TBT – Prevent twisted stitches when you are an odd duck

Throwback Thursday:

Twisted Sister – Good, Twisted Stitches, Bad.

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My grandmother used to make us grand-kids the most adorable sweaters. The pattern she used was: “Quick-to-Knit” Animal Vests 3 by Leasure Arts – Leaflet #710 for $3.25 Canadian. I still have the original pattern although it is falling apart. Thank god I don’t have an old photo of us. No ideas Sherrie and Becky!

I begged my mom for that pattern because I wanted to make a cute animal vest for my son and I knew that the pattern was fairly simple. I figured it would make a perfect first project. It really did. It even taught me a great lesson in the importance of how stitches sit on the needle.

Check out these pics: See the difference in the fabric? The bottom half has twisted stitches. The top half is after I figured out what was wrong:

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If you watch the video you’ll see that it took me the entire back side and half of the front to realize that I was twisting every other row of stitches. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Every direction I read told me that to make a knit stitch I had to insert my needle to the left of the yarn at the front of the stitch. So I did. And my stitches twisted. What on earth!!

Check out the way Knitting.about.com explains the knit stitch and the photo they use. Maybe I went there for advice. Who knows. But I didn’t realize that my problems was actually not only the way I knit my stitches but the way I purled them.

I’m odd. My purl stitches are odd. I’m OK with that and you can be too. Maybe your purl stitch is normal but your knit stitch just doesn’t want to sit in its seat properly. My video above will show you how to adjust your knitting so you don’t have to adjust your purling (or vice versa) just give it a watch.

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See the photo above? It is hard to see that your stitches are “seated” wonky if they are on your needle but pretend the stitch markers on my pencil are the stitches on your knitting. The blue markers are the way stitches are “supposed” to be seated. Or at least they are the way that most patterns expect the stitches should be on the needle when they are trying to write directions for you. The yarn “should” come up the front of the needle from the right and then back down the back of the needle to the left. The purple markers are the way my stitches sit after I’ve purled them. They come up the back of the needle and down the front of the needle to the left. As usual – I just have to be different.

After I realized what was happening with my knitting I adjusted. I have to be aware of my oddity because my knit stitches seat properly it is only my purl stitches that sit wonky on the needle. So as I’m working I’m always aware of how each stitch is sitting as I approach it. If the yarn that’s coming in from the right goes up the back of the needle, I make sure to put the “back” yarn on the right side of my needle as I insert it. If the yarn that is coming in from the right is at the front of my needle, I can make a “normal” knit stitch by putting my needle in with the front yarn to the right of my needle.

At first it took a lot of thought but now it is second nature. I could have changed the way I purled so that all my stitches were seated “properly” but like I said, “I just have to be different.” and I like the way I purl. It is fast. It is comfortable and it is easier for me to adjust the way I think about my knitting than it is to change the physical movements required to make each purl.

Normal (Left) and Twisted (Right) stitches:

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Continental Success and Silence

My biggest accomplishment in my knitting means absolutely nothing to any of my family or friends. None of them knit. Well my Mom knits and purls enough to make a sweater and my friend, Amanda, is the master of the single crochet. But no one I know is as obsessed as I am. The other day I called my Mom just to share my big news. And nothing. She didn’t know what the Continental Method was. She had no idea of the new blazing speeds my needles could now travel at. I tried to explain over the phone:

“Well instead of holding the yarn in your right hand and then wrapping it around the needle, you hold it in your left and kinda hook it with the needle and pull it through.”
Silence.

I had seen it done by a lady on TV one day and was amazed by how fast she could knit. I had tried it a few times in the past but it felt like I was knitting left handed. Awkward and not relaxing at all. But I vowed to learn. I was working on a scarf with lots of ribbing and I absoultely hated ribbing. Loathed it in fact. I don’t remember why but I swore I was going to knit the whole rest of the scarf using only the Continental Method and that’s exactly what I did.

At first it felt odd and frustrating. It reminded me of keyboarding class when you were forced to learn the proper way to type. But like taking a keyboarding class, after months of painfull  aaaa-ssss-dddd-ffff excercises, you finally feel liberated and free to type without hovering over the keyboard doing the two-fingered-peck.

Now I knit ribbing as fast as I would knit or purl a whole row. I don’t drop my needle pulling my yarn to the front or the back anymore because I don’t have to let go of either needle. Life is grand. I’m estatic. I want to scream my excitement from the rooftops but all I get is silence from my Mom.

So I’ll share my big news with you and hope that it is met with more than silence.