April 22, 2004

Conquering my fears

Well, in spite of the Leafs’ loss tonight I’m feeling pretty triumphant right now. I have met (one set of) my knitting demons and conquered them! Of course, it all stems from a mistake on my part in the first place, and perhaps a certain amount of laziness, but I choose to concentrate on the good, personally.

See, last night I joined the first shoulder of the aran (using a new, more invisible sewing method, courtesy of my new book on finishing techniques), picked up the stitches for the collar and settled into working on the twisted ribbing (all 3.5” of it — for a folded collar). I was perhaps halfway through the ribbing and about to put away my knitting for the night when I looked at the front of the sweater and suddenly saw this:


Only 4 or 5 inches below the collar, right smack dab in the most noticeable place on the sweater. You do see the problem, right? If not, here are the four (4!) miscrossed cables indicated with pins. I was heartbroken. I have a history of making mistakes with my cabling, and being too lazy (or, often, oblivious until long after the sweater is completed and worn) to rip out the piece and re-knit them. But I had been so proud of myself for finally becoming an accomplished enough knitter to pay attention and get the darn things right! No other mistakes anywhere on the sweater (at least I think — believe me, I checked pretty carefully). And yet I’d managed to mess up four separate cable crossings in the most obvious place possible, without noticing until I’d started the finishing process.

Now, I’m sure many of you would have just sighed, ripped out the collar, unpicked the shoulder, ripped out the top 8 inches of the sweater and reknit it. And I applaud your patience and virtue — but I couldn’t face the thought. I want this to be done! But at the same time I knew I would just get more and more annoyed about those stupid cables every time I saw them, and it would be pretty hard not to see them (unless Mark never faced me while wearing the sweater, as he offered). And then I remembered one of the techniques I’d always dismissed as being far, far too frightening to even think about attempting — cutting cables and re-crossing them on a finished piece of knitting. Ack! Did I dare? Mark reminded me that if I messed it up I could just rip it all out, which I’d probably have ended up doing anyway, so what did I have to lose? And with that encouragement, I sat down this afternoon, scissors and reference book in hand, and started:


I cut the middle stitch where the first cable crossed, pulled the two stitches on either side through to the back of the work, and joined them underneath, thus reversing the cable. Now, I won’t show you the wrong side of the knitting because the instructions say to graft the stitches closed, but I didn’t do that. Well, I couldn’t do that. I’m horrible at grafting, and this was particularly confusing. So I threaded the cut yarn through all the stitches and tied the ends. I know, bad knitter. But the knots will hold, especially with such sticky wool, and they don’t show because they’re under the cable crossing.

The end result made me very, very happy:


Can you tell which cables I fixed? (Humour me. Pretend you have to check here where I’ve indicated the re-crossed rows). I can tell, mainly by some slightly tight stitches at the crossings, but only if I look carefully, and even that might even out with wearing and washing. And it only took me half an hour, instead of the two or three evenings ripping and re-knitting would have taken. Hurray! A new knitting milestone has been achieved!

After my epic adventure I did finish the neck and sewed it down, so tomorrow will be all about seaming, and then maybe it will all be done. As long as I don’t discover any more glaring-but-hitherto-invisible errors!

I think it took me almost as long to describe this as it took me to do — sorry for the long post! I’ll try not to be so long-winded or self-congratulatory tomorrow!

Posted by Aven at April 22, 2004 11:13 PM

Good work, sugar!

I’d have left it int hat case — but you never know, really.

sometimes I frog, sometimes I don’t. All depends.

On whatever.

But that’s good work. Looks great!

Posted by: Anne at April 23, 2004 07:04 AM

hi aven. i can’t tell you how impressed i am. a) i would have just left them!! and b) god, i can’t imagine i would have had the bravery to CUT them! and c) yes I most definitely had to look at the second popup to find them! amazing job, looks great, and obviously YOU will be much more pleased with the finished product! wow. the finishing and reference books you refer to - which ones are they please? :) thanks

Posted by: carolyn at April 23, 2004 08:01 AM

Just as Elizabeth Zimmerman said, “You are the boss of your own knitting!” A valuable, inspirational post.

Posted by: Pubah at April 23, 2004 08:17 AM

Wow - I’m impressed by your bravery, I’m pretty sure I would have left it, but cutting took incredible guts. Looks great!

Posted by: Patty at April 23, 2004 09:29 AM

You should be self congratulatory! How ingenious. I never would have thought of doing that. It’s going to be a beautiful sweater, by the way.

Posted by: Julie M. at April 23, 2004 10:01 AM

Holy Sh*t! That’s amazing. I never would have thought of doing that! Great work. Now I have a new strategy if I mis-cross my cables. neat.

And don’t worry about the inside—no one looks there (I won’t tell you want I did to my Rogue where the purl stitches on the cable were too loose—no one has to know but me!)

Posted by: Steph at April 23, 2004 11:40 AM

Aven — this is the most interesting knitting blog entry I have ever read. I mean that sincerely. And great supporting photos. I’m impressed.

Posted by: madhava at April 23, 2004 12:51 PM

wow! Wow! WOW! Absolutely fantastic. I also would love to know the reference books you used. I’m sure I would have fixed it, were it mine, but don’t know if I’d be so brave as to cut. Bravo!

Posted by: Vicki at April 23, 2004 01:19 PM

Aven, you’re like a knitting superhero - Purlgirl, perhaps. I had no idea knitting could be so gripping. You kept me reading right until the end. What would happen? Triumph, or tragic failure and melted wax wings…
Lovely sweater! Em

Posted by: Em at April 23, 2004 02:14 PM

I am in AWE, I tell you! I caught myself reading your entry with my mouth hanging open and all the while moving closer to the monitor (LOL!), as if I was watching a horror film! Kudos to you! You MUST disclose your source of knowledge for that fabulous technique!

Posted by: Janet at April 23, 2004 02:38 PM

Holy Cow. I am not worthy. I shouldn’t even be reading this blog.

Posted by: Stephanie at April 24, 2004 05:20 PM

Amazing job! I’ve been knitting for mmphty-mmph years and have never seen that done. And if I had read about it, I never would have attempted it, using the “back of a galloping horse” rationalization. But thanks to your clear explanation and the excellent pictures, you’ve inspired many knitters. Thank you!

Posted by: KarenK at April 24, 2004 05:20 PM

I do not think I have ever been quite as impressed by something in a knitting blog as I have by what you have done. How incredible is that. Brava!!!

Posted by: Jon at April 24, 2004 09:17 PM

Well finally the blog has let me in. I’m ashamed to admit that, although I am your Mom, I had to go right back to April 9 to catch up with this delightful history. And then the comments sections (while I could read them) offered nowhere for me to blather on. I guess they eventually close the doors to late-comers. So, rather than send a whole month’s worth of comments at once, simply I’ll say — Greek audio poetry, terrific, want to hear it, Easter pix and cake, wow, hockey (or is it baseball yet), your father is grieving but at least has evenings free, garden, way ahead of ours though we now have beeeoootifull tiny tulips and violets, cable victory, now that’s my kind of story and problem-solving you old I mean young chipette. Congrats!

Posted by: Susan at May 13, 2004 12:27 PM