False Start

Well, it turns out that I could indeed take knitting into the courthouse, and it turns out that I was not even the only one.  I thought that I’d been so proper and good, bringing in a project on wooden circulars, and I passed through security with no trouble at all, only to settle myself in the courtroom, heave a sigh of relief, and look over to see the lady in front of me beavering away on a green sweater back (front?) with nice big, straight metal needles, not a care in the world. She made good progress too, by the time the judge came in and we had to put everything away to “give the judge our complete attention”, she had at least 10cm of rib and a chunk of garter. Me, I had this:

caterpillar 2017-01-31

A goodly piece of a simple top down shawl, knit with January’s installment of the CaterpillarGreen Yarn club. (I joined two short term clubs this year – I swear I’m committed to knitting them both up as soon as they arrive. I’ve already fallen behind on the other one, so this has to get done.) I grabbed a needle I thought would work, and headed out the door. By the end of the day I had this, which is… well. It’s nothing, because it took a swift trip to the frog pond.  I knew right away that the gauge wasn’t right, but I didn’t have any other knitting with me, so I just kept on going, hoping that it was going to improve. (Shocking bit of knitterly delusion, that.) It didn’t. (It never does.)

Now, somewhere, a knitter reading this just thought “Balls to that. It’s a shawl. The gauge isn’t that important. I’d have never ripped back. You’re a lunatic.” To them I say that they may have a point with the latter, but not the former. Gauge always matters. It’s not just how big something comes out – it’s got to do with the quality of the fabric, and see this?

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It failed my number one test. If I put my finger beneath, and wiggle it upwards, the strands of yarn move out of the way to let my finger poke through. It’s not being able to get your finger through that’s bad though (but it ain’t good) it’s that when the fabric is mobile like that, when it’s knit loosely enough that you can move everything around, then I know that everything is going to move around in the finished piece. It won’t keep it shape, it will look bedraggled sooner. Gauge matters to how things hold up, and it matters to quality. I’m a very tidy knitter and I knit pretty evenly, but at that gauge, everyone’s work looks uneven and a little shoddy, and I’m not going to work that hard to produce something that doesn’t look as good as my work is. So, to the frogpond it went.

Luckily, I was called back for a second day, and I was just going to start over with a smaller needle, until I was cruising Ravelry and decided to copy someone else’s better idea. (jtremblay74’s to be precise. Thanks for the good thinking.)

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So now I have something else.  A decent start at the Bermuda Scarf (though I think it will be properly shawl-ified by the time I’m done.) Knit on a 3.5mm needle, and looking much nicer than the first.

I think it looks like water and wind and everything the yarn reminds me of, and Jury duty is over.

86 thoughts on “False Start

  1. Beautiful yarn. Gauge is what makes it frustrating to start a new project on the fly. I always feel like I need to bring several needle sizes with me. I wonder what the court would think of that? Frog ponds mean more knitting time per dollar. You win!

  2. It looks lovely now. I hate when I start with the needle and yarn that I think will work and then have to frog it and try again. My own fault because I never swatch.

  3. Your garter tab cast on (if that’s what it was) in the first shawl looked so neat! This is a skill I am really struggling with, I just can’t make them look neat.

  4. This is making me rethink the wrap I am knitting. Fingering yarn, 4mm needles. It’s a huge wrap and is nearing completion (3,000+ metres of yarn done so far). Should i frog it all and go down in needle size and increase cast on stitches to accomodate the decrease size in needle?

    • As a not very proficient knitter I say “Arghh! Don’t do it! You will never reknit all that yarn and it will be so discouraging.”
      Of course if you knit like the wind as the YarnHarolt does it might not be such a risk.

    • Don’t frog based on another person’s gauge! Are you getting the gauge (or near enough) on the pattern? What sort of fabric are you producing?

  5. Bermuda has been in my queue for a while so hopefully watching yours grow will get me into gear myself :o)
    I took a class from Ilga at Lettuce Knit back in the day – she was just lovely!

  6. Magnificent! But…booties? Mitts? Cap? Sweaters? Blankies? All the other wooly things needed for Toronto winters? Impending Grandson will remain “impending” for only so long…;-)!

    • With the way the Harlot knits and the startlingly tiny size of newborns, the wee lad will be well covered even with the occasional shawl interruption.

  7. I totally agree on that bit when the wrong gauge makes it look sad and bedraggled on the first wear. Had that happen, never again. You’d be a loon to leave it in, for sure. 🙂 I like the way the new one’s turning out.

  8. I can’t believe jury duty is already over! When I lived in Toronto I was called for jury duty and we had to go every day for a week! I live near Guelph now and was called up a few years back. Slightly different system, but we had to report for three days in total. Lots of time to read or knit!

    • Sometimes the pool gets released early. Perhaps there are no more trials pending, all the courtrooms are used, etc. When I was on jury duty, the first time I was released after 4.5 days. The second time we showed up and were released after half an hour. And that fulfilled our jury duties for the next three years! Perhaps there was a guilty plea so they didn’t proceed to trial.

  9. You are a tidy knitter. I’ll never forget holding your sock when you came for a book tour. The stitches were totally even and about as big as sugar crystals.

  10. Oh, that looks lovely! But 2 days jury service???? How did you swing that? I had 2 weeks, and heard about some poor jury who had been sitting for over a year ….. mind you, the 2 weeks were the reason I managed to finish the socks!! Usually takes me a month or two ….

  11. Good for you for completing your civic duty despite being possibly knitting-less. Glad to hear they are civilized about allowing the knitting.

    Your comments about gauge were useful and thoughtful. Similar words of advice should be part of patterns such as shawls, etc., where too often one is told that gauge doesn’t matter.

  12. Very pretty. And it does look like Ocean waves. I want one.
    Julie in San Diego, where it was so beautiful today. Come see us this winter, Ask Joe if he has music to make this winter in San Diego. Needlecraft Cottage is a great yarn shop a block from the beach. Just Sayin’ …

  13. Beautiful! I love that pattern – I just gave mine away to someone who admired it (first time wearing it, too), so I need to knit another. I’m loving the way those colors look!

  14. This is indeed one of my favorite patterns from Ilga! Worth the short row work and the “Oh my gosh, what is it going to look like?” panic attacks.

    Nothing but love to someone who has not made it before, as you’ll really enjoy the experience!

  15. I’m an infrequent knitter and hit or miss on gauge. Thanks for the lesson. I will now be more accurate with my gauge. I’m thinking this will lead me to become a frequent knitter as I will be happier with my results.

  16. I know better than to skip swatching, truly I do. Yet I merrily cast on a sweater without a care in the world and off I went. By row 4 there were a few doubts, seemed a bit on the stiff side. Kept going because it was “too early to tell, I’m sure it will work out.” By row 11 it was apparent I was creating a suit of armor, and yet I soldiered on. Row 15 I finally snapped out of the stupor and admitted that, despite having the shirt that says so, that sh*t was not going to block right out. Frogged, swatched, and now back on track. I like to think I’ve learned my lesson, but I also would love to say this was the first time that ever happened. Alas…..

  17. You are so lucky that you can take knitting with you into the courthouse! It seems like at least once a month there’s a thread on Ravelry about whether or not someone can take their knitting to jury duty, and the general consensus seems to be that it’s not permitted in most places.

    I really like the second iteration of the yarn!

  18. Once again, you have inspired me. Three nights a week, I sit in grad school classes (which I absolutely love and which keep me riveted for almost 3 straight hours) and I am feeling brave now… I wonder if the professors would mind if I knitted during class! It has always been true for me that I pay much better attention when I knit (which is why I knit during church often).

    Perhaps a few emails today to inquire is in order….

  19. I had a needle “emergency” in Hawaii several years ago while knitting a sweater that required a smaller set of needles to shape the waist. We spent two days on two islands trying to find needles so I could continue. The smallest islands aren’t known for their plethora of yarn stores but I finally found a pair of aluminums that saved me. After that I have never gone anywhere without out this darling little kit from Denise so I can change up my needle size at a moments notice and they sail thru the metal detectors, too. http://www.knitdenise.com/collections/denise-2gos/products/denise-2go-for-knitting

  20. What a lovely course correction! I love the new pattern!

    Also, thanks for teaching me a bit about gauge and fabric. I have indeed witnessed the quick demise of a too-loosely knitted item. Thanks for explaining what that was all about!

  21. So glad you were able to knit (I’m particularly interested because of having received my advance “we might be calling on you” jury duty notice), and I love the perfect blend of colour, pattern and gauge on your 2nd attempt!
    And completely off-topic addition: Are you a 680News listener? I was tickled by today’s (Feb 1) Insider Club bonus code – KNIT! I think that we have an insider in the Insider Club! (either that, or a bemused non-knitter observing a nearby knitter).

  22. I’m glad you were able to take your knitting in, even if it has taken a dip in the frog pond, it was, at least, something to do. The pattern you are ‘following’ looks lovely and I can’t wait to see how the yarn plays with it. Looks like short rows?

  23. Oh my goodness that yarn is perfect for the bermuda shawl! I have one in similar colors, but noro stripes. I’d love to knit another and you have inspired me!

  24. The Bermuda is beautiful! Showcases that lovely yarn. Glad jury duty is finished.

    i could not take knitting needles into Federal District Court in Colorado six years ago nor into state court in California last year. Maybe arm knitting? Bet that would surprise ’em!

  25. I’ve made several Bermuda’s, love that pattern. Your yarn is lovely. You’re lucky to be able to bring your needles into the courthouse. Not allowed here in Michigan. A lipstick case mirror was ripped out of the case because of the sharp edges once for me. Crazy.

  26. Thanks so much for that tip! I am a firm, make a scarf because my gauge always sucks, but I will be more careful in the future!

  27. I really like the look of that scarf in that yarn… hummm… and I have 2 skeins of un dyed wool-silk blend I could dye… hmmmm…
    In any case, my son had a doctors appointment a couple hundred miles away so I (of course) brought my knitting. And met another mom in the lobby waiting for our appointments… and taught her to knit on my niece’s baby’s sweater. She did 4 rows before her son was called in– knit and purl. She’d been trying to learn on Youtube… which works for some people, but not for others.
    (And I finally went ahead and ordered business cards that include the line “Fiber Artist, Knitting Teacher” because so many people have asked 🙂

  28. Okay, I’m unabashedly an occasional knitter of scarves (garter, garter, garter), but that Bermuda scarf/shawl is amazing. LOVE it in your greens and blues. = )

  29. I have this pattern, and I’m just trying to decide which yarn in my stash to use. It looks as beautiful as I thought it would.

  30. Hello there. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I think as knitters we’ve all had those moments when we think our yarn is screaming to be made into one project, only to find that it’s just not working. It can frustrating, both for the failure of original project and the frustration of figuring out what to do with all that frogged yarn next.

    With that said, your Bermuda Scarf is starting off absolutely beautifully, and I love that colorway. The greens and blues go together so nicely. And that multidirectional striping, too… I hope you have a lot of fun knitting that one.

  31. Oh, that is just gorgeous! Itching to cast it on. Restraining myself.

    I have been called for jury duty 3 times, had to bow out each time….clash with uni exams…then teaching final year high school and not able to be absent right before students’ final exam exam….then heavily pregnant. I’d be really interested in seeing the process up close.

  32. Agree with Bindy and others — gorgeous, my favorite color combo. Do I have enough needles not already in a project to start this one too? LOL!

  33. “Luckily, I was called back for a second day” – words that will never be heard again, anywhere, in reference to a second day of jury duty…..

  34. Love the yarn! So happy for anyone who gets to bring knitting into a courthouse. Thankful for the people trying to keep us safe in a world that is both beautiful and frightening. Keep on knitting and spread love.

  35. I just knit a cardigan. First time making anything like that. I haven’t worn it yet. After reading this post, I went back and looked at it and even though I got the exact gauge the pattern called for it, it definitely splits like in Steph’s picture when I poke my finger through it. 🙁 So now I am wondering if I should frog it out and start over in a tighter gauge. Seems like this was a bad gauge fit for the yarn I chose.

  36. The yarn spoke and became gorgeous ribbons of color. Such a match between yarn & pattern! It flows much better than when knit in a more linear look. Love it!

  37. Ooh, I have two 600 yard skeins of CaterpillarGreen yarn, in Peacock and Olive Branch…this looks like the perfect pattern for the Peacock….three more Pussyhats to knit and I cast on!

  38. Oooooooh! That is an awesome pattern! I did it years ago & finished it on a trip to the Canadian Maritimes. I think I blocked it in Moncton, New Brunswick. I wore it with *everything* that I brought, and always think of that trip when I wear it.

  39. Did you use blocking wires to get the edges so nice and crisp, or just a million pins? I looked at other versions of this scarf on Ravelry and they look rather…..free-form.

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