January 26, 2008


This past week, as I struggled (and grumped) over fixing the mistake in my Simple Yet Effective Shawl, I wondered whether there was anything I was learning from the experience. When my students run into difficulties reading and writing, I'm all about telling them how their struggles are really opportunities for learning. So what did I learn this week? Mostly that there are moments when I just need to step away from the knitting so that I can return later with a better attitude. I probably knew that before, but I have a thing about not walking away from mistakes--on the theory that it is SUCH a bummer to pick up a project and have to face a problem. So I have an agreement with myself that I have to fix a problem before I can put something down. But I guess there are times when I need to suspend that rule.

But before I explain my fix, here's a quick re-cap: Earlier this week, I was knitting--I forget what--probably a sock--when I happened to look across the room at my SYE shawl in progress (really, nearly finished), and I noticed something weird with one of the garter stripes. On closer inspection, I saw that I had about an 18 stitch stretch where, stupidly, I had st st'd when I should have gartered. Bummer. I thought it over for a couple days because I was torn between frogging and reknitting (in total about 25 rows of 100+ stitches), or trying a vertical fix. In the end, I decided that even though I was worried about losing the yarn overs (on alternate rows, 2 in the middle and one on each), frogging/reknitting would probably be less of a pain. I then wisely waited until the following morning, when I had good light, to attempt my fix.

I first inserted a lifeline a couple rows below the problem section:

Then I ripped (and tried not to cry). Not that this project is hard--just knits and purls, but I'm soooooo tired of it, and I was sooooo looking forward to being finished--which I had to be because this is a gift.

After I had ripped to about 4 rows above my mistake, it occured to me that maybe a vertical fix from this distance wouldn't be so bad. So I put the live stitches on circs smaller than the ones I was knitting with (so as not to stretch out the stitches)--except the live stitches above my mistake. Those I put on a DPN. And I put point protectors on all the needle ends so no stitches would pop off. (I left in the lifeline just in case this approach wasn't going to work and I would need to rip after all.) Then, one stitch at a time, I unknit down to the problem row, fixed it, and knit back up.

After about an hour, voila, problem solved. Yay! Except that later that day, I discovered another problem where, a couple rows earlier, I had joined a new skein. It was late and I was tired, and I should have walked away, but I didn't. After trying--and failing--another vertical fix (since I'd just had so much practice), I had to admit failure and go to bed. Early the next morning, and without overthinking it, I got up, unknit 2 rows, and figured out that my problem was the loose knot I'd tied to keep even tension was pulled way too tight. After relaxing the knot just a bit, I was able once again to knit on.

Not surprisingly, I didn't get much else done this week. But next time I'll talk about progress on my Fast, Easy Vest. Here's a peek at the front and the beginnings of the v-neck.


cauchy09 said...

Aww, poo. Sorry about the setbacks. The vest is lookin' good, though!

Anonymous said...

The agony... I'm so sorry to hear about this prob with the shawl! You are SO much a better person (or at least, a gift-giver) than I. I wouldn't have gone back to fix the problem with the stripe at all. AND your meticulous cataloguing your fix and providing the photo documentation to boot just underscores your teacherly tendencies... cmr

Anonymous said...

B, I'm impressed by your methodical approach to fixing the mistake. Thanks for the details--I'll remember to turn to this next time I have such an error. Though, truth be told, I might just live with it and carry on.

I do think, btw, that knitting works very well as a metaphor for writing, and once I figured this out a few years ago, my knitting and my writing changed. GK