Thursday, June 14, 2012

Take Heed

When you don't know much about something, and that something is a weeks-long, constructive kind of craft, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some irrevocable, crappy outcome.

My wonderful knitting friends have come out (in comments and email) to advise why, sadly, my misaligned rib is not something I can fix at this point.

First, Alexandra sent me this pic, to confirm this is an accurate representation of my problem. (It is.):

She followed with this explanation:

The band you're picking up from was knit from the top down, right? And now you need to pick up stitches from the cast-on edge of that band, and knit upward in the opposite direction? (Ed. note: Yes and yes.) 

You can't make the stitches align perfectly in ribbing. They will always look a half-stitch off. You can only pick up from the cast-on edge and match perfectly knitting the other way in stockinette and garter stitch. (The same thing applies to grafting, incidentally.) It is the nature of knitted fabric. If you zoom in on the designer's photos on Ravelry, you can just see the misalignment on the collar at the shoulder line. It's not obvious because of the marled yarn (the designer) chose.

Then, Karen sent me this fascinating link to explain what's actually going on (It's from that terrific new blog I found a few days ago.)

The short answer here, is that if you're going to have to pick up stitches on rib, and you want your rib to match what's come above or below it (depending on whether you're knitting top down or bottom up), you must have cast on the first row of the original rib provisionally. (Effectively, your first row of stitches must remain live (and on a holder) so that you can just take them off that stitch holder and keep on knitting in the opposite direction when the time comes.

Needless to say, I can't go back and fix this now (unless, maybe if I undo the original knot and tink back the stitches (which is a dicey plan if I mess that up - and by the way, I just made that up, so don't take my word for it). I mean, I could rip the whole thing back but that would be HIGH.

Instead, I'm going to hope that it's not overly noticeable a) once blocked and b) given that the colour is dark. What's the bet I'll notice it forever?

I've decided to view this as a useful life lesson and knitting experiment. I'm still not at the point where I've attached the ribbon by hand and machine knit the stitches (my alteration on this project to stabilize the rib at the closure). I can tone down the freak-factor when I get to that part of the project now that this is the first of 2 of these I intend to make. In the next version, I could also stand to go down a size (using the same yarn and smaller needle) and, potentially, add 4 extra stitches to the rib on each side.

Note: I will only make another, given that I like the design, provided I can cast on the rib stitches provisionally, because what's the point, otherwise. Mismatched stitches, I don't think so! (I need to look into this potentiality more carefully.) I have to say that this pattern is not outrageously clear - nor is it very good, on balance, given that this is the outcome I'm about to experience. There are many elements that a number of experienced knitter-helpers took issue with. No one said it was a badly written pattern; everyone said it was "interestingly written" or "unusually written" or "not written they way they'd write it". Hmmm...


  1. Oh pooh! That stinks. And knitting takes forever! So how frustrating! But I bet it will be barely noticeable in the end.

    1. I know! But this is the cost of doing business, I suppose...

  2. Oh I used to love knitting!! It relaxed me, but now I don't feel it anymore.
    Good luck with your knitting.

  3. I don't know of any method of casting on provisionally that doesn't end up in a half-stitch offset when you pick up to work in the other direction. It's not always very noticeable, but it's there. Please let me know if you find one!

  4. Lol at the diplomatic comments of the experienced knitters. I guess that's the great thing about the crafty community, barely anyone says anything mean, lol! It's a very supportive and friendly place..
    Sorry to hear about your woes. I'm sure no non-knitters would notice but I know how these things feel as a perfectionist!

  5. Yeah, it always ends up there are more things to learn and too many things that you need to think about before you start, except that you don't know you need to think about them until you get there.

    I don't know how to pick up from a provisional cast on without still getting that half-stich offset. Hmm.....