The cat isn’t speaking to me

Finally home. The house is trashed, my inbox is out of control, the fridge smells funny, there are dust bunnies everywhere – no, forget that. These are dust bison. Huge, hulking things – roaming across the hardwood in herds. My suitcase is in the middle of the living room, spilling contents around, while piles of stuff I brought home on the previous trips, but didn’t have time to put away sit in sentinel piles thoughout the main floor. Joe walked out the door for the airport a few hours after I walked in, and I’ve spent the last little bit essentially lying face down on my bed.  I only got up long enough to go to a Bike Rally Steering Committee meeting last night where I’m pretty sure I was a jetlagged lunatic. (Why am I always the only one knitting at these things? How everyone else copes, I just don’t know.)

All over the house are the knitted things produced in the last month, all needing blocking. There’s two unblocked shawls,  an unblocked baby sweater, and… something else I can’t remember right now. I need another day of retreat from retreats before I’ll be able to think straight.  That last retreat was beautiful, but by the end of it I was starting to feel like teaching – the sharing of information, was starting to be a transfer of information. My students were knitting better and better, and I was knitting worse and worse.  Case in point?

I’d started that little baby sweater after finishing the shawl, and thought it to be perfect for the sort of knitting that gets done at these things, when you’re always talking, always listening – the environment takes a lot of focus, so the knitting needs to be easy peasy. This sweater is that. Dead simple. Nothing to it. You cast on at the neck, mark four points of increase, go at it until the yoke is big enough, then put the sleeves on holders, and work the body round and round, then go back and knit the sleeves down. Walk in the park. I could knit it in my sleep.  I cast on with a borrowed baby on my lap, just so I’d have the vibe right, then knit away on it all through dinner. (I kept the baby too. Knitting while rocking a baby is one of my specialties. I cross my legs, ankle resting on knee, then plop the wee beastie in the nook. Works really well.)

babylap 2015-05-07

I kept knitting, almost to the armholes at Fiona Ellis’ talk about necklines that night, and no end of people came up and asked what I was knitting, gave it a pat and a nod. Fiona had a look at it, and Amy had a look at it, and I was sitting beside Clara Parkes. They all had a look and copped a feel. To sum up, I am a knitting teacher. Three other knitting teachers and about a hundred perfectly competent knitters at a sweater retreat all had at least a glance. This should, you would think, mean that any truly large mistake I was making would have been pointed out to me at some point in the evening.  When the evening was over, I collapsed onto the bed and lost consciousness – jet lag will do that too you.

I was up, bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5am (that’s the flip side of that jet lag) and thought I’d take a minute to separate the sleeves, and get going on the body. That way it would be all sorted to be my takealong knitting for the day.  I knit across the front stitches, then threaded spare yarn onto a darning needle, and started slipping the stitches from the needle, onto the thread, one by one, just churning along until I got to the next increase. That would be a sleeve’s worth. Except – well, it seemed like a lot of stitches. A whole lot. I stopped, thinking maybe I’d knit across a sleeve instead of the front, and checked the pattern to see how many stitches that sleeve was supposed to have, and laid the work down to figure out what was up.

Then I saw what a hundred knitters had not.

wrongagain 2015-05-07

You bet. That whole time, in front of everyone, as a recognized knitting expert, surrounded by knitting experts, I had knit the full yoke of a sweater with one and a half sleeves.

Transfer complete.

109 thoughts on “The cat isn’t speaking to me

  1. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how encouraging this is to novice knitters like me. Dumb mistakes are part of knitting – all knitting, everyone’s knitting. That’s good to know when I’m frogging a shawl for the third time because I can’t overlook a mistake in a shawl for my daughter’s wedding, can I?

  2. Aw, that’s sad and cute all at the same time. I’m sure you’ll have it reknit properly in no time, and that will hopefully restore your faith in yourself. Have a great time not travelling for a while!

  3. I am pretty sure the knitting gods will strike me a blow for laughing out loud at the error of Her Highness Yarn Harlot, but it was so something I would do!! Fear not, you are in very good company.

  4. Wait, maybe it’s not a mistake…how many arms does the baby you’re knitting for have? If more than 1, might the babe’s mother be swayed?

  5. That is hilarious. I hope I can laugh at myself too when (not if) I do something exactly like this. Sometimes you’ve just got to blow off the schedule and recharge your brain and your spirit. Looks like you’re there, so take some time and enjoy! All the crazy will still be there in another day, or two, or three….

  6. Ouch! It may have been the wonderfulness of all those knitters. I came home with both projects needing fixing, one of them for the second time. You may need a fourth type of knitting, a level simpler than “dark knitting”, something like “terrific social surroundings” or “retreat knitting”.

    • Choc – it was nice meeting you at the retreat. And I agree that we all need “Retreat Knitting” – maybe a garter stitch square? 😉

      And I want it on record that I did NOT look at and pet the sweater in progress, although I am sure I would have missed the mistake too.

  7. It was the baby in your lap. Entirely the baby in your lap. While the knitters were casually looking at the knitting, they–like you–could not really truly look at anything but the baby, and consider whether the baby had the right number of appendages-and-aren’t-the-adorable-both-left-and-right, and consider whether the baby was asleep or awake or hungry or any of the other baby signals, and thinking how motherly you looked with a baby in your lap and how on earth could you knit like that because they maybe tried it and their very wiggly infant almost took a headfirst dive onto the floor, and so on.

    They were not going to stand/sit there and count the stitches and say “Um…Steph? Um…is this maybe off a little here, this bit?”

    No, it was all baby-influence. Not you yourself.

  8. Oh I am in that club too. I have had the worst knitting mojo the last couple of months. It helps to hear others have similar things and I know they/you especially will rise above it. Maybe me too.

  9. I have to second Pat D’s comment. I feel your pain, but it is so encouraging to know that all knitters can make mistakes. And it doesn’t mean that we toss out the needles and yarn and give up. We just start again and enjoy the process of creating.

  10. Thanks for the laugh… (I was having a good day, but my youngest was not…which means at some point everyone in the house is cranky. But now I’ve laughed and can go hange more freaking clothes out.)

  11. Dishcloths, maybe? Blanket squares? There is a lot less ripping.

    We all do it. My favorite is when you knit in the round…except the pattern is knit flat.

  12. I still remember turning a sock heel at a music festival. I kept dropping the knitting to clap along, or watch people dancing. The heel? Perhaps somewhere in the galaxy there is a race with a foot that shape. But not here on planet Earth!

    I think that what makes people ‘good’ knitters is the willingness to take risks- and go back and fix the errors that inevitably result.

  13. Laughing and crying a little bit all at the same time. I’ve done this. same. thing. More than once….

    ….for the wee little one and a half armed baby.

  14. As someone who is knitting her first sweater… THANK YOU. This makes me feel better about everything. I’m sorry, however, that this happened to you and that no one noticed enough to point it out.

    And thanks for describing the sweater breakout: “You cast on at the neck, mark four points of increase, go at it until the yoke is big enough, then put the sleeves on holders, and work the body round and round, then go back and knit the sleeves down.”
    Sweater construction makes perfect sense now – whyever would I think that would be *hard*?

    • Hey! Another first sweater knitter!!! In my case, a sleeveless sweater for mom, but hey, it’s still the first *actual* garment!
      And agreed on the sweater breakout. Needless to say, I now want to drop everything else I’ve got on the needles and try it myself. Ah Startitis, how I’ve missed thee…

  15. This made me smile. an inordinate amount of mistakes seem to be going around the knitting community right now, myself included! Good luck with the fixing and I’m sure it will come out marvelously 🙂

  16. You are totally able to make mistakes like the rest of us and we go to the frog pond and back again. Just means you are human. Now whether one sees that mistake and points it out to you, I dunno. I might be too bashful…..

  17. I blame the weather.
    We’re all just so gosh darned excited about SUN and WARM and NO SNOW and we’re slightly off-kilter as a result.
    Once we get used to it actually being summer, we’ll all remember how to knit. I hope.

  18. I think knitting is meant to keep us humble. For every gorgeous complicated thing we churn off the needles, there is a sweater with 1.5 sleeves to slap us upside the head.

  19. The Knitting Gods do that when they think you have gone too far up the ladder (knitting for a baby with a baby in your lap in a room full of proficient knitters) they do what they can to knock you down a rung. Just kidding – you make me laugh!

  20. Been there. I was an experienced knitter and six months pregnant when I decided to make a kimono-style wrap-around sweater for my first baby. I sewed the left front to the back. I sewed the right front to the other side of the back. Then I stared at it for 10 minutes while trying to figure out where to attach the sleeves. Finally, I realized that I had failed to leave arm holes. Instead of a kimono, I had made a baby straightjacket! I blame the pregnancy hormones.

  21. Baby effect, pure and simple. All Glances to the holder of the baby were purely glassy. And I can see why, that baby was precious.

  22. Awesome. I knit a hat while in beginning labour that came out very bizarre. The baby came out ok though. Babies are magnets for attention. Knitting can’t compete.

  23. I feel your pain! I tried knitting a baby sweater in my first trimester when you’re generally super tired all the time and missed one lousy row of increases which resulted in not enough stitches for both arms. After that I stuck to a garter stitch blanket until I was a little more alert most of the time.

  24. Makes me feel better about the time I did a raglan yoke with 5 increases –four at the usual sleeve spots, and one right down the middle of the back! Not sure any I had that extra marker…but it was quite interesting.

    • Been there, done that….counted for the markers but being truly brilliant I counted back for the last section, not noticing the extra section I had created in the middle…three sleeves and a really misshaped body!

  25. To change the topic: Joe was going to the airport. Does this mean more alone time for you (and thus some more recovery time)?

  26. I hang my head down in knitterly sympathy. It takes only one easy peasy pattern and a mised marker to send us all back to square one. I blame jet lag & a sweet sleeping babe.

  27. Oh how you always make my day! After knitting for years that is just the kind of mistake I’d make when distracted. Thanks for sharing.

  28. I think the biggest clue in this post is the cat. Apparently not talking to you but highly likely showing you what is needed.
    Sleep, eat, maybe have a bath, go back to sleep. Find a sunny spot to do some of this in. If no sun available then somewhere super comfy and warm.
    Don’t be afraid to stretch out an arm or leg. We’ll call it sleep yoga.
    Enjoy the smells of your own house.

  29. Perhaps your baby sweater is karmically (is that a word?) related to the one my friend knit. It was of similar construction. You guessed it: she made three sleeves.

  30. Having discovered last weekend that I had knit the front of a sweater identical to the back, completely ignoring the neckline instructions, I find this story very comforting. Thank you!

  31. I thought the dust bison was the best part of this post. Until the end…..I feel so much better about the day I knit the button band onto the side seam.

  32. See? There is NO SUCH THING as “mindless knitting”!

    As for the cat, try bribing her. A bouquet of fresh catnip might do the trick.

  33. My fridge smells funny, and I haven’t even been away. So at least you have an excuse…

    And I’m thinking that sweater might be good as a visual for some one-armed paperhanger joke, but I am not sure exactly how.

  34. Seems like I make the most mistakes on what is supposed to be my easy, mindless knitting. I assume that I know what I am doing. The harder the pattern, the more I pay attention. But I just hate it when I’m too tired to knit but don’t want to go to bed. Maybe we should all have “process” knitting that isn’t ever going to be anything, just for the soothing feeling of yummy yarn. You make it ok for us to be just bumbling humans!

  35. I once worked in the printing shop for a computer program company. I had to give some investing bigwigs a demonstration of how we took pictures with this giant camera, developed them and them printed the handbooks (this was in the 80’s). Imagine after loading the film setting up the shot, shooting, leading them into the darkroom and discussing the different chemical baths, my horror at finding out my film wouldn’t develop because I’d left the lens cap on the camera.

  36. Oh dear. This happens to me at work all the time. I just look at my griping boss and think to myself: well you reviewed the dang thing…why can you complain about it now. At least it is worth a good laugh ( or a good cry).

  37. I am sorry for your lost knitting time. However, you have a wildly busy life so the odd mistake will creep in despite your best intentions to be organized.
    I am putting forth an idea that you organize a knitting webinar with a few knitterly experts for those of us who cannot travel to far flung destinations for retreats. I am sure with all the marvels of technology something like this could be put together in an interesting and creative fashion. Just a thought.

  38. Lololololol! That is awesome. It happens to the best of us.
    I bet nobody saw it because your stitches were bunched up on the needle. Or you were going at your usual lightning speed and it was all a blur…..

  39. I empathize. In addition to being a knitter (from age 8, over 54 years ago), I am an art quilter. Apr. 29 I left Edmonton for Portland, OR and an art quilting conference. I took a baby sweater (pullover) and a sock to knit going and coming. I managed the back of the sweater on the out-going trip. A day or so into the conference and it was all sock, all the time. Good thing, too. A Plain Vanilla, no-brainer sock compared to the cross-hatch pattern in the baby sweater. There were several of us knitting during the conference sessions…only one with the courage to try lace. Maybe she just lived a few blocks from the venue. I don’t know.

    What I DO know is…retreat/conference/workshop overwhelm happens to the best of us. Cut your losses; frog it and start afresh. I won’t tell…if the others won’t…

  40. Snort! Not as bad as knitting 2 left mittens (or was it right?), but this time I think it is okay to laugh. Beside you got the baby for hours, so you still win. Happy House Cleaning…

  41. It is SO comforting to know how many people are as silly as I am! Now I must go and do a bison roundup! Fabulous turn of phrase, which is going to be a staple in my lexicon from now on. Thank you, for being YOU!

  42. Confirmation that examining the overall progress of a project (by you or anyone looking on) while in your hands and you’re working on it – just doesn’t work.

  43. Just one suggestion – I use 1/8th or 1/4th inch ribbon to hold stitches rather than yarn – when you put the stitches back on the needle, the needle just slides over the ribbon. Ribbon is also great for emergency stitch markers, counting rows and life-lines. There, now you don’t have to feel like a teacher all the time, although I really know the feeling. Being called the “knitting guru” is only good for the ego, not for good social knitting.

    • That may just be the most brilliant tip I have heard in years and years! I’m a huge fan of circular knitting which means there are always stitches to be put on pieces of yarn at various points in the construction and it’s always a serious pain to pick them up on the needle again. I shall adopt this practice immediately. I repeat, BRILLIANT!

  44. I’m so sorry, but I can’t help but snort. Been there, done that one I’m sad to say. I’ve lost more stitch markers than I can count and never noticed it. I just kept knitting until I was ready to do something that depended on that stitch marker, and then noticed that I had lost the stitch marker and therefore hadn’t done the accompanying increases and/or decreases. So of course I had to rip it all out and start all over again. It’s maddening! Thank you for sharing. I’ve watched you knitting in person and if you can make that kind of mistake then I can chalk it up to it’s all a part of knitting. Personally though, I’d blame it on the baby!

  45. Dust bison! LOL! I grinned at the mistake, because as a novice knitter it took me awhile to notice. I suspect there will be many a wonky sleeved sweater in my future. Welcome back.

  46. Stephanie – it is a sign that you need sleep, a refreshing walk, NO TO DO LIST, a leisurely bath – then knitting. Recharge the batteries. Thank you for sharing your knitting misadventures. I laugh and then when i find my blunders – it is easier to kind of laugh and then try to fix. You help me put things in perspective. Enjoy your weekend.

  47. Dust bison! Love it. Last shawl I made went along swimmingly until, well, lost a marker somewhere, didn’t add the yarn-overs and the lacy look turned into an asymmetrical hole-y mess that was definitely not a design feature. Ah-h-h-h tink-ing. It’s what we do. Makes me feel better that the best of us can sometimes goof up like the rest of us.

  48. Keep going down and then add a hood to the neckline. 3 increases makes a capelet. Cute baby hoodie capelet!

  49. Seems to me I’ve seen that look on the runway and the Red Carpet more than once. But it only works for a girl!

  50. You know I think it was you who said something about experienced knitters not making mistakes that they only made them faster (forgive the bad summary) – at least you caught the mistake before you cast off! Also the fact that you caught it before any of the other knitting experts counts for something too : )

  51. that is a wee sad sight – sigh. part of knitting. at a knit convention, the knit-girls and I were up late-late-early-early knitting on our beds. One of us was asking directions, knitting along and eventually tried to pull on her new sweater. However, she had knit a sort of big square with sleeves and we laughed ourselves sick…

  52. This is one of those moments when I say to myself, so I have done things like that and I am not a complete failure as a knitter because Yarn Harlot not only did It too but she was brave enough to tell us all. Knowing we would laugh — WITH her. Once again you teach us something valuable. We are all HUMAN! Thanks. 🙂

    • P.S. I just yesterday sewed the hanging sleeve on the bottom of a wall hanging. The apple stems were all pointing cheerfully at my error — upside down.

  53. You sure make a lot of mistakes, especially for having so many years of experience. Perhaps you are overconfident. You know the saying “measure twice, cut once”.

  54. What you made is a pelarine, a real thing that you might have continued. Think pilgrim cape. 3 incs. Oh, well, O once got drunk and created a knitted on sleeve in an anatomically incorrect position. The next day I pulled it out and began again in the right spot. Good luck on the baby knitting.
    Julie in San Diego

  55. Pingback: Mock Cable Wristies  | The Little Room of Rachell

  56. Hi Stephanie, It a very small world. I belong to the Knitting Guild of the Desert and you visited us this last January. I am also the real life sister of Mother Seraphima of Holy Nativity Convent. I just spent last week with her to celebrate her 65th birthday. I try to make it back every year. We had a great time last week talking about how much the sisters all love your books. I didn’t know until yesterday that you had posted some photos of some of the sisters on your blog. My sister, Mother Seraphima is the Abbess and has been a Greek Orthodox nun since she was 19. I was going to post a photo of the two of us taken on her birthday but couldn’t figure out how.
    Kind regards,
    Denise Adkins

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