Hello again, Jane here. In last week’s post I wrote about getting started with knitting; casting on for the first time since I was a child, my first few rows of knit and purl, and creating my first piece of fabric.
I must thank everyone for the warm, woolly welcome to the knitting community. I really appreciate all the words of encouragement you left in the comments, I do read them all, and certainly shall be dipping in and out of all the advice and tips you are kind enough to share. I’m looking forward to learning from and alongside you in this journey.
The next step in PomPom’s KNITHOW book is Project One – fingerless mitts. Despite having bought two sets of straight bamboo needles last week in sizes 5mm and 6mm (US 8 & 10), the suggested needles size for this first project is 4mm (US 6). I’m itching to get started, so I pop along to my local yarn shop (LYS). It’s quite a sad wee place, annexed to the picture framers, which although being called ‘The Wool Shop’ doesn’t actually sell any wool. Well, no yarn in 100% wool. Everything is acrylic or a blend of no more than 20% wool. Luckily, working for a yarn manufacturer means I have access to beautiful wooly yarns like the 100% Scottish wool yarn named after those epic mountains which shepherd the valley of Glen Etive in the west highlands – Buachaille. I do, however, find the needles I’m after. I head home with a set of straight metal needles and cast on to swatch and test my gauge. I had a couple of issues. Firstly, I found the metal needles pretty slippy to begin with. Secondly, I think I pulled my cast-off too tight which made the fabric a bit wonky.
Nonetheless, my gauge notes:
4mm metal needles x Buachaille (colour: Haar) 2 ply worsted wool yarn = 20 stitches over 4 inches
Here we go. My first ever knit project and first time reading a pattern.
The “Ce” fingerless mitts.
I chose size 2 and cast on the number of stitches indicated in the pattern for this size.
First up – ribbing.
Row one: k,p,k
Row two: p,k,p
This is soooo hard! I’m struggling to keep track of where I am. Should I be knitting? Should I be purling? I’ve had to do a hard reset a few times, ripping it all out and starting again. I would get distracted part way through a row, or forget whether I finished a row on a knit or purl. Do I need to pay more attention? I’ve seen people knitting at meetings. They seem to be able to concentrate on two things at the same time – why can’t I? So many questions.
At the moment, I’m just going to concentrate, ignore the distractions around me, hope that Sam makes dinner and the kids don’t need help with their homework! I’ve decided to always end a period of work on Row 2 – which is p,k,p. That way I know when I pick up the needles I start on Row 1 with a knit stitch. It doesn’t take too long until I have the required length of ribbing. Now on to stockinette. This is easier. I’m picking up pace, it’s fast and enjoyable…until… I made a wee mistake at the end of a row.
Like a child having just had the training wheels taken off her bike and five minutes later yelling “hey Mum – look at me – no hands”, before face planting on the road!
I noticed a sort of ladder in the work, and realised I must have dropped a stitch. Not only had I dropped one stitch, but I had an extra two on the needle. WHAT!? There’s a vast amount of information and advice online and I’ve found some YouTube videos particularly helpful. So, I managed to troubleshoot the problem and found the stitch which had wormed it’s way down a few rows. I dropped the extra stitches, which I figure are not real stitches, grab my crochet hook and pick up the dropped stitch, loop it up the rows and slide it back on the needle. I fixed it! I can’t believe it worked. There’s now a small flaw at the edge of the fabric, but it’s going to be largely hidden and is much better than having a hole in the work. I should point out, that although I went online looking for help with this, there is actually a guide at the back of this book which illustrates how to solve problems including this specific mistake. I’m not sure why I didn’t think to check the contents page. My advice to any new knitters using PomPom’s Knithow is to read through the book first!
Ribbed cuff done and the hand section of stockinette complete means I’m at the required length from cast on. It’s back to rib stitch for 1 inch and I’m ready to cast-off. The pattern tells me to cast off “quite loosely in 1×1 rib”, but it doesn’t tell me how to do this. So, after a quick look online, I learn it’s just k1, p1 on the cast off. It makes sense. I might have made a tiny mistake but on the whole it looks neat and is not too tight.
I have one mitt!
Back to the start for mitt number two. Do I need two mitts? Maybe one is fine. Is this “second sock syndrome”?
Over the next couple of nights I complete the second mitt, with fewer problems than the first, and leave the pair blocking overnight.
I have two flat pieces of fabric. To make them into mitts I need to employ the mattress stitch. The Knithow book has illustrated descriptions of how to mattress stitch. Once I found the ladder of stitches to sew into I find it pretty simple. Using the cast on and cast off tails I stitch the edges of the fabric together, leaving a hole for my thumb, and hey presto – I have two mitts.
My first ever finished objects.
I’m chuffed to bits with my mitts!
I can tell which one I made first and can see a definite progression in the cast on, cast off and selvedge edges.
There’s a phrase my teenage daughters like to say when they are shaping their eyebrows, “they should be like sisters, not twins”. I think this sums up my mitts. They are very similar, but not identical (and I love them both).
Another mistake I made – my swatch was useless. I knitted it in garter stitch. Garter stitch is not used in the pattern at all. I counted 20 stitches over 4 inches on the swatch, but actually achieved 24 stitches over 4 inches in the finished mitts. Luckily they fit fine, but if this was a sweater I could have been in a spot of bother!
The book: If you are considering learning to knit, or would like to encourage someone to do so – we have copies of the book I’m using in the shop.
The yarn: The pattern calls for a DK/light worsted weight yarn. I chose to use KDD & Co. Buachaille which is a 2 ply, worsted-spun, 100% wool yarn in colour Haar (natural silver grey). This is a natural fleece yarn with subtle variations of colour throughout and, as you can see from the photographs, it has a lovely woolly halo. The yarn is available in the shop.
I’ve caught the knitting bug. I can’t wait to start project two (which I’ll tell you about next week).