The City of Brotherly Heartbreak | Main | Good thing I waited

February 10, 2005

Out of Order

We all have our quirks, and one of mine is a resistance to planning ahead when it's avoidable. Knitting a sweater usually goes like this: Wind one skein of yarn into a ball, start knitting. When finished with first ball, wind another skein into a ball and continue knitting. Repeat until all pieces are finished. Block all pieces. Wait for pieces to dry. Seam all pieces. Remember I need buttons. Go buy buttons. Attach buttons.

There's nothing wrong with it, per se, but the system is wracked with inefficiencies. Why not wind all the skeins at one time? Why let the first few finished pieces sit there, balled-up in a pile, when they could be blocking? (And imagine the heartache I would avoid if by blocking the first piece before going on to the next, I discovered gauge problems early!) And why wait to buy buttons when I usually end up buying them from the exact same place I got the yarn?

The lack of a schematic and crazy gauge instructions in the pattern had me on heightened alert for problems as I started the black cardi. It's not been easy knitting, either: the combination of "sticky" yarn and equally sticky bamboo needles leads to tired, achy hands and arms, even with frequent breaks. By the time I started shaping the armholes on the first piece, I vowed that I would block and measure it to make sure that my gauge was OK before knitting even one stitch on the next.

Long story short: I'm well on my way to my first well-planned sweater.

blocking?! already?!
Measures up just right when blocked. Whew!

buttons?! already?!

I even have the buttons!

Posted by shannon at February 10, 2005 11:43 AM | For related posts: Black Cardigan


There is a school of thought that says you should wind the yarn as you go, because "something" happens to the fibers if you keep the ball wound for too long. At any rate, I find that the yarn is easier to store when it isn't wound.

And, I block all at once. Wouldn't the pieces "unblock" otherwise?

Posted by: Colleen at February 10, 2005 4:05 PM

What do you use for a blocking board? It looks like one of those cardboard cutting tables. The measurements right there makes it look really useful. But does the cardboard tolerate the damp knitting?

Posted by: sarah at February 11, 2005 3:19 PM

Colleen: On winding balls, I wonder if the "yarn cakes" created by a ball winder are as bad for the yarn as hand-wound balls (which I know can damage yarn if wound too tightly). On "unblocking", my assumption has always been that anything blocked with remain so until it gets wet again. Of course, you'll likely get some "bounce back" from ribbing when you take the pins out, but even that won't return to its original unblocked state until/unless it gets wet, I don't think. I could be wrong, though!

Sarah: this is my blocking board.

Posted by: Shannon at February 11, 2005 4:11 PM

Girl - just discovered your blog, and I felt your pain over the child placket sweater from Last-Minute Gifts. I too discovered the errata later, but even then, I was so screwed up. My sweater came out interesting, but nothing like the pattern photo! Better luck for me next time!!!

Posted by: Juls at February 13, 2005 2:22 AM

One good thing about winding one ball at a time is that if you have leftover skeins, you haven't wound them and can return them...Plus, it's nice to break the rhythm every once in a while. If you really wanted to be efficient, you would buy sweaters, not knit them...right? ;) Great blog, and happy knitting!

Posted by: Anne-Caroline at February 24, 2005 11:44 PM