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The Knitting Diary :: Counting on lifelines [Open Thread]

I’ve made some progress on my sweater and I’m binding off the body of the sweater (next step — the sleeves!) … But, it’s been a challenge. Well, the whole sweater has been a challenge. Now that I’m way too far into it to quit, I’m realizing that this isn’t a project for a beginner. And it might have been better if I’d started with something simpler.

Well, I didn’t — this is the project I’ve got and I’m kind of impressed that I’ve made it this far!  At least that’s what I told myself as I tore out the bottom trim 4 times over the weekend.

Has that happened to you?  It’s maddening.

Here’s my got-cha: The pattern for that trim isn’t a simple ribbing (Knit/Purl or K2/P2) it’s a pretty devious idea.  Row 1, Knit all stitches, Row 2, K1/P1.  It’s devious because with a simple ribbing pattern, you knit into knit stitches and purl into purl stitches and once you’ve got that first row set you just fill in the pattern.  But, with THIS pattern Row 2 (which I had to do 4 times) was a nightmare.

I’d start daydreaming while I knit and after a row or so I’d check my work and find that I’d gotten off about 3 stitches from the start!  One time (the first time) I messed up so much I couldn’t even tell what the pattern was supposed to look like.

I tore it all out so many times, I cut that bit of yarn off.  I think it was jinxed.

The thing that saved me — the only thing that kept me from absolutely throwing the whole thing out* — is that I’d put in a lifeline right before I started this section.  You can see it if you zoom in on the closeup of the trim.  It’s the green thread that runs right above the ribbing.

I keep some lace-weight yarn close by and every so often all through my projects, I thread that yarn through the stitches where they hang on my cable (some people use dental floss but, I think the yarn is prettier — just use something that stands out from the yarn in your project.)  Once you use lifelines half the stress of knitting something challenging is gone.  You can practice until it looks good to you, knowing that you can rip back to the lifeline and start over as often as you need.

So that’s why The Knitting Diary didn’t get written this weekend. It would have been a sorry tale of frustration and rage. I decided to wait, knowing that if I just stuck with it a little while longer I’d have a tale of success and smiles.


What have you got on your needles and how are things going?

115 Responses

  1. In other knitting news, I bought the yarn for my sister-in-law’s Christmas scarf. She’s the one who got me re-started knitting and I’ve been looking for something really nice. This is the yarn I chose. She loves alpaca but, I’m making a scarf with a lacy edge. And I was afraid that pure alpaca wouldn’t show the lace pattern.

    This yarn has just a little silk in it — and it’s perfect. It shimmers like a jewel and is soft as down.

  2. I have a slipcover I need to repair and I keep putting it off. Everytime I wash it and try to put it back on the sofa, one of the seams rip a little bit more where the zipper is. Who am I fooling? I just need a new slipcover. But it’s a pottery barn sofa that’s discontinued and with another tuition payment for brooke’s English course at Stanford EPGY, I can’t afford a new one. it sucks to make my salary and still feel poor. It sucks even more when you’re intimidated by the tension settings on the sewing machine.
    But the good news is that the bff gave me a new air compressor for my bday. Now I can finally use that nail gun I got for Christmas a coup,e years ago. I probably won’t be safe to be around for a couple of weeks. Now, if I can only find something to nail…

    • RD, send it to me and I’ll fix the zipper. Seriously — don’t throw it away if it’s just something I could fix.

      • Snort! The sucker weighs about 50 lbs. Ok, maybe not that much but it’s heavy. No, I really have to learn to do this myself, if I can only remember how to thread a bobbin.

        • glue on velcro
          It works

        • Also, sometimes it’s easier to hand stitch with button thread or floss. Then you can just do it while you watch TV.

          • I’m never satisfied with that. I have recently come to the realization that I am a bit anal. That’s why I never do a very good job and hate to edit and clean and stuff. The results never meet my expectations. So why bother?
            I could spend hours over thinking a problem and running over all the steps in my mind. It’s fun to do them in your mind. But the actual doing doesn’t go the way the Martha Stewart in my mind does it and then I’m not happy. Better to not start an imperfect project.
            Fine. I’ll break out the sewing machine tomorrow.

          • My hand-sewing is pretty good. I took a Tailoring class in high school and I can stitch so it looks almost like a machine did it. (weird, isn’t it?)

          • Not really weird. I took woodshop. Twice.
            But you know what happens when you don’t use it.

          • I don’t think they teach either of those classes nowadays.

            That’s cool about woodshop … they didn’t let girls take it when I was in high school.

          • Seventh grade. I made my mother a cutting board for my first project. The shop teacher said I picked the wrong wood and that it would never last, pretty funny, considering my mom still uses it. The woodburning has worn off but the rest of it is still in great shape. That sucker is going to last forever.

          • Far out!! That’s great. Our oldest son made an ash tray in wood shop (I don’t know how his teacher reacted — we were kind of shocked). We’ve got it around here somewhere.

    • “Duct tape.”

      You can fix anything with duct tape.

  3. I don’t get it. Does the lifeline act as a reset switch if you have an attack of ADD while you’re knitting? Is it like, from this point on, knit three, pearl two for twenty reps?

    • (giggling madly) No, no!!

      It holds the stitches so you can rip the messed up rows out and pick the stitches up off the yarn.

      Without the lifeline some of the stitches slip back up the sweater (like a run in a stocking)

      WITH a lifeline, they can’t go anywhere and it’s easy to pick them up.

      • My next guess was that it was to remind you to call a friend.

        • That doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

        • Or go to the yarn shop. DH did that FOR ME (these kind of gestures are why I keep him around) when I was in the hospital last month and weeping because I had dropped several teeny tiny stitches off size 2s and thought it was the end of the world. I totally want to own a yarn shop. Because this lawyering thing is kind of a drag.

      • Thanks for the tip. I wasn’t familiar with these and I’m definitely going to start doing this.

  4. I never really learned how to knit. My sister showed me the basics and I made the scarf after scarf for years. Then, about five years ago, I decided the time had come to attempt a sweater. Five years later, I’m still short a sleeve. I have no idea how to finish this thing, and I basically taught myself how to increase and decrease to shape fabric. But it’s taking me FOREVER. Because I get frustrated and put it away and then months later I’ll pick it back up and can’t remember how to do what I’m doing. Also, I daydream or watch movies while knitting, so the more technical bits elude me. I swear I’ve knit about eight sleeves for this sweater, and it is NOT intended for an arachnoid or cephalopod.

    • Lol! Same thing happened to me. I can cast on, knit and pearl but I have no idea how to finish anything. The lady who taught me had no patience with children and my little sister couldn’t sit still. So she never invited us back for the final step.
      But I’ve made the same scarf many times over.

    • LOLOL on the cephalopod.
      I met a knitter at the doctor’s waiting room who was knitting a sweater — she said she’d been working on it for 10 years.

  5. Just got in from useless bs all day–Love the sweater, Katie. How long did it take you to complete the body part?? Also, What is a hank of Yarn? Is it the same as a ball of yarn?

    • Hi kc! I’m sorry about the useless bs day …. but, I’m glad to see you!!

      I started the sweater on Sept 21 — so it’s been a little less than 2 months. I’m hoping to get the sleeves (at least one) done by Thanksgiving so my Daughter can try it on.

      Then If I have to do something drastic to get it to fit, I’ll have some time. I’m really hoping it doesn’t require anything too drastic.

      A hank yarn looks like this when you buy it :
      A hank of yarn

      Then when you unwrap it — it looks like this:


      And THEN, you have to wind it into a ball before you can knit with it.

      • We need the scene from Wallace and Grommit
        “A Close Shave” , where W&G window wash
        Ms Ramsbottom’s yarn shoppe windows.
        That was a stunning yarn shoppe.
        Plenty of balls and hanks.

        Link anyone?

        I am link challenged.

  6. In Treatment is on! I’m grabbing my bottle of cheap red wine and heading for the basement.

    • If you want cheap wine you should go to my local liquor store – but bring your own container.

      “Let me get five bucks on pump three”

      • You Californicators have it easy. We are inky just now able to buy wine in a few experimental grocery store locations and half of the cashiers can’t ring you up because they are under 21. And they card EVERYONE. I left my ID in the car once and just said fuck it. I’m obviously older than 21. It’s just not worth the hassle for one measly bottle of red wine I’m going to use for cooking.
        Stopped at a liquor store in the way home and stocked up.
        Did I mention that most restaurants in nj do not have liquor licenses? So, you brown bag it and end up killing a bottle before you drive home. Pretty stupid.

        • one measly bottle of red wine I’m going to use for cooking.

          Uh-huh, suuuuuure.

          There’s an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” where Marie is going to teach Debra how to make spaghetti sauce. At one point Debra asks “What’s the wine for?” and Marie replies “That’s for us.

      • Ha ha. When I was in college a million years ago (in Hyde Park, there’s the BO connection!), there was a liquor store with “Never Go Flat” beer, which they sold at a drive-through in apple cider-type jugs. It was a sad, sad day at The Baffler when that place went out of business, Itellyawhut.

  7. uh–the hank yarn picture looks like braided bread. Thanks, and you seem to have made good time with the sweater and I’m sure your daughter will love it.

    I know I’m being a pest, but do you order your yarn online? I got my first two balls at a fabric store here and I don’t think it is going to be enough.

    • I got the yarn for the sweater from the local yarn store so I could ask them for help. I didn’t have the nerve to imagine going in there to ask for help with yarn I’d bought someplace else.

      But, I’ve bought a lot of yarn from knitpicks.com (they’ve got GREAT prices) and yarn.com. Knitpicks sells their own brand of yarn & yarn.com sells discounted yarn of all brands.

      You get better deals online but, they can’t help you out.

    • What makes you think you’re being a pest? Has myiq been bullying you?

    • A PEST?? You’re kidding, right?

      This is an open thread but, if we didn’t talk about knitting, I couldn’t write another Knitting Diary!

      I NEED these conversations!

  8. thanks–will check those sites out. I’m working with chunky yarn for this scarf. That’s what the instructions called for–maybe because it’s for beginners.

  9. I wish we weren’t going to my brothers for Thanksgiving. Lord, zip my mouth shut for two days–and it doesn’t help that he’s all into deer hunting now. I’ve been a vegetarian for a year now and he won’t shut up with the Bambi jokes. My girls have managed to wriggle out of going–the traitors. It’s terrible to dread something for a week in advance.

    • My uncle spent 20 years working on a Foster Farms turkey ranch where they fatten up the birds before “processing.”

      The job didn’t pay well but included a house to live in and all the free turkey he could eat.

      He HATES Thanksgiving. Every year he whines “Can’t we have a ham?”

    • I don’t hunt myself, but I come from a family of hunters, so I don’t have problems with other people doing it.

      Though your bro is being tacky.

      Maybe I’m lucky to be an only child. 😛

    • You can bring your own food.

      • yes–and I am. Alot of beans and salads. My brother has a couple of beers and thinks he’s a stand up comedian. Oh well–love him anyway.

  10. Mixture of boo and yay.

    Boo–I doubt I’ll be able to spend Christmas with my family this year. 😦

    Yay–So Mom gave me my Christmas present early: A new Toshiba netbook. :mrgreen:

    Boo–Windows 7 Starter won’t let you change the desktop background, and the one they provide is so butt-ugly I will probably shell out the $80 to upgrade. 😡

    Windows 7 sucks. WTF was wrong with XP? [I still run XP on my tower PC.] For that matter, the Vista on my big notebook has served me well, although it had less graphics options than XP.

    “progress”. 😛

    • Consider yourself lucky. We’re still running IE6 at work. Did you know that once upon a time, browsers didn’t have tabs?

      • Actually, yes, I remember IE’s deficiencies, but I was turned on to Firefox early in my PC ownership days. 😛

        I actually owned a secondhand PC for some time, but never tried to go on the Net with it. When I was ready for the Net, I bought a new one–that’s my tower PC with XP–in Aug. 2004. It’s on its second hard drive.

        My big notebook PC was an early birthday gift in Feb. 2009.

        I got my netbook today. :mrgreen:

  11. Granted, $80 doesn’t seem so bad when the netbook itself was free. :mrgreen:

    • I’m interested…. $80?

      • I can’t buy it right now because I’m at work and I don’t have the netbook with me, but I went to the upgrade site and it said the cost was $79.95.

        Since I haven’t tried to buy it yet, I don’t know if there are any hidden fees (as if Bill Gates doesn’t have enough money already). 😛

        Having dissed Microsoft, let me say they’ve done one thing right recently:

        Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s free, it’s simple, and it gets good reviews. 🙂

  12. I was minding my own bidness and the ad for this pops up on my yahoo email page:

  13. Katie—good for you! I too made a sweater for my first project and it was a tossup whether I tore out more hair or more sweater!

    But, my first sweater did have a simple rib bottom. I have to say that when I knit more complicated patterns (now finished 4 sweaters) that I have an old fashioned notebook that I have the pattern in a column & check off each time I finish a particular row. Works great except when I forget to make the check mark..LOL.

    I still cannot listen to audio books and can only have a DVD I’ve already seen running when I knit…just can’t multitask with it yet.

  14. Gay activists chain themselves to White House gate

    WASHINGTON — Gay rights activists briefly handcuffed themselves to the White House’s north gate on Monday, urging President Barack Obama to repeal a ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military.


  15. God bless you Katiebird — the last time I knitted was a in college for Christmas present for my boyfriend — I thought I as being so “homey and cute” by knitting for him. I started out to knit him a sweater, but after 3 weeks gave up & did a scarf instead (a kind of short one, truth be told — it was more like a mufler). Haven’t knitted since.

    • That’s a nice story, Angie — it’s lucky you didn’t finish the sweater. There is supposedly a curse involving knitting sweaters for boyfriends. I don’t know how things went with that boyfriend but, knitting a sweater probably wouldn’t have helped!!

      I don’t think there’s a scarf or muffler curse.

      • That sweater in the link is the same color as the one you’re making.


        • HaHa!

          I did one good thing, I took my daughter to pick the yarn — I would never have guessed that she’d pick this — I also had her look closely at the pattern …. I’ve never heard of the sweater curse affecting daughters but, I didn’t want to do this much work just to have the sweater sit in a drawer!

          Of course it still could but, I’ve improved the chances of her wearing it just a little.

          The colors? Maybe there’s something wrong with my camera. The colors I’m seeing don’t look alike at all!!!

      • Love the knitting sweaters for boyfriends curse!! I guess I dodged a bullet. BUT, we did break up after that Christmas, but I put that down to him being an a$$hole, not any muffler curse (I can tell you that if I had knit him a sweater & we broke up I would have ripped it off him — so, maybe I as lucky — I avoided an assault charge 🙂 ).
        I did use a super cashmere yarn though, so he has a nice memento of me, which is more than he deserved.

      • Does it apply to husbands, too?

  16. Katie–my scarf calls for 22 stitches in a row. Can I make it wider?? It’s the super simple one–all knit stitches (22 per row ). I just wanted to maybe go to 30 wide??

    • Absolutely, make it as wide as you want. The label on the yarn should tell you how many inches you should get with some-sized needle…. so knit however many stitches you need to get the width you want. The VERY first scarf I made was ALL width — it was 7 feet wide and a foot or so long. I cast on something like 370 stitches and knit from there!

      When you get to the end of a row and turn around, then give the yarn just a little tug after you insert the needle into the second stitch (but before you knit into it) not REAL tight — just a little tug.

      That will keep the edge straight.

  17. thanks–I should start reading labels. Didn’t even think of that. It just didn’t quite look wide enough.

    Thanks for the tips. You know, I’ll bet between Youtube and blogs people giving knitting lessons are hurting. Youtube is so great because I rewind a dozen times.

    Am gonna call it a night. It’s in the 40s here in N. Florida and great sleeping weather.

  18. I LOVE these knitting posts! I am losing steam on the fools errand that is the baby-dress-on-size-2-needles (which I will post on Ravelry soon, really!), and you help me to keep on keepin’ on.

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