Large Grey Blob

I tried a whole bunch of ways to make this post interesting, but the truth is that I am knitting a large grey blog out of large amounts of grey handspun and that there is very little to write about that. The silly little cut on my finger is still present enough to prevent the knitting of lace, so it’s just me and Joe’s gansey, all the time.

I’m knitting it on the bus…


I’m was knitting it on at Joe’s sisters birthday last night…


(Although I did take the travelling sock out of my purse for the occasion of Kelly’s 40th birthday. ) I’m knitting it everywhere that I go, and still…


The thing is a big grey blob.

The traditional gansey usually (but not always) has a plain stockinette bottom which gives way to cables and plain and purl patterns round about the armpits. The idea is that the stockinette knits up quickly (HA) and efficiently (Ok. I’ll give it that) and that the patterning across the chest is both beautiful, interesting and (remember that everything about a gansey has a reason) that the cables and patterns across the chest take up more yarn and provide extra warmth and thickness where it’s most needed. That patterned part will start to be considered 15 inches/ 40 cm up in Joe’s case, and I’m only at the 27 cm mark, and I’m pretty much bored out of my mind.

I know that lots of knitters love plain work. They love it. It’s meditative, it’s simple, it lets their minds wander while the perform brain work or watch tv, their hands chug along and they find the simple straightforward nature of knitting every single stitch for miles and miles and miles really restful and relaxing. I might be able to get into the zone too…except for this.


There are two purl stitches, one at each side of the body. These mark the “seams” of the gansey and mark the spots where the division for the arms will be. They are there, technically, so that the gussets for the arms have a natural line to grow out of, and so that the gansey knitter can be on autopilot while knitting, never having to figure where the arms or gussets fall. (There is the added bonus of the sweater folding a little tidier and taking less storage space.) Me, I’ve discovered another purpose. I believe that these two stitches are there to drive me stark raving mad, since I keep getting into the stockinette zone, then blowing by the purl stitch and discovering 20 stitches later that I’ve knitted it instead of purled it. The first 47 times I did this, I decided to tink back, correct the error and reknit the 20 stitches. Then I got smart, and decided that I would I would rather dust the living room with my tongue than tink back one more time and made the very clever decision to correct the stitch the next time that I came to it.

This would have worked, had I been in touch with the problem of my original lack of intelligence, and not blown by the stitch a second time on the next round. Clearly that won’t work. Other ideas?

a) Do my best but accept that I will periodically correct that line of stitches with a crochet hook and try to be happy.

b) Go to my knitting basket and get a big honking stitch marker that I can put on my knitting to warn me of the purl stitch. (For this to work I would need to be able to accept the intense burning irony of using a stitch marker to warn me of a stitch that is a marker.)

c) Rig some sort of finely tuned electrical device to those two stitches of my knitting. Some sort of technology that would, when I blow by that ridiculous purl stitch for the 484th time, deliver a mild dose of voltage that will be not really dangerous, but corrective. I’m imagining some sort of knitting variation of an invisible fence.

Knit the purl stitch and ZAP.

Choice C, despite it’s complexity is likely my best option, since it stands a greater chance of ultimately correcting my dumbass behaviour on a more permanent level. I can see other knitting uses too. Miss an increase on the 4th row of a sleeve? ZAP.

Forget to cable every six rows? ZAP.

Knit 10 cm past where you were supposed to start the fair isle? ZAP.

How about the worst…You know the ones…the ones where it says “decrease two stitches at the beginning of every right side row for neck until 15 stitches remain” …So you do. You decrease for ages and you’ve got 15 stitches left and you feel pretty good about it and you look for the next instruction, and it says “at the same time” and then, while your heart sinks all the way to your flip flops, it details some stinking thing you were supposed to do while you were doing your decreases. Something like “continue to shape armhole as set”.

That one? Fail to check ahead in the instructions?


This could be really useful.

255 thoughts on “Large Grey Blob

  1. Stitch marker, stitch marker, stitch marker. (I know that’s one too many.)
    You’re always complaining about your giant humidity hair. How huge would it be if you got an electric zap twice every row? The mind boggles.

  2. I’m lazier. So long as you remember it often enough to remember what column it’s supposed to be in, just go back & fix ’em all later with a crochet hook.

  3. Sitting at work trying not to laugh out loud so my boss doesn’t think I’m a lunatic. Keep at it Steph. I’m thinking of about a million ways to use the Zap thingy. Fall asleep driving, Zap. Forget to pay a bill, Zap. Forget to put the wash in the dryer, Zap. Could be usefull.

  4. Hi! Been there, done that – a superb example of annoying pain. Eventually I resorted to placing stitch-markers – and big ones – where I was supposed to “alter” the knitting.
    Plain knitting is great for conversation, but oh-so boring. Knitted a scarf for my better half in the round, 120 stitches just going on and on for two meters on needle-size # 2.5. Bleurgh – amazing what one is willing to do for the love of one’s life.
    Have an excellent weekend. Regards, P.

  5. Correcting the mistakes after the fact could give your mind a break from the boring round and round, but I would just break down and use a stitch marker—perhaps a pretty beaded one— to break up the monotony (oooh look, here’s that pretty marker again πŸ™‚ )

  6. How about using a tiny bell as a stitch marker. You know, a visual and auditory reminder??
    (I’m only kidding….please don’t send the knitting psychologists out to find me and zap, zap, zapping me back into coherency!)

  7. I agree that the only thing to remind me is a stitch marker but my daughter have sucked the “memory banks” out of my very feeble mind. Good Luck, cecilia

  8. I’m having the same kinds of problems with a relentless (baby!) afghan, and I finally just inserted a LOT of stitch markers. It has saved on re-knitting.

  9. I’d just work the thing in stocking st, and then when I hit the underarm, drop the 2 stitches that should have been purled, and hook them up so that they are. Hon, ultimately it’ll be faster.
    You might want to ask me, sometime, how I know this.

  10. If it were me, I’d use a marker. Alas, I have no idea where any of my markers are. Sigh. Okay, here we go: Zap. Zap.

  11. I vote for the knit until you get there and then drop and pick up the little beggars. Of course, I’m not currently bright enough to take my own advice….

  12. Oh my Lord I want one of those Zappers too. Its “at the same time” that gets me every time EVEN when I read the pattern! How dumb can one person get ? The gansey is really coming along even with a boo boo finger. Looking GOOD

  13. Very large stitch marker so every time you come up to it, your hand bumps into it. Move it up every 8-10 rows so it is constantly in your way.
    As for the bandaid, I prefer using a little bandaid “dot” instead of regular bandaids. Trim any edges that stick out and you get a smoother owie covering that yarn can maneuver around. You might also have luck with that liquid bandage stuff. Then, put down the gray blob for a few days and have fun with lace again!

  14. I can’t decide. I was a fan of option B for a minute. I’m not proud (ha! I’m a freaking opera singer. A soprano at that. Can you say DIVA?). I would just suck up the irony and use the marker. Then I read choice C. I agree this would make a great solution to many knitting issues. Then I read the first comment. The one about your hair. I, too, have massive amounts of badly behaved hair. Between the midwest humidity and the ZAPping, I’d end up looking like my mom’s poodle. I went through that in 6th grade when I got a perm, so I’m not sure it’s the best option.
    I guess the short answer is, whatever works for you because I am being SO not helpful at this point. Perhaps if the stitch markers were cute…..

  15. b. Don’t be too proud! Or b+c. I’ll explain:
    What we need are high-tech stitch markers. These stitch markers could have a tiny recording device in them, so you can record instructions like “yo! purl here” or “yarnover here dummy”. And so, when you encounter a marker, you would touch the tip of your METAL NEEDLE to a spot on the marker to play back the instructions … tho I guess getting a shock when you touch the metal needle to the marker would work too. Maybe if you tried to slip the marker to the other needle WITHOUT PUSHING THE BUTTON … ZAP!!
    (Yes, attaching some sort of written instruction to a regular stitch marker would be cheaper and more logical, but it certainly wouldn’t be quite as much fun.)

  16. On the bright side, you’re more than halfway through the Boring Stockinette Stage. (Yes, I know this is cold comfort, but today is a day for me to “ac-cent-tuate the pos-i-tive”)
    I vote for a pretty stitch marker too, by the way.

  17. I’m with the people who are saying to put in the purl column when you hit the underarm. — Victorian-era socks always had a column of purl stitches running up the back of the sock, they called it the “seam stitch” (why they did this, I don’t know, unless it was as a way to visibly mark the center back so that then they could make sure their calf shapings were symmetrical). So when you knit Civil War “re-enactment” socks, they’ve got to have that seam stitch up the back to be authentic. I just knit the whole sock leg around and around without the seam stitch, then just before the heel flap, I drop the “seam” stitch all the way to the cuff and then hook the stitches up again in purl using a crochet hook.

  18. Option C sounds rather painful. I can see knitting becoming less popular with that device. I think that I would go with option b. Then again I am a bit of a wimp. πŸ˜‰
    I caught myself on stst auto pilot the other night on the shirt I am making for my hubby, the problem with that is that it is a broken rib pattern. pattern row, st st row. So don’t feel too bad.

  19. ..”and it says “at the same time” and then, while your heart sinks all the way to your flip flops, it details some stinking thing you were supposed to do while you were doing your decreases…”
    I have done this so many times that I literally cannot bring myself to knit another sweater. Glad I’m not alone.

  20. I also want a pellet dispenser like they have in animal behaviour training, so if I do something RIGHT, like not screw up a row of a lace chart, I get an m&m.
    Ah! A knitterly use for my electrical engineer husband! I’ll get him right on it!

  21. My hubby could rig that up for you,he’s an electrician, but I’d hate for him to get ideas. I used the stitch marker system myself but luckily he’s a smaller fisherman.

  22. Not a goddess like yourself, but about the umpteenth time I blow by something, I move the stitches I would tink (if I were that type) to the left needle, drop the offensive little bugger that has caused me all this grief (perhaps cussing while doing so) off the right needle and make the correction. Move the already knitted stitches Back to the right hand needle et voila!!!! You now know how to speak french!!!
    Nifty trick.
    (Rhinebeck? Please?)

  23. I’d say try the stitch marker, and if you can’t get over the irony, then use the crochet hook. No harm in that.

  24. I don’t know about you, but I think I’d end up grinding that device into the pavement with my heel at some point. If anyone questioned my marker marking the mark, well – they’re not markers, they’re earrings for my knitting.

  25. I guess that’s one good thing about being a relatively newbie knitter: I’m so slow that there’s no way I can knit a purl stitch sticking out in the middle of a bunch of knit stitches. But yeah, if I get to the point where I do, I guess I’d use a marker.
    I did, however, just use the wrong increase on the damn Zimmerman Baby Magic sweater I’ve been working on since last spring (give or a take a few months) — M1 instead of YO — for about 20 rows before I realized there are these weird holes and I have to do way more than tink back. Boo.

  26. CAN WE SAY STITCH MARKER? Boring as they are that is why they were invented – to mark what we need to remember. Well – at least that’s my vote. I’m making a baby blanket with cool edging for 10 stitches on either side then a whole lot of knit in between. It really helps to be able to mindlessly go along until I hit one. I can’t wait until you come to Los Altos in a few weeks – bring the big ole grey blog will ya?

  27. I want an M&M dispenser too when product development is in full swing. I will volunteer to test a prototype.

  28. Yup. Can totally sympathize. Working on Alice Starmore’s adult version of Western Seas. Worked on 3mm, 296 stitches around. And I’m doing the small size…
    Gonna jump out a window soon.

  29. Evil patterns require evil solutions, is that it? ZAP!
    If it were me, I’d either blow past all the purls and then fix them with a crochet hook in one fell swoop at the beginning of the patterning, or ignore them and start them shortly before armhole shaping. Stitch markers for a stitch marker will slow you down, and fixing them will add too many bad vibes.
    Happy Birthday Kelly. You look great for the big 4-0!

  30. Well…..we do know you’ve received new stitch markers, pretty ones at that…..getting zapped, now that would certainly keep you awake but I’m thinking that would get old pretty quick…I’m with Ted and Mary on just knit it all up and then drop and hook’em. The Gansey in the photo already looking huge, I’m impressed, beautiful posey in the background BTW. Happy Birthday to Kelly, 40 was one of my favourite all time best year.
    17 days…..

  31. I go with the just knit then drop and chain back up with hook.
    Such knitting is good say in a miove theater…………..
    because it’s the day………… I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR
    SNAKES ON A PLANE SNAKESONAPLANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Go with the stitch marker. The bitter irony will be but one of the many tales that will comprise the Saga of Joe’s Gansey.

  33. As a self-proclaimed knitting missionary, I have to tell you that introducing a tool to zap the knitter when he or she makes a mistake will make it that much more difficult to gather converts. Not to mention the detrimental effects it may have on the current congregation of knitters.
    It’s thumbs down on this suggestion Stephanine.

  34. Excuse me . . . did you say crochet hook?!?!?! You poor thing, you really are not feeling well are you (I know how you hate crochet). Go get a bottle of wine and some stitch markers and email me in the morning!

  35. Has to be the stitch marker. And a piece of dark chocolate each time you go by, and remember to purl!

  36. Option C is enticing. I do this too, I guess we all do, but you have one benefit I don’t have. Children. Something tells me that if asked, children would be happy to point out to their parents when a mistake is made. My suggestion is to have said child sit with you for a few hours, pointing out when the purl stitch is coming up and eventually, like Pavlov’s dogs, you will be so annoyed with the constant correction comining from the direction of your offspring that no marker will be needed.

  37. Oh rams oh Rachel H. don’t we all feel sad for the poor poor knitter here……..she’s…………bored……..awwww……
    you guys want to get in here?

  38. I’d use the stitch marker method because, honestly, with the way my knitting usually goes, I’d get ZAPped so often that extra electrical current would probably stop my heart. πŸ™‚

  39. someone already mentioned this, but: How about just knitting until you get the 15 inches of stockinette, then drop down those side stitches and pick them up as purls?

  40. Something more tactile than a stitch marker…but not zappy…
    If I just put in a stitch marker, I’ll forget what it’s marking (witness: last night, when I knit a stitch with two strands of yarn to help me weave in as I go — smart — I put in a marker so the next round I wouldn’t knit both loops separately. Instead I get to marker, shrug, take it out, and keep knitting. DAMN.)
    So something maybe supersoft and pleasant, so it’s a reward to knit to, and we all remember rewards. At least for a little while.

  41. Marianne has a point; this is a perfect opportunity to use and admire a lovely new stitch marker.
    But–why would you have to *tink* back? Can’t you slip back 20 sts, fix the one stitch, and slip the stitches back? Or maybe that’s what you meant. Surely it isn’t necessary to un-knit your 20 knit stitches…! (stop calling me Shirley)
    I’m doing a sweater where I’m loosely following a pattern and am SO nervous waiting for the AT THE SAME TIME part to start at 3.5″ from the armhole bind-off. I just know I’ll miss it and have to tink back–aagh!

  42. Ah yes, the infamous “At the same time.” I wonder if people who use “at the same time” in their patterns actually giggle when they write it?
    “At the same time” is the knitting equivalent of a banana skin on the floor. It’s a pratfall waiting to happen.

  43. I’m for going with the flow, personally. My whole life is a zapper. You know how you’re always talking about humidity hair? Well I go the opposite direction — I get bad hair days in January when the air is so dry, sandstorms pop up out of nowhere in the middle of the office and my hair begins to resemble a dandelion gone to seed. My straight, straight, fine hair becomes electrically charged by looking sideways at a carpet (or the cat, or the child, or hub, doesn’t take much). And every single thing that even looks metallic? ZAP! Every. Single. Thing. And the worst part is, I don’t think I’ve managed to learn anything constructive from it.
    So, go easy on yourself and go with option A. It’s just simpler.
    Beautiful big grey blob, by the way!

  44. How about using the “combined” method for the purl stitch– purling with yarn wrapped clockwise and then purling counterclockwise tbl on subsequent stitches? I’m working on some wool thigh highs with a stockinette back (and a “faux” seam of 2 purl sts) and have been doing that– I can’t actually knit the sts b/c of their wrong orientation, and its just enough of a reminder jog to purl them.
    Good luck with the blob πŸ™‚

  45. Choice C unfortunately isn’t foolproof. Just as an electric fence doesn’t always work with a dog (if excited enough, they blow right through them without feeling a thing). I suspect that a knitter could still knit right through that purl stitch when completly in the knitting zone. I would go with positive reenforcement (Treating,the method I choose for training my dogs)except if it were me, I’d probable figure out a way to cheat and become fat as a tick long before the sweater was finished. So, I guess I’d choose a pretty stitch marker as the method most likely to work.

  46. Stitch Marker all the way. I use them every ten stitches if I have to. Although I have been known to knit right by the marker without even taking notice. Now that’s dumbass behaviour.

  47. I can’t imagine using a marker…WAY too much work!!!! I would want to just knit around plain, and put the line in later. Much faster. And if you don’t want to do it all at once, you could do at the beginning of each sitting, if you felt like it. Or just when you were done, whichever…doesn’t matter.
    This is a hobby, and a work of love…don’t make yourself nuts over it!!! That is your kids’ job, after all, and they are doing it admirably, so don’t step on their toes πŸ˜‰

  48. Go with the stitch markers! A lot of lace has a garter stitch edge. I always have to put a marker on the purl side to remind me that the last few stitches are knit. I use stitch markers quite a bit even for marking stitches which are markers in themselves:)

  49. Idiot me! I, of course, meant invisible fence not electric fence. Both use an electric charge but are very different.

  50. I’d just ignore them from here on out, then when you get to the underarms drop em down and pick them up purlwise with a crochet hook. I bet you will save a lot of time that way, especially since you’ll only have to do that for 13 cm.

  51. You’re bored with plain knitting. I see. May I remind you of my current project? And that the current, and by no means largest colour block takes 17,564 stitches to complete? And that the section I have to look forward to next – BEIGE – will be closer to 30,000 stitches? Garter Stitches?
    Suck it up and use a stitch marker. I know it’s more likely you’ll use Ted’s suggestion, and have been happily whizzing past the purl stitch since you read it, but I’m sticking with the stitcch marker.

  52. Personally, I would continue as you are and fix mistakes every few rounds with a crochet hook. I am always amazed at how you can drop a stitch down and then knit it back up. I don’t mind doing it. Sometimes. I would just knit on and check every 10 or 20 rows. Totally.

  53. Plain knitting bores the daylights out of me, too. But somehow, I always feel inferior when i say that, as if I am missing something in the knitting gene. Kind of a fiber blasphemey, to admit not to loving the “simple” life.
    Option C? really bad idea. E stim=pain, and that does not train anything but fear, and with it, avoidance. So unless you want to train yourself NOT to knit….I suggest ….Stitch Markers!
    Oh- I gave blood today, and remembering your recent post, I was really pleased that they stuck my fourth finger, which is not a critical knitting one. Until I started typing this… is full of little trade-offs.
    I’ll pick knitting over literacy any day :)!

  54. Aww heck. I use stitch markers on everything, all the time! I’m so ditzy I can’t count to 12 without getting off. I use metal jump rings for jewelry…much cheaper and you can get them in the right size. I have so many my roomate finds them in with her laundry. I really don’t know how they get there, however, unless she is secretely stealing them and wants to knit, not telling me….

  55. I so agree with Courtney in the comments. Put your daughter to work. They love it when mom is about to screw something up. Get her to ask you every 20 minutes or so if you remembered to purl. You will want her to stop so badly that you won’t forget again. And give yourself a handful of chocolate every time you do that stitch.

  56. I’m so happy you are hard at work on this sweater!
    How ’bout use something more exciting for a stitch marker, just to up the ante? Wedding rings always do in a pinch. (Would you have to purchase one just for the purpose?)

  57. I’d go with B…but that’s primarily because I have lots of sparkly stitch markers that I feel do not get utilized enough. πŸ™‚

  58. How about a variation on choice A: Forget the stinking purl stitches now that you have them established further down. Just knit round and round. When you’re up to the part where you start with the underarm gusset, figure out which stitches are the ones that should have been purled for the last several centimeters, drop, and pick with the crochet hook up so they’re purls. I mean, it’s more *efficient* do do all that dropping and picking up at once, instead of fishing around for the damned crochet hook every other row. So it’s the obvious choice!
    Me? I’d do the stitch markers. I like to fill my life with as much irony as possible. πŸ˜‰

  59. Count me in the knit-all-the-way-around-and-drop-the-side-seams,-use-the-crochet-implement-of-torture-and-deal-with-the-whole-thing-just-once-rather-than-on-every-stinking-row group. Think of the time you’d save, not to mention the aggravation.
    I, too, hate the “at the same time” (so much to complain about today), but I think even worse is the decrease every 6 rows for a total of 9 decreases when the pattern is a 7 row repeat. Will wine help or confuse? Is there enough chocolate to get one through?

  60. OK, I’ll admit that I haven’t read the other 65 comments before adding my 2 cents worth…
    Since you have established the purl stitch, just blow by it and then every 10 or 20 rows, stop and drop it back and pick up with the crochet hook. Oh, so easy. You don’t have to worry about not remembering on the other side, just every so often, drop down and fix it. The only time you have to STOP AND PAY ATTENTION, is the last row before you start all the cables and other beautiful stitches for the chest. By then, you’ll need to pay a wee more attention because of all the patterning, and getting back into purling that one won’t be a problem at all.
    This way, you can have your mindless knitting without the unpleasant shocks.
    If you think this is not the way to go (ie. you want to change your behavior – not my first choice – or if you are a perfectionist that doesn’t think the ‘fixed’ stitch is the same proportion), then I’d go for the stitch marker. Something that your fingers hit and know is foreign.
    Lovely knitting anyway! Can’t wait to see the fun stuff.
    Also, thanks for the posts on the fruit and veggie hats – I’m in for the World Domination button!

  61. And that is EXACTLY why we invented Arans. With the Aran traffic-jam of cables, twists, honeycombs, moss and trinity, you don’t have a single second to let the mind wander into freefall. Every stitch has its new action, every row its new challenge. It doesn’t make for quick knitting, but it sure doesn’t get boring.

  62. Absolutely a stitch marker–annoying, yes, but better than swearing in front of the children and/or drinking.
    By the way, I just finished up an afghan, a sweater, a bonnet and bootees for my brand new great-grandson and treated myself to a GREAT BIG DISH of chocolate ice cream!

  63. Oh yea…..still, option b seems like a better choice. But since you brought up the subject of zappers, and might even invent one, I have frequently wanted one for Daughter #2. Rude remark? ZAP. Takes the family phone and disappears for an hour while ignoring calls for others? ZAP. “Forgets” to call when coming home very late? ZAP. Leaves wet towel on own bed and complains because sheets are damp? ZAP. Provokes argument with innocent sister? ZAP. So instantaneous, so corrective. If they can use them to train dogs, why not teenagers, I say?

  64. I hate stitch markers. They always make the stitches around them looser than the rest of my knitting. I use loops of smaller scrap yarn….
    But still, I’d just knit the thing in stockinette and then drop the stitches and pick them back up reversed. That way you can get into the zone. Which is the only reward for miles of stockinette……

  65. Um, you could, you know, just forget the purls altogether. If you wanted. Just sayin’.

  66. Ah, the “at the same time” thing gets me EVERY time! Maybe I can use your electric shock therapy to remind myself BEFORE knitting the project to READ AHEAD A BIT!
    Gorgeous gansey, stockinette and all! So awesome to have spun the yarn to knit the sweater for that special someone in your life!

  67. Having just finished slogging through about…oh…god only knows, my boyfriend is a tall man who loves baggy sweaters, it must have been about 18-20 inches of 5*1 ribbing, I’m feeling where you’re coming from. Although I may be gloating that mine was only 42 inches in circumference and not 50. And my gauge was larger. Anyways. Not to be all smirky or anything, but…I really like the gansey. I like the woodsy natural wool color, and it makes me happy just to look at pictures of it, even stitch after stitch of mild woodsy stockinette. It makes me imagine that, just for a moment, I can smell the lanolin. Weird? Yes. Unreal? Yes. Creepy? Maybe. Wonderful? Totally. Call me a granola-loving hippy-dippy fruit (okay, please not hippy-dippy), but I love wool.So. The cut on your finger will heal, you will be back to socks and nancy-footing around with the lace, and putting knitting needles through your eyes when you miss a crucial stitch in THAT. Because it’s much harder to fix in lace-weight. Heal quickly! -N*

  68. You could make everybody happy by doing all of the following, in this order:
    1. Leaving in the mistakes for now.
    2. Placing the stitch marker and purling those stitches from now on.
    3. When you get to the armhole, tink down to the earliest mistake and fix ’em.

  69. I vote for just forgetting them & going back with a crochet hook when you get to the armhole. Isn’t that what EZ recommended in one of her books for sweaters knit in the round by folks who felt the need for side seams?

  70. After all this engineering for 2 purls (I’m with the Oracle. Stitch markers take extra motion. Drop ’em down & zip ’em up), the Herculean effort of spinning AND knitting the Big Grey Blob, not to mention a couple of years of blog fodder, is this masterpiece going into the Box O’ Christmas? I can’t imagine a gift for Joe more jam-packed with Love. And you have hundreds of knitter witnesses just waiting to tell him so.

  71. Yeah that whole at the same time thing is really really annoying! I think that either it should be bolded in hot pink or it should start with while you are doing this….do this too! You hear that pattern writers…help us out here!

  72. I’m not a big fan of plain knitting (garter or stockinette), but I am willing to use plastic markers – especially in a case like this. At least those markers will help you see the progress around and around and around and …

  73. I vote that you not worry about the seam stitches right now, but drop the stitches and purl them back up with a crochet hook when you’re done with the plain knitting.
    The texture and color of your handspun are breathtaking – I love how it is knitting up!

  74. KISS- keep it simple sweetie… knit all, drop & hook them up.. then have a nice glass of wine… with chocolate of course….

  75. Wow, if that is a picture of the 40 year old Birthday girl, hats off to her for looking 10 years younger than that. Go Kelly and I hope you enjoy a very happy year.
    The gansey will be lovely once the boring part passes. Hold strong

  76. Seriously, I would go with the crochet hook thing. I would probably just knit all the way to where I’m supposed to start the armholes, and then drop the stitches down and crochet them back up. It would be much, much faster in the long run than trying to fix it every row, and then you wouldn’t even have to worry about the dumb things until the end.
    There’s just no good reason to ruin a nice, meditative knit with something that drives you bonkers. Put it in its place by purposely ignoring it the entire rest of the time.

  77. Go with the stitch marker. For me, the annoyance of the marker is roughly equivalent to the electric zap anyway. That would be enough to train me.

  78. I like using a piece of scrap yarn of a very vivid and contrasting color – thread it up the sweater right before your purl line so you have this big honkin’ bright horizontal line. You can see it coming and you can’t drop it off the needle like a stitch marker.
    Not that I’ve ever done that. Twice. But I hear it can happen.

  79. Super-glue the cut shut. (Make sure it’s clean first, of course.) Sounds insane, but I learned it from the hubby who works in industrial tech, and it works like a charm. You can knit and the only trouble is a small numb spot on your finger where the glue is. It’s great.
    Super-glue. It fixes everything.

  80. I knit a gansey with a plain bottom section and used a stitch marker for the “seams”. Why not? I would never have remembered the purl stitch if I hadn’t. I would suggest a bright one – red maybe. Just use a really small one so it doesn’t annoy you too much.
    Egads, who could remember those two purl stitches without one? Don’t Zap yourself, honey.
    btw, the one gansey I’ve knit is a triumph and everytime my husband wears it I turn green with envy. They are so worth the work. They are the perfectly constructed sweater. Have fun!

  81. I’m still waiting for the electronic voice activated row counter. One where you would simply say, “Done” as you finished a row and the machine would say, “You are now starting row 1,189 and you are a knitting goddess.”
    I’ll have to add the Zap-O-Minder to the list.

  82. I believe Elizabeth Zimmerman had a solution for your fake side seam (it would work for any column of odd stitches in an otherwise sea of stockinette). Knit every stitch in sight and forget about the side seam until you make it up to the armhole. Then while the stitches are still on the needle, drop that one column of stitches. Ladder it all the way to the bottom, baby. Now grab a crochet hook and hook every stitch back together in a column of knits up the back. It goes fast, really.
    EZ did this with two-rows-knit-together if I recall, the same effect as remembering every other row to knit one into the stitch below. I’d never remember to do that one as I go, either.

  83. Have you tried Nexcare Skin Crack Care by 3M? It comes in a small bottle with a brushβ€”think nail polish. Brush the clear stuff on your crack or cut, wave or blow it dry and you’re ready to do things with that finger or thumb again.
    My thumb has cracked twice in the last few days from knitting cottonβ€”at least I didn’t notice it until after I finished knitting. One dose of this magic stuff closed it right up (until the next time, and with my fingers there is always a next time).
    Look for NexCare with the band-aids at a big drug store. I have no connection with 3M but they could pay me a finder’s fee for all the times I’ve suggested this marvel.

  84. If you can find a way to produce and sell option C, please let me know ‘cuz I need one of those. In the meantime, I’m with Mary, just knit it all the way, then drop those stitches and purl them back up with a crochet hook; it is the one really good use for a crochet hook!

  85. Oops, I meant (a billion comments up!) to keep using the combined knitting clockwise purls and purling them clockwise tbl when they appear again… in order to keep the leg of the stitch wrongly situated but not remain twisted.
    You knew that though πŸ™‚

  86. Me? I’d do stitch markers. Aside from the obvious reminder, it would also provide you with something to look forward to, i.e., getting to the next marker.

  87. Another thought on that stitch marker comment of mine. You could eat an M&M every time you got to a marker.

  88. I think the “at the same time” trick is evil and I don’t care how in awe I am of a knit wear designer, if they use this they suck eggs. It is mean and rotten and equivalent to yanking the chair out from under someone when they are about to sit.
    What you need to do immediately:
    1.) buy gorgeous stitch markers so that when you come around to them in your acres of st st they make you smile. Mine are the little sushi stitch markers. They make me happy just looking at them.
    2.) Rent a TV series you have always wanted to see (Upstairs/Downstairs?) or an epic trilogy with hunks running around or download a riviting book on tape and enjoy those while you plod through the acres of st st.
    3.) Screech (the drink, did I spell it right? I don’t mean for you to let out a noise that will frighten the cat).

  89. How about a reward system nstead of a zap? Little plate of Smarties (M & M’s?) next to you. Pop a Smartie in your mouth everytime you remember :o)

  90. I vote stitch marker. Because then you can say, “HEY! Stitch marker marks the marker stitch!”
    You couldn’t do that otherwise.

  91. You need and iPod and some audiobooks. I really enjoyed the following on audio:
    Life of Pi
    Time Traveler’s Wife
    Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
    Kite Runner
    Devil in the White City
    Under the Banner of Heaven
    Check out It’s a great antidote to those neverending fields of stockinette.

  92. Stephanie, I just read your post for today and do you think it would work to knit all your stocking stitch, then drop down, one at a time, the stitches that are supposed to be purl, then inside out your sweater and hitch those back up from inside? Then you could buzz around faster, if you dont’ mind half an hours work fixing those seams. Just a thought.
    Marie in Mass.

  93. Oops, pays to read the comments before commenting. Sorry for the redundancy. Pretty popular idea, though, you’ve got to admit. πŸ™‚

  94. Stitch markers. For one thing, every time I slip one of those little suckers, if I’m bored outta my gourd I can at least think, “Hallelujah, another half round done!” Besides, if you’re not on the bus, listening to an audiobook, or watching TV, you can also knit while reading an ebook or something on your computer. That’s my usual choice of distraction when doing acres of stockinette in the round. Trains you as well as a zapper would, doesn’t hurt, and you don’t even have to look away from the reading. Just think of all you could get done while catching up on others’ blogs!

  95. I’d use either the marker method or dropping and picking them all up correctly with the dreaded crochet hook when finished.
    The Zapping doesn’t sound good at all. Reminds me of the Tens unit I had to use a long time ago. The current of electricity did numb the pain… but the zap hurt like hell.
    Love the way the sunlight and shadow play with the gansey yarn. It may be big and grey… but it has beautiful subtle color changes.
    Happy knitting

  96. Stitch markers, drinking game. Screech? All likely redundant suggestions, but I can’t read through all these things (which are prob preaching to choir) after 3 visits to department of motor vehicles and … drinking game. Stitch markers. Lovely that you’re finally digging into this — I’m inspired.

  97. I would go with both 1 and 2 because I have done the same thing, blown by a stitch marker and not caught it until the next round.
    But with Joe’s expertise in electronics, let me know if you get the 3rd option figured out. I would like one too.

  98. Until you can invent the ZAP device, and since you only have 13 cm left to go – I suggest just blowing past the purl stitches. If you’re going to miss them anyway and go back, drop the stitch, and pick it up in the right format – then why fight it? Just go with the flow… It’s more natural.

  99. I believe a combination of b and c would be most effective, a shocking stitch marker made of a teeny tiny little porngraphic bead. (Use your imagination.) You wouldn’t blow by (ahem) that without noticing.

  100. It’s boring? It’s grey? Your hair is big enough?
    The purl will only slow you down! Even if you use the stitch marker, just to be *sure* which stitch when you get there, go with the knit around to underarms and use the hook! Do you really want to spend the extra nanosecond on each side *each round*!? Knit faster, fix, knit nice patterns sooner!

  101. There is no irony in using a stitch marker to mark a marker stitch (whee!). I’m sure plenty of women making these for their fishermen back in the day found themselves doing the same thing you’re doing. Console yourself with chocolate/wine/beer/etc, break out the stitch markers and keep on keepin’ on.

  102. I started reading the comments to see if someone else might have suggested this but 136! comments are a lot of comments to read through…so I’ll just make my suggestion and go away quietly.
    Go with option C but don’t bother fixing it every couple of rows. Fix it with your crochet hook when you’re all done. That’s what I do all the time and it saves me the guilt of blowing right by that darn purl stitch.
    That greg gansey is really a labour of love. πŸ™‚

  103. Why not just do the Elizabeth Zimmermann “phony seam”? Has anyone said this already?

  104. Stitch markers also serve to bump you out of the zone. I would mark the spot down low on the sweater somewhere with a safety pin, do the whole thing in stockinette, then after the 40 cm are complete, drop down those two columns of stitches and crochet hook the whole bad boy all at once. I’m sure someone has probably said that already too.
    I think I must be the queen of turning stitches the other way ’round on the next fly by, and also of undoing decreases in the next row and correcting them so they slant the right way. Sadly, to be the queen of this you also pretty much have to be the queen of working the stitches wrong in the first place. Which I am.

  105. No comment on the stitch marker thing, but I was watching an EZ tape the other day and she said that the bottom part of the gansey is plain because it was under the fishing overalls. The design started where the bib stopped. At least it sounds reasonable.

  106. I don’t know about all that shocking going on. Mild doses are one thing, but I know I would receive so many I would be burnt to my chair!
    Adding a stitch marker sounds like the most logical to me.

  107. I love how you preface by saying that your knitting is boring, and you post is going to be boring, and then you come up with the most hilarious and apt way to describe the boringness, that everything works out to be super funny and applicable to all of our lives!!!
    I’d probably do the stitch marker, then (because I’m not looking while knitting) drop that on the floor and STILL knit the purl stitches.

  108. So, I was thinking about this Gansey. I really like it – shapeless grey blob that it is. But you do realize that this IS the ultimate gift and so I have to ask…
    How are you gonna top this?
    Just sayin.

  109. Another reason that there’s plain knit at the bottom and all the patterning at the top is because these fisher types (large and small) wore those funky wader type things that come up to about mid chest and then have honking big straps over the shoulders. Why waste patterning and extra yarn on an area that’s going to be covered in rubber anyhow? Let all the good stuff show.
    Re the side stitches – on the Marine!Goth’s gansey when he was a little guy, I used the stitch markers. On the big version for my hubby, used the ‘crochet hook’ technique. Both work, but I recommend the stitch markers. Dropping the stitches from the gusset to bottom rib went well; from the cuff back down to gussett, not so great. Not sure why.

  110. yeah, except all the zapping would most likely burn your fingertips so HEY you wouldn’t be able to knit lace or ganseys.
    My vote would be for getting in the stockinette zone for the whole damn thing, and dropping each side stitch down and using a crochet hook back up when you’re done. Intentionally mis-knitting it and then fixing in one swoop. Easy peasy, no stinkin’ marker to slow you down, and it’s not a mistake if you do it on purpose…

  111. Screw the purl stitches! Place a couple of markers for the side seams and knit away. Maybe after several inches and quite a bit of alcohol you’ll remember what the stitch markers were for!

  112. You could be on to something with a KnitZapper. It sounds much like the Scat Mat that Americans invented to “gently coax” cats into proper use of the litter box, though I feel an electric shock may be counter productive in bathroom ettiquette. Figure out how to electrostatically charge the cable of a circular without affecting the fibre and you’re set for business… πŸ˜€

  113. Forget the zapper as a knitting tool, how bout around the house? Throw your clothes on the floor instead of the hamper? Zap! Talk on the phone too long? Zap!

  114. Pretty stitch marker? What is this thing? I u se a paper clip, and spend my money on yarn.
    The gansey is looking great. Your man is one lucky one.

  115. I am one of those autopilot knitters. It is medtitative, Zen like and uses none of my brain cells. Not for everyone but certainly works for me. However, I manage to eff it up on pretty well evry single project. I can’t count and am easily distracted. However, since I’ll never be challanging perfection, I will probably live forever.

  116. Like you said, that stitch marker, it’s not merely a marker, but a meta-marker. How can you refuse? (And don’t forget to turn off that intense burning irony before you leave the house.)

  117. Me, I’m just glad you’re putting in the side seam stitches. They weren’t visible in the early shots and I was much too tactful to comment…

  118. I have another option. Combined knitting. Because the purl stitch ends up “backwards”, I find it everytime! I can work on knit/purl patterns at the movies now! It lets me zone out, which is, as you said, the beauty of stockinette. My 2nd choice would be skip those stitches for now and drop them down to fix them later. That is definitely much quicker.

  119. I vote stitch marker, too. I do the same thing in such situations and need a brightly colored marker to shout at me that I must purl. I learned my lesson after the first, ummm, few times.

  120. Buy yourself pretty stitch markers, ones that you jump for joy every time you pick them up. Ones that beg to be used. Ysolda Teague ( makes pretty cupcake ones that she sent to me. I love them!!
    I’m telling you, get ones that you love and you’ll never hate stitch markers again.

  121. I’m in the “use a stitch marker” camp. I have to use them for even the simplest stuff, like when making a 4-stitch garter border on a baby sweater, because I have an 8.5-month-old running (nearly) around my house and I have to throw down the knitting to keep him from destroying everything that can’t be babyproofed or eating the cats.

  122. You may feel like your knitting in a “time warp”, but it seems to me you’re making quite the headway! You should be impresses by your speed in comparison to us lay persons πŸ™‚
    Looks great! Can’t wait to see the finished product.

  123. I’m going to have to choose option A. Wait until you have a bunch to fix, drop the stitch, fix with crochet hook…it’s probably faster than your other options. But then I tend to blow by stitch markers without consideration for why they are there.

  124. i use a fishing lure swivel as markers, Steph. cheap, and oh so smooth. not too bad to look at and if some guy on the bus or somewhere recognizes it, i’ll propose marriage to him.

  125. Turn it into a drinking game. Knit the purl stitch? Drink. Purl the purl stitch? Drink. I recommend peach schnapps and club soda.

  126. Break down and use ta marker. Just give in.
    And what’s with going to Eau Claire WI and skipping the MN? Those of us in the St. Paul/MPLS area are feeling

  127. Stitch Marker.
    I have knit more ganseys than I can count. I find them extremely meditative. I also detest looking at my knitting when knitting-I prefer to watch a movie, read, ect. Long story short I rely quite heavily on stitch markers and they have never failed me.

  128. “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”
    “I think so brain.. but how are we going to get that much electricity into a stitch marker?”

  129. I’d vote for the crochet hook correction. But if you do go with the shock-a-harlot technique, please take pictures for us…

  130. 27/40?? You’re almost there, Babe!
    Crochet hooks for me, too.
    Hope to see you in NYC! WheeHa!!

  131. I, like many of the commentors here, vote for the stitch marker. Yeah, they’re annoying but useful. I have one sleeve left on my gansey and would have forgotten those two seam purl stitches every round if not for the handy dandy stitch marker. Why make yourself crazy?
    p.s. I am one of those knitters who enjoys the straight stockinette stitch. I do find it meditative and soothing. I was sick recently and just sat there and mindlessly knit on my sweater. It had to be mindless, I didn’t have much brain function going on…but enough to just go around and around in knit stitch.
    Have a pleasant weekend!

  132. I vote for doing it all in stockinette and then fixing with the crochet hook (unless the yarn is too sticky). I’m doing it right now (not a gansey, but something I figured could benefit from seams… but not so much that I would be willing to seam it after ).

  133. Bright red stitch markers. Because we know the technology does not exist for the Knitting Zapomatic. There is a low-tech option, however. I bet somewhere there is a retired third grade teacher who would be only too happy to stand over you watching you knit and then slap your hand with a ruler every time you knit the purl stitch. I bet you wouldn’t need her for more than a day at the most.

  134. ZAP!
    Sounds like the SHICK method of knitting! You know Shick….they were the ones who used adverse conditioning in a behavior modification technique to get you to a)quit smoking, b)quit drinking c) quit eating, etc.
    “Shick had developed a new program for aberrant knitters…Never again will you knit the wrong stitch at the wrong time! Knit one purl THREE….ZZZZZZZAP!”

  135. How about bright red loops of yarn as stitch markers, at least as heavy as your handspun, right at the two stitches? Could you miss those? (No, I suppose you’d just knit those into the sweater.) How about metal? Rubber? Aw, never mind. Just get out the crochet hook later.

  136. lurker commenting for first time. like linda a few comments up and probably others — how about, knit on super fast autopilot, laughing in the face of the two problem purl stitches, until ur done with the stockinette. then drop those two stitches and crochet them all purled in one swoop??

  137. Erm, what happened to the positive discipline thing? ZAPZAPZAP? You okay?
    I was in the same boat with Eliz’s darts. Stitch markers fixed it–not sure why I feel like a lesser knitter for succumbing to them. Note to self: find knitting therapist. Maybe a group session?

  138. Just another vote for EZ’s recommended method – crochet hook up it afterwards – slightly altered. EZ liked the effect of creating two stitches out of three (vertically) after the fact, and I think it’s just fine to keep the same number of stitches (one per row) vertically.
    If you don’t want to use a crochet hook: traditional Portuguese knitting needles have a hook on one end. Tell yourself you’re using a Portuguese knitting needle.
    Gladys Thompson’s book gives the Channel Islands guernsey which has the seam stitches done alternately in knit and purl, so it’s a vertical seed stitch. I think that would be harder than remembering to purl every time.
    I’ve made a pair of knee-high stockings with the purled seam stitch. Stitch markers help.

  139. you’ve got the wrong attitude. embrace your dumbassness as many of us have done – use a stitch marker to mark a stitch that’s a marker. it’s the mark of a smart dumbass:))

  140. I say either 1) stitch markers or 2) dropping those stitches a few rows at a time to correct the problem.
    But I’m a big fan of stitch markers. πŸ™‚

  141. How about a little smartalec-y smiley face marker? PLUS a small Snickers Popables dispenser. Chewier than M&Ms – that helps with the tension of the moment. I’m knitting my husband an Aran and I have small markers for each pattern section and honking big ones at the start and middle. Big Ones!

  142. Hubby wants to know about that blanket that I started for him for last winter. Well, Sir, you moved me to Alabama. I dare you to knit on that thing in this heat/humitidy. It’s huge. Besides, it’s boring. It will get done for this year’s winter weather. I need to make socks in the mean time. Short row heels, cute trim, lots of fun.
    You could try taking a break from the gansey thing for a while. Use some really wild yarn and make something totally decadent. Cat toys with catnip.
    Use a hair clip thingy to mark the offending stitch line. At least the blanket is multicolored. Grey will look good when it’s done. It’s the getting there that shows how much you love someone.

  143. my first comment – my friend told me about your blog and it’s great. I’m knitting my FIRST socks (Regia denim) they seem a bit big…hmmm. thanks for the great writing, LOL stories – hope to see you in Salt Lake!

  144. Steph, I am an animal trainer and can hook you up with an array of quite humane but lightly zappy things. Just ask. I’ll be there.
    The gansey is a lovely expanse of traditional simplicity.

  145. I’m going to say something only mildly original.
    Stitch marker – and get a cute one too. All kinds of people have been making them out of funky beads and are selling them on the net. Go to or Ebay and hunt yourself down a nice little stitch marker made of a fimo sheep. Or try Mousie Masala cause hers are really good. They are super cute.

  146. How about another option? Ignore the blasted things and, when you have a moment when you CAN concentrate on the knitting, turn everything inside out, drop the stitch down to where you last purled it, and “knit” it back up with a crochet hook.
    Haven’t read all the comments so this may have been suggested already.

  147. The only sweater my husband wants is a gansey and you are an angel because I just refuse.I know I’d be bonkers by the end of it .I am working on getting him to accept a “Persian Poppies” in very bland colours.

  148. I know everyone else has said it, but I would go with the “crochet the seam stitches up the wrong side when you get to the armhole” method as well, especially if you’re looking for mindless knitting …

  149. You could have a look at Jean Miles’ blog She is knitting a gansey in Herring Girls Pink, heavenly, and she discusses a number of aspects of the pattern. You could start at 22 July this year and work backwards from there, or 22 June and work forwards.

  150. I don’t want to sound sadistic, but I’d go for the ZAP thingie. It’s Joe’s sweater, right? And Joe has all those electronic gizmos around the house, right? How about Joe rigs up the ZAPPER for you? That way, he may feel some sense of accomplishment in that he contributed to his sweater!

  151. I am so totally with everyone else who said to just make sure you know which column the purls are supposed to be in and then drop down and pick ’em all up as purls at the end. But then that’s just the kind of gal I am. The way I figure it, while the purl at the seam serves a very useful purpose, I can’t see an historical gansey knitter doing anything but using the most efficient method possible, and I think this is it.

  152. I have to use stitch markers. Do you have any hand made stitch markers? I’ve noticed that stitch markers are more fun to use if they’re handmade. πŸ™‚

  153. Is your trip to Wisconsin on your book tour purposely coinciding with the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival (Sept. 8-10) or just by accident? Just curious – in case I could have a Harlot sighting at the festival!!

  154. Geez, Stephanie, this is bad — it’s nowhere near Christmas, and already you’re talking like this. . .

  155. I think you need a personal knitting valet; a gentleman in tails standing by noting your every knitted move who stoically clears his throat when you miss a stitch or otherwise maim your work. He would quickly so acutely annoy you with his proper manners you would do anything to keep him from clearing his darn throat and saying, “Madaam …” one more time.

  156. Oh c’mon. give in to the stitch markers….
    As for the miles of stockinette… I bow to you. I’ve suddenly realized that I can’t do the miles of simple kitting that is Icarus — I’ve been compelled to add “feather ends” to make over lapping layers of feathers. … just so I’ll have some interesting stuff to break up the deliciously clean lines of the shawl.
    I’m sure I’ll be posting soon about frogging that all back b/c it looks like shite….

  157. “… I am knitting a large grey blog …”
    This line (in your first paragraph) made me crack up for several minutes. I kept trying to envision you knitting a blog and typing a gansey. What can I say, I’m easily entertained.
    I completely understand about that purl stitch – I’m working on the Pinwheel Sweater, which is a cinch if I could just… remember… to … do… the YO’s. But alas, I get so into the groove of knitting, knitting, knitting, I miss them every single time. It is infuriating.
    For you, I think a pretty stitch marker is in order. I know you own them, but I’ve rarely seen any of them in photos actually on needles, so that would be a refreshing change – lo, the Mighty Yarn Harlot also uses stitch markers!
    Good luck – the gansey is beautiful!

  158. I say you put on the big honkin’ stitch marker, and then use your resulting ‘stockinette zone’ time to design the zap solution for your next project (or, hey, later in *this* project. Joe sounds like a tall guy.)

  159. Of course you do realize that you will almost certainly knit the stockinette, cursing it all the way for its boringness, and then measure one day and discover you’ve done two inches too much stockinette?
    I’d be so glad if this did not happen on pretty much every single sweater I’ve ever made. (Maybe voicing the possibility will banish the bad mojo?)

  160. I vote for stitch markers for the knitting and lots of conditioner for the giant humidity hair– just in case you decide to got to the zapper.

  161. How about you give the electronic gizmo a try BUT instead of zapping you for mistakes it gives you some sort of subtle reminder. Like maybe when you reach the stitch before the purl it makes a little noise, like maybe the airhorn on a tugboat. Then you purl. No zap. Not so good in movie theatres though. Might also make your knitting a little heavy to take on the bus.
    On second thought, maybe a stitch marker. So your fingers can “see” and your eyes can do something else.

  162. I used to knit sweaters for my first husband, decades ago!! I used to call the process “knitting horseblankets” because the items were significantly larger than knitting for myself!! He returned all the items I knit for him when he remarried. He couldn’t bring himself to give them to goodwill, after all that work!!

  163. Stitch markers, all the way. Get some really pretty pewter or silver ones with fancy glass beads that make you feel good and will liven up the big grey blob. Something like my pewter frogs that will make you smile every time you come around, instead of saying @%#$&^!! when you miss the stiich.

  164. lol on the zapping. And i would definately put a stitch marker there. One time i was knitting a white dress for a large bear in stockinette and i was so bored, but that is what other knitting projects are for…jump around between projects so that you don’t get bored.

  165. I’m going to go with the 194 other people who have commented on this post and say FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS KNITTED USE A STITCH MARKER!! Should you zap yourself too often, you may not have the mental capacity left to write!
    Also, you really should take a picture of the knitting of the gansey flat and use it as your background for like a day. Then you could really say that you knit a blog!

  166. I vote stitch marker. And a thought–since planning and washing and spinning the gansey has been in your life so long, what will you do after the gansey is done? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts. πŸ˜‰
    Completely unrelated, but go here I defy you to be unmoved by the rampant cuteness.

  167. Happy 40th birthday Kelly.
    I vote stitch marker. Although the zapper has its appeal, considering I read this post after ripping out 30 freakin’ rows of a scarf because I accidentally K3tog instead of K2tog and now have one stitch too few to make the freakin’ pattern look right . . . Maybe zapper plus Merlot?

  168. Gee, I like the idea of using stitch markers and “rewarding” myself each time. So THAT’s what the “M” stands for—marker made !!!
    I’m going to dig out the markers and add it to my current project with the 16 stitch repeat.


  170. Oh, just use the markers. That is mindless knitting and you can’t be expected to remember two stitches of purl out of all those knit. You are not a machine.
    The other great part about the markers is they make you feel like you’ve made some progress. You’re knitting along and then… boom you’re at the next marker in what seems too short a time if you’ve zoned out a bit. And I hope you do, with that much plain knitting on such a big sweater!

  171. Ummm, accept imperfection? I think there are (is?) more than one culture on this earth that purposely make a mistake in their creations to remind themselves that we’re not perfect (nor do we live in a perfect world). I say have another beer and go for it! Still, I don’t know how you get so much done. Looking forward to your visit to Portland, Oregon in September. Still trying to find out what time. Powell’s doesn’t seem to post the time. I’ll call!

  172. For a bottle of wine I’ll try to look any way you like, Barb — tactful is a stretch, though, I admit…

  173. these are the reasons i do not knit anything except straight forward knit purl,and usually just knit, bugger the decreases-increases-dropstitch-passoverslipstitch! i do enjoy reading about it though…

  174. You could try to delight in the irony of using a stitch marker to remind you to make the stitch marker.
    And, I notice that your needles match the yarn. Maybe a different color needle would liven things up a bit? Just a thought….

  175. stitch markers, wine, crochet hook, whatever. I just can’t tell you how consoled I feel that someone like you makes these trivial mistakes too! I look at the beautiful intricate lace things you make and I figure I screw up the occassional yarn over so I’ll never be able to do lace. but now I know there’s hope. this of course does nothing to make YOU feel better, but maybe just knowing you have encouraged a fledgling knitter will help!

  176. I would opt for the stitch marker only because it may as well be simple if it’s going to be boring! I can’t stand stockinette stitch even though I recognize that I well-done stockinette stitch is absolutely beautiful. I would go mad knitting that sweater! I’m having trouble getting through 9 inches of a long sock in really bright colors!
    Soldier On!
    P.S. Love the info about the gansey traditions!

  177. Try Snakes On a Plane. Mindless movie for mindless knitting. So bad. So wretchedly, mind-boggling, makes Sci-Fi Scinema Saturday night look Oscar-worthy bad. Vancouver as Hawaii. An R-rating for snakes biting people’s naughty bits. A frigging ANACONDA in the overhead lights. And Samuel L Jackson, plummeting from Jedi Master to snake-bashing FBI agent. You should be able to crank out the remaining cm in 100 minutes.

  178. Steph, honey? Just knit all the way, and when you get to the interesting part, drop those stitches dorn and hook them back up as purls. Really. Didn’t read all 210 comments, so maybe you already know this.

  179. big honkin’ stitch marker, perhaps in something made of harsh rough plastic (since you mostly knit by touch and wouldn’t ‘see’ it) irony or no, it’ll save you time πŸ™‚
    seriously tho’, I wouldn’t worry about it much if I were you – you can fix practically anything( at least as far as I have seen!)
    knit on – you queen of gansey!

  180. You know, Steph, Donna is correct. I would go for EZ’s solution to this: just knit away, and then drop that one stitch, and latch it back up. You know you want to — you’ve done a few times already!

  181. Personally I love zoneless knitting… but I like to do combined knitting when I’m doing it so I can just feel where the purl is instead of actually watching what I’m doing. Works pretty well πŸ™‚

  182. Don’t know if you already answered this, probably did and I just can’t find it Doh! But what size needles are you using , please? They look very skinny!

  183. I’m a veteran gansey knitter. Sometimes I use a sort of seed stitch instead of stockinette in that boring +40cm area. If the gansey is for a guy, they can’t tell the difference between seed or stockinette, just that it’s kinda plain below the armholes.
    And I use round rubber rings for stitch markers, just a few mm larger than the needle, less intrusive into my knitting, but annoying enough that I remember my “seam” stitches.
    O, those stitches can be annoying. But well worth it in the end!!

  184. You have got to be kidding… even the Yarn Harlot makes these mistakes??? I thought it was just me. Admit you are a mortal and use a stitch marker and tink like the rest of us. Think how much time would be lost hitching yourself up to an electrical devise. Then there is that bulky AC adapter that you now will have to add to your travel bag…
    My current “duh” moments while working on a fair isle is forgetting to add in my new color a few stiches before the marker. I either take out a needle and weave it before I start the new color, or tink back perfectly good stitches, add the color, then continue knitting. This was making me feel pretty stupid. Though your post let me know that even you…oh wise oracle of fiber, have those moments too.
    Thank you!!!!!!

  185. I expect someone has already said this, but I haven’t time to read 200+ messages. Ignore the purl stitch (ie just knit it) until you reach the armhole then drop the stitch and pick it up purlwise and re-knit it on the reverse with a crochet hook.

  186. I know I’m in a minority here, but I can’t stand plain stockinette. Even less, therefore, would I be able to stand the 2 stinking sts. I would go with the st markers, feeling no shame at all — but the Invisible Knitting Fence is utterly brilliant.

  187. If you feel a bit funny about the super glue solution to your finger, try waterproof bandages. They don’t work well if you put them on wet kids at the beach, but they’re great for fingers. They are so thin you hardly feel them. As for the other problem, I would probably use markers. Even though I feel so clever laddering up a mistake with a crochet hook, occasionally I’ll drop the wrong stitch all the way down and not feel clever in the least.

  188. I’ve made purses where you drop a stitch on the corners all the way down when you have finished knitting and hook them up so they are purls and not knits to give the edge a sharp line-but in this case I would pick a gorgous beaded stitch marker-my brain dead mind really needs markers for things like this –and lace. I attribute it to ADD because I am putting off alsheimers as long as possible.

  189. I’m sorry, I tried not to laugh at this entry, but I couldn’t help it! I can so relate! Well, not with the Gansey knitting, but the messing up bit. And the trouble is, I haven’t learned how to “fix” mistakes like that, besides tinking back, that is. And yes, I have been known to tink back an inch or 2 (or three,or four), in order to fix a mistake. Other people might not know it’s ther,e but dangit, I do!
    I so can’t wait to meet you when you get to Eugene!

  190. I’m with most of the others. Stitch Markers!
    Of course, I seem to be having a somewhat ocd love affair with mine (they *have* to alternate colors. They just *do*) so I may be biased.
    The laddering down and crocheting up would also work and then you get into the zone.
    I like the zone.

  191. That whole, “at the same time” was what got me on my very first knitted garment. I had finally begun to gain some confidence in my abilities when that missed bit of instructions knocked out for a bit.
    If you choose option (c), I must offer a warning. Be careful where that jolt of electricity is delivered. ECT is not conducive to any type of memory-enhancing goals one might have. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Trust me on this one.

  192. Can you say Electro Shock Therapy???? Just think about all the creative things ones mind could come up with after all that zapping!!!
    On the other hand…there are those people who would actually enjoy the stimulation…but I won’t go there….
    I think the plain knitting is there so we can fully enjoy the lacy stuff! Enjoy.

  193. (cringing with recognition) oh yes, the one little purl stitch. don’t shock yourself– it won’t work (you’ll still have to tink back because it won’t zap you till you’ve passed the stitch!). i vote for the stitch marker and a healthy appreciation of irony πŸ™‚
    the homespun is gorgeous– it looks lovely to knit, stockinette or no.
    p.s. hi! i’ve never commented before (too shy) but i love your writing and your books have made me laugh until i wept tears of wooly joy.

  194. Wrap the purls Combined (counter clockwise instead of clockwise). This will cause them to sit on the needle backwards and feel noticeably different on the needle when you get to them. I find that this is a sufficient cue if I don’t want to get a stitch marker. Other’n that? I’d go with a stitch marker.

  195. Steph, sorry for two coments on one post but you have inspired me to did out my own GIP (Gansey In Progress) in spite of the sauna conditions prevailing hereabouts. I can manage a bit each night with the AC on (not like it’s ever off) if I have a towel on my lap between the wool and my skin.
    I bet you will have a Gansey-along going in a big hurry here, maybe in about three days. πŸ™‚

  196. I’m sure someone has mentioned this before, but with over 100 comments and my love asking me when I’m coming to bed, I’m not going to check – I’m just gonna tell you what I’d do.
    Knit. Knit on autopilot. Knit until you either need the stitch to be purled or where it actually makes sense to you for the pattern. Then knit up to it, drop it down to the last point you remembered to purl it and pick it up with a crochet hook and make it the way it’s supposed to be.
    I did this with a pair of ribbed socks when I had messed up my knit/purl stitches some 45-50 rows back. (OK, I’ll admit it. I was knitting with black yarn in a very dark room. Slap me.) It works just fine. Nobody’ll know but you (and the fifty-thousand blog readers you tell).
    Good luck, whatever you do!

  197. Either use a stitch marker, there is no shame in that. Use a pretty one. Perhaps a crystal one. or a safety pin one the “seam line” just a row or two below your knitting row.
    (go with a classy stitch marker, less boring and it will give you a “lift” every time you sm!)

  198. A stitch marker would grab your attention every time you got to the purl stitch. Think about how beautiful the sweater will be when it’s done. Good luck!

  199. I’m with the people who say knit the whole thing and then drop the stitches down when you get to the arm hole. It’s MUCH faster and easier.
    If this makes you feel like you’re cheating, it’s a real technique πŸ™‚ I bet that’s how they were originally done, even! OR you could do an Elizabeth Zimmermann phoney seam.
    For those of you wondering, there is an excerpt here:
    Instructions for phoney seams are near the bottom.

  200. Your description of the gansey has finally confirmed that I have one that my mom knit for my dad on small needles(and some years later accidentally shrunk small enough to fit me). It has the phoney seams and stockinett up to about the armpits and is a beautiful sweater. I call it my “bullet proof sweater” and wear it on those 40 below wind chill days. I’m always toasty warm wearing that.

  201. Ok. Since you are the goddess of knitting and I know that this part of the sweater will drive you crazy because you LOVE “interesting” patterns (what I call insane, patterns that would have me on the floor sobbing and pulling great amounts of my hair out of my head), I am hereby volunteering to do the rest of the plain stitching on the sweater. I indeed do dearly love the plain stockinette stitch. So if you want, just send it off to me in Maryland, I’ll finish the part that is boring you out of your mind then send it back to you as soon as I get to the INTERESTING parts.
    Can’t have the Harlot being bored when there are just so many wonderful patterns out there!
    Ann in MD

  202. DON’T USE A STITCH MARKER You are a pro. Do chief”s use ccok books,or write them. Do rock stars need charts, do tuba players use post it notes on their charts ( I don’t think so,could be wrong) Just , for the love of wool BE MINDFUL . You can do it. Come on fly with out a net. Dive in, it’s just knitting. If you push yourself, you will learn to work without these crutches. You know it helps to strenghen the mind and the will. Strong will= good will. This not another ol’ sock , it’s a project that has taken years, one that you will be looking at FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Think how proud you will be every time you look at and say……
    and I did it without markers and life lines.
    You can do it , you should do it, and I should keep my big gob shut.
    I can’t help thinking , why do we knit? Because it’s easy, or to learn new skills. Let this very special knit teach you a life lesson,
    BE MINDFUL. harsh words may be but you can do it……
    I DARE YOU……….. luv dennyx0x0x0

  203. How about a shift in perspective: the marker stitch is not for counting in the knitting but for the next stage of construction. That way using a marker makes perfect sense and is not double work.
    Otherwise, your grey blob looks wonderfully smooth and even (meaning your spinning and knitting are accomplished and professional.)

  204. Well, 237 comments on boo boos. I’m a beginning knitter and am wondering if I should just quit while I’m happy with my 4 scarfs, 2 headbands, 1 cellphone holder, and a kitty pi and skip the frustration. Or courage on so that I may write about my traffic jams type frustrations. And cry about hours lost. Sounds like fun. I commend you all.

  205. This is the third blog about knitting i’ve come across today. I had no idea there were so many. I really am out of the loop, so to speak.

  206. Perhaps I’m a bit suicidal with my knitting, but if it was me I’d just knit the dang thing, then drop an entire row and re-purl them with a crochet hook. (I’ve seen you drop entire rows of things before, with fair isle even, so I know you can do it!) Knit, and knit away lady!

  207. There are, in this world, knitters who are blind. And those knitters use stitch markers, and whatever other standard knitting aids they might need, and knit lovely things. And upon viewing beautiful garments knitted by blind knitters, no one says “ah, yes she’s blind, but she used stitch markers in the most obvious places, so it’s not that impressive.”
    Now, when you go into meditative knitting, or knitting in the dark, realize that you are functionally blind. Use a damned stitch marker.

  208. I will de-lurk to add a vote for no marker, zone along and drop down/pick up ala E.Zimmerman’s phoney seams.
    That’s what I would do, but we are all unique.

  209. On your cut, you can always apply super glue over it. It’s been used for years in ER’s and as long as the cut is not actively bleeding, it’s safe. It will cover and protect it, peel off naturally without a problem in about 4 – 5 days, and allow you to knit lace.

  210. I dunno – if I got zapped for every dumb mistake I made, I would not keep knitting for long. I have a certain aversion to pain….
    Hope Mr Washie can be resurrected. My washing machine was my Mum’s and she got it in the mid to late 70s. At least I can move my washie from one place to another.
    When did your banner change? I go away for a week and everything changes!

  211. Definitelt use the stitch markers. I’ve had to ladder down and reverse several rows of stockinette which should have been done in garter in the border of my WIP. Once I got out two pretty stitch markers I beaded, and voila!, no more purling where I should have been knitting!
    Now, if I can just keep from knitting an entire 1 1/2 purl rows, I’ll be doing great . . .

  212. I don’t know if anyone else mentioned this but, in one of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books she said that she would put a twisted stitch just before anything she needed to “mark” rather than using a stitch marker. She even mentions that this is especially helpful when you are doing mindless stuff and your hands will automatically feel that twisted stitch . . . it is sort of like a knitted ZAP.

  213. Stitch marker or no stitch marker, crochet back or don’t… what i find truly impressive is that over 250 of us have not only read your very funny missive, but felt compelled to wade through the comments AND to add our own. You truly have a long reach lady.
    and having read ahead, I’m very glad that Sir Washie has not only survived but been enobled.

  214. Hey Steph. I’m just checking in to say hello. I haven’t been around much, since my life has been insane for pretty much the entire year. But I stopped by today and read the posts on your main page, and laughed out loud, like I used to nearly everyday before moving and birthing changed everything. I’ve missed you. Good luck with your deadlines.
    Laura Miss Finch

  215. Hi! I know I’m late chiming in on this one (we vacationed sans internet connection . . .), but what about NOT purling it, and then later dropping the stitch and bringing it back up as a purl stitch?

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