There is such a thing as knitting too quickly

There is such a thing as knitting too quickly

The speediness of Bellows has been backfiring on me a little bit. I went racing into it without the kind of care and consideration I try to exercise, and as a result, mistakes have been made. Before I cast on the first stitch on that plane two weeks ago, I did study the schematic and strategize about size, with my swatch’s gauge in mind. What I hadn’t done is blocked my swatch. I guess I thought I knew what it would do when soaked because I knitted my Amanda in this yarn. But was Amanda held double? On 11s? With this textured stitch? Nope.

So hasty mistake number one: I cast on a larger size, the third size, because of my apparent smaller gauge. Sped through the first sleeve. Soaked it. Blocked it, and was impressed that, with only a little coaxing, it pinned out to the third-size dimensions just fine. “Oh, so I needn’t have worried about any significant difference in gauge,” I blithely mused … without completing that thought. I sped through the second sleeve, and only then realized — duh! — that if my blocked gauge is pattern gauge after all, my sweater will be the third-size dimensions, not smaller as I had wanted. So what I had on my hands was two sleeves for a sweater with almost 10 inches of ease, when what I wanted was 4-5 inches. What to do? Well, Balance is machine washable, so I crossed my fingers and threw them in the wash to see what might happen.

They came out beautifully and I laid them out gently closer to my desired dimensions, so I think all is well. But I confess these embarrassments to you guys in the hope that someone (if not me) will learn from my mistakes. Block your swatch!

Hasty mistake number two: I forgot to mirror the cables on the second sleeve, so both sleeves have right-twisting cables. I think this one is partially haste and partially ambivalence. As much as I love and want this sweater, I don’t think this is the most compelling cable motif. But, eh, so they all twist one direction — not the end of the world.

The one other “mistake” I made on purpose. When I knitted the first sleeve, I worked the cable in the cuff ribbing, even though I don’t like that. I almost never like that. I thought about not doing it, and I’m not sure why I went ahead with it, but it bugs me. So I didn’t do it on the second sleeve. I may leave it alone and call it asymmetry, or perhaps I’ll rip out the first cuff and re-knit it downwards without the cable.  I’ve never done that sort of surgery before and have huge admiration for all who do, and here’s a good small-scale opportunity to try it. Right?

I’m taking at least one day off this weekend, hoping for a fair chunk of knitting time, and that’s what I’ll be working on! How about you?


p.s. that great flat Bookhou pouch is coming back to the shop soon.

28 thoughts on “There is such a thing as knitting too quickly

  1. I can totally get the gauge thing. My recent fingerless mitts had issues, and oh, yea, I forgot to block the 2nd mitt. So it is correct after all. Sometimes ( and most recently) I’ve had focus issues. Indicating that speed is not always the way to go. This is supposed to be enjoyable and not a race to the finish.

  2. I tend to “speed knit” on smaller projects thinking “oh this shouldn’t take too long, I’ll just crank this out” Never works out like this because I usually make a silly mistake or just come out with a messy, knitted too fast item that I’m unhappy with. Currently working from Qunice & Co. “home” collection – specifically the Nelse Slippers – as a donation to a silent auction – considering taking out a bit to rework in a slower, more intentional fashion – inspired, once again!

  3. I am learning that a swatch should be large. I made a small swatch and blocked with no change in size. I blocked the sweater and it grew in length. I assume the added weight of a whole sweater caused the change. I also wondered if I had put it on a table and sprayed with water to wet, if the size would have changed. If anyone has the answer, please share.

    • Yeah, a small swatch is like no swatch at all. Not only from an accurate measurement perspective but also the will a whole sweater look good in this color/fabric perspective. For sweaters, some recommend hanging the swatch for a bit to see if Gravity has any further effect, but I think that’s more about understanding which fibers grow. No swatch is going to be as subject to the forces of gravity as a whole sweater.

  4. I’m glad it ended up working out. I hate doing gauge swatches, most of the time it does not accurately reflect my knitting at all.
    This weekend I will be frogging a hat I just knit and reknitting it in a few days. My gauge swatch was off by half a stitch per inch, row gauge was still perfect though! Made the hat many inches smaller than I need it to be, so the fit is not what it is supposed to be. I haven’t decided yet if I want to knit it larger or just increase the needle size. Either way I will be frogging it and washing the kinks out of the yarn today.

  5. Do I spy rosewood circs in your photo? I’ve been loving my rosewood DPNs from your shop, and wondering about upgrading some circs to the same..

  6. I just finished an awesome cabled hat: the York by Melissa Thomson. Pure joy watching the pattern flow off my needles. But, though I usually have very consistent knitting results with hats, this one ended up way small. It was meant for me and a wonderful color. Oh, well, an excuse to knit another after I figure out where I went awry. It will look lovely on my small niece… ;)
    This weekend working on a Nurmilintu Shawl by Heidi Alander. I’m using a gorgeous sock yarn by Black Trillium. Shawls, for me, take spacing with other knitting projects. As they enlarge, the knitting can get tedious if I keep at it too long. Back to a cabled hat!

  7. I have ripped back twice to add more length to bottom-up sweaters. It can be tedious, but a cuff would be a really easy way to add this skill to your repertoire. That said, the asymmetry is kind of intriguing!

  8. I thought my swatch was big enough for the Aubrietia that I’m knitting only to realize that my gauge went from 4 sts/in on 8s in my swatch to 5.5 on 9s in my sweater. Lesson learned, knitting all over color work in the round does not react the same as stockinette in the round. That’s what weekends are for I suppose.

  9. Suggestion: a post about when you can’t get gauge. I have a (cheap) bulky yarn that I want to use up but can’t seem to get gauge unless I go down to a US 8 which makes the work awfully tight. (Perhaps this is a sign that cheap yarn is my problem! I am really jonsing to knit with BT yarn but feel the need to be good and use up my stash.) Or am I missing a key point in knitting that I could just drop down a size or two in the sweater to make it all work out fine? I know you would great comments, if not an answer , on this!

    Your sleeves are lovely.
    I say fix what you want to because if it bugs you now, you will forever be be bugged. Knitting is always a learning experience!

    • Gauge doesn’t have anything to do with yarn quality. The goal with pattern gauge is always to do what you can to match it, which very well may mean using a larger or smaller needle than the suggested size, depending on whether you’re a tight or loose knitter. And the fiber and the needle material also factor in. You’ll get different results on metal and bamboo needles. But if you’re getting gauge with your yarn only by knitting it at a tighter gauge than the yarn wants to be knitted at, it sounds like it’s just too heavy of a yarn for that particular project.

  10. Re-knitting in the opposite direction only works for non directional stitches like stockinette. For directional stitches like ribbing and cables (which are, essentially, chunks of fat ribbing with displaced stitches), everything will be off by 1/2 stitch. The correct option would be: run a needle or yarn through the row where you want to split the sleeve, cut below it, and remove the incorrect cuff. Then knit up the cuff correctly (from the bottom up) and when you get to the row of the split, graft it to the remaining sleeve. That way, both the new cuff and the rest of the sleeve are knit in the same direction (bottom up) and there will be no 1/2 stitch displacement while grafting.

    Good luck!

  11. I was going to suggest the exact same thing as Limescented.
    The sleeves and your color choice are really nice!
    By the way, I am proud to know Lene Holme Samsoe personally – good to see that her lovely designs are reaching such a far away audience :)

  12. I am trying to be good and do a very careful swatch. I finished blocking the pieces I made for the Amanda KAL–which wasn’t Amanda, it was Paton’s “Leaf Pattern Cardigan” but hey, it had cables. I really had to squish it around because it seemed a lot bigger than the schematic and then of course I remembered I knitted a smaller size because my gauge was a little off and it was SUPPOSED to end up a little bigger. Luckily the sweater is so unfitted that it won’t matter, as long as it’s long enough (which it is.)

    I, too, tend to rush through and then curse the world when I find (the inevitable) mistakes. But I’m trying to remember that I LIKE to knit, and so what does it matter? Except that I’d really like to be able to wear this sweater THIS year.

  13. I have definitely run into the “block your swatch” issue on a sweater I knit recently. I stuck it in the dryer to get it down to a normal size after the whole sweater grew to an enormous size. Now I try to pay more attention to such things when knitting. Revelry is fortunately a great place to find out if a certain yarn changes drastically when blocked. I think your sweater is looking beautiful!

    • Some fibers just always grow, so you can know to look for that on the label and take it into account if you really want to use it. Bamboo is famous for that, for instance.

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