Ban the Blue

It would seem that Claudia is taking matters into her own hands. Overwhelmed by the omnipresence of blue on my blog she has sent me the antithesis. Thanks lady!
The note reads “Ban the Blue”, and the yarn is Lion Brand Microspun, in “mango”. This is cool, not only because it is not blue, but because I’ve not seen this yarn in Toronto shops. It’s pretty neat. Amanda decided to take a stand and back Claudia’s blue ban. (except for the sweatshirt)
Personally, I think it’s a bold thing to do just to make a point about your mother’s blog…but what do I know.
Claudia enclosed a snip of the lime that she’s been knitting, and damn. That’s lime. You know how sometimes you can think of other words to describe colours? You say “it’s sort of a dirty lime” or “green apple-lime” or “well it’s lime, but lime in the shade…ya know?” Not this. There is only one word my friends, and that is LIME. Claudia’s going to look simply smashing in her tank.
I worked away on my blue tank (now that the socks are done I have returned to my former loves…though now that the mango goodness has arrived things are not looking good for them again). (Note: Photoshop may have been used to alter the colour of the tank.)
I’m only five cm up the front, but I’m the cables are coming up soon and I’m pretty hopped up about it. (Am I the only one who really worries about being excited by this kind of thing? Really, I’m probably going to get to the cables today and I can’t wait. Is that sad? Should I get out more?)
Now. A discussion question. This morning I read this. Surprise, surprise, I do virtually none of the things that Jenna advocates. (Well, that’s not true. I swatch. I read through the pattern to avoid getting bitten hard on the hind parts by something like “at the same time”, I check to make sure there’s no hidden crochet…) but other than that…I don’t do squat. I’ve never enlarged a schematic or marked decreases/increases and more than that, it had never occurred to me.
Don’t get me wrong, Jenna Wilson is clearly a genius and a very good knitter. She’s got an extremely good grip on how knitting works and her advice is sound. Very sound. There probably isn’t any of us who wouldn’t be a better knitter after taking her advice. We should all do this. Definitely.
This brings us to the question of the day. Having read the article, having a firm understanding that this would improve your knitting, fully knowing that this is an absolutely practical, reasonable, intelligent and thoughtful way to advance your skills and be a better knitter, please choose one of the following.
A) Yes. I will definitely be using this approach. I understand now what has been going wrong with much of my knitting and I want to knit smarter. The time spent preparing for a project will pay off in the knitting and the final product and it’s worth it. What most knitters don’t understand is that really getting into the technical side of knitting is fulfilling beyond words.
B) Well, I’m going to do some of that stuff. There’s some darned good ideas there, but I’m drawing the line at schematics.
C) No way. I’ll agree that it’s smart, but words like “calculation” “zone” and “geometric logic” sound like about as much fun as waxing your armpits. When I think about doing it this way I get an itch that starts right under my left foot and careens all the way to my brain, sucking all the joy, hope and relaxation out of my knitting along with it. With all due respect I’d rather throw myself into a bin of two mm dpns and hope that I take one in the heart than do this. I’m not afraid to live right on the edge, and I’m willing to pay for it with screwed up knitting and whole projects frogged into oblivion. It feels good to decrease without calculation, fail to highlight relevant pattern text and design as I go with out any regard for the laws of mathematics and the confining walls of logic and structure. I am a Knitter, and my business is with sheep and wool…I will turn my back on structure and planning and I…. WILL…..KNIT!
Naturally, I am not revealing my preference until after you have all commented.

58 thoughts on “Ban the Blue

  1. C. Definitely C. It’s what makes knitting adventurous and fun instead of…homework.
    P.S. I finished my first blanket the other day and I’m trying to get a picture taken to e-mail to you. =)

  2. Well, I’d like to think of myself as the sort who falls in the B category, aspiring to the A, but in a moment of honest reflection I have to cop to C.
    A’s probably finish things (and I do … now and then). A’s probably don’t have a zillion projects on the needles at once (okay, I don’t have a zillion, but I do have more than 20). A’s probably have stash organized for planned projects rather than stash accumulated due to fiber lust or whim or a really, really excellent sale price.
    Nope, I’m a solid C citizen.

  3. In between B & C. I can get with a smidge of math when it comes to adding and subtracting length or substituting a yarn, but pardon me while I roll my eyes and hoot derisively at the idea of a SIX INCH swatch.

  4. yeah – between B and C. i only swatch when i absolutely have to – and it’s never the size it should be to get an accurate measurement!
    see – i’m an engineer – i do that math crap all day. i don’t want it encroaching in my hobby/creative/relaxing/right-side-of-the-brain time.

  5. Yeah, I should also eat my broccoli, work out for an hour every day, save my receipts and cut out wine and chocolate. Take joy (along with, maybe, the occasional carrot stick, twenty minute walk, read-the-pattern-through…and Dove dark chocolate with Shiraz.)

  6. With the caveat that sometimes I enjoy math for its own sake, I’m a solid “C”. Planning is not and has never been my forte and if it’s not fun, I won’t do it.
    Definitely “C”. Maybe even “D” sometimes:)

  7. I think I’m a D. Yes, I’m definitely, definitely going to do all of these things from now on as I know they will make me a better knitter … just in the same way as I’m going to join a gym and go at least 3 times a week ..and I’m going to empty the car of children’s toys, half-eaten apples and sweety packets weekly instead of only when I have to give a non-family member a lift .. and I’m going to organise my wardrobe into “capsule dressing” and pack away out of season clothes .. and I’m going to deal the mail on a daily basis instead of letting it build into a vertiginous pile sliding off the hall stand …All of these things are going to make me a better person, one day. Yeah. Right.

  8. Thank you for creating a link to that great article. Over time, I have been forced to think more about my knitting. (I wear petite sizes and the only way I can knit a sweater that fits is by altering the pattern.) At the bottom of her column, Jenna Wilson refers to a series of articles called “The Method of Three” in INKnitters. I ordered those issues because Marilyn Roberts (The Knitting Curmudgeon) highly recommended the Method of Three, however, the information was so technical and detailed that I felt overwhelmed. Believe it or not, Jenna Wilson’s article has simplified the process to a level that makes me feel I can attempt to think before I knit. I’m even willing to try creating a schematic – especially if I can learn how to change patterns with dropped shoulders to capped or somehow fitted sleeves. Guess that would make me between an A and a B. As always, thanks for sharing Steph.

  9. Anyone who does A probably doesn’t have any time left to knit, I would bet. That said, I will admit to being aware of these “trouble spots,” and I do read a pattern over, sometimes many times, before embarking on it. I do so because it is fun. For the trouble spots, I mark the decreases with markers or contrast yarn as I go and would never make a schematic and mark it up in that fashion. The only exception for me has been the Enchanted Forest Sweater from Vogue for which I expanded all the charts of used post-it notes to keep track of the rows across those gazillion charts. I also swatch, but mostly in order to figure out whether I like the stitch pattern and yarn enough to knit it for the endless amount of time it will take to finish whatever it is.
    So I guess I am a “B,” but I FEEL like a “C” because all that good advice delivered so earnestly makes me want to pull out yarn and knit at random. I guess I would rather rip back to fix an error I cannot live with than plan and calculate so much that I am bored wtih the project before I start!

  10. Hey Susan! I knew there was an A out there. The ying to my yang…that’s what you are. I’m relieved that the universe continues to have balance.
    (And it is a great article…)

  11. I guess I’m between an A and a B. I already do a lot of these things, but I don’t sit down and hold a ruler to a pattern to see where it’s going to have decreases, I just glance at it and it’s like yeah, of course. Breaking it up into shaping zones I do, although not written, just in my head. I do that as a motivation – a sock has 10 zones in my head, and it’s encouraging to think “I got section four and five done today, let’s see how far I can get in section 6!” And certainly doing the math for ‘this sock is designed for a child in worsted weight, let’s turn it into an adult sock for me in fingering weight with a different heel and bring the pattern down the instep’, no problem. I don’t know a lot about how to shape sweaters and such, but I expect to learn.
    I will admit I’m not much of one for swatching – I’m more likely to start knitting whatever I’m doing and have the first however many inches of that become my swatch, then if it’s fine, I keep going. And I know about how much to typically change a needle size from a pattern to what matches my tight knitting.

  12. I’m pretty much in the B/C camp. Way more B than C because I dislike having to rip back and having to do math for something that’s supposed to be fun just doesn’t work for me.
    I’m not enlarging any schematics. Nope. Nuhuh. I don’t enlarge anything unless it’s a chart. I *do* make multiple copies of a chart and mark ’em off as I do them, but then I’m also the type of knitter who keeps track of rows religiously.
    The closest I get to A is my little notebook where I keep track of what I did, including which rows to do increases on etc., mostly because I want both sleeves to end up the same, dammit. I started using the notebook because I was making stuff from Ann Budd’s Basic Knitting Patterns so needed to keep track of what the heck I was doing.

  13. C for sure! My knitting needles are connected directly to my right-brain. And that’s fine with me, I’d rather frog than do math! My pattern books are for inspiration mostly – just show me some pictures and I’ll get somewhere eventually! I do create my own drawings and schematics in a casual fashion to increase the chances of an item fitting someone. Mostly, it’s by trial-and-error – and sometimes, it’s by blocking…
    Melanie may be on to something (though I know I won’t actually do it), writing down what she did for sleeves; people generally want them both the same.

  14. For me, it’s all of the above, because it depends on the pattern. I have historically made things that don’t fit on purpose, because I have a poor body image and I believe that knitting big baggy sweaters hides both my body and my impaired attitude. Recently, I have tried to like designs that have a waist, I’ve even committed to make a sweater without sleeves for the tank-along(never mind that I can’t bring myself to cast-on for that). I made Jenna’s Rogue and had a good time making what is now my favorite sweater. And I did a lot of what she suggests in her article. It was just the nature of the garment. It still ended up being a slightly baggy JennyCraig kind of thing for me, but by my choice. I got to work on that.
    By the way, you failed to mention that Jenna submitted her article over a month late. So she’s human, just like the rest of us.

  15. Oh, wish it were that I could be an A. And with such aspirations, you just know that I’m a solid C! There is something strangely appealing about applying logic… can I do it without the math?

  16. I’m glad I’m not the only one who read that article and thought…yep, someday I’ll do that- the same day I join a gym.
    Sure, maybe it would make me a “better” knitter. But I don’t mind ripping things out. Know why? Cause I like knitting!

  17. B/C here. I will pre-read a pattern, and highlight the size instructions I’m following, but that’s about it. Currently I am involved in five WIPs, and only 2 patterns are involved, one of which I devised myself (for socks). (Of course there are drawbacks to this approach; observe my first sock ever (here:
    I’m a big fan of the “hold it up and try it on to see if it fits” approach to knitting.
    Seeing those mango yarns made me realize that your banner is blue. Maybe that’s why you’ve been obsessed with blue yarns lately — you want to harmonize your knitting with your blog!

  18. I am a C. I am also one who did not finish the article, way too much information, way too much work.
    I thought a swatch was the first couple of inches of any garment. Rip it or keep knitting. My current swatch is a baby sweater using the two extra balls I intentionally bought when buying yarn for a sweater for my sister.
    The pattern for the back of the child’s dress in Cast On is not right. Found through a “C” habit of not reading, just knitting, then grumbling and ripping.
    I do copy complicated cable charts and highlight as I go along, especially if it is a long-term project. However, not always, I currently have a lace baby blanket on the needles and haven’t marked what row I am on. Always an adventure in the Libby household.
    Natalie, love the sweater for your daughter.
    Stephanie, Amanda looks great with that hair. Makes me wish my hair would take color without stripping it to brittle ends. I think I might look quite attractive with those colors streaming down past my waist. Then again, why not purple or green, or maybe both. Oh to be 15 again.

  19. C. No question, no doubt, no mealy-mouthed hesitation. No attempt to pretend that “those sound really good, I’ll try that this weekend”. I am beyond fooling myself, or anyone else. I know me too well. C. And proud.

  20. God Bless You. That article just saved the sleeves of my sweater. I have always had trouble getting the sleeves of my sweaters to fit my plus size frame and this gave me the info I needed to figure out why. Now please pray that it works.
    As for voting: I’m probably between B & C which explains why I have had trouble in the past. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. I’m a B or a C, depending on the project. Part of the reason I haven’t gotten working on a sweater for me recently is I know I’m going to have to do some alterations – I don’t want to spend all that time knitting to have something not fit (again). But, I knit blankets and booties because gauge isn’t quite as importatnt there…
    But, I don’t prefigure everything. And I don’t swatch – I use the back of my sweater as my swatch. I figure that if its on, I don’t have to knit something square and boring, and if its off, I can rip. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Well, A seems to be the most intelligent choice of the three – so of course that one’s right out for me.
    B would be the most practical, but then I’ve never been known to be a practical person either.
    C. Yes, C. I really try for B, honestly, I do. But it doesn’t usually work that way. “Swatch” for me = ribbing and first half of knit object. So it’s C for me.

  23. Eklectika, Claudia did actually use a PINK post -it note, it is simply a cruel twist of fate that my digital camera rendered it blue. (Though there’s a message in that eh?)

  24. Hmmm….there are a few things in there I already do, but mainly what you’ve already listed – I read the pattern, I swatch…..not a heck of a lot else. Too much planning and math take away the simple pleasure that is knitting for me, and also a lot of the excitement that comes from random mistakes as well (let’s not even mention that doing all the schematics in the world wouldn’t prevent me from making idiotic mistakes now and then, shall we?). That much planning would reduce knitting to pure work for me, and that’s not why I pick up needles and yarn in the first place. I knit to create and wallow in the joy of creation, not to exercise my calculator.

  25. I do look over the pattern, sorta reading but not every word looking for problems. When I get to a section, like start decreases for armhole I read ahead. But I am a C – if I have to frog, I frog. My swatch is usually a sleeve.

  26. I would have to say C, with an occasional foray into B for projects that intimidate me (of course there are less and less of those as time goes on).
    Love, love, love Microspun. I just finished my Anouk using it. The colors are brilliant, it is heaven to the touch, easy to work with and gorgeous stitch definition. I just want to make everything out of it now!

  27. I suspect that the “A” knitters are the few people who run successful knitting businesses, selling handknit items to boutiques and such. I am a C. I have a kindly knitter friend who does the math for me if I need to enlarge a pattern. If a pattern makes me think too hard, I run in the other direction!

  28. I , too, had a hard time finishing the article. Made the whole process alot harder than it needs to be. Knitters enjoy knitting, the feel of the wool, the rhythm of the needles, the relaxation. Not math. They do what needs to be done to make the knitting work for them. I guess you’d call that BC.

  29. A, B, C … uh, what about that blazing red hair!?! Definitely a change from yesterday’s picture. Be proud of that girl for such a bold change! Awesome!

  30. That photoshopped blue/green picture made me LAUGH OUT LOUD!
    I’m touched, really, that you would do this only to protect my delicate sensibilities. This tender feeling may last until, oh, tomorrow.
    Way to go Amanda! Now, hand the dye bottle to your mama….

  31. When I was a new knitter I did a lot of what she said in the article. My old patterns have tons of writing all over them where I charted increases/decreases and figured out various measurements and schematics.
    I think I don’t do it any more because I understand patterns and the process better. I can read my knitting and easily see where the increases/decreases are. I can see what needs to be done in a pattern by looking at the photo. I have a battle plan and know what increases/decreases or seams I’ll use in each situation.
    But I do swatch. Sometimes. :))

  32. I didn’t even finish the article, so I guess that makes me a “C”. I usually just use the stitch charts in any given _sweater_ pattern and wing it the rest of the way, making something vaguely similar to the picture. Mostly because I refuse to sew seams in a sweater and EVERY commercial pattern is done in pieces! I usually follow the directions pretty closely for a shawl, but I never do any of the other things she mentioned, um, unless she metioned something in the parts I didn’t read, but I doubt it. I have to think and be anal at work, who wants to do it at home?

  33. I have to say because I am an engineer, I like doing schematics. Still I don’t want to be too anal about my art so I am between an A & B.

  34. Well, I read the article yesterday and did a lot of thinking… I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a B/C (leaning more toward C). Knitting for me is a fun thing – it calms me and helps me think. I swatch more often than not… but I am not going to enlarge schematics on every project that I work. I generally have 3 or 4 WIP’s at any given time… It’s part of what makes it all fun for me! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you’re an A out there, more power to you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Well, I’m sort of an A-prime. See, I have been known to not just read and re-read a pattern, but I’ll type it over into my own unique format. And I’ll pre-create a row-by-row guide for those “and at the same time” situations. But I do it my way. Does that make me Frank Sinatra?

  36. Mango… My first thought was that that mango will go lovely with BLUE ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I read the first three sentences of that article. I confess, I am not one to follow instruction and following a pattern is work enough for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. As much as I’d like to be a ‘B’, I’m just about as deep into C as one can get without slipping down into ‘D’. Maybe when I’m brave enough to foray into things that aren’t square or square-like I’ll move up.
    Amanda’s hair looks amazing. I miss having fun hair; stupid joblessness is preventing purple, red and black extentions.

  38. I love the math part of knitting (now who’s the person who needs to get out more?), but I’m a solid C. Jenna seems like a smart knitter and thinker and more power to her, but those schematics made me want to cry.

  39. I’m so off the charts on this one, I think I’m a D-. Just scrolling through that article made me begin to hyperventilate. I’m so not there yet, and to me, all that schematic crap is better left for the designers. (if they’d only do their job! Kim Hargreaves, I’m talkin’ YOU in Audrey!) But hey, the mango yarn is ‘licious and so is Manda’s hair. That color REALLY suits her.

  40. I’m deep into the heart of C-land. Altho I do think about being a B. I make a swatch if its supposed to fit. And if I can’t seem to figure out the instructions (before I take a match to them) I try to lay them out in my mind with an ideal finished product. But if it doesn’t work I believe in ripping for my art. Besides, I’m doing this for fun, right? (see also: me taking algebra II, twice.)
    Loved the microspun. I just finished a christening outfit in it. I still have a whole ball of white left. If you wanna see pics of it lacey like (and not read the whinging of my blog) they are here: on the bottom of the page.

  41. Well, I’ve always been, for the most part, a C student…..but they always told me that it wasn’t because I wasn’t smart….it was that I *didn’t apply myself*….go figure. *grin*

  42. I clicked on the article, I started to skim. My eyes started to cross, my ears rang, and I had to put back a slug of coffee.
    I worked for 27 years in accounting…by accident. I was out of work, got offered a job, found out I was really really good with numbers. There was always work for someone who understood math. So I worked at it for 27 long lousy years. I HATE math..I am great at it, but I HATE it. Why would I pull MATH into my beautiful relaxing absorbing wonderful world of knitting???
    I am a D. I plan my projects, start knitting and change the plan 42 times and end up with something totally different (like this knit from the top sweater from Alberta shetland that is going to be one fine looking shawl that I am currently knitting)
    Barb B.

  43. Somewhere between b and c. I love the mathy-geeky part of it, and the whole idea od understand the geometry. Once I started to get that about knitting, it was like a 5 year improvement all at once. So hey, are you going to do the goddess tank w/ the microspun? I got a bunch of different colors from elann and am dying to knit them up but searching for a pattern that only takes three balls of each. Yeah. i know. i need more. one more q – what’s the yarn on those yummy socks from yesterday? beeeeeatiful indeed!!

  44. I’m with Norma, in D- territory… that article almost made my eyes bleed.

  45. I really wanted to give the most *correct* answer, so:
    I made a list with three columns, I put Jenna’s recommendations in the first, and color coded them based on what I felt were the most important (yellow highlighter), very important (lime), and marginally important (pink)… then I put my most common behaviors while knitting an object… swatching, using a pattern, note-taking etc, and gave each a number of stars (1 to 5) based on how often (or with how much heart) I do each.
    In the last column, I used a fairly basic algorithm to come up with a numerical value that corresponded to the highlighter/stars of either 1, 2, or 3. And finally, I used a basic code of A=1, B=2, C=3 to determine where I fell in the range…
    Pffft! NOT. ๐Ÿ™‚ I may aspire to A, but I am a B and a half.

  46. Hmmmm . . . I think I’m a C with B tendencies, with the occasional A bits thrown in. Though truth be told, I’m still working on my first sweater, so I may change my tune. I do have geek-love for some of the math bits in knitting, and I have been known to rewrite instructions to make them easier to read. And I definitely copy a pattern and highlight the size, usually. Well, okay, not always. And so far I do swatch, though that’s always the most tedious thing in the world to me.
    I think if I were pure A, I would probably stop knitting altogether. I used to quilt, but it ended up feeling too much like work with the math and the constant perfectionism. I knit to relax, and if it ends up with some funky results, so be it. As soon as it’s not fun anymore, I quit.

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