I’ve just finished my first “proper” sample for a pattern I wrote. My plan was not to get too stressed by the fact it’s a “proper” sample to be photographed to go on my pattern and therefore needs to look “perfect”. I just tried to knit it as if it was a present for a friend; my best work but without tying myself in knitterly knots. I chose something small. It’s a headband. It’s the sort of thing I “should” be able to knit in an evening. You can probably tell by the quantity of inverted commas I’ve used already that my plan turned out to be more of a “plan”.
First, as casually as I could under the circumstances, I cast on the zillion stitches I needed (and carefully counted them a couple of times) with the wrong size needles. A little too casual then. Luckily I realised my mistake as soon as I’d finished the cast-on so I didn’t lose too much time or sanity frogging* it.
I found the right size needles and painstakingly attached a short 40cm cable so I could just knit it in the round without any of the faffing the magic loop method requires. However, I only had regular-length needle tips instead of short ones designed for, um, short cables. I felt like my hands were going to snap off with the pressure of knitting such a small circle with regular tips so I fiddled around some more with those tiny little keys and attached an 80cm cable instead. I was going to have to do it magic loop instead but at least I didn’t have to frog it this time.
And then I discovered for the first time ever in my knitting life I had twisted the knitting when I joined to work in the round. I always, always work a couple of rows before joining in the round so I can be absolutely certain it isn’t twisted. No-one can find where I’ve sewn up the first couple of stitches afterwards. But no, this time in the spirit of doing it “properly” I’d decided to just cast-on and and join to work in the round like you’re “supposed” to do. I even roped in my husband to hold the “magic” loop out of the way so I could see clearly when I made the first few stitches of the second round. Now I really understand why the advice I read a long time ago about working a couple of rows first is indeed the best way to go. I couldn’t face frogging it a second time but there is no rescuing a twisted circle. So, I merely yanked the needles out, broke the yarn and stuffed the tangled mass into the bottom of my knitting bag while praying to the knitting gods that I did indeed have enough yarn without it.
Third time lucky and my tension compared to my sample started looking weird. I decided to plough on since the concept of going back to the needles I’d first thought of – yes, the first pair of “wrong” ones – and doing the cast-on again was not appealing. But this time I was actually just panicking. The texture settled down nicely after it got a few rows away from the needles, once I’d started breathing normally. Now it was definitely time to call it a day and I humbly left it to a second evening’s knitting to finish it.
So much for calmly knitting a little sample. I am resisting calling it Nearly-did-my-head-in-Headband since I am really pleased with the finished article. Pattern for the Helios Headband will be available on Ravelry. Let’s just gloss over the false starts and remember that one of the joys of knitting is that you can start again until you love what you’ve got on your needles.
* to frog – vb it’s when you have to rip it, rip it (ahem) back and do it again. Sorry, I didn’t coin that piece of popular knitting vernacular but you have to admit it ‘s a lot more succinct than take-the-needles-out-and-rip-the-stitches-back.