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Help me enjoy knitting again

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    Profile photo of melelizameleliza @meleliza

    As an example of everything that’s wrong with knitting: I started a shawl project at the beginning of the soccer season (I can’t lug my sewing machine to the field, after all) and it was close to finished, so I motivated myself to finish it off. Lovely pink Tosh yarn, pretty pattern with lots of excellent reviews on ravely, not too hard, not too easy and enjoyable to knit. However, the stupid thing was an epic fail. Finished it, blocked it and it is tiny. Not just tiny, but teeny weeny. Nothign at all like it looks in the pictures. It barely wraps around my 4 year old. It certainly won’t stay on her shoulders.

    But this is how knitting goes, isn’t it? You can’t make a muslin, and even if you try it as you go (I did) it doesn’t guarantee that the finished product will work out at all. And unlike a dress that takes 12-18 hours, a knitted object takes FOR. EV. ER. You’d think you’re safe with something like a shawl, scarf or hat, but you’re not. Those can go wrong too, as my case above shows.

    And yet, I find the process enjoyable. I like the feel of yarn and the clacking of needles and something productive to do with my hands thats portable. And I’m good at it. I am! I’ve made some nice stuff over the years, complicated tricky stuff.

    Still, the disappointment when an entire season of knitting goes down the tubes is crushing. I typically research patterns well before I start anything, but ravelry has gotten so huge I can hardly find the time (or the desire) to sift through it.

    So tell me knitters, how do you keep the love alive? How do you find patterns that really do work?

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    Profile photo of Jess M.Jess M. @mommy2maria

    Firstly, pics. Or it didnthappen. I love me some Tosh yarn. I practicaly knit with it exclusively.

    I tend to be this way with all ofmy crafts—I am obsessed with it until I am burned out. Then it has to go away for awhile while I become obsessed with something else, and somethIng else. Rinse and repeat. Thisbis how I keep the love alive.
    I always sobsessively read pattern notes and project notes on rav. I’m ocd like that. maybe the pattern is fine, maybe the yarn was a. Bad choice or. You didnt block agressively enough or maybe everyone did more repeats.

    I also think sometimes you can do everything “right” & the end project just is a fail. I have a sweater for dd like that as well (In Tosh!!). I loved the pattern, I loved the yarn/colors everything. Knit it up, fits perfectly but its meh.

    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Profile photo of Jess M. Jess M.. Reason: add more words
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    Profile photo of LindaLinda @Knitting1

    How about going back to knitting some basic, easy stuff that you can complete in the blink of an eye, using gorgeous colour yarn, from a good manufacturer? Nothing too big, say child’s size to start so you get quick, satisfying results- get your enjoyment from using beautiful yarn instead of complex stitch or garment patterns. Pick something not too fitted so you’re guaranteed fit, or lovely little baby clothes in colours that make you swoon! This should give you enjoyment, a quick knit and a guaranteed good end result. If you pick small items you might be able to splurge on fabulous yarn, so you’re getting great satisfaction during the knitting process. So what I’m suggesting is go back a few steps, knit something simple well within your skills in beautiful yarn, so you don’t lose your love of knitting. Forget Ravelry temporarily, go shopping for some actual patterns or pattern books that are simple in construction and fit and rely on good yarn and a quick, simple fix for pleasure and end results. Hope that helps, if I can think of anything else I’ll let you know.

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    Profile photo of roundtheworldgirlroundtheworldgirl @roundtheworldgirl

    I am also an obsessive reader of project notes on Revelry before starting something – I usually at least scroll through every picture on the project pages and click on a few. I love it when people leave really detailed notes about finished measurements so I try to do the same with my projects. With shawls I think I have found that I needed to do more repeats than the pattern called for just about every single time!

    But in general I am a frog-er when things don’t go right in knitting. Nice yarn is expensive and I am cheap! It is true, though, that after I frog a project I tend not to want to pick the needles back up for awhile. I always end up going back to it, though. There is something wonderful about knitting, curled up in a chair, with a cup of tea or coffee at your side. It’s also nice to have a project on the needles for when I have to wait for the car to be fixed or wait through my daughter’s dance class. (However, I have had the same “purse project” on the needles, a pair of baby booties, for like four months and I doubt they will be done before this kid gets here).

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    Profile photo of melelizameleliza @meleliza

    well that’s what this was supposed to be: fantastic yarn and a pretty easy pattern. I gave up knitting sweaters ages ago when the kids got too big for quick and easy. And when I realized that I just don’t wear sweaters I make for myself. Especially when I can just get one from Anthropologie for less money and effort. I only buy nice yarn anyway, I’m a total fiber snob in every project. I even use linen for cross stitch.

    My plan is to make hats and scarves for me and/or kids for next winter. But honestly, I’ve had hats fail. The biggest problem in knitting is that patterns are so completely unreliable.

    With spring approaching (maybe? hopefully?) I know we’ll be out and about more. Spring soccer, beach trips, etc and it’s good to have a portable thing to bring along.

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    Profile photo of roundtheworldgirlroundtheworldgirl @roundtheworldgirl

    I can’t say I’ve found knitting patterns across the board to be unreliable, but I do think that there are so many factors that can affect how a project turns out – gauge, needle size, changes in yarn after blocking, etc. It is easy to get an off result. I went through a shawl phase a couple years ago and I found that it was more difficult to get a handle on the finished size for such a project than, say, for a hat or a sweater which is more easily predictable if you are careful with measuring your gauge.

    Let me know if you want a pattern recommendation for anything – I might be able to help!

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    Profile photo of SarviSarvi @Sarvi

    I really feel your pain on this one. I also feel that knitting is so labor-intensive, it’s not worth it to use yarns you don’t love, so even a small project gets very expensive very quickly. The problem is that swatching it so much slower and more expensive than doing a muslin for something sewn. You have to knit a big swatch, using the same yarn and needles, get the tension right, and then also launder/block it. It can take several days. But if you’re making something quite fitted, it’s a question of ‘wasting’ weeks getting post-blocking gauge vs. really wasting months, as you say, and easily over a hundred dollars in materials (that you cannot especially easy reuse).

    I wonder whether a different approach would work better for you. There are kind of two types of knitting — the kind where you follow a very explicit pattern very carefully, and as long as you’re very exact, you’ll get the expected result — and the kind that’s maybe more equivalent to draping than to using a sewing pattern. Are you familiar with Elizabeth Zimmerman and Cat Bordhi? They’re two knitting geniuses who emphasize technique over pattern. They promote the idea that you’re working with something extremely fittable and malleable, so you should be knitting to the body as you go along. Check them out, with your precision and eye for detail, they might really appeal to you. EZ can be kind of maddeningly vague/chatty at times but if you plow through, her basic techniques and principles are rock solid. Cat Bordhi is just from another planet. So clever and so logical.

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    Profile photo of SarviSarvi @Sarvi

    Oh, and just to add, I’ve been very happy with the Brooklyn Tweed patterns thus far, everything works out pretty well. I had a lot of growth in a pattern where I didn’t block the swatch but obviously that was my fault. Blocking is quite the art form in itself, I might add. It’s *very* easy to undo months of good work with improper handling of a wet piece.

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    Profile photo of Jess M.Jess M. @mommy2maria

    With shawls, I am finding that I am not an agressive enough blocker So they come out smaller.

    As for hats—2 very l9vely patterns that were quick knits—windshief, & Beeswax(cables). beeswax looks so complex. But the patternis SO intuitive.

    And sometimes you just have to out the needles down and walk away for a bit. Thdre is nothing wrong with. Doing that if you need.

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    Profile photo of LindaLinda @Knitting1

    Ooh, Sarvi, I love Cat Bordhi too- got her sock books, the woman is a genius! I learnt to knit socks on circulars from one of her books. Socks are one of my favourite things to knit.

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    Profile photo of melelizameleliza @meleliza

    oh how I hate Elizabeth Zimmerman! I waded through the February baby sweater and it was such a horrible ordeal I can’t even think about it. However, the damn thing was cute once I finally got it done. I simply can’t stand how vague and unspecific she is. Her instructions are horrific.

    Good to know about Brooklyn Tweed. I was eyeing up a few of his hat patterns. I also figured if I went for patterns from the actual manufactures it would be better. Like straight from Maddie Tosh. What about Knitty? I just saw their new issue and loved the eyelet shawl. Then I realized it was inspired by EZ and it turned me off.

    I’ve both heard and read this unreliable issue often before. It’s not me.

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    Profile photo of miss_sonjamiss_sonja @miss_sonja

    I used to knit a lot. But sewing is so much faster. I never really learned the faster method of throwing the yarn so I never got fast at it.

    I’ve thought of knitting recently too, though, as I’d love to make my son a sweater. I made a sweater for my now-15 year old when she was 2 and she wore it for 3 years! She loved that thing. I used a yarn that was soft but dreadful to knit with as it had little stretch (but was machine washable). She picked the colours.

    When I try again, I’ll see if I can dig up the pattern I used. It was a Lion Brand something, but was easy. We’ll see!

    Good lucky trying again. Knitting can be so meditative and rewarding…when it goes right!

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    Profile photo of SarviSarvi @Sarvi

    Ha! EZ is definitely … well, perhaps an acquired taste. Ok, then maybe the freeform style is not for you. Brooklyn Tweed is more than just Jared Flood, a lot of other people design for them as well. Another designer you might like who writes in a very detailed stitch-by-stitch style is … I forget her actual name, she goes by 6.5stitches on Ravelry. Erika Knight and Ann Budd are also very solid writers in the more detailed style.

    I’m sure what you’re feeling is a very common frustration, but I urge you not dismiss patterns that have had hundreds of successful makes on Ravelry. They can’t all have just been lucky coincidences, it’s more likely that those knitters had either more, or more relevant experience. It took me a lot of time to be able to sew the Tea Party bodice, but it’s not because the pieces don’t fit. My hands just had to learn to sew opposing curves in the kinds of fabric I was using. It’s more a physical than mental skill.

    Don’t give up, with your handwork abilities I’m sure you can get there.

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    Profile photo of melelizameleliza @meleliza

    yes, I just saw a pattern on knitty.com and when I read the designer works behind the scenes at Brooklyn tweed, I added it to the “safe” list. I do like Ann Budd, her sweater books have been extremely useful. But I don’t do sweaters any more. Her sock book is very good too, but I despite everyone’s warnings about how addictive they are, I only did one pair so far.

    How about the Purl Bee? I’ve done at least one from the book – are the website patterns typically good?

    My daughter just found some multi colored tosh yarn she loves. Normally, I think multi color yarn is one of the things that is wrong with knitting, but this stuff looks like sprinkles on a birthday cake. Maybe I’ll make her a cozy scarf and hat.

    Soccer starts right after Easter and I need something to combat the boredom!

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    Profile photo of Rebecca WRebecca W @craftalittle

    Sarvi- how big of a swatch do you make? Thanks to all of your lovely BT inspiration, I am about to start a Brooklyn Tweed project(Bernice Pullover)and I am a little nervous! I want it to go well! I have been swatching and blocking my swatches lately, but I never make them very big.

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