Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

Then and now

I love yarn, and of course, I love knitting.  But sometimes I wonder whether I’m really that good a knitter.  My projects seem a bit average to me.  Not like some of the gorgeous, awe-inspiring creations I have seen shared on Ravelry.   

Isn’t it amazing, the process of success.  I once attended a lecture given by a woman who set out to accomplish great things, and succeeded.  She noted that success came, not by the one mammoth action, but by taking baby steps.  She wrote down a list of actions what she needed to do to achieve her goal, and every day, she set out to do just one little thing on the list.  In the end, the sum of all her efforts meant that she got there.    

It’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?  By way of every day example, if you want to walk to a destination, you have to get there one step at a time. But sometimes, we forget how that applies to everything we do!  Well, I do anyway.   

I decided to have a bit of a tidy-up of “things lurking in corners” yesterday.   You know all those UFOs (UnFinished Objects and Unworn Finished Objects)?   

I don’t have too many of those, thankfully.  But I decided that the three that have sat in my frogging bag for quite a while needed seeing to.  Today!   

It was an interesting exercise to fish them out and appraise them for ‘what went wrong’.   On one hand, one does not like to think of all the wasted hours that went into something that never made it past the finish line.  On the other hand, it was an encouraging demonstration of how much one’s knowledge of knitting builds up over the years.   

This one makes me giggle:   

Mohair cardigan UFO


Silly me.  Here I was trying to make a cardigan that specifies Rowan Kidsilk Haze (that cobweb fine mohair) from chunky 12 ply brushed mohair!  At the time, I had only just started knitting again, and had no idea that there were different weights of mohair yarn to be found.  And that trying to knit 12 ply with 3.75mm needles was Not A Good Idea.  I thought all mohair was equal.   

I stopped working on it because the prospect of running out of yarn terrified me.  I only had three hanks, and had already used one up for 3/4 of the back.  I needed the courage to continue working on it, plus it was a bit hard on the hands pulling the yarn through the loops.  Funny that.   

I look at it now and realise there was a rather large tension mismatch going on!   

Thin needles, thick yarn... hmm!


Because mohair is so squishy, the piece didn’t turn into cardboard as I was knitting it, which would have rung some alarm bells.  Instead, it was just quite a thick piece, very like a warm, cuddly blanket.  I rather liked that because it was the middle of winter, the project was keeping my knees nice and toasty warm and I kept envisioning myself swanning around, rugged up in a wind-proof, snuggly cardigan.   

I was slightly hesitant about ripping it.  I kept hearing my cousin, who must have foreseen disaster when she saw me casting on, saying “Do you really think it will work as a cardigan?” and I said “Well, if I don’t like it, I can always unravel it and use it for something else”.  To which she replied darkly “Mohair catches on itself.  I don’t think you’ll be able to unravel it.”  But it did rip reasonably well.  I had a bit of trouble with the edges, but it’s done now.   Goodie.  Now I can use it for something else.  Maybe a lap blanket! 😮   

Lesson I have learned:  Mohair has many weights, just like any other yarn.    

The next thing was the first jumper I knitted my daughter:   

Bell sleeve pullover


It’s a bit rumpled from being in the bag.  My daughter chose the pattern, and I dutifully knitted it up in some 8 ply multi dyed yarn from The Wool Company that she liked.  Despite it being exactly what she asked for, it has never taken off with her.  The only thing she said about it was that it was scratchy.  I was having a clean up of her room, now that she’s living overseas, and found it.  I put it on to see what it looked like, as I thought perhaps I might wear it instead:   

Not very flattering


It’s not that scratchy.  I’d wear it with no problems.  But, I do realise what went wrong:  The pullover is too short.  And the neck chokes.  The proportions are all wrong.  My daughter likes long things.  And she’s not great with high necks.  It wasn’t too flattering on me either.   

I’m going to rip the body, and reknit it with a lower neckline and more length as I still have 200g of this yarn left over from the original project.  I’ll keep the sleeves as they are rather nice.  And hopefully, once I reattach all the pieces, it will transform into something that will be loved and worn for a long time to come!  The effort will be worth it.   

Lesson learned:  Do not slavishly follow patterns.  They are not always correct.  You need to knit to the proportions that will suit the wearer.  Other knowledge gained:  How to stop every now and again to measure the piece up against the wearer to ensure proper fit, and how to make those adjustments!  Measurements are not always a good guide.  I find it’s good to also do a physical fitting.  The same as dressmaking really.   

And finally:  

Shrug and shrug


Two very beautiful yarns – a silk from Little Wool Co., and possum merino from The Wool Co.   And it was all going so well, until I got to the neck.  I swear.  I followed the pattern exactly!  So why the %^&^ does it gape so much that the thing will just not stay on???  

This was a present for my mother, but I had to take it back and knit her another because it was so bad. <:{  

So what went wrong?  Firstly, I blame the pattern.  That model is disguising the fact that this is not snug around the neck!  I swear!  I was not looking at this with starry eyes, envisioning something else.   

The original pattern picture


OK.  So I didn’t pay attention to what the pattern was telling me.  I wanted a pattern that would be snug around the neck, but this clearly wasn’t.  And then, I made things worse by knitting the collar in a silk.  (I was trying to be creative and not have to buy another ball of possum).  So I learned two things from this exercise:    

1.  Look realistically at the pattern to make sure it is ‘fit for purpose’.  Just because you are desperate for something that looks somewhat  like that will not mean it ends up being what you want.  

2. Choose yarns that will match the pattern’s intent.  Silk drapes and has a “liquid” quality about it.  Do not use it at a key point in a garment that requires stretch and spring.  

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this.  I love the colour combination.  The yarns themselves are lovely.  But the silk around the collar is clearly not working.  So for now, I will sit and look glumly at it until I figure out a new pattern that will cooperate with the yarn.  Maybe, if I take off the collar, I could refashion it as a skirt for my niece? 

This exercise made me think about my journey into knitting.  I started out knitting scarves.  Which were great, as they were quick, and pretty, and they were something I could complete with confidence.   It was also an easy way to learn different stitches in a non-confrontational manner.  

Then I progressed to easy rib/stocking stitch pullovers.   

Then I learned about knitting in the round, and cabling, and made gloves, and hats.   

Then I learned to read charts.  And discovered the joys of ganseys!   

Then I learned a whole heap of techniques for casting on/casting off/colourwork/joining up etc. that have enabled me to make garments that look not too bad – almost professional, even if not too challenging in their make-up.  

Then I started to think about weights of yarn, types of yarn, the different properties of fibres and what they did to the overall effect of the completed project.   

And now, I’m even venturing into designing my own projects.  

I know I’m not yet among the legions of very talented knitters.  But I do now know, that every day I knit, I venture further down the path to knitting greatness, and best of all, personal satisfaction and fulfilment.


Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

Comments are closed.