I speak to you from the lowly, lonely place that a person is in when she has just ripped back 8 hours of garter stitch because she had 1 stitch more on the right side of the center stitch of her triangular shawl than she had on the left side of the center stitch of her triangular shawl, and she couldn’t see where the stitch was missing. And needless to say it was driving her crazy, sitting there at the girls’ basketball game last Saturday. Perhaps she was mad. But in the state of mind she was in, rip she must, and rip she did, and then she had to figure out how to make sure this never, ever, wever happened again.
This wouldn’t have happened with a fancy lace shawl pattern. (Yes I’m bitter about that.) With lace, you follow the principle of The Center Stitch, but you’re not talking about the center stitch of the whole dang shawl. You’re talking about the center stitch of each repeat. If the center stitch of the repeat is not landing in the exact center of the repeat on the row below, you’re doing it wrong and you know it. Nothing will work right, ever again in your life, if you do not figure out why that center stitch is not landing in the center, right this minute. So you fix it. It may take you a minute to figure out, but you fix it. It’s not something you discover EIGHT HOURS OF KNITTING LATER. You discover it right now.
But my shawl is not like that. It is seductively, deceptively simpler. For a very long time, you increase only on RS rows. On each RS row, you increase one stitch at each end of the row, and 1 stitch on either side of the center stitch of the shawl. You do this until you have 273 stitches on the shawl. THEN, you start increasing more on the ends. You put an increase on each end of each WS row AND on each RS row. The rows are growing crazy fast. Every once in a while you count the stitches, to make sure you have the same number on either side of the center stitch. You have a fleeting thought of using markers, but since the rows are growing from the center and from both ends at the same time, you can’t quite figure out where to put the markers, so you just say to yourself: What? Like I’m going to MISS an increase on either end? I can see immediately if I’ve missed an increase in the middle, because there will be No Hole where there should be a long line of uninterrupted holes, so the only place I could mess it up would be to skip an increase on one of the ends, and that ain’t gonna happen, because this is a bone simple thing to do: increase one stitch at each end, every row. Fool.
I know you are thinking it was rash to rip for such a small, invisible, nonstructural mistake. But the deed is done so let’s move on. How am I keeping track, now that I know that I must keep track? It’s very simple.
featherfanmarker3.jpg
First I counted off the stitches that I had on each side of the center stitch at that time. I put a marker at each end of 140 stitches, on each side, leaving 4 stitches outside the markers on either side of the center stitch, and 5 stitches outside the marker at each end. Wa-de-freakin’-la!
Those 140 stitches always stay the same, trapped there between the markers, with no increases happening to them. The increases are all happening at the center and the ends, on the other side of the markers. Where I can count them, and there are manageable, observable numbers of stitches to count.
featherfanmarker2.jpg
The center stitches. There should always be the same number of stitches on either side of Stitch Zero. When I get so many that it’s a lot to count, I can move a chunk of stitches to the other side of the markers.
featherfanmarker.jpg
Ditto for the stitches on the ends. Each side should have the same number of stitches on the outside of the marker at the completion of each row. When they get cumbersome to count quickly, move a chunk to the inside of the markers. (Equal chunks on each side.)
Can I get a Bless My Heart?
Love,
Kay

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64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Bless your heart, emphatically!

  2. Oh, bless your heart, Kay!
    That’s a fine idea for keeping things straight. I wish I could block out all the times I have ripped work out and wondered later…”did that really need to be done?”
    R

  3. well bless your pea-pickin’ heart!

  4. Bless your pea-pickin’ heart!

  5. Why, Bless Your Heart, Kay!
    Aaanndd, I never thought of this blog being run in bathrobes–but, of course, it would be the ONLY way for me, now that I think of it!
    Love the shawl;and think of it, you saved a lot of us from making the same mistake in the future. So, thank you for that.
    LoveDiane

  6. Oh, I can relate, because this is exactly what is happening to my attempt at Your (My) Daily Sweater. It should be so EASY to remember the body increases, yet somehow the stitches never seem to count right. And I end up counting 140 stitches 5 times in a row just to see if I can MAKE them become, magically, 141.
    Sigh. Isn’t it time for someone clever to invent an automatic stitch counter that alerts you in wild siren whooping when you’re off count?

  7. Oh, I can relate, because this is exactly what is happening to my attempt at Your (My) Daily Sweater. It should be so EASY to remember the body increases, yet somehow the stitches never seem to count right. And I end up counting 140 stitches 5 times in a row just to see if I can MAKE them become, magically, 141.
    Sigh. Isn’t it time for someone clever to invent an automatic stitch counter that alerts you in wild siren whooping when you’re off count?

  8. Oh, I can relate, because this is exactly what is happening to my attempt at Your (My) Daily Sweater. It should be so EASY to remember the body increases, yet somehow the stitches never seem to count right. And I end up counting 140 stitches 5 times in a row just to see if I can MAKE them become, magically, 141.
    Sigh. Isn’t it time for someone clever to invent an automatic stitch counter that alerts you in wild siren whooping when you’re off count?

  9. Of Course, Bless Your Heart!!!
    (and brilliant solution to the dilemma of counting for ev er.)

  10. Bless your heart.
    And just what is that delicious fiber on those needles?

  11. Bless your heart! and bless you once more for ripping out and making it right. When I first started knitting I told myself I would always do each step right before proceeding- needless to say, I have ripped a lot as well.
    But now we all know what to do to keep count!

  12. Aw, bless your heart!
    or, re: the moment of the terrible discovery, “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!”
    But it’s all over now. Bless your heart.

  13. bless your brilliant heart! That mistake would have driven me mad too – glad you ripped, beauty such as yours should only be wrapped in perfection.

  14. Bless your little pea pickin’ heart! I can so sympathize.

  15. Bless your little pea pickin’ heart! I can so sympathize.

  16. I was going to say “Bless your heart!” but I can see that it’s been said. So, let me just note that I appreciate that there are people out there who will rip back for one stitch. I ain’t one of them, but I do appreciate your fervor. (And please don’t look too closely at anything that I knit.)
    xo-Diana

  17. Kaffe Fassett tells a story about a woman who came up to him at the end of a workshop, very worked up, waiving the front of one of his complex intarsia pullovers at him and saying, ‘I can’t figure this out, I’ve checked it fifty times and reknit it three times, and I keep coming out with 32 stitches on the right shoulder and only 31 on the left.” Kaffe looked at it for a minute or two and saw no obvious error, so he handed it back and said, “It looks fine to me.” But the woman was still upset and said it certainly wasn’t fine for her. Kaffe leaned toward her and said in a confidential voice, “seam it up and wear it proudly, and if anyone ever says anything to you about having one more stitch on the right than the left – just tell them they are standing much too close to you!” So, Kay, know that you are way more painstaking than Kaffe!

  18. I personally am sitting here in a silk shantung shirtdress with a set of pearls and a pair of smokin’ hot heels. It’s how I blog.
    NOT.
    My favorite New Yorker cartoon is this one.
    Arf!

  19. P. S. Bless your heart, honey!

  20. how about an ow my head hurts?

  21. Sorry for the frogging. Ingenious fix. I love stitch markers.

  22. Bless your heart for ripping out all that garter stitch. And for adding the kinds of stitch markers that other knitters always look at me for, but that keep me from compulsively counting every single row. And then realizing that I’m really just counting, you know, randomly, because I can’t possibly actually pay attention to the number of each stitch and if you’re doing every row, it becomes a rhythm in itself, the “let’s say numbers” rhythm, and pretty soon you’re Dave Brubeck, knitting stitches and saying stitch numbers all syncopated and in bizarre time signatures, and though it’s a nice tune, all the sudden, you start to consider stopping after every row and having a proper count up, and is there a crazier way to slow down your knitting? Not really. I’ve used stitch markers on miters for the same reason. I think you gave me the crazy eye at the time.

  23. Wow. I’ve been doing a lot of frogging lately, but that takes the cake. Good for you for figuring it out. I need to get some of those detachable stitch markers.

  24. Kay here’s a Bless You right from a real compulsive counter herself who will rip it out with the best of them. Everything I knit that has a count has some kind of stitch marker. I use old thrums of thread though. You and your fancy stitch markers are so high class.

  25. A blessing on your head too!
    Seems it’s always those deceptively simple things that come back to bite us in the butt!!
    Just thought I’d let you know I’ve finished block 8 of the Wall of Linen (and actually made it long enough to run all the way across the afghan) and I’m going to have a go at creating a couple of blocks on my own.

  26. What Amber said, yeah.
    Bless your heart, but I wouldn’t have ripped.
    Once I had two raglan sleeves with different numbers of stitches when I was done. I couldn’t see any obvious places I’d not decreased when I was supposed to, and sewed it up. Then some time later I discovered that I once decreased in the middle of a row! Just like that! I must have been demonstrating how to SSK or some such thing… Crazy.

  27. Sweetie. Seriously, you ripped it all back for one lousy stitch? This seems like the kind of situation where you skip an increase on one side and chant to yourself “it will block out, it will block out…”
    Also, as an aside, I once heard that while a New Yorker will say “F* You”, a Southerner will say “Well, bless your heart”. No?

  28. I won’t give a bless your heart. I will, however, nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize, for well-written, xtremely useful instructions on a simple-yet-surprisingly-difficult topic that will create peace in many knitters’ hearts, and thus serve to further the the cause of world peace. Thank you.

  29. Blessings, indeed, on both your head and your stitches. Be at peace.

  30. Blessings, indeed, on both your head and your stitches. Be at peace.

  31. Bless your heart, because you must have been having a very bad day in general to rip out all that for one lousy stitch. I have never made ANYTHING with a perfect stich count, but then I avoid projects that require it. :-) I never really thought about it, but maybe I’ve developed dual mottoes: Love your knitting, and Onward!

  32. Wow. You are hard core. I would have k2tog on the long side, or skipped an increase. It’s garter! Relaxing, forgiving garter stitch! Who would know?

  33. Hey, what pattern is this? I’ve been thinking about doing the garter stitch shawl that Cristina and Mustaa Villaa did with the ruffle – more of a scarf than a shawl. This technique will save me from your garter stitch hell I think.

  34. Aw, Sweetie, you poor thing! Bless your heart, honey, this is just exactly like something I would do! I feel for your little tad of obsessiveness, truly I do! (Hey, what do I say? I AM from Alabama originally, anyway!)

  35. Bless your heart. You’re a good woman, Kay.

  36. Oh dear. And I said garter stitch would be fast.

  37. Atta Girl That’s Dedication – Where can I find that pattern?

  38. Atta Girl That’s Dedication – Where can I find that pattern?

  39. Your shawl is really coming along! I’m only up to 120 stitches or so on mine (doing the Wool Peddler’s version). Great idea for the stitch counts though.
    p.s. Bless your heart

  40. bless your heart
    if we all could cross stich
    you a heart we would there now
    do we feel better
    the pitt falls of garter stich
    thats in up state ny

  41. you = free therapy.

  42. Bless your heart, and the hearts of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, as well… knitting and the Indigo Girls go together like ice-wine and brandy… delicious enough on their own but divine when comnbined.

  43. I am so shocked. I wouldn’t ever have ripped this out and am shocked that anyone would. And here I thought you were so relaxed about your knitting, what with clorox and other stuff. I will wear black for you today because it feels like some sort of mourning is required. EIGHT hours of knitting ripped for one tiny little stitch. Oh, Kay, bless your heart indeed.

  44. And after you ripped it out, you decided to cast on to re-knit it…why?
    Anyway, now it’s closer to fine.
    ps Bless your heart.

  45. I’m more worried about the fact that you have a glass coffee table. With children, and smudgy hands, and glass rings, and oh good lord how do you sleep at night knowing that it is impossible to keep that thing clean?! I would die of anxiety.
    As always, keeping track of the important things.
    xo,
    w

  46. I would have forgotten an increase too! Especially if I was getting sleepy while I was working it, because the simpler the project the more my body and brain just go on autopilot if I am not doing something else (watching a movie, reading a book) while knitting!

  47. Dear Kay,
    I just read this entry to my husband. He thinks we’ve all lost our minds. Completely.

  48. Bless your widdle heart!! :) I love the idea. Makes perfect sense, and no counting and counting and counting… I’m perfectly capable of forgetting an end or beginning decrease. It takes one interruption….

  49. Bless your widdle heart!! :) I love the idea. Makes perfect sense, and no counting and counting and counting… I’m perfectly capable of forgetting an end or beginning decrease. It takes one interruption….

  50. What an awesome “a-ha” moment! Stitch markers from fixed positions that you can move to another position to keep things simple. A duhhhh on me. It will probably work with this circular lace number that I’m trying to wrestle, too.
    Love Amber’s reference to becoming Dave Brubeck. If I only had an ounce of his musicality…
    The other day I heard from a co-worker that in the south you could gossip like crazy about anyone as long as you ended your tale with “bless her heart.” I would have ripped, too.

  51. You lost me at “8 hours of garter stitch,” Blessyerheart.

  52. BLESS YOUR HEART, KAY!!!! I could not knit without the aid of stitch markers! I use them for EVERYTHING…alerting me to how many rows I have knit, as well as when to do increases or decreases…love your logic…and…carry on!!

  53. Arf, as well! –pregnant paws–I guess my secret is out…
    LoveDiane

  54. Definitely Bless Your Heart! And I can’t tell you how many pictures have been taken in my lap (bathrobe or whatever!)

  55. Bless your heart and BRILLIANT idea, Kay.

  56. Aaaahhhh … bless your heart, Kay. That yarn is gorgeous, and deserves perfection.

  57. Oh you awesome outside-the-box thinker, you! Ignore the ones that don’t change!
    Brilliant.

  58. More like an ‘A-men sistah!’ to the woman who can’t tolerate a dropped stitch at the beginning of a project and frogs it all – bless her heart. I’m with you – it would drive me crazy too. gotta love your solution to maintain sanity.

  59. YOU know it’s wrong and that’s all that matters. It bothers some while others could care less! A former yarn shop owner I worked for told me to never feel bad about ripping something back, just look on it as therapy! I adopted that attitude so have never since felt bad about any of it and remember her fondly whenever I am contentedly sitting amidst a mountain of kinky yarn. The Kaffe Fassett story above? I’m with him on the 1 stitch doesn’t make a difference in the sweater but your garter stitch shawl draped and wrapped on someone’s back with one of the “holes” missing? You had to do it Kay. Go Girl. And 8 hours of therapeutic knitting? Priceless.

  60. Thank the cat that this happens to greats like you! I was so proud to drop 10 and only 10 stitches about 15 rows down of the Debbie Bliss Cabled Beret that is riddled with cables to fix the fact that I didn’t actually twist one cable. Now, doing a simple double-knit one color neck cozy, I have ripped it back no less than 20 times when I drop a stitch or didn’t do the button hole right. The yarn I’m using is getting worn (Misty alpaca chunky), and I even had to rewind it to start from the other end to give the first end a rest. sigh…
    Thank you for being human!xoxoxox
    Love the marker tip, very A-ha moment!

  61. Whoa.
    And yeah, bless your heart!

  62. I’m impressed you ripped it out when you were only missing one stitch. I would’ve just added an extra one somewhere, or lived with it.
    Unfortunately, I”m too deprived of sleep to figure out your system. I’m sure it’s really clever, and I am glad you found something to prevent further missed increases!

  63. Don’t sweat small mistakes in large projects. Just increase to even up the stitches and move on.
    That is my advise but not what I would do. I would rip out also. Join the club of super anality (I don’t think that is a word, but I have had a glass of wine and it sounds fine at this time of the evening.
    Much love, Bonnie

  64. I totally get why you ripped out. And I have also learned the hard way to use markers just as you describe.
    One add – I have a spare marker that I move to the end of the row when it is time to “inc 1 st at each end”. This reminds me when I get to the end that I am supposed to increase. Before I started doing this it was amazing how often my supposedly symmetrically increasing pieces listed to the right.