Ask Patty: Stripe Trauma

May 29, 2019

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36 Comments
  • I can commiserate with Janet that’s for sure. I just spent a week trying to get the back of a sweater joined to saddle shoulders with short rows and then when I finally worked it out I find I’ve twisted the stitches and have to start again! Oh well, like I tell my hubby it’s all practice

  • I’ve been knitting about 20 years. Just this week I frogged a shawl consisting of YOs, SSK, (kinda lace) literally 4 times over 2 rows, cause I couldn’t count to 5. Pattern is Miss Babs Novelle. Simple to memorize, they say….yes, if you aren’t me, lol.

    All my knowledge in knitting has been while fixing mistakes. That’s the way we all learn, and can only learn anything.

    Lace? Use markers on repeats within the pattern, keep a log of what row you are on, and how many stitches you should have at the end of the row. I use the dollar store composition books, so I can write notes, title the project. I also use the 3M colored see through tape—put the pattern in a plastic page protector and use the tape so you know where you are—on both the chart and written instructions.

    Not many of us can count while distracted.

    I can’t knit lace with ANY distractions, and I only have cats, not kids. Maybe knit a cotton washcloth instead when you are surrounded by mayhem.

    For your lace, perhaps try to carve out 15 minutes alone time, so you can knit the row, stop, but know you can come back to it without chaos. (The beauty of the notebook!)

    This has worked, sorta, for me. I mess up too, but now know when I need to have mindless knitting vs. the knitting that hurts my brain.

    Don’t give up! Good luck!

    • Great advice. Thanks. I’ve been knitting for years too and still mess up. I’m now attempting to finish a Norwegian yoked sweater I started 35 years ago, just have yoke to do and will look for that tape. The yarn is Rauma wool and looks as good as the day I bought it. Knitting is both maddening and joyful.

      • I am so happy you havent given up on your sweater.

  • Janet, you need to knit something else! Lace needs peace and quiet, if there are kids, dogs, tv, etc it’s hard to pay attention. Knit something with lots of soothing stockinette, preferably in the round. I once knit a sweater with lots of cables on the front, and stockinette back and sleeves. Knocked out the easy parts in no time, but the fronts were abandoned for ten years! I finished the sweater when the youngest was in high school.
    So give yourself a break, and become queen of the hats and mittens!

    • I love hats and mittens. I’m into colorwork. Great to start with small projects.

  • What does the back side look like when you are “floating” a second color up several rows along an edge? I know how to twist it, but don’t like the way it looks and therefore feel the need to cut if carrying more than 2 rows.

  • I made a youtube video called No End Stripes for situations like shawls and scarves where both sides will be visible. Check it out for another tool in your knitting toolbox!

    • Just watched and subscribed! Great tips.

  • Thank you for the informative article. Patty, I would remind the woman who keeps losing count to Use stitch markers. For example place one every 25 stitches when casting on a large number.

    • Amen to that.

      • Double amen. Stitch markers are a good thing.

  • The doubled first stitch — it’s genius! Thank you!

    • It’s not actually the first stitch but the second stitch. Take a look at the step by step.The trick is placing the tail of the new color UNDER the old yarn, knitting the first stitch with the new color, and then knitting the second stitch with the new color yarn and tail held together with the old color trapped between.

  • I’ve been knitting for over 60 years (yes, over 60 years!) and whenever I need to cast on a large number of stitches I place markers every twenty stitches. It let’s you find mistakes as you make them (if you recount your twenty every time you place a marker, and you can correct your error very easily. If you don’t recount your twenty stitches again after placing each marker it is still easy to add stitches after counting each section when you do count. (Also, no casting on at 1:00 a.m. ever!).

  • I second the tip about knitting the old and new strands for one stitch and then carrying on with the new yarn. I’ve done this on many, many projects and it’s the easiest way to do this.

    • It’s not quite working the old and new strand for one stitch. I’m not working it with the old color. Take a look at the step by step.The trick is placing the tail of the new color UNDER the old yarn, knitting the first stitch with the new color, and then knitting the second stitch with the new color yarn and tail held together with the old color trapped between.

  • Great advice as usual Patty. Love what you shared with Kristy Glass about distractions and “Stu the sock knitter”; just one more “row”!! lmao

  • I’ve been knitting for about 10 years; recently I have not been “careful not to twist stitches” when joining in the round for at least 3 different hats I started. AND – I was in quite a few rows before I realized I had twisted. Knit happens. It does get more relaxing! But I wouldn’t knit lace patterns in front of the tv or around pets or kids or any other humans. Lifelines have really helped me on very complicated lace patterns too. Have some nice stockinette stitches to work on when there are distractions, and save the lace for quiet moments.

  • Hello Patty,
    It is always a welcoming feeling to open emails and there is yours waiting to be read and learned from. Thank you.
    For a long while now, I wanted to ask you about Sophie Digard’s yarn. I understand that it is her company and staff that makes the yarn for her, but is there a company that produces similar yarn and also in pastel colors? I am not a chocheter but really love her work and her choice of colors.
    Best of luck to you and continue sending us emails. Thanks you again.

    • I just became aware of her work and have saved a lot of it on Pinterest. I wasn’t really aware that it’s special yarn, figuring that it was probably fingering weight, so I really appreciate your question here. I hope, too, that we will have an answer soon!

  • The best! (Last response.)

  • I love Patty’s humor mixed with truth and great tips. Thank you!!

  • Thanks for this striping hint – just about to start a striped sweater. And I learned how to save this article to my account thanks to your directions – yay and thank you!!

  • I began knitting almost 60 years ago. I can measure improvement in my patience by the fact that I no longer care if I have to frog, even if it is from the beginning. It took about 50 years to get to that point, but arrived I have! I find that there are different needs of relaxation/focus that knitting provides. A “mindless” project (such as something that involves garter stitch and very few directions), to me is great for a general type of meditation, or something to keep my hands busy as I work out a problem in my head. On the other hand, something very structured (such as a lace project) is great for shifting my focus away from a troublesome problem to what is in front of me in my hands, thus providing a different type of relaxation. Therefore, I think that it’s great to have several types of UFOs on hand to suit whatever my current mood requires.Knitting has helped me in dealing with pain because it provides me something beautiful/ meaningful that I can create in the face of that difficulty.

    Knitting involves using both sides of the body, and I love the feeling of both hands being at work together! Sometimes the rythm, the focus, the feeling of both hands working together all brings me to a level of concentration where I’m totally in the present momet. This happens especially when knitting in a group when two or three hours seems to have passed in a flash. Also, there are times I feel a connection to my great-grandmother, who I understand was a faithful knitter.

    I learned to knit because it was kind of a drive something inside kept pushing me to ask my mother (who did not knit) if I could learn. She found a way to teach me. I’m so glad she did.

  • Years ago, pre-Ravelry when we all had blogs, my blog (which is still out there somewhere) was called “Knitting Relaxes Me….usually.” And really, it usually does! And my favorite sentence in this whole post is “As with so many things in life, the secret is to relax your grip.” Someone needs to make a knitter’s button with that on it! (Also, your method for joining a second color with the doubled yarn? I thought I had made that up and that I was doing some thing looked down upon by the knitting goddesses!)

    • The real trick is not knitting it with doubled yarn, but placing the tail UNDER the old yarn, knitting the first stitch, and then knitting the second stitch with the yarn and tail held together with the old color trapped between.

      • Yes, that’s what I meant – using the tail as a tool to hold the first color.

  • No matter how long you’ve been knitting (a year or 20) you can still make mistakes and need patience to tink several rows. Just imagine tinking 6 rows of linen stitch. Yes, I almost lost my religion, but so glad I did it. The tension was off which made the fabric look awful. Guess I’ll pay more attention.

  • Mess ups are part of the game. On average, I start a project over four times. It’s like practicing a sport or a preseason scrimmage before the big game. I refuse to give up. I have even tried three different yarns before I found one that worked well with the pattern.

  • My 10 year old niece who learned how to knit at age 8 can stripe like crazy with fingers flying – with no evidence of puckers or even of color changes along the edges, Is the secret to learn as a young child or just have a fabulous teacher? My personal technique for knitting long rows of lace is only one lace row (along with its resting row) per day. I can concentrate for that long and rarely make a mistake. Takes forever but so does re-knitting a dozen times per row and is a whole lot more peaceful and effective.

  • I love your reply to this lady. I am working on a sweater and I have made more mistakes than I have made good stitches. I finally decided that if I kept ripping out, I would never finish so if the mistake wasn’t the first thing you saw when looking at the sweater, I would leave it. I would prefer perfection, but I have had so many “life problems” that I am lucky to get a swatch finished. The sweater won’t be error free, but hopefully I can wear it in public. I don’t like to lock myself in the bathroom to do difficult patterns so I have to accept imperfect work or find a time and place to be able to focus and concentrate better. I love the feel and thought of the yarn and needles in my hands and that keeps me going.

  • Knitting is not relaxing for me but I love it. I can’t knot fast enough. Too many projects, not enough time.

  • What good advice! I’m saving this article for the next time I work with stripes. In the meantime, do I detect a Sondheim lover? “Where there never was a hat” is a line from his Sunday in the Park with George. Wherever that line came from, it is in my brain & I am now humming it which is not a bad thing at all!

    • Busted :). “Look I made a hat . . . where there never was a hat.”

      • Yes! Sondheim and knitting in the same sentence! Sign me up for that club. Like a Sondheim melody, knitting is complex and full of joys and sorrows. But we keep doing it.