Friday, 17 October 2014

Knit One, Purl One, Drop Three

As anyone reading here for a while will know, I am not really a knitter. That's not to say that I can't knit. I can - the basic stitches, casting on and off, etc but anything with a pattern beyond the very simple has me on edge and even if the pattern is very simple it is still not beyond my powers to mess it up, big time.

Last year I managed to acquire via Ravelry a few balls of a most beautiful Elle Escapade yarn in a fabulous turquoise blue, flecked with pink and green.

I'd seen the yarn featured in a pattern book but discovered it had been discontinued some years ago. It is a variegated, self-patterning yarn and the way the colours pool makes you think of summer flowers, beside a Mediterranean sea or against a summer sky.

It's an acrylic yarn, which I don't especially like normally, but the colours were just too beautiful to worry about that. Thrilled with the results of my persistence in laying hold of this beauty, I wanted to use it in a knitting project because I loved the way the smoothness of stocking stitch showed off the  colours. I began a simple knitted cowl that had a border of seed stitch and involved knitting on a circular needle. A brilliant first time discovery, as far as I was concerned, finding, as all knitters of course know, that all I had to do when knitting on a circular needle to create stocking stitch, was use nice, easy "knit" stitches not those pesky, purl ones which I find trickier. I know, I know, I am late to the knitting party! Anyway off I went. Problem number one was that the seed stitch border kept curling up - I think I made it too shallow probably - but I said to myself, "Never mind that, it won't show in the end." And it wouldn't have done.

I knitted up about seven inches of this cowl and was mighty pleased with it - the colours pooled beautifully; the knitting was smooth and even; the stitches slipped off the needles, as and when they were supposed to, and all looked quite good. I didn't manage to finish it however, last winter and I parked it in a bag, to await completion. Thinking that, really I should finish it off, I got it out the other day and had a look at it. Yes, it really did look almost finished, just requiring may be a few more rows and then another seed stitch border at the top to finish. Bingo!

...Or not.

I thought I'd just try it on briefly to see whether it was deep enough and assess how much more was required. A bad idea. As in, a Really Bad Idea. Removing said cowl from over my head, the stitch marker I had used to secure the final two stitches in the round failed to prevent several stitches from coming off the needles and a shallow gaping hole greeted me where they had so recently been sitting so safely and neatly. Quelling a rising tide of panic at this ghastly sight, I tried to hook things back to where they should be both with the knitting needles and then using a thin crochet hook. But to no avail. Bad became worse. The hole went from what was originally a shallow, gaping gap to a great, gawping cavern and there was nothing for it but to undo the whole thing back to the beginning. There are no pics because I forgot to take any before embarking on the unravelling and even if I had, I don't know that I could bear to look them in the eye! I could have cried or thrown the whole thing out of the window or possibly both!

It has now begun life again from the safety of a crochet hook and simple, single crochet stitches.

It doesn't have the lovely drape of the knitted stocking stitch but neither does it have a curly border and if I go wrong I can make good without unravelling for Britain. This is what I tell myself anyway. Secretly, I still miss the smoothness of the knitted fabric. May be I'll have another go with the second ball of yarn. Perhaps on something smaller where unravelling won't be so drastic if, (or rather when!), it's required.

This is the second knitting "mess up" I've made in a week. A few weeks ago I was in my local haberdashery shop to pick up some new sewing-machine needles and a zip and there on the counter was the most delightful, knitted, tinsel hedgehog, together with a basket of tinsel yarn and the knitting pattern from which he had been made. Forgetting the zip and sewing-machine needles - who needs them when you might obtain the wherewithal to make a tinsel hedgehog?! - and assured by the lady behind the counter that the pattern was "really simple" I rashly bought both pattern and yarn. The yarn is King Cole Tinsel Chunky yarn, if you're interested and you can get it (and the hedgehog pattern) here.

The pattern is indeed fairly simple but the yarn isn't. It's basically tinsel, not yarn at all - beautifully sparkly and the knitted fabric it makes is amazingly soft and tactile. Delicious, in fact.

 But because of the strands of tinsel, you cannot see the stitches once you've made them.

All went well until I'd nearly finished Hedgepig's body and then, lo and behold, of course, I dropped a stitch. I poked around a bit but, as above, bad became Really Bad and Really Bad became worse and Hedgepig developed an alarming rent in his body cavity that I could not make good in any shape or form. Unravelling the whole thing was the only option and beginning again. The second time of asking, I managed to avoid dropping any stitches but being unable to see the finished rows clearly, I got mixed as to which row was knit and which was purl. It's only in one place and I don't think you can see. This is Too Bad. I am not unravelling him again!

Perhaps I should leave the knit-sticks well alone. Perhaps there are ways to pick up dropped stitches that mean you don't have to unravel whole projects back to square one. Perhaps I will get less clumsy with more rather than less knitting practice. In the meantime I have about an inch or so of cowl instead of seven inches, a friendly Christmas hedgehog who will sit underneath the Christmas tree in due course and I am taking solace in finishing off hand-sewing the flowery panels on my denim jacket! Considerably easier than knitting, I have to say!

What do you skilled knitters out there recommend?

1 Leave the knit-sticks well alone, Mrs T, and stick to a crochet hook.

2 There is a way to pick up dropped stitches that even you, Mrs T, might manage without having to unravel everything.

3 Keep going - with practice, you will get less clumsy and drop fewer stitches, Mrs T.

If you happen to feel like commenting, let me know which option you recommend! If it's number 2 and you have a patent method you can point me too, lead me to it please!

In the meantime Christmas Hedgepig is keeping hold of the circular knitting needles and he's probably safer with them than I am!

Here's hoping for a weekend with not a single stitch of unravelling!


  1. Your hedgehog looks cute though the yarn sounds a bit difficult to see what's what. Don't put your knit-sticks away - you know deep down that Option 3 is the best one! I pick up dropped stitches with a crochet hook, which I feel is the only useful thing to do with a crochet hook. With your cowl, have you thought about picking up the stitches onto knitting needles, using the crochet as a firm border and knitting the middle section? Gorgeous looking denim jacket.

  2. Hallo Elizabeth, so many, many projects in one post! How do you manage? I always work on my crochet projects for ages! Your hedgehog looks so sweet, he (or she?) is a real cute little thing. I can wholeheartedly understand your problems with the yarn and with the knitting. I have once tried working with tinsel yarn and it ended up somewhere - I don't know where but it can stay whereever it is! And knitting... sigh! My son had to knit socks last term and after a discussion with his teacher we decided that his socks should become wrist warmers. I just couldn't help him, I do not like knitting and I am all thumbs working with needles. And last but not least I adore your jeans jacket! It is now a unique piece of clothing, I wish I would like to sew... Have a nice weekend, Viola

  3. I am not really a knitter so it wouldn't be prudent to comment on what the best way forward is. The crochet is looking amazing as is the jacket and hedgehog. Good luck with the knitting and have a great weekend.

  4. Well done for finishing the hedgehog! I think "novelty" yarn is horrible to knit with. Do keep knitting - it does get easier with practice. Love the denim jacket it's so nice to have something unique. Have a good weekend

  5. Love the hedgehog! And dropping stitches is just such a pain!

  6. Keep calm and knit on!! It does get easier, but you should enjoy what you are doing. I, too, tried knitting with something like your tinsel yarn and found it very difficult when I couldn't see the stitches. All of your projects are lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  7. J'adore ton hérisson ! Il est vraiment adorable, et il me rappelle la famille hérisson (une maman et ses quatre petits )que nous avons eue cet été dans le jardin...
    Tes mésaventures au tricot m'ont fait sourire (pardonne moi !)...Pour ta question, je choisis les réponses 2 et 3. N'abandonne pas, tu vas y arriver ! L. apprend à tricoter depuis quelques semaines et j'ai du souvent corriger ses erreurs au début, mais elle en fait de moins en moins, et ce sera la même chose pour toi ! Don't give up !
    (Je vais voir si je trouve une méthode simple pour rattraper des mailles dans mes livres de tricot)
    A big hug and a nice week-end for you !

  8. Keep going for I can see plenty of talent in your knitting! The stitches on the hedgehogs face are smooth and regular! I have never tried to knit tinsel but your hedgehog is just too cute to resist. I am trying not to click on the link you provide... I pick up dropped stitches with a crochet hook if there is a longish ladder. It works a treat (but maybe not so easily if you knit with tinsel). If I want to try a cowl, or a top down jumper, is put the stitches on long piece of wool, or long circular needles. I always loose my stitch markers.
    Love your denim jacket! Cx

  9. Dear E - well done you on picking up the knit sticks!!! You are to crochet and sewing what i am to knitting and if I lived closer I would definitely offer you free knitting lessons for sewing ones!!! There is no secret way to pick up stitches and that tinsel yarn is probably the worst yarn you could EVER use! I knitted a scarf once for a friend and never again!!! (And I've been knitting since age 5!!!) My advice would be 1) don't stop trying ; 2) go to your local yarn shop and see if there is a knitting circle/group/guru in your area and get in touch with them and 3) have another go at your cowl and if you drop a stitch, just stick a safety pin thru it and take it along to your yarn shop - I'm sure they'd show you how to pick it up again! Knitting takes longer than crochet to do but it takes less yarn and gives such beautiful fabrics so please please please keep trying!!!! Much love L x ps your jacket is stunning and that hedgehog.....too cute!!!! pps the curling issue would be resolved after blocking! ppps here's a great tutorial on picking up dropped stitches... ♥♥♥

  10. I love your denim jacket, and the hedgehog is very cute. If you can get a machine knitters latch tool it would make chaining up a dropped stitch much easier to do.

  11. Sorry about that knitting disaster on the cowl. Now you won't pick up those knitting needles again. And why should you when you crochet so beautifully? You are right, you scored on that yarn with the beautiful colors.

    Your hedgehog is absolutely darling. Dang cute.

    You make me think I should get out my denim jacket and do a bit of embellishing on it. In fact, I will.

  12. I once tried to make a crochet hedgehog and for the life of me could not find the stitches, I got so turned around I ripped it all out and haven't tried again. As a very seasoned knitter I am going to choose number 4. Sometimes mistakes happen to the best of us, take a deep breath and try again.

  13. Ah this post made me laugh, hopefully with you (my intention) and not at you! I love the hedgehog and think you should keep on with the knitting. "Practice makes perfect" is what they say but my personal feeling is that the longer you do something the better you get at correcting your mistakes! Love the denim jacket, I will be on the lookout for denim jackets at the thrift shops now! Onward and upward!!

  14. Your hedgie is so cute!! I cannot imagine that you could tell what stitches were what with all that fluffy!! xx

  15. Moi qui pratique les deux, le crochet est bien plus facile que le tricot alors il ne faut pas abandonner ! mais je comprends la tentation de laisser tomber ! Pour le hérisson tu n'as pas choisi une laine facile. On la déconseille aux débutantes car on ne voit les mailles avec ! Malgré cela, il est bien ce hérisson ! Ah et ta veste ... sans commentaire sauf PARFAIT !! Bon dimanche et à bientôt !

  16. I right with you Mrs T when it comes to the knitting stick, and have yet to find a way of picking up stitches with out starting again, no wonder you were distracted in the shop by the tinsel hedgehog what a cutie. The jacket is looking so wonderful.
    Clare xx

  17. Yes, there's a way to pick up dropped stitches and 'knit' them back up to the current row. But I don't know where you could find that written down as instructions - I just know how to do it and would have to demonstrate. Sorry! Definitely keep on with the knitting though and you'll conquer it. As for the tinsel yarn; I also made the mistake of buying 3 balls. I got gold, green and brown with the intention of crocheting some Christmas decorations. I didn't buy the hedgehog pattern. You think it's hard to see the stitches when knitting? It's absolutely impossible when trying to crochet. So I don't know what I'll do with the yarn now apart from lamenting having bought it.

  18. Hi, Elizabeth. I am impressed. You chose some tricky yarn to work with for your hedgehog--not easy stuff for a beginner. I will show you how to pick up dropped stitches, and the whole process does get easier with practice. Part of knitting is tearing out or "frogging" (rip it, rip it) in knitting lingo. The sweater I brought to England last year gave me a fit, but, eventually, after much ripping out, I had a beautiful garment.

    I've been in the mood to knit some animals lately. You've inspired me, and you made me laugh when I read about your trip to buy sewing notions. My mind always flits to new projects when I'm in a yarn or fabric shop. All the best. Love Liz.


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.