This week in “mistakes Karen made”

This week in "mistakes Karen made"

If it looks to you like the top couple inches of this fabric (my beloved Channel cardigan) is wet — or in shadow maybe — I assure you it’s not. That dark stripe across the top is just a plain ol’ rookie mistake. When I ordered this yarn, the lovely Jocelyn Tunney of O-Wool wrote me a note saying that the fiber takes the Graphite dye a little unevenly, and emphasizing what the site says when you order it, which is that you should treat it like a hand-dyed yarn and alternate skeins. I did my first ball change at the top of the ribbing, where it wouldn’t matter if the color was slightly different. Then I knitted along happily with the next ball, not thinking about the matter until I had only a couple of yards left. So I knitted two rows with the new ball, then one row with the old ball, then back to the new ball. I mean, the skein didn’t look that different, right? What could go wrong? Then I sat it aside for two weeks. I was thrilled to have time to knit a repeat on Friday night and another on Saturday night. And when I spread it out to check it over, even in the low light, it was painfully evident that Jocelyn was right. So I have some frogging to do.

Oddly, this isn’t a thing I’ve run into very many times. Meg says she would have knitted the entire sweater with two skeins, alternating the whole way. So now I’m debating whether to rip all the way back to the ribbing or just halfway into the first section, far enough to alternate for a couple of inches. Meanwhile, I just keep thinking what Kay Gardiner would say at a moment like this: “It’s ok. I like to knit.” Especially this.

I’m on my way to Chicago today but I am working on the knitalong schedule and alternate pattern suggestions and yarn recommendations and lots more, and will have a post very soon with all of that. I know a lot of you are eager to cast on — and of course you can — but I want to have all my ducks in a row. So sit tight! It’ll be worth it.

28 thoughts on “This week in “mistakes Karen made”

  1. A good lesson for those of us who like hand dyes, and haven’t knit a sweater with it. Perhaps we should stick to specific dye lots….It’d kill be to have to frog it all. Nevermind having to remember to flip back and forth between skeins of yarn…ugh!

    • Sticking to the same dye lot only really works with solids and mass-dyed yarn. With hand-dyed (or “kettle-dyed”) the dye lot means the skeins came out of the same batch, but every skein will still be slightly different. Which is why it’s recommended to alternate skeins for an inch or two at a ball change. Or, better yet, alternate the whole way.

  2. it’s ok – I just did some frogging myself! remember it’s not about the product… it’s the process we love! ( the mantra for every knitter who’s about to frog something.). you can do this!

  3. I frog so often, because I know a mistake I know about will just gnaw at me, that my family jokes about me getting my money’s worth out of my yarn purchases. The questions you have to ask yourself – Will I always see the mistake? Will it affect the way I see the end product as a whole? Good luck! :)

  4. Leave it! It’s a handmade sweater, and you’ll never notice it once the whole thing is done and you are wrapped in it’s knitty goodness. But that said, I would alternate skeins from now on. :-)

  5. Oh how I feel your pain—been there, done that, got the t-shirt. (And I would probably frog back to the ribbing because it would eternally bug me to see a “line”…)

  6. I’m with Nicole, it would bug forever and you still have so much farther to go. It’s a beautiful piece requiring a lot of work on your part, make it something to be proud of.

  7. I’d frog back to the ribbing. It would eternally bug me to have such a noticeable line like that.

  8. Changes in dye lots don’t really bother me that much. Unless it’s totally egregious (and in that case alternating skeins wouldn’t help) I don’t notice the line enough IRL to be bothered to alternate skeins. I would leave it but it’s your sweater!

    I also wanted to thank you for hosting the Knitting For Him KAL. I finished my KAL sweater as a wedding gift for my fiance. I really enjoyed seeing other people’s projects on Instagram. It was really inspiring!

  9. I would rip back to the ribbing and knit the body with alternating skeins on every other row. It’s frustrating to rip that much out, but in the grand scheme of the sweater, this isn’t that much fabric. My mantra is that you’ll barely remember this in the end (where as you would remember and see the mistake!) Good luck! Looks like a beautiful pattern!

    • Yeah, I figure if I’m ripping half, I might as well rip it all and really be sure it’ll be right. The good thing is, I now know how much I love this and want it, so I don’t feel like there’s the threat of losing interest.

  10. Such an annoying issue. I have dealt with this on sweaters a few times, most recently (and currently) with Fibre Company yarn, which I otherwise adore.

    While I love hand dyed yarns, I find the ballternating and constant scrutiny of the knitting takes away from the pleasure enough that I lean towards more dependable dye jobs (Shibui and Blue Sky come to mind) for a garment. The kind of tonal stripe that can be charming on a shawl or cowl is utterly dismaying when it falls across the middle of an otherwise solid cardi.

  11. Yeah I’d leave the ribbing in. In my short knitting lifetime, I’ve done a lot of frogging, but I must say, I’ve never actually regretted frogging anything. So there’s that. Looks lovely though, and it did take me a while to notice the colour change in the yarns.

  12. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember reading Elizabeth Zimmerman on the subject. I think she wrote that she alternated stitches for a few rows when changing balls of yarn.

    • I thought it was alternating every 2 rows. Is there a benefit to alternating *every* row?

      • It would be every-other row for the flat parts, every row for circular. The more often you alternate, the more blended it would be, but you couldn’t do every row on the flat parts or the yarn would be in the wrong place.

        • Karen, thanks. You can do every row but you just have to account for new skeins or balls. I have several patterns that alternate colors or homemade each row for 3 rows and that way, every knit row always has 2 going. Some of the writers have stated, it gets very cumbersome sometimes! :)

  13. I’m so glad I saw this post. As an indie dyer I’m always reminding my customers to alternate skeins everyone two rows or every row when knitting in the round. But I was so tempted to throw caution to the wind and just knit each skein alone in my current cardigan. Seeing this post reminded my why I shouldn’t do that. Even though I hate the little seam I get from alternating skeins… Any tips for avoiding that?

  14. Ugh. I hate alternating skeins, but I’m doing on the sweater I’m knitting now. The skeins looks just the same until I knit the arms with two different balls — they’re not crazy different, and will be fine, but I’m definitely resigned to alternating skeins through the body.

    I don’t think you need to rip everything out. Maybe to a few inches above the ribbing, and then start alternating the new with the old, and when the old runs out, swap in another skein so there are always two on the go. That will keep everything blended and help keep any one transition from popping out.

    On another note: The stitch definition of this yarn is incredible! What a gorgeous sweater you’ll have when you’re done.

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