Ask the Experts: Knitting Disasters We've Learned From
Every knitter has a story about a project gone awry. There’s the gigantic sweater that won’t stop stretching out; the late baby gift finished after the baby has outgrown it; and, of course, the odd felting catastrophe. Some of our favorite knitting authors share their worst knitting disasters and how they managed to salvage them—or didn’t!
SALLY MELVILLE, author of Warm Knits, Cool Gifts and Mother-Daughter Knits: I made a sweater that skewed. The sleeve seams went from the top of the hand to the underarm and the side seams went from the underarm to the navel! I embellished each seam of the sweater, and everyone wanted one. (If it’s asymmetrical, it’s artistic, right?) This project illustrated an important design principle: If it looks like mistake, embellish it, and make feature out of it.
LILY CHIN, author of Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips and Tricks and Lily Chin’s Crochet Tips and Tricks: When I was 19, I worked for a handknit accessories manufacturer and was able to get pure angora at wholesale. Even at wholesale, it wasn’t cheap. I made myself a pure angora sweater in flaming scarlet and was so pleased that I went disco dancing in it. Big mistake. Angora is extremely warm, and so was the club. So what do you get when you subject an angora sweater to heat, moisture, and agitation? It started to felt right on my body! I wondered why it was getting smaller and smaller, until it was barely decent. When I got home, I had to peel the thing off me. I now have the world’s fanciest toilet seat cover that cost me way too much money. Lesson: Never go clubbing in a pure angora sweater.
WENDY D. JOHNSON, author of Wendy Knits Lace, Socks from the Toe Up, and Toe-Up Socks for Every Body: My early knitting disasters all seemed to involved colorwork. The first one was a Lopi-style sweater I knit when I was 18. My tension on the floats was so tight that it was impossible to wear the sweater. The colorwork yoke was pulled in at least 4″ tighter than the rest of the sweater. This project became a cat bed.
Another colorwork disaster was my first attempt at intarsia—the Princess Diana black sheep sweater from the mid-1980s. I didn’t realize that it was not meant to be stranded, so strand I did . . . with disastrous results. The yarn used was very fine and my clumsy attempts at stranding showed through on the right side. This project was abandoned in disgust.
JIL EATON, author of Jil Eaton’s Knitting School: When I met my husband I knit a sweater for him for our first Christmas. I was knitting at night and when he wasn’t around, and found my gauge was off—the sweater was 10″ too big! So I took it to my local yarn shop and they cut it down and sewed it together. So the moral is: Always check your gauge!
LORNA MISER, author of The Knitter’s Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn and Faith, Hope, Love, Knitting:Of course I made mistakes! I didn’t know anything about gauge. My first project was a baby sweater for my new baby boy. In that case, gauge really didn’t matter, since it fit him at some point. But my second project was a lace pullover vest for myself. It turned out about 8″ too large around! I was a skilled seamstress so I took it to the sewing machine, stitched the side seams, cut off the excess and covered the “steeks” with ribbon. It never occurred to me that I’d done something wrong or strange. My grandmother just about had a heart attack, though!
CLARA PARKES, author of The Knitter’s Book of Socks, The Knitter’s Book of Wool, and The Knitter’s Book of Yarn: My biggest teaching moment came with a Debbie Bliss onesie I made for a friend’s baby. It had a hood with ears, and the hands and feet were designed to look like teddy bear paws. All fine and good, except I’d somehow reversed the directions so that the hood faced backwards and covered up the baby’s face. Which, as you may imagine, isn’t exactly ideal.
By the time I discovered my mistake, the baby was already born and almost too big even to wear the thing, so I decided frogging and reknitting was out of the question. Instead, I took out my scissors and snipped a stitch at the neckline, unraveled the whole row, flipped the head around, and grafted the two pieces back together again. Desperation pushed me to try something new, and I’ve never looked at my knitting the same way again.
Categories: Knitting & Crochet |
Tags: Ask the Experts, clara parkes, Clara Parks, how to knit, Jil Eaton, Jill Eaton, knitting, knitting mistakes, knitting patterns, Lili Chin, lily chin, Lily knitting, Lorna Laces, Lorna Miser, Lorna's Laces, sally melville, sweater, sweaters, Wendy Johnson, Wendy Knits
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