Three lies

1. I’m knitting along on this blanket, and I just gave it a proper pat, and congratulated myself that I am “almost done” the centre.

This is a lie.  That’s where I was on Sunday, and this is where I am now…

(Sorry that picture is a bit dark, it’s late.)

It’s about four repeats. Four repeats in four days doesn’t mean that I am going to be done today. It means that I am going to be done in four days. I’m aiming for this centre section to be a square, and rather than just measuring the damn thing I have simply stretched it lengthwise 45 times to try and convince myself it’s taller than it is. It is about 52cm wide, and it’s currently about 28cm high.  This is not “almost done.” This is about halfway done, and means I need at least three more repeats, likely four. (Note to self: stop pulling on it you liar, you know what a damn square is.)

2. “It will be taller when it is blocked”.  While not a complete untruth, because it will be taller when it is blocked, it is also going to be wider, which means…. See above.

3. “The provisional cast on I used is going to save me time.”

This is not true either. I always start these blankets with a provisional cast on so that when I’m done the square and have live stitches at the top, I can unpick the cast on and have live stitches at the bottom, which has a terrific symmetry and means the bottom and top are equally stretchy.  My favourite one is this the crochet method, directly onto the needle. It is inexplicable then, that I chose to start this blanket with the backwards loop method. (I cannot link to that, because it is so silly that almost nobody advocates it.) To do this one, you work the backwards loop (or “e” cast on) with waste yarn, and then knit across it with the working yarn. It doesn’t unzip.  As a matter of fact, when the time comes to pick up those stitches, I’ll have to snip and unpick the cast on. Like, with scissors.  Yes, this is risky, and very, very slow.

Why then, did I use it? I have no explanation, except that I was seized with laziness at the moment of cast on.  The crochet method… well, it takes longer at the beginning. And you have to go get a hook. Like… from across the room, and somehow, I managed to convince myself that the backwards loop one would therefore be faster, and it was. Thing is that once again, I allowed Today Stephanie to throw Tomorrow Stephanie under the bus, wildly overestimating her patience and willingness to get things done.

With the reconciliation of those lies, I’m off.  I’ve got some work to do before I can go back and try to crush today’s blanket repeat under my mighty needles.  I’m headed to VK Live NYC on the weekend, (not teaching) and I’m pretty determined to have the centre done before I get on a plane. (I have enough knowledge of Tomorrow Stephanie to know she’ll really resent snipping that cast-off out on a plane, so despite knowing that it will likely take four days, I am going to try and fit it into…. um… well, it’s two.)

As an aside, I wanted to let you all know that this year’s Strung Along Retreats at Port Ludlow are open for registration.  There’s lots of information here – and while the June and November retreats are full with wait lists, there’s room for you in the Spring Retreat. (March 20-23rd.) I’d love to see you there. Follow that link for details, and email if you’ve got questions. I love answering them, I’m so proud of what we do in that place.


58 thoughts on “Three lies

  1. Why do we attempt complex tasks without engaging our brains? I wish I knew. It seldom ends well for me but your knitting skills are formidable. Good luck!

  2. Judy’s Magic Cast-On also works as a provisional cast-on. Cast on double the number of stitches you need and hold the unused stitches on a circular needle or piece of yarn until needed.

    (I know I’m the umpteenth person to say this, but a treble clef is not a music note. Sigh . . .)

    • Brilliant!

      There’s also an easy way to do the crochet provisional cast on with your fingers so you don’t have to go find a hook.

  3. I’m so happy to be in good company when it comes to getting up to get that crochet hook, or a needle that is way across a (very small) room! It makes me feel better. 🙂 The blanket will be gorgeous. Have fun at VK!

  4. I don’t suppose there is any way we can persuade you to knit a sock or something rather than going at something so nice in turbulence at 20,000 feet? Have a great trip!

  5. Enjoy the heck out of your weekend while the rest of us back in Ontario languish in the cold. Beautiful blanket, as usual. Incidentally, my fave provisional CO is the one you do into the back of a crochet chain, this is a profoundly personal preference–like most things in knitting.

  6. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

    I kept going on a baby blanket I just wanted to get going on and ignoring that it wasn’t working and the result was coming back later and cutting off the entire bottom panel about a week ago. The scissors accidentally cut one stitch higher than I was aiming for, so I ended up undoing one more row than I’d planned on and I couldn’t believe I’d done all this to myself at the start–I kept reminding myself of your saying that you’d never regretted frogging something that needed to be frogged.

    Which is what I should have done two months ago, and only didn’t because I already had three or four times.

    I knit a new bottom, it came out gorgeous, and the recipient was trying not to cry when I gave it to her Sunday. So while you’re undoing those e-wraps, it’s worth it it’s worth it it’s worth it it’s worth it.

  7. You could always pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on before you finish knitting your blanket square. Then you can finish knitting the square on the plane in the unlikely event things conspire against you timewise.

  8. My favorite temporary cast on is wrapping figure 8 on two circular needles, one a smaller gauge. A few extra wraps at the end. Knit away. The center of second needle holds the open stitches, the extra wraps can be dropped after the first row. Fiddly at the beginning, no pick up later.

  9. Here we go again. You obvious plan on knitting miles — or kilometers — of edging, as that “center” is barely big enough for a kitten. To make matters worse, you’re going to VK Live NYC this weekend, so you’ll get distracted often and frequently. Will the blanket get to its recipient before she’s old enough to drive? Pass the popcorn and tune in again next week…!

  10. From the above advice, apparently I missed the post where you learned to undo the space-time continuum as well as the waste yarn? Yesterday Steph might not have acted on what as good for Tomorrow Steph’s blanket, but she was a friend to TS’s blog posts. Carry on!

  11. Thanks for the link to the crochet direct-to-needle method. I’ve been using a crochet chain and slipping the stitches one at a time onto the needle to knit and I must be doing something wrong because I can never zip it out smoothly. This should help a lot.

  12. Alright, but whether it takes three days or four, it IS definitely beautiful! I hope the provisional CO will … I don’t know … somehow come apart by magic when you need it or what … good luck!! And have a great weekend!

  13. I’m loving the “today Stephanie” and “tomorrow Stephanie” terms. I’m definitely adopting those (well, subbing in my name!), and adding “yesterday Judy,” who thought . . . well, let’s not go into details.
    The blanket will be fabulous, as your specially-designed knits always are. Can’t wait for the update(s) from tomorrow Stephanie. 🙂

  14. PS to anyone thinking about Strung Along. Sign up! I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been but I love it every time (duh – that’s why I keep going back!). It’s so very relaxing to go to great classes with wonderful teachers, eat fabulous food I didn’t cook, drink wine, soak in the tub, sit by the fire, meet other knitters and enjoy the PNW (Pacific Northwest) at a lovely spot.You won’t be sorry.

  15. I used a crochet hook for the crochet cast on 1 time. I felt like I had 2 extra thumbs on each hand. I immediately set about figuring out how to do it by with just my fingers. It’s much easier for me than trying to get stitches on a knitting needle without getting the hook caught on said needle. (And besides I can never find a crochet hook anyway.)

    • I have hooks, but I use my fingers for that cast-on (which isn’t usually provisions; it matched the bindoff and sometimes the selvages).

  16. The blanket is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see the finished product as well as your story of how you chose/created the design elements,

    As for that backward loop provisional cast on, I seemed to recall seeing it in Knitty many years ago used in a tubular cast on for ribbing, I saved it. it was Knitty Fall 2005, and the author was Stephanie P…oh, yes, well never mind. : )

    Knit on!

  17. Well, the blog when you remove the provisional cast on should be interesting.

    In the US, one of the mobile phone companies has an ad where one character won’t walk across the room to join the other characters at a table because he is too comfy.

    It is a thing.

  18. Delighted to know you’ll be at VKL. Hope to see you. May I humbly suggest a surgical mask for the flight? Breathing recycled germs just doesn’t work. Never mind you’re less than halfway on the blanket motif—it looks beautiful.

  19. I have no advice. I’m just glad I’m not the only one to throw my future self under the bus on occasion.
    Travel safely and enjoy New York!

  20. LOL! “Stop pulling on it!” I so need to learn this. My Project Linus blankets are never quite the size I thought they’d be because I “smooth” them out to take measurements as I go.

  21. It looks amazing! A suggestion (apologies if someone’s already said this/you’ve thought it): do you have to do all the knitting on the centre before you undo the provisional edge at the bottom? Could you maybe do it sometime when you feel up to it before leaving, and put the stitches on a spare thread, ready for when you finish knitting enough? Then they’ll be ready to go.

  22. Your baby blankets never cease to amaze me, and I thoroughly identify with throwing future me under the bus because current me can’t be bothered to do things “right.”

    I’ll be at VKL NYC tomorrow as well – hoping the weather doesn’t get nasty too early as we’ll be driving in to the city. And then back in the snow, probably.

  23. Backward loop caston is perfect for the top of socks, the only one that truly does not bind on the leg, just saying. But it’s not provisional.

    What you need is the one shown in barbara walker’s knitting from the top down. No hook, just a piece of contrasting waste yarn. It’s so fast you can sprain a wrist. And it pulls right out. I would explain but the pics are so much better..

  24. Snip it today and put the live stitches on a cable from an interchangable set like a knitpro or similar. Then it’s ready when you are and held safe.

  25. Oh yeah, there’s that knitter logic again! I have never done the backwards loop cast on but it sounds dangerously exciting, snipping away at the waste yarn so close to the yarn you don’t want to snip. Definitely don’t try it on an airplane. The blanket will be beautiful. By the way, I had to touch the scissors.

  26. Here’s hoping the blanket center is already a square! I am floored you can use backwards loop cast on as a provisional cast on, I just told a classroom full of students not to touch that cast on with a ten foot pole because it is so unstable!

    • I think the point here is that you shouldn’t use a backwards loop cast-on as a provisional cast-on. Unless you want to spend ages snipping it out of course.

  27. I’m so happy to find that I’m not alone in overestimating the capabilities of Future Self nor am I the only one who throws her under the bus.

  28. For a provisional cast on, I use whatever cast on I want with waste yarn and knit 6 or so rows. Then I knit ONE single row with crochet cotton, then continue with my main yarn. When it’s time to pick up stitches, it’s easy because I can see where the crochet cotton and the yarn meet. After the new bit is done I just zip the crochet cotton out and the waste yarn drops off.

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