The same place

I was going to post yesterday, but truth be told, I spent most of my blogging time reading comments. You guys really know how to go to town, don’t you? I’ve read all of them now (I think, there are really a lot) and I want to say how much I appreciate that for the very largest part, that there can be respectful disagreement, and that it can be handled decently.  You guys are awesome in the kindness department. While I was reading, it turns out that I didn’t really get off the rainbow train, because another wee thing fell off my needles.  It doesn’t exactly match the bootees, because it was made from the leftover Dream in Color passed on to me by a generous knitting buddy, but it’s darned nice – it’s a little bigger too, not a newborn size, which is a good thing. Impending Grandson arrives at the tail end of April, and as much as it doesn’t feel like it right now, winter will be over. This one should fit him in the fall – when the winter (sigh) comes back.

rainbow sweater2 2017-01-18

Pattern: Tulips (size 6-9m)  Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, and I don’t know the colours because the labels are long ago gone. They’re darling though – and yes, I know this is probably the 6th time I’ve knit this sweater, and no, I’m not even a little sick of it.

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I cast on some bright socks too, as antidote for the next thing on my needles, which is a big squishy warm and cozy cowl for me, knit out of my new yarn crush, Får, from Woolfolk. (I actually like it so much that I came a hair’s breadth from ordering a sweaters worth ten minutes after I finished my swatch. It’s freakin’ delicious.)

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I decided to knit Grus, and I swatched, then merrily cast on for the larger version. 8 (rather long) rounds later, I realized that things weren’t lining up right, thought about tinking back to figure out where it had gone wrong, realized that I’d failed counting to 4 really early on (and more than once) vowed for the 2824745th time in my knitting career not to establish patterns when I wasn’t concentrating (or when I was chatting with Jen and having a glass of wine – rookie move, that)

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and ripped it back –

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and started again. This time, free of the distractions of anything fun or charming, it turns out that I can count to four as many times as I would like, as long as nobody interrupts, me.

grusright 2017-01-18

If I am ever the sort of person who has a gagillion dollars, I am going to fund a study to discover what it is about knitting that destroys an otherwise clever person’s ability to count, while still leaving their other skills intact.  Say it with me. 1. 2. 3. 4. Repeat.

124 thoughts on “The same place

  1. Ah yes! I only have two problems when it comes to knitting: I obviously can’t read (directions) and I can’t count worth beans! You’re in good company.

      • I clearly remember my sister and I doing that to my mother and thinking we were the funniest kids in creation.
        Amazing we survived.

    • Non knitters laugh at me when I say the hardest part is the counting, and that often it’s counting to numbers under five that really throws you. They think I’m joking.

      I am not. I was struggling with reliably making it to three the other day and my sister has informed me that the part of k2p2 ribbing that really makes it sing is when you jazz it up with a k7.

        • yes. I was really worried about knitting my first pair of socks. All the things I didn’t know how to do. Until I ripped back the cuff three times because I couldn’t seem to k2p2 in the round at all. Now I’m nearly finished the cuff in k3p1 and not at all worried about the rest of the sock because it can’t be worse than that! (I may have just jinxed myself.)

  2. Here I am with a girl/boy bootie comment. I found for a long time that I needed to know girl/boy. You know like for those incredibly androgynous-looking people? It bothered me that I couldn’t tell. Then I applied the Business Analyst trick of asking “Why?”. Why do I need to know? Do I really treat people differently (unfortunately, probably so) But, no, there should be the same respect, wear whatever clothes one wishes, etc etc. I finally came down to, “Well, it’s awfully nice to know who gets off the elevator first.” And that was about it. So now I don’t care, but still do a double-take when someone who looks quite feminine from the back (long skirt, long hair) turns around and has a full beard and mustache. Can’t help it.

    My engineer friend has a little boy. He wears truck shirts because she likes trucks and always has. She is a bit worried that she’s put him in the “boy rut” because of it, but then, he’s only 2 so doesn’t care what he wears. It’s a conundrum.

    Oh, and I like the little sweater. It’s lovely.

    • My little boy has a pink car seat because I love the caravans and beetles it’s covered in! Who cares?! And he has a beautiful hand crocheted blanket in pink! When I look at most of his clothes they’re boring blue and grey so I try to buy bright greens and oranges wherever possible!

  3. Thank you reminding me about Tulips. I admired it last time you mentioned it, but at the time, there was no baby in the offing. Now, my oldest friend is about to get her first grandchild, so I’ve just bought the pattern.

  4. I would like to contribute to that study too. It turns out that establishing a simple lace pattern in groups of 3 stitches requires more concentration than I can muster until I’ve ‘practiced’ a couple of times.

  5. I adore the rainbow socks (for girls and boys) – and adore this sweater!
    For me – counting can be an issue – especially when I’m watching The Price Is Right at the same time – LOL!

    Linda in VA

  6. Far is the most scrumptious yarn I have ever worked with. I dream of buying a sweater quantity, but only had a two-skein cowl budget, so it had to do 🙂

    • I agree. Treated myself to yarn for a poncho (saw it at Rhinebeck and couldn’t resist). The colors, though muted, are scrumptious!

  7. The little sweater is gorgeous. I’ve heard babies respond best to bright colors, so I’m sure Impending Grandson will love it!

    As for Grus…lovely pattern. Lovely yarn. Lovely colors. But. It’s winter. You’ll be knitting the colors of the winter sky. In dim light, you’ll go crazy knitting the darkest color — if you don’t mistake it for the cat! (Millie, go stay with Grandma or Ken when she gets to that point. Safer that way.)

      • Yes. I took and efficiency knitting class with her. The fastest in our class was 33 sttiches per minute (we tested it over like 4 or 5 minutes). Her count is 60 per minute watching tv. She does a cool little throw with very minimal movement. It’s quite efficient. 🙂 That helps a lot in finishing things.

  8. I’m certain you would have plenty of test subjects for your study…myself among them. Is it the wool fumes? Are we hypnotized by the colors or the pictured finished object dancing through our brain? Once I’m into about the 3rd row of ribbing when I can actually SEE the pattern happening, then I can sip and visit.
    Perhaps it’s because I live where winter is 3/4ths of the year or because we want to share the very best of our world with new humans, COLOR, yes, lots of it, for the new ones. Rainbow feet to kick up in front of your new eyes, multicolored arms to wave about, yes, yes and more yes.
    We ALL could use rainbow sox for some portable happy in our lives.
    Two friends recently announced they were pregnant and rather than ask the expected gender , I now ask “what color would make you happy to see your little one in?”, because if the parents are wearing their happy faces, the baby will too.
    It is inherent in our DNA to classify and sort the world around us…perhaps originally into levels of expected safety. As our world shifts and evolves around us, the categories and labels will as well. I am ever hopeful that ‘fiber friendly’ (knitter, crocheter, spinner, dyer, farmer, somewhere in and around these, participant or admirer of the prior terms) never becomes extinct. As well as “open-minded”.

    • “what color would make you happy to see your little one in?”

      WHAT A FAB IDEA!! I am totally stealing this from here on out. And I just now used it today. Dad said earth colors as they are doing a woodland themed nursery Oh, and orange. LOL – I love it.

  9. The problem with counting to 4 is it is an even number. odd numbers give you a half way point to realize that there is a problem. The rugged individualist in you cannot fathom the pairness that even numbers try to promote. Not being able to count an even number just makes you realize how much of an individual you are. Also, it gives you way more time to enjoy the yarn since every garment gets knitted at least twice.

  10. I am not a knitter but a tapestry weaver. In an early project I learned that I was not able to consistenly and correctly distinguish between 1 and 2.

  11. The little sweater is adorable and I LOVE the rainbow socks-reminded me of my wonderful nephew, whose childhood favorite colors were neon pink and neon yellow-I made him many shirts and shorts in those colors and he was alwYs easy to find in public. And I love love love love love the Grus! If I didn’t already have projects to last me through 2057, I would definitely put it in my queue!
    Counting is my-oh, look, SQUIRREL!
    Yeah. Counting is hard for the easily distractable! My current project (6 rows and I will be casting off) is a lace trimmed shawl. I have a 6mm jump ring marking each repeat. If the pattern repeat doesn’t line up with the jump ring I know exactly where the mistake is!

    • I do this when I cast on, too. If a pattern calls for a multiple of 7 + 3, I put a marker every 7 sts (and double-count before I place the marker each time), then add 3 after the last marker. Then go back and count them again just to be sure…

  12. It makes me feel so much better when you make mistakes. I have no aptitude for knitting. It makes me happy, of course, but I make mistakes all the time, because I also cannot count or read clear instructions. So it’s nice to know someone who is considered pretty good at it also makes mistakes, and the fact that I’m still making them means that I can still be getting better at it, even though I just knit the same cardigan front six (count ’em. SIX!) times. (I don’t mean to say I’m happy you made mistakes. Just reassured. I’m sorry you had to rip back.)

  13. I love the wee rainbow garb you’ve been making, but I am not surprised you’ve cast on a (lovely) grey piece. There’s something hypnotic about this time of year that pushes us towards more ‘dreary’ colors. I spent a few minutes in the comments last night as well. It is refreshing to see a comments section that isn’t reduced (except for a very small minority) to infighting. Anyway, good luck counting to four. I know I’ve struggled with that a fair bit as well.

  14. My knitting has me counting to six these days. After one long weekend afternoon, I went for a walk and found myself still counting, even though I wasn’t knitting!

  15. As a musician I have learned to count 2s, 3s, 4s and 6s subconsciously. It is just a part of the rhythm of life. But when I have a 5, 7 or heaven forbid 10 stitch pattern repeat, I feel the same way.

    • I can count with music, but not with knitting. No idea why.

      Though 7/8 is my favorite time signature! It has a delightful off kilter shimmy in it that just makes me grin.

    • Me too! I didn’t see your post before I posted that below, in fact. Just pretend the unusual numbers are an Andrew Lloyd Weber composition 😉 (5’s are easy…1-2-3-1-2-1-2-3-1-2…)

    • That is an excellent-and poetic- description of those colors. I was trying to think what they looked like and you nailed it. Thank you, Kathy

    • Ooooh, and so much more wholesome than my initial reaction–which was to burst out in a giggle that some of Stephanie’s very favourite colours (autumn-y) have made an early appearance…good to get the fellow accustomed from the start, for sure!!

      And with the knitting of icy colours in winter…sometimes, isn’t it a sort of acceptance, of embracing the overwhelming reality of the low-colour world we dwell in for so many months? A way of celebrating and turning into love something that we cannot change, anyway…

  16. Ah. I am addicted to Woolfolk. I must admit an unhealthy fixation Tynd. It is in my desk at work. I pet it when I am stressed. I have enough yarn to knit 4 projects with it……but then I won’t have it. A conundrum. Knit the pretty yarn, or admire it in its magnificent skein form. Perhaps I should by more to knit with so I still have plenty left…

  17. I don’t knit a lot. I’m working on a sweater with yarn I’ve had for ten years. Third design I’ve tried. I think this is the one!
    Currently shaping the neck and the armhole. Had to make a chart and mark the various decreases row by row. You know, do this every fourth row and that every second row. Can’t keep that in my head.
    Checking off the rows on the chart as I go. Am I the only one?

    • no…..I am notorious for making little pencil check marks all over the edges of my pattern where I’ve created little charts. I think since my Dad was an engineer, it’s something about graph paper that compels me to do it…

    • No, I go over every chart coloring SSK one color, and K2TOG another color, cable stitches are colored in so one set of the cable stitches are one color from top to bottom, while the other half of the cable is another color..then a glance at the chart tells me over or under = front or back cross.

  18. The rainbow sweater is fabulous and the little guy who wears it will look extra darling.

    A friend recently griped to me about the “agenda” that has been attached to the rainbow motif in the political/cultural milieu. I said, “huh? what agenda?” and she clarified her POV.

    I said “huh” again then replied that rainbows belong to everyone and the best way to counter her “gripe” would be to put rainbows on everything everywhere. 🙂 She was not best pleased. Oh well.

    I’m imagining myself wearing an adult-sized rainbow Tulips sweater, perhaps knit from lett lopi. Rainbows for everyone!

  19. I once had to do a medical test related to an inner ear issue. It involved lieing backwards with the head inclined downwards, having water syringed into my ear while being asked to count backwards by fours. Probably a similar issue as far as the brain is concerned.

  20. My Japanese mother always told me that 4 (or things that come in 4’s) is bad luck. Something about it being a homophone for death or something like that. Anyway, glad you got it worked out!

  21. Rainbows are for everyone! Especially when winter is at its darkest and greyest. Perfect choice for a winter sweater.

    Anyone who thinks that a color is specific to a gender hasn’t read history. If I recall mine correctly, pink was a “boy” color and blue was a “girl” color until the mid 1900’s.

  22. Thing 1) I’ve been reading your blog (almost) since the beginning.
    Thing 2) Unsolicited advice is one of my pet peeves, and I am a gigantic hypocrite for saying what I am about to say…BUT, please refer to Thing 1.
    Ready? Okay:

    Don’t put off starting The Blanket for too long.


  23. When I’m knitting with Woolfolk, I don’t need an antidote so much as an insulin shot. That stuff is CANDY!

    Also, when I read the end of this blog post, I swear I said “1. 2. 4.” in my head. I went to MIT and I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

    • One of my math professors in college told us that “There are three types of mathematicians – those who can count, and those who can’t.” Evidently it applies to knitters, too!

    • I didn’t go to MIT (wow, hella impressive!) , but my Calculus teacher never took,off points for arithmetic errors, seems one important math guy, Euler?, couldn’t do arithmetic,very well, and my teacher wasn’t teaching arithmetic! Saved my bacon many times….huge long Calc problem, then 2x = 6. X = 2..*sigh*

  24. Woolfolk! My favorite doctor retired and I knitted a cowl for the new one out of Woolfolk because I wanted to start off on the right foot with her.

    She was a knitter. She absolutely swooned over how soft it was. It was the perfect thing. Enjoy!

    Love the Tulips sweater, too–thank you for the inspiration!

  25. I feel your pain. I have a pattern currently in exile for a lovely beaded scarf. Why did I exile it? Because I can’t count to six. By the way, what do I do to make money to buy yarn? I’m an accountant!

  26. If it makes you feel better, I’ve tinked and frogged NINE TIMES already on the first two row repeats of the Wolf River pullover.

    Because I cannot seem to remember that the RS rows start with a P/Ktbl/P before the lace pattern begins. So I get to the last dozen or so stitches and think, “Waaaaaaaait a minnit…”


  27. You really are a Love, know that?
    PS- I failed counting to 3 while on the bus today. I blame Bruce Springsteen for that one, though. I was rocking out to his version of “You Never Can Tell”. YouTube it. You’ll be glad you did. He can cheer up any mood I’m in, and ruin my stitch count every time 😉

  28. Quite often, knitters are counters, ie: when I walk, climb stairs, put dishes away, sort through something, I am constantly counting, usually in repeats of 3,4,5…I heard years ago that this is a knitter thing, to always be counting. So, if this is the case, why can’t I count when I’m actually knitting??

    The sweater is lovely, the colors are beautiful and perfect for a little person! I have been trying to stay away from cowls as a money saving strategy, and you don’t make it easy. This one is definitely tempting…!

  29. I did a double take when I saw Får, Far is the Danish word for Dad, what I called my father until I became Americanized (moved to USA at age of 8).

    As to Tulip: you have just confirmed my decision to knit the Tulip kit I bought last summer for the grandson due this summer! Blues, greens, purples, I consider it gender neutral! This boy will have two older sisters so…

    Oh, I can count sometimes. But do not rely on my memory as I seem to remember little. Too many concussions! (7)

  30. My brain can count – it can count “Knit Two, Purl One” while carefully purling two and knitting one. Or knitting one and purling two. Or whatever. It’s like my subconscious thinks the pattern is some kind of incantation that will make the yarn form the desired shape, completely independent of the movement of my hands.

  31. Why isn’t there a simple “LIKE” button on your posts? It would make things so much easier! Once again, I LOVE this baby sweater and finally have an excuse to knit it (there is a fat little 13 week old grand nephew in my family that I adore). I’ve been making themed hats for him- a pumpkin, a turkey, and a reindeer; but now I’m ready for something else.

  32. Another thought about rainbows and their colors — In the Bible the rainbow is a symbol of God’s promise to humans to never again destroy the earth with a flood. We could expand on that idea to say that the rainbow, in all its lovely colors, symbolizes mercy and hope. I think we can all embrace those ideals.

  33. My partner takes great joy is pointing out how I can’t count to 4, because my knitting often requires that number and sees me cursing repeatedly under my breath for just that blasted reason! Sigh.

    And yay for bright, little people clothing! …I must ask: do you do the gendered button band thing? When I worked in the yarn shop sometimes older women would make comments about stereotyped color stuff based off the buttons. It blew my head that anyone could keep that kind of stuff in their head since every.single.time. I go to do a button band I have to put things down and use my hands to remind myself how I find it easiest to do them up. For my cardigans, or my toddlers. And really, ability to put on/take off overrides gender on where I’m putting my buttons.

  34. I’m a crocheter, not a knitter, but I can’t count either: this has become my mantra:
    “Any questions asked while i am counting crochet stitches will be answered with louder counting!”

  35. My trick for counting to 4 while distracted or impaired (like that happens 🙂 ) is to put stitch markers at some multiple of 4, such as every 20 stitches, etc. Then if I get to the stitch marker and the repeating pattern is wrong I know I made a mistake only 20 stitches back. Of course, this doesn’t work if the pattern shifts over more than 20 stitches. But you can choose a number that works for the pattern. it saves a lot of swearing.
    PS. I love rainbows

  36. Love the Tulip sweater! I just finished my forth one. Alas, Dream in Color changed its Classy yarn in 2014. DIC calls the new Classy a worsted weight but it is more of a DK weight. I purchased one skein of the new Classy skeins to use in my most recent Tulip but I couldn’t use it with the old Classy left overs that I had. The new Classy looks beautiful but I wish it was a heavier weight.

    I enjoy knitting baby things. I’m looking forward to seeing what additional things you will knit for your grandson.

  37. It’s probably too late for this to be practical for most knitters, but I have found that a lifetime of music education (especially band and/or orchestra) really gives you strong skills in the ‘counting to 4’ (or 3 or 6 or 8) in the back of your mind while you’re doing something else with the front of it 🙂

  38. That discussion stayed in my head for days, and really had me evaluating how I express myself and how my head and heart respond to other vantage points. Thank you for that.

    And bring on the baby knitting!

  39. I’m in “the more colors on all of us the better the world is” corner. After all God (or your Supreme Being of choice) created rainbows for us way back in Genesis, Chapter 9, Verse 13 (or thereabouts). Keep on spreading rainbows happy grandma-to-be!

  40. Hah! Let me know the results of your study– I’d like to figure out my own psychology. I also make weird counting/arithmetic gaffes while cooking.

    And I suddenly have the urge to make another Tulip sweater, too. I thought I was over that particular addiction, but no…

  41. I’m working on a shawl for my girlfriend and forgot to strike out the line I had completed on the chart, so lost my place and had to count my stitches…and counted 3 times and came up with 3 different counts. Fourth time I got a matching number, unfortunately not the one on the chart, so where to decrease a stitch because I don’t know where I added on. Fortunately the pattern is forgiving and I just dropped an increase. Yes, rookie mistakes.

  42. I was just thinking again of your Rainbow Boy. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s ALL babies were in mostly pink and dresses. It unfortunately did NOTHING to help feminism. Maybe pink association for girls was to keep us infantised. That we need men to care for us. Just a thought. He is one lucky Rainbow baby!

  43. Want a little counting therapy to stimulate the limbic brain (your happy place)? Try Cecelia Campochiaro’s Sequence Knitting patterns. Do it in rainbow colors and I’m convinced you will be positively giddy!

  44. Counting is stupidly hard. I was trying to do decreases for a hat a few weeks ago and had to tink back way too many times, and I don’t think I was watching TV or anything.

  45. I love that Tulips sweater – but surprisingly only when you knit it. When I try to crank one out, it doesn’t look as good and I am disappointed with it. Kind of like when I try to make my Mom’s potato soup but somehow since she didn’t make it, it tastes wrong even though we’re using the same recipe.

    In other words, knit more Tulips sweaters! I love when you do! Signed – another person in huge favor of Rainbows for everyone!

  46. I love that sweater and will knit one for my incoming grand niece or nephew :). I do like how the color madness in that sweater. The cowl yarn is scrumptious looking.

  47. Thanks for pulling me back to earth. I’ve been spending too much time and emotional energy on social media these weeks. I needed some lovely knitting to reground me. Going to hug my rainbow-loving boy and his sister now.

    (although the robot sensor is asking me to click the music note and the closest thing is a treble cleff, which bothers my copy editor self to no end)

  48. One of my favorite Hebrew blessings is the one you say upon seeing a rainbow. I don’t have the actual Hebrew words in front of but a rough translation is, “Blessed art thou, oh lord our God, ruler of the universe, who keeps his promises.”


    Here is a lovely rainbow blanket for your grandson. I knit this a couple of years ago. It was a really fun knit and the recipients loved it. I changed up the pattern a bit by alternating the color order of the wedges in each pie.

    (And in reference to your political commentary, you have every right to comment on America’s politics. As our next door neighbor, anything we do affects you. I share your concern and am viewing this new administration with much trepidation )

  50. Man, counting in knitting is too hard. Compounded for me by having three small boys (who wear all the colours, and play with dolls and lego and cars), and therefore being perennially tired. And having to stop every ten minutes to get someone a snack. Can’t keep count through that!

  51. The study would be fascinating,at least I hope so. Doesn’t seem to matter how intelligent one is, counting to four consistently can be a challenge. The sweater is so happy! Color is the spice of knitting.

  52. I recently read a fabulous review of psychology studies on ‘repetition suppression.’ Which is when neural activity (I call it concentration on task) reduces towards a repeated task. Especially when any other stimuli are present.
    Even when we think we are concentrating, it can be hard to continually repeat the same task – counting to four. Unless we are really really giving it everything we’ve got – and then some.

    I’ve taken to using stitch markers for every single set of repeats in the first few rows – or at least in sets (10 or 12 stitches). Means I have hundreds of stitch markers – and the first rows take forever. But it makes the math easier for me. I remove the stitch markers after a few rows.

  53. I have that counting when knitting problem all the time. And here I thought it was my age. Nice to know that it’s pretty common.

  54. I had my pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks at Little Man’s swimming lesson last night. It’s a four stitch, four row pattern repeat. I could not count to four on the rows needed (1 & 3). I could count the rows fine but I found myself more than once knitting a stitch I should have been purling. ::sigh:: I know I can count to four.

  55. Before I read the blog I said to myself “Gee that looks a lot like a tulip sweater” and indeed it was. Love those and really like your latest. A kit? The biggest challenge for me was picking out the colors. Just didn’t like what I picked after a while and quit the sweater.

  56. Gosh, it makes me feel better that even the “pros” can’t count sometimes! I can be knitting along just fine and suddenly lose my mind and can’t count correctly. My mind wanders off to something else or my husband decides he needs to talk to me. Can’t wait to see the cowl you are making with that wonderful Woolfolk yarn. It is one of my absolute favorites! So marvelously soft and it knits up like a dream. Enjoy!

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