Monday, August 24, 2009

Ask Stella: I Messed Up-- Help!!

Dear Stella,
Since I started knitting ten years ago, I have hardly ever ripped anything out and I rarely drop a stitch. This is not because I am a perfect knitter, but because I freak out at the idea of ripping out and then having to get the stitches all back on the needle AND get them in the right direction. Also, picking up dropped stitches is really hard for me, so I just try to avoid dropping them in the first place. Well, the other night, I was working on a sweater that's pretty advanced for me. I TOTALLY screwed it up, and I had no choice but to rip it out. I got down pretty far, tried to get the stitches on, messed up, and had to rip out more. I finally did get the stitches on but a part of me felt so mad, like I'd wasted a lot of work. Also, I realized I was reading the pattern wrong but I couldn't figure out how to read it right. Is there a way to avoid this frustration in the future?
Hates Ripping Out

Dear Hates,
First of all, I recommend taking a deep breath. Come to think of it, I actually recommend a nice nap under the desk, with your head resting on the feet of someone you love. But if you don't have time for that, at least remember this: you are a human, not a dog. That means that you are bound to make mistakes. It's okay. Yes, it can be frustrating to feel like you wasted work and it can be scary trying to get a project back on the needles. But at least you have opposable thumbs which, if you think about it, means you have an easier time of it than I do, even if I understand the concept better. I mean, I'm telling you, it's a real pain in the rump trying to use dew claws for fine motor skills.

I'm going to give you two tips. One is, if you put knit stitches back on and it turns out they are on backwards, don't worry. Instead of lifting them off and turning them around, just KNIT INTO THE BACK of the twisted stitch and, voila, it'll fix itself. My next piece of advice is this-- remember knitting is always supposed to be fun, mostly supposed to be relaxing, and ultimately leave you feeling rewarded. I know a lot of stubborn knitters who don't like to ask for help. Sounds like you're like that a lot of the time. So congratulations for reaching out here. But what you really need to do is come on down to the store. Either do a quick drop-in class (if you have a big problem) or ask a friendly employee on-the-spot (if you have a small problem). And remember, there are lots of ongoing classes where you can meet up once or twice a week and learn as you go. Those are SO FUN. If you run into a problem at night, you might not want to wait for the store to open but guess what? In the long run, that'll save you lots of problems and time. Plus, you get to visit your happy place-- Hill Country Weavers!

So come on down, you're the next contestant on Let's Make It Right!

Epilogue: Our distressed advice seeker did go down to the store where, in less than ten minutes, Suzanne got her squared away with making sure the stitches were all back on the needle, understanding the knit-into-the-back-of-the-twisted-stitch routine, and figuring out how to read the pattern. She's back to being a happy knitter AND she learned a couple of excellent new tricks!

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