A game of pick-up

Here is my first mistake.


Choosing a sweater with a knitted on button band. Stupid. If you hate picking up stitches, hate knitted on button bands and still pick this sweater and don’t adapt it for a sewn on button band, then you are stupid. (That would be me.)

(Pattern: Sirdar book 241, “E”)

Having already made mistake number one…there is no reason not to make Mistake number two, which would be deciding to knit the pattern in a worsted instead of a DK. This by itself is not a mistake, but it leads to all sorts of things not working anymore. Instructions like “knit until work measures 10cm” work fine, but since it will take a different number of rows to get to 10cm, the whole picking up thing is going to go down the dumper in short order. If you are determined to make Mistake number three


then you must ignore that and pick up the suggested number of stitches. Clearly, in the picture above I have not picked up enough. The way that the stitches want to gather up before I have even started the button band are a terrible omen. Nix that, and proceed rapidly to Mistake number four. The exact nature of mistake number four is a mystery. What I did was pick up more stitches (this seemed reasonable since I had too few…but knitting is seldom obvious) in a multiple of 11. 11 seemed right, since the pattern for the buttonholes contains the intruction “Rib 9, cast off 2…rep”. In the world the way I know it…9+2=11. This was obviously mistake number four…though if anyone can see what is wrong with my math I’d appreciate the *&^%$#ing heads up. (Rat bastard math. We hates it.)


Clearly, even though me, Joe, Megan and the computer calculator all feel that 9+2=11 this cannot be true since it doesn’t space the buttonholes (indicated by the yellow arrows above) anywhere near accurately and I wound up with and infuriating number of stitches left over. I took a deep breath, pulled out the row again and proceeded to mistake number five.

Even though I believed (and still do, actually) that 9+2=11, I was forced to accept that on this sweater, that was not true. Therefore, I suspended that belief and re-worked it, being sure that I wasn’t married to the concept of correct math, opened my mind to the possibility that there was an answer to 9+2 that was something other than the traditional 11 and tried again.


Well. At least this time I had closer to the correct number of stitches left over. I tried interpreting the instruction “Rib 9, cast off 2”.

Could I be wrong about what that meant?

(Thus we witness the birth of mistake number six: Overthinking.)

It could mean that you rib 9, then cast off 2, using the 9th stitch as the first one to be dropped over in the casting off. It could mean that you ribbed 9, then that those were independent free agents and you started casting off two more that were beyond the 9. It could mean….

It could mean that I was too angry by the result to take a picture. Suffice it to say that the problem remained unsolvable.

Finally I decided (mistake number 7) that I would take a more organic approach. Obviously there was no point in doing any more math. Once 9+2 =11 stops working you are in over your head.

I threaded a needle with yarn and decided that working inward from the ends I would mark the two stitches I was going to cast off for each button hole. I marked the ones at the ends….


then counting inwards from the ends I found the middle, marked that, marked the other two at equal intervals and …..


discovered that the buttonholes are still not placed evenly (which I really should have seen coming, what with basic addition deciding to step off the logic curb only moments before) and I made mistake number eight when I stopped myself from taking the whole thing outside, hurling it into the middle of the road and then laughing maniacally while cars ran it over again and again and again. I went to bed instead.

This morning I pulled out some baby alpaca, (I don’t see any sweater, walk away from the sweater.) and started getting my graph paper mojo going on. The sibling of the snowdrop is due soon, and I think the newcomer will need a little something. I shall commence swatching pretty darn soon.


I left this on the chair after taking the picture and when I came back with my coffee I found this.


She scratched me when I tried to pick up the alpaca.