My current work in progress:

Moth Cardigan, designed byAmy Christoffers, knit from Rowan SoftYak DK in the Plain colorway, using U.S. size 3 and 5 needles.

Perfection or the Lack Thereof

In my last blog post I showed a photo of my 21 Colors Slouch hat.

Hat111616 240x202 Perfection or the Lack Thereof

This prompted a comment about the undesirability of having to weave in all those ends and was there a better way to knit it.

The answer is well, no. If you don’t want to have to weave in ends, you don’t want to make this hat. You could approximate it using a self-striping yarn, however. Weaving in ends has never bothered me — it’s just part of the process. I’ve knit many many Fair Isle sweaters so I’ve done quite a lot of end-weaving in my time!

The same commenter also said ” wouldn’t you have jogs in the knitting if it’s done in the round?” Yes, you do.

HatBack111616 240x158 Perfection or the Lack Thereof

If jogs in the stripe annoy you, there are methods you can employ to get rid of the jog. Just google “jogless stripes” and you will find plenty of resources.

But you know what? Jogs in stripes don’t bother me. For me they are part of the charm of a handknit item.

This started me thinking about perfectionism in knitting. It seems that there is a drive for absolute “perfection” in knitted items: no jogs, no seams, nothing but knit. I think there is such a thing as too “perfect.” Me, I like seams in sweaters — they give structure to a garment. I like to pick up stitches along a bound-off edge for a neckband rather than knit a neckband from live stitches. That bound off edge gives the neck of the garment some stability.

Here is my favorite tip for doing something “imperfectly:”

When I am knitting something in the round, I cast on my stitches, and then I often work back across them instead of joining and working in the round on the first row. I join and work in the round on the second row. I am going to have a yarn tail from the cast-on that needs to be woven in, and it is no more trouble to use that yarn end to close the tiny gap at the bottom of the garment that is present because I worked back across the first row before joining in the round.

This is very helpful if you have a huge number of stitches because it can be tricky to join in the round without twisting the cast-on stitches.

A relatively new knitter I taught makes a lot of baby hats for friends with little ones, and she mentioned that she always has trouble on that first round, fiddling with working in the round while knitting stitches from the cast-on edge. I suggested my “work back across the first row” tip to her and she loves it, and now does that on all circular projects.

So that’s just my tip for doing something imperfectly to make things easier!

Anyway . . .

So this came in the mail the other day:

Advent111616 240x238 Perfection or the Lack Thereof

This is the Opal Yarn 2016 Advent Calendar. There are 24 little doors, for December 1 through 24, and behind each door is a mini-skein (15 grams) of Opal sock yarn. Squeeee!

I pre-ordered this from a vendor in the UK a few months ago, as it is more readily available in Europe.

I have shown remarkable restraint and have not yet opened any doors, waiting til December 1.

Now . . . what to knit with the wee skeins? I could do a long crazy scarf. I could knot afghan squares. I could knit mini socks. Anyone have any other ideas?

Here is Loki’s interpretation of “if it fits I sits.”

Loki111616 240x187 Perfection or the Lack Thereof

Comments

  1. Catherine Smegal says:

    It only took one time of twisting a 310 stitch circular project for me to adopt the “purl back and join after a few rows” method. Best ever. 🙂

  2. You make a good point that sometimes the smoothness/seamlessness/perfection does not always bring the long term results we desire. The sweater that sags or just does not look so nice when worn sure isn’t worth not having to seam or pick up stitches.

    I took a SAORI weaving class recently (a first for me) and what you are saying reminds me of one of the principles of SAORI weaving having to do with there being a difference between person and machine. I find freedom in remembering that.

    That advent calendar sounds like the best! I hope it brings you much joy! For me, small amounts of fingering weight yarn in my stash become little things knit from Anna Hrachovec’s patterns.
    Sarah´s last blog post ..Mochimochiland Modification Monday

  3. What a refreshing approach to knitting.
    Thank you.

  4. I work in the round from the start, but at the end of the first round, I check if anything’s twisted and untwist it then. There’s only two strands of yarn between the last stitch of the round and the upcoming first stitch of the next round. There’s no lump at all, even in heavier yarns.
    I work in ends as I knit, rather than using a darning needle later, so this is easier for me.

    That tote fits Loki like a glove. I think they like being stuffed in because it helps retain body heat.

  5. Did you know that there is a more local (Canadian!!!) advent calendar for knitters? It is put out by Purlin’ J (she has a yarn truck in the Kingston area), and the calendar is filled with mini skeins of Koigu!!!!! (https://www.purlinjs.ca/) And all for $79 Can. I have mine and I had to go and make it stand in the corner for awhile because it was teasing me (C’mon, just open one….no one will know….) But seriously, worth a look.

  6. Tamara Shaffer says:

    Hi Wendy. As always, you have great tips. Loki is too cute stuffed in that tote. The advent calendar is really cute. What about knitting tiny ornaments (sweaters perhaps?) with each bit of yarn for a mini tree?

  7. GeniaKnitz says:

    Brilliant tip, thank you! Usually I don’t have a problem with twisting, but recently cast on a sweater (224 sts) and – of course! – twisted it. Luckily there were only a couple of rows when I noticed so I was able to fix it, but whew!

  8. (What a cute little dude your Loki is!) I agree with you about some ‘imperfection’. Jogs don’t (usually) bother me, either. The advent calendar looks like so much fun!

  9. Loki so cute <3

  10. Loki, you’re too funny. Mini advent calendar or tree ornaments? Catnip toys?

  11. Loki is cute, it’s like he knows it and continues to show cuteness. As for the mini skeins, how about a shawl.

  12. The Asian master artists purposefully made a ‘mistake’ in their work so that they would not anger the Gods with their perfection….. I find that has been a great thing to keep in mind with everything I do. If it’s an egregious and obvious mistake, that’s one thing, but I won’t be ripping out my work to make it ‘perfect’. I’m not, why should it be? : }
    More importantly, bless you for the reminder of the Opal Advent Calendar Box. I’ve always wanted to have one as their sock yarn is my favorite. I read your blog and immediately googled and found one available and it’s coming to me. I am beyond thankful.

  13. Love Loki! My Ragdoll Apollo has owned me for a number of years now, and my 95-year-old mother is owned by a Ragdoll named Alexander. How about fingerless mitts? You could do one in one color and the second in a contrasting color. >^..^<

  14. I’ve done the “work flat and join in the round after one row [or several!]” for years now. It’s a lot easier, less frustrating, and time-consuming than knitting several rows in the round and then realising you have an unintended Mobius strip. As for weaving in ends on a watchcap, why, all of those ends, when woven in, make the cap that much warmer!

    You are making me very jealous with that Opal Advent calendar. I want one!

  15. The greek gods look down at perfection with a great deal of jealousy. Whit this in mind (they usually were punishing these puny humans with great joy) one always make a mistake in the work. It add character and it is your own pattern. Usually nobody but you can see the “mistake””. I want, I need and advent calendar who does not have chocolate. So this is going to be perfect. Thanks for the picture. Make a lot of socks with the small hank of yarn. It does not matter if they match, it is fun to just pick 2 out of the drawer. It is winter, warm feet are of the essence, and who care what you have on your feet.

  16. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never been a fan of knitting techniques and patterns that “try too hard”, if that makes any sense. If the process strives too hard to be so clever and “perfect” that I dread the next line in the instructions – I’m done. I don’t care if I have to weave in ends (I’ve done my share of colourwork too), or if I have colour jogs or my short rows have a bit of a bump sometimes. As long as in the end my project fills me with pride – then I’ll have enjoyed the whole process, weaving and seaming and all.

    That Advent Calendar is EPIC! How big are the mini-skeins? I’d probably make up a pair of funky socks, all mismatched and joggy with ends needing to be weaved in!

  17. Knitting is for fun, I don’t let things stress me out, but I try to avoid things that make me crazy like picking up stitches on an armhole.
    I think you should knit a shawl, do something with some short rowing to isolate some of the colors, not just stripes. But you will think of something clever and we will all want to be kniting one.

  18. You are the best thing to happen to my knitting since my favorite brand of needles! Yes, yes, and YES! we need some ‘imperfection’ and it’s OK!

    I have some ideas for your mini-skeins, too:
    baby booties
    scarf
    crazy socks
    tea cozy
    coasters
    small drawstring bags for jewelry

  19. “The answer is well, no. If you don’t want to have to weave in ends, you don’t want to make this hat.” Lol’d!

    Loki looks so comfortable that I hope you don’t let the cat out of the bag! ;0

  20. Thank you for sharing the idea of “going back” on the first row of an in-the-round project. I think that will help me in the future, especially when there are a lot of stitches.

  21. Michelle Gibson says:

    Love the tip and the knitting sentiment, too. Thanks, much!

  22. Mini Skeins – more ideas –
    Since 15*24 = 360 grams, you could actually consider a bigger project of smaller parts, eg a mitered afghan or bag or sweater or shawl, etc, of mitered squares or parts – or striped 🙂
    other minis would be flowers or more bunny outfits or other Christmas minis.

    Ref your knitting in the round
    I do that also for a large number of stitches, even though I’d never seen it written in a book or site before! Then, after knitting double leaves on 2 dpns, I found I could apply the same method to any knitting in the round of small numbers, just knit the first row or two on only 2 dpns before adding in needles 🙂

  23. Lestersmama says:

    Jogs in stripes don’t bother me – just part of the process.
    I’d use the Opal to make epic mismatched socks. Just cast on with Dec 1st, when it runs out add in Dec 2nd, and so on. If you were a bit persnickety and wanted the socks to match each other, do Magic Loop 2-@-a-time with each sock getting half the mini skein. The socks would be magnificent.

  24. When I was faced with over 700 stitches in the round because I didn’t want to sew 4 triangles together for a baby blanket, I just went outside and collected a bucketful of wooden clothespins and pinched the cast on edge every 6″ or so. Then if you lay this out in a circle on a large table you’ll find that the weight of the clothes pins keeps the yarn from twisting around the needle and you can join it; you need to keep the pins in place because that many stitches can twist while knitting the first round. After that you’re all set. Otherwise I generally use 2 parallel circulars and there is never any twisting that way.

  25. A dear friend shared that method of starting something in the round and I use it to this day with no problem closing the little gap or twisting my stitches. That being said my knitting teacher while in Iceland was quite horrified and made me cast on double-pointed needles individually to make some mittens. To each her own! Thank you for all your tips, gorgeous projects, and updates on Loki.

  26. Beth in Maryland says:

    Thanks, Wendy! I’m just not going to worry about twisting that first round any more. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  27. Anita Tinlin says:

    Thank you for that tip about knitting in the round and not twisting the cast-on. Brilliant.

    Thank you for sharing Loki. I am currently without a cat due to spending a lot of time on my spouse’s sailboat, and I enjoying seeing what Loki is up to, even if it’s almost always sleeping.

  28. Knitting doesn’t need to be perfect, does it? It needs to be the best we can do, and that is enough. I am teaching an 11 year old to knit and of course hers isn’t perfect, but it is the best she can do right now. If I hang in there with her, she will carry the love forward, become an “I <3 Knitting" knitter and pass the love on when she is ready.
    Now Loki, there is perfection 😉