Cluelessness Loves Company

Ok, how weird is this? As you go here about Episode 61, imagine you’re me and that you suddenly find Yourself confronted with Yourself taking a picture of Yourself. For a moment I thought I was in the Twilight Zone (insert tinkly music here). FYI, I submitted a knitting “nightmare” including happy ending photo for CraftLit’s contest and won myself a great little book called When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters. My nightmare, such as it was, was about Blaze.

BTW, I’m not the only one! sknitty admitted in her June 11 post that she inadvertently finished a sweater INSIDE OUT! And she decided it was FINE because she liked that side better. I’ve done that! Only I was totally humiliated at my own cluelessness. Here is the essay about it that I submitted to CraftLit.


The pattern is Blaze — a wonderful short-sleeved sweater by Jenna Adorno that appeared in the Fall 2004 issue of Knitty. I wanted to make one out of a sexy soft alpaca and I chose Knit Picks Andean Treasure.

Never mind that 100% alpaca is hecka hot for a summer sweater (I learned that AFTER wearing this sweater).
Never mind that I’d never done aran knitting before (Aran? What’s aran? Those people Hitler liked?).
Never mind that I wasn’t a “piquant” knitter at the time (according to the Knitty guidelines, I was more like “tangy-minus”).
Never mind that it was my first project ever in the round (what’s not to love about the concept of minimal seaming?).
After all, I’m a bright girl with multiple advanced degrees and nimble fingers. How hard could it be to figure out? I was to learn my dismay it was quite hard indeed.

My troubles began, predictably, with twisting my first row of stitches in the round while attempting to join a circle of 186 cast on stitches. I’m recalling about three, or maybe four, tries before getting that right. I had no trouble with the ribbing, except that I hadn’t knit a gauge swatch and figured I could just measure what I produced in the round. I have since learned that um… NO. Gauge swatches are meant to be 4″ wide knit back and forth or there are no guarantees of accuracy. Fortunately, I got lucky with this pattern. I just did the smallest size. But I am now a rabidly religious swatcher.

The aran pattern involves a 16-row zigzagging repeat. I learned about the value of stitch markers with this project, too, but only AFTER frogging back countless times. I stopped counting at a dozen. Too depressing.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “Dude! Couldn’t you just ask someone for help?” Nice idea, but this was in my pre-knitting group days. In fact, I had just located a local StitchNBitch group, and I recall clearly attending only my second meeting with these wonderful ladies (and two gentlemen) whom I wanted to LIKE me, so I didn’t own up to my cluelessness. Here’s what’s so nightmarish. I was actually sitting amid a group of friendly and helpful and experienced knitters and I was too ashamed to ask for help. I just sat and chatted and listened while I surreptitiously TINKED the entire evening. I wonder if anyone in the group noticed how my knitting got way smaller instead of larger that night. I shake my head now at the enormous waste of time.

Finally, I learned about lifelines, got into a groove, and proceeded happily to join the sleeves. At some point I got cocky and slid the photo page of the pattern my page protector, in between the pages of written directions, selected what I “thought” was the prettier, right-side of the sweater, and seamed up the underarms. I wove in my ends, got my husband to take a picture of it for the Knitty calendar, all without realizing it was completely INSIDE OUT. Yup, the cable was on the inside. What can I say? I guess just really liked the waves of the wrong side.

I even compounded my humiliation by showing it proudly to a very kind knitting friend who gently pointed out that it really looked good “on the inside” too, but nodded and smiled and accepted my design decision. Now we laugh together at the memory of that meeting, but I wished she’d just slapped me upside the head and said, “Girlfriend! It’s inside out! Look at the photo!” It wasn’t until I did so at some random moment, and I remember my stomach literally sinking as I’d realized I’d been wearing it inside out for months.

I am a sadder but wiser girl and so INFINITELY sympathetic to newbies. I always ask THEM if they want help, remembering the times when I was too shy to ask or simply didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Whew…. It felt good to get that off my chest. The Roman Catholics got it right — there’s something redemptive and cathartic about public confession. Maybe it’s the the appeal of receiving absolution from some higher power in the universe after laying bare one’s grievous deeds. Maybe it’s the hope of finding perspective, the tiny glimmer of possibility that someone else in the world did something this dumb and lived to tell about it.



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