My Experience as a New Knitter (Part 2)

I’m going to pick up pretty much exactly where the first half of my story left off. Find that first part here.

When I couldn’t move any further on the baby cardigan, I bought some 100% wool yarn and knitted a cloth diaper cover for the baby. I’d read a lot about how wool is waterproof like the artificial fabrics, but because it’s natural it allows baby’s skin to breathe better. Since Dragonfly has shown himself to be prone to diaper rash during the past couple of weeks, that seemed like a good thing to me. The diaper cover was a fairly easy knit, although I did find myself on Google a couple of times because I didn’t know what some of the abbreviations – and stitches associated with those abbreviations – were. Once I learned what they meant, they weren’t that difficult to implement. The diaper cover turned out quite well, and even though it looks kind of loose around his legs, it holds leaks in just fine over the top of his flat diapers. I still have some of that wool yarn left, so I plan to make another cover sometime soon.

knittingAfter the diaper cover, my next project was a sweater for Small Fry. Remember, though, that I’d gotten stuck on the sleeves for the baby sweater… So I opted for a sweater-vest style this time, so I could have success without worrying about sleeves. That method worked like a charm. I was able to follow the pattern easily, but like the diaper cover there were a few methods I had to learn from YouTube videos. That’s not a problem, though. I’m glad to live during a time period when that’s an option!

KIMG0336After following the pattern exactly, including the needle size called for, I realized that my sweater was turning out much too small; there was no way it was going to fit him. (It should have been 13 inches across, for a total of 26 inches around. Mine was only 9 inches across.) Fortunately, I noticed this when I was only about a quarter of the way done. It was at that point that I understood that “gauge” (knitting talk for “stitches per inch”) really matters a lot when you’re creating a garment. I never bothered with gauge swatches in crochet, but I usually just made hats and blankets so it didn’t matter that much. (Technically, it did matter with hats; I was just fortunate enough to have a similar gauge to the designer whose hats I crocheted.) What I’ve learned with knitting is that I tend to have a tighter gauge than most patterns call for. This just means that I need to use larger knitting needles than what’s usually recommended.

After learning about gauge, and practicing knitting a little less tightly (it’s okay to be a tight knitter, but not too tight, which is where I was before), I was still having trouble getting the proper gauge for the pattern, so I went into the yarn store with the intention of purchasing a new set of needles in a size between the two I already own. I showed them my swatch and explained that I thought I needed a new set of needles. The employee took one look at my knitting at diagnosed me with having created “twisted stitches.” Turns out I was making the purl stitches backwards, which was having an ill effect on my gauge. She showed me how to do it correctly and suggested I try a new swatch using proper stitches before I purchased new needles. (I love that she was so honest and didn’t try to sell me something she didn’t think I needed!) I took her advice and came home to create a new sample. My knitting was still tighter than the pattern called for, but not nearly as tight as it had been before. So I swapped up to my larger needles (which were 2 sizes bigger than those the pattern called for) and continued to knit some practice fabric. After a few rows, I measured again, and I got the proper gauge. I was super excited, and immediately freed the swatch from my needles so I could start the real project. About two weeks after that, Small Fry had a sweater vest to wear 🙂

Back to the baby sweater and why it will never get sleeves. Remember when I was talking about having created my stitches backwards, causing them to twist? Well, that entire sweater (the part I’d finished) was made with those twisted stitches. I didn’t think it was a good idea to continue creating that particular sweater since I’d since learned the proper way to purl, so I “frogged” it. (That’s another knitting term that means “to undo.” It gets its name from the sound a frog makes – “ribbit.” What do you do when you’re undoing knitting? “Rip-it, rip-it.” Heehee.) I’ll reuse most of that yarn into another pattern for baby Dragonfly, though, so nothing got wasted but my time. And that wasn’t really a waste since I was learning the whole time.

So that’s where I am now. I’ve learned a lot since that initial knitting class on Valentine’s Day, and I’ve had a lot of success and nearly as much failure. But the failure is all about learning, so I don’t see it as a true failure. And that’s a good thing.


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