Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life


15 Comments

Knitting a bat

While we were in the shop picking up some Halloween decorations last week, the young boy spotted a ‘make your own kit’.

The kit“Ooh, mum!, can we get this!?” he asked excitedly.

” Yes, as long as you do it yourself – it’s your kit, OK?”

“OK!”

We got home.  The kit instructions proved completely indecipherable.   Even I could not make head or tail out of them.  Undeterred, I looked up YouTube, and found a great tutorial on loom knitting.

I got him started, and he was off!

He knits!The next day, he’d finished!  Here he is, binding off…

At this point, I got a bit jealous.  Someone in the house was knitting, and it wasn’t me! 😦  There was housework to be done, and all I could do was watch from the sidelines!

Sewing upSewing up the looped rope into a coil.

StickingSticking all the bat bits on to the coil.

Et voila!Et voilà!  It is done!  He was very possessive over this and refused to let me help at all.  (I was secretly quite proud).

In fact, he was so happy with his efforts that he prompted started an orange coil to make a pumpkin.   The pumpkin is finished, and now he’s on to a multicolour coil.

It’s quite funny having a knitting companion on the house…


23 Comments

A field guide to preserving a good relationship with your Knitter

It is a fact that there are relatively few enthusiastic obsessed knitters in this world. Most knitters moderate themselves to knitting in front of the television in the evening, or bring out the needles only at the advent of pregnancy, a new grandchild, or the birth of a friend’s child.

On the other hand, there are those who find this art their life’s calling, and view any spare moment in the day as an opportunity to enjoy creating something beautiful with their hands. Some even give up their day job for it. For the purposes of this post, this person is a Knitter.

It quickly becomes apparent to those who are fortunate enough to know a Knitter or have one in the family that beautifully crafted warm and comfortable knitted items flow continuously from this person, as such that can only be got from someone as enthusiastic for this art. There are however, a few behavioural idiosyncrasies that manifest themselves upon interaction with such a Knitter. This post is a hopefully humorous attempt to explain how to handle such quirks, and thereby preserve and enhance your relationship with your Knitter.

For example:

1.  You start a conversation with said Knitter, only to find that you are ignored. You wonder why this person is being completely and utterly unsociable. At this point, it’s a good idea to have a look at what the Knitter is doing. You will find that more often than not, the Knitter will be counting stitches. It is rude to talk to a Knitter when he/she is counting. It makes the counter lose concentration, which means he/she will have to count the row at least twice again. When the row involves more than 300 stitches, frayed tempers and unfortunate exchanges of words may result.

2.  You ask your Knitter what he/she is making, or are familiar enough with his/her work to say, for example, “Oh, you’re knitting a hat!” This kind of remark is viewed very favourably by the Knitter because it means you are taking an interest in his/her passion. However, do not, under any circumstances, follow this up by saying “it looks itchy”, followed by “it looks rather big/small”, or “that’s so not my colour.” These remarks are hurtful because the Knitter will already have spent a significant amount of time selecting the materials for the project in question and these remarks just mean you are being insensitive to his/her creativity.  All kudos gained from your initial expression of interest will be immediately revoked. The project in question, which was likely secretly intended to be a gift for you, will then be reassigned to someone else.

3.  Your Knitter excitedly informs you that he/she is making you a sweater/hat/scarf/pair of gloves/socks. Do not say that you would like him/her to knit you something else instead. See point 2 for reaction. Their enthusiasm for knitting for you having waned, said Knitter will also assign your request to the end of his/her queue, which is more likely than not, at least 50 projects long. You will receive your requested project, but it will be in two years’ time.

4.  When out in public, a Knitter may sometimes start knitting. This usually occurs during a period of inactivity.  He/she views this time as an occasion to Do Something Useful (or views the company as intelligent enough to know that it is possible to talk and knit at the same time). Do not show embarrassment or suggest that you move to a more discrete location. In the event that you are on a date, assume that the Knitter is either a) checking you out to ascertain your future tolerance for this activity (and therefore potential as a partner), or b) suggesting that the date is over. If you like your Knitter, expressing an interest in the knitting will be taken as a good sign and may salvage a potentially bad situation.

5.  You go shopping with your Knitter and voluntarily enter a yarn store with him/her. Although he/she may quickly find the item you entered the store for, the Knitter may then decide to wander around the store in a seemingly aimless fashion. At this point, it is not a good idea to hold your Knitter to the initial statement that he/she “just needs to pop in for five minutes”, by starting to fidget and suggesting it’s time to go. A good yarn store is a Knitter’s holiest of sanctuaries. This is a place where he or she refreshes his/her creative soul by immersing him/herself in the scrumptious array of colours and textures on display, enjoying the company of other Knitters there and discovering yarnie treasures not seen before.  Your behaviour will be badly received, and at best you’ll extricate your Knitter from the shop in a small huff. At worst, he/she won’t speak to you again for a full two hours. If you are bored, excuse yourself graciously and suggest you’ll wait for him/her in the nearest coffee shop. Don’t expect an animated reply – by now, the Knitter’s mind will be lost in the rapturous delights on display.

6.  As part of the act of knitting, a Knitter will engage in what is commonly called “stashing”. This is the acquisition and collection of yarn – the materials of their art. Depending on how long your Knitter has been a Knitter, the size of this stash will most often vary between a small basket discretely tucked into the corner of the living room and the contents of a small cupboard. Long-time Knitters are known to have their own Yarn Room. However, many Knitters are sadly afflicted with unnecessary guilt at the size of their stash (usually at the hands of husbands or family who Do Not Understand). It is a great honour to be shown this stash, because it means that the Knitter believes you capable and worthy of appreciating a carefully accumulated yarn collection. Don’t shatter the trust by making loud exclamations about excess or suggesting that the local school could benefit from a donation of yarn.

7.  Knitting is an absorbing activity. A Knitter will often make a cup of tea, and having left it to steep, remembers the now-cold cup of strong tea an hour or so later. Sometimes several cups of tea are left around the house in varying degrees of consumption. Bringing a fresh, hot cup of tea to the Knitter, while quietly and efficiently removing the unpalatable cold ones creates feelings of extreme gratitude towards you. Making aggravated remarks about “numerous cups of cold tea” left around the house produces the opposite reaction and may result in a mysterious severe delay to the completion of knitted goodness headed your way.

Finally, the moment arrives when you are presented with a carefully crafted project. Happy and grateful expressions of thanks will make your Knitter beam with happiness. Wearing your gift at every opportunity will endear you to the Knitter forever.  Making covetous remarks about projects still on the needles, but destined for others will ensure your name remains on the knitting list for all time.

I hope that this assists in the enhancement of your relationship with the Knitter in your life.


5 Comments

The Holland Road Yarn Company

Welcome to Wellington’s newest yarn store!

I finally got there today, after a first aborted attempt, in which I decided to visit when it was closed!  Oops!

What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  Holland Road Yarn Company (HRYC) is set up amazingly well.  It is undoubtedly the yarnaholic’s version of nirvana.  The perfect yarn store that you fantasize about, but never think you’ll find.

Located in an up-and-coming, groovy part of Wellington (Petone), this area also sports some cool cafes, quality craft stores, specialty food shops, charity outlets, (op shops), local designer clothing, health stores and the like that go hand-in-hand with a trip to this kind of yarn store.

Tash (the owner) has managed to create a cute, light and airy, vintage-inspired space stocked with a wonderfully balanced offering of gorgeous hand-dyed yarn, affordable quality yarns as well as beautiful knitting accessories, needles and patterns that do not disappoint.  There’s also a swift and ball-winder, for those who need to get started on their purchases right away, and a comfy sofa to sink into for a little knit and natter.

Just look at her own line of beautifully dyed sock yarn which she somehow finds the time to dye, as well as run the shop:

HRYC stocks yarn that (I believe) you cannot find elsewhere in Wellington:

Cascade 200; Vintage (Made in New Zealand, 100% wool); Fyberspates; Woolganics; Happy Go Knitty…there’s more.

Isn’t that just the cutest needle display?  Each clearly labelled drawer is for a different sized circular needle – no straights here (ahem).  You can tell what kind of knitter inhabits this shop!  I probably drove Tash mad by compulsively opening and peering into each and every little drawer…

More pretty New Zealand yarn…

I think the thing I like most Holland Road Yarn is that Tash has generously and selflessly made the effort to include the indie businesses.  People who love the craft and want to create and share their creations but who don’t have the volume to ‘go it alone’.  And the prices have been set to be reasonable, and fair.

The shop is still developing – I understand the hunt continues to source and stock the products that Tash believes in and knows that knitters are looking for.  My personal pick of what I’ll see next:  hand crafted buttons.  What do you reckon??

You won’t find the ‘standard’ accoutrements of a yarn store here.  No Patons, Cleckheaton, Shepherd, or the other standard big names you find in New Zealand.  This place is specially for something hand-crafted, something New Zealand, something special, something with a bit of heart.  It’s a place for the knitter who wants something a little different.  And that’s great!

And of course, the wool fumes got to me:

This is Connie.  I was raving about it in a previous post.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get it out of my mind…

A few more items may have fallen into my bag… Knit Pro needles, a book… perhaps a skein of Cascade…

Personally, I’m going to find it hard to stay out of that place.  It’s Y.U.M.

And in case you’re like me, and suffer from temporary blindness when it comes to finding HRYC, it’s right next to the National Bank, across from the Aquifer Fountain.  281 Jackson St.,  Petone.  Open Wed – Sun.  Phone no.  (04) 938 3272.

Happy knitting everyone! 🙂


3 Comments

The weight conversion chart

One of the issues New Zealand knitters often face is finding a suitable replacement yarn for an overseas pattern.  It’s not always possible to obtain the same yarn as noted in the pattern, so the quest begins to look for a yarn that matches it in weight and tension performance.

Here’s a table that I have put together that I find useful when matching yarn:

US yarn weight NZ/UK equivalent Gauge/tension guide (stitches per 10cm, or 4in) Recommended metric needle size
Lace 2 ply, lace 33-40 1.5 – 2.25mm
Sock, fingering, baby 4 ply, baby, sock 27-32 2.25 – 3.25mm
Sport, baby 4 ply, 5 ply 23-26 3.25 – 3.75mm
DK, Light worsted 8 ply, DK 21-24 3.75 – 4.5mm
Worsted, aran, afghan 10 ply, aran, 12 ply 16-20 4.5 – 5.5mm
Chunky, craft, rug 12 ply, 14 ply, chunky 12-15 5.5 – 8mm
Bulky, roving Super chunky 6-11 8mm and larger

I’ve used the Craft Yarn Council’s Standards to reference all my US weights and gauge and needle recommendations.

This chart generally helps me to work out what I can use as a replacement yarn for US patterns.

The only note of caution I’d add to this is around the DK yarns.  Quite a few New Zealand yarn brands sell yarn as “DK” when the tension is closer to the lighter end of an American worsted weight.  Look at the ball band for the tension recommendation if the yarn looks a little chunky for a true DK weight.  It will usually say to knit to a tension of 20 stitches per 10cm.

Hope that’s useful.


2 Comments

Behind the glove – how to design your own

I’ve fiddled with this so much I can no longer read straight.  So here goes.  I hope it makes sense:

I mentioned in my earlier post I had discovered so many pretty cables that could go on to the back of these gloves, that I wanted to share them with you. 

But then I thought that it would be a bit pointless putting out a heap of patterns that were essentially the same, except for the design on the back.  And those designs are just ones that you find in any good stitch dictionary.   

Instead, here’s Part II of my post on the concept of my cabled fingerless gloves and how to create your own: fingerless, ribbed, cabled on the hand, and long.  I’ve restricted this post to just this type of glove.  I would need to write a book to cover the multitude variations you can get in gloves!

The workings

How does one go about creating the physical manifestation of your dreams?

First, make a list of the considerations behind your very own concept:

  • Purpose
  • Length, width & fit
  • Design

Purpose

When designing any item of knitwear, it helps to write the purpose down so it crystallizes in your mind when/how/why you’ll be using it.  This helps you select:

  • the correct fibre to knit the item in
  • the stitch pattern you put into it, and
  • other details like the sort of thumb gusset you’ll want to put in. 

For example, if you are going to carry a lot of heavy stuff while wearing your gloves, it’s probably not a good idea to make them in possum yarn as it’s a reasonably delicate fibre (unless you somehow fortify the hand part with sock yarn, for example).  You’d want to use a strong wool, which will stand up to abuse.   You will also want to make the thumb gusset a strong one.

But if it’s pure warmth you’re after, and you are only going to wear your gloves to and from work/out walking, etc, then possum yarn will be fine, and the lacy thumb gusset I’ve used in my design will work. 

The stitch pattern you put into your gloves will depend on whether you want your gloves modern, vintage, cute, pretty, or whatever else you dare to dream up!

Length, width and fit

Once you’ve decided how long you want your gloves, jot down the length down, as well as the measurement of the widest part of your arm to be gloved (be it hand (or forearm)). 

Also think about whether you want your gloves to hug the arm, or whether you prefer to wear them bunched up, and therefore a bit looser.

Casting on

Now that you’ve got your design in mind, to find out how many stitches you need to cast on, it is necessary to knit a 10cm x 10cm (4in x 4in) gauge swatch in the yarn of your choice.  Unless you already know what gauge your yarn is going to knit at.  A stocking stitch swatch is fine for this purpose.

I’m sure a few of you will be questioning why I’m emphasising this (Are we idiots?  Surely everyone does a swatch?)  But I do know a few who don’t…

Anyway, back to the gloves.  In my case, my swatch came out at 22 stitches wide over 10cm (4in) of stocking stitch on 3.75mm needles. 

To calculate the number of stitches to cast on, I took the widest point of my arms (‘Widest Point’), in this case, being 10in, or 25cm round the forearm.  I then multiplied my Widest Point measurement by the number of stitches in my swatch, and divided by 10.  Eg. I want gloves that will fit a 25cm arm.  Multiply 22 stitches by 25, then divide by 10.  This came out at 55 stitches.  

There’s just one more consideration:

I find that when I want something fitted (eg a pair of gloves), I need to create negative ease of between 10 – 20% so that the garment hugs the relevant body part and doesn’t end up too loose.  In this case, 20% works well.  And that’s how I came up with 44 stitches (55 stitches less 20%).  If you want a looser fit, you might want to experiment with 10% negative ease, and cast on 50 stitches instead.

The design

So, you’ve cast on 44 stitches, and knitted double ribbing until you got the desired arm length.  Now comes the hand section where you change to stocking stitch and include a cable design.  If your chosen cable design has a definite beginning and end like this one: 

and you’re not sure how it will fit into the length of your hand, it might be a good idea to do another swatch in the cable design.  I’ve found for my hand size (medium), that cable designs with up to a 15 row repeat are mostly safe to knit without swatching first.

As for the cable width.  A rough guide is that up to 33% of the cast-on stitches can be used for the cable design.  In a DK weight yarn, on a medium-sized hand, this means you can safely choose a cable pattern between 10 and 16 stitches wide (this includes the two purl stitches on either side of the cable) so that it fits neatly on to the top of your hand.  If you have a very small hand, stick to a cable of a maximum of 10 stitches wide.  If you have a very large hand, you could possibly squeeze in 18 stitches.  

Where to place the cable

In terms of where you start the cable on your arm tube, it doesn’t really matter.  It’s where you place the thumb gusset that will give the cabling its final resting place on your arm (read here the bitter experience of my first self-designed gloves where the cable ended up over the forefinger, and not the middle of the hand as I wanted!) 

The best non-mathematical, fool-proof way I’ve worked out for the placement of the thumb gusset is so:

Knit the hand section until you get to the base of your thumb joint (in my instance, this is 6cm after the ribbing – take a tape measure and measure from your wrist to the base of your thumb for your own measurement). 

Now take the needles off the stitches. (Do not worry – the stitches should stay where they are put, but if you are a new knitter and not confident about being able to pick them all up again, or you are using slippery yarn and worried about slipped stitches, thread the stitches on to a piece of waste thread to hold them, but make sure it’s loose enough so that the knitting can lie flat). 

Press the glove flat on a firm surface so that the cabling lies right in the middle of the front of the glove. 

Count the number of stitches between the end of the cable purling and the edge of the glove of the side where your thumb is (count the stitch loops at the top – I always find counting the stitches in the fabric a bit confusing). 

In this example, I have found that 5 stitches from the end of cable section to the edge of the glove is the best place for the thumb gusset to start so that the cabling ends up right in the middle of the hand. 

Put the stitches back on the needles.  (Don’t forget to count them very carefully before you start knitting again, particularly the cabling, as it’s very easy to miss a stitch there and find, a couple of rows later that there’s a forlorn loose stitch sitting a few rows down waiting for you to pick it up…  In this sense, using waste yarn to hold the stitches is probably more sensible, but I’m an impatient girl, and can’t be bothered with all that fiddling around).

Noting the above pictured example for the right thumb, all you need to do is count 5 stitches from the cable edge and start your thumb gusset.  For the left thumb, the thumb starts before you get to the cable, so add 2 stitches to include the initial thumb stitches (ie. 7 stitches before the cable).  

Making the thumb gusset

Knit to where you are to start your thumb gusset.  Place your marker to start the thumb gusset, make a stitch, knit two stitches, make another stitch, place another marker, and you’re on your way. 

Knit round and round following your stitch pattern and increasing between the markers until you have made the correct amount of stitches for the thumb (in my case, it’s 16 stitches for a 7cm round thumb). 

The formula for the thumb stitches is the same as above (except you replace ‘hand width’ with ‘thumb width’, and you don’t need to discount 20% of the stitches for negative ease). Now put the thumb stitches aside on a piece of waste yarn, and continue knitting the hand.

Hand length

Hang length again depends on how much of your hand you want covered.  Some like the fingers exposed.  Others (like me) like the hand of the glove to finish at about the middle joint of the little finger.  Still others like the gloves to almost cover the fingers. 

When you’ve got the length you want, start the double ribbing again.  Decrease two stitches above the cabling section to give the top of the hand a gentle taper and avoid the flare you get in ribbing after a cable ends.  Knit a total of three or four rows of ribbing, depending on your personal preference for the depth of the ribbing, and cast-off loosely.

Now pick up the stitches for your thumb.  Knit as many rows as you want for your desired thumb length, finishing with two to three rows of ribbing.  Cast-off, weave in ends, et voilà!  Your gloves are done!

And finally, a friendly word of advice:

Take copious notes of everything you do so that you can replicate the process for the other hand.  I also like to physically compare my second glove against the first as I’m knitting it, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything, and that it is coming out the same as the original.  Just because I get anxious.

If you’d like a written pattern for the above concept, feel free to visit my original pattern and use it as a guide.

Happy glove making!


Why you swatch

You know when you are knitting away, using yarn that matches the pattern, and you’ve got the same gauge as in the pattern and it’s all going swimmingly? And in a passing moment sort of way, you wonder why you bothered to swatch in the first place.

And then, you finish the project, and wonder why it doesn’t quite feel right. It’s the size it’s meant to be, but it’s stiff. It reminds you of cardboard. It doesn’t drape. It’s not very comfortable to wear. Or it’s more holey than it ought to be, it kind of sags and stretches and doesn’t keep its shape. Our first reaction is often to blame ourselves. “My tension must have been too tight/loose.” Or “I chose the wrong yarn”. But hold on a minute – you went to the trouble of doing a swatch. You got gauge. You didn’t have to fiddle anything. So was it really your fault? Or was it the pattern’s fault? Or, was it the yarn’s fault?

Assuming that your yarn is the same fibre and weight as recommended for the project, the fault often does lie with the yarn. Or more precisely, the recommended tension on the ball band that you used as a guide when selecting your yarn.

The yarn company has, for reasons known only to itself, decided to put a tension recommendation on the ball band that is definitely not correct.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen quite a few yarns sold in New Zealand that are like that. I don’t know why they do it, but it makes for hair-raising stuff when you buy yarn – is it going to knit at the right gauge??? I wonder if it harks back to the days when knitwear doubled as outerwear and also had to last a long time because clothes were expensive. The garment had to be as windproof as possible and as durable as possible, which meant you knitted to a tight tension – which did not always equal comfort. Maybe these yarn companies are still using tension recommendations from half a century ago.

In fairness, I do also know that sometimes the finished yarn that comes back from the mill is not quite the weight that the yarn company specified. And because they printed the labels before the yarn was spun… there ends up being a small issue with the tension specification.

Gauge, tension, whatever you call it in your part of the world, it’s the same thing. It’s the number of stitches you would personally knit to a set length. It is most commonly measured per four inches, or 10cm. For example, a DK (8 ply) weight yarn normally knits anywhere between 21 – 24 stitches per 10cm (4”), depending on the actual weight of the yarn and your own knitting style. Basic stuff right? What every knitter knows.

Your tension/gauge swatch is your guide – if you can knit the set number of stitches per 10cm as noted in the pattern, you can be relatively certain that your project will come out at the size you have chosen to knit. Unless the yarn weight is not appropriate for the recommended gauge. Because let’s face it, you can squeeze those little beggars into 10cm… and it will be what the pattern says. But it might not end up feeling like it’s meant to – as in the scenario I’ve just described above.

So what can you practically do? How do you know what tension is right for your yarn? Even though it’s relatively easy to work out whether a yarn is a fingering/DK or chunky weight for example, which gives you an idea of the standard gauge for a yarn of that weight, it’s practically impossible to know exactly what gauge you should knit it to by holding it in your hand. As well as your own physical knitting style, it also depends on the stitch and pattern you choose.

Personally, I now take tension recommendations on the ball band with a grain of salt. I’ll use it as a starting point, but after I’ve knitted a reasonable sized swatch, and washed it (because often the washing process helps to bring out hidden qualities in the yarn, softness, realign the stitches into nice uniform lines and sometimes show that the yarn shrinks or blooms just a wee bit after washing), I hold it in my hand and decide whether the fabric is the feel I want.

It might be technically correct, ie. the right number of stitches and rows to match the pattern instructions, but is it as supple as I want my project? Is the stitch pattern looking like it’s meant to? Are the stitches a nice even closeness, not too tight to be stiff, but not too loose to be see-through? And quite often, the answer is that I need to go back to my needles and try again. Sometimes I go up a size needle, sometimes I go down.

To illustrate my point, this is a yarn I picked out of my collection at random.

Forever Green, Elan Organic Merino.  OK, maybe not so random. I’ve had this yarn for a while, and intended to knit it into something for my son when he was younger. But even though it’s an organic yarn, and sooo soft, I’ve been discouraged from knitting it by the fact that it says it’s a DK yarn, but it looks for all the world like it’s sport weight. So I put off knitting it for fear of a knitting disaster.

However, I’ve pulled it out of its home from time to time, and admired it’s pretty, soft colours and intriguing softness, sniffed its sweet sheepy scent, and wondered about what it would be like to knit with…

Feeling in need of a little indulgent something the other evening, I decided it was time to bring it out of ‘hold’. First, I knitted a swatch with a classic 4 ply/fingering needle (3.25mm).  25 stitches x 34 rows over 10cm.  Hmm. OK. Nice stitch definition.

But let’s see what a classic 8 ply/DK needle (4mm) does:

23 stitches x 30 rows over 10cm.  Look at how the pattern stitches are flat and lack definition. Holding it up, there was just a bit too much light coming through the fabric for my liking. Funnily enough, this swatch came out closest to the ball band’s recommended tension of 22 stitches to 10cm using 4mm needles. Even so, I felt it was a little too loose. Like it would stretch out of shape soon after knitting. It also didn’t look ‘finished’.

So I knitted another swatch, using 3.5mm needles:

This is the tension I like. It’s a pity that you can’t get “virtual feel” through a PC. Because if you were to hold this swatch in your hands, it’s the ‘aha!’ moment. This tension shows off the yarn’s soft and cushiony nature, giving a supple yet even fabric, the stitches are close but you can still just see through them, but not so much that it’s windproof-less. And the pattern stitches still look defined without sacrificing the fabric’s drape. To me, the ideal garment tension for this yarn is 24 stitches and 32 rows over 10cm on 3.5mm needles.  This confirms that it is actually a sport weight.

However, this doesn’t mean you should only use this yarn at this tension.  You could use 4mm needles where you might want a looser stitch (such as in a baby blanket in garter stitch), or 3.25mm needles when you want a slightly firmer finished project and big stitch definition. I wouldn’t know this unless I had bothered to swatch.

Once, I hated swatching with a vengeance. Grumble, grumble, waste of time, takes so long, waste of yarn, growl, growl, I just want to start my project!

There are many reasons to like swatching now. I’ve learned to appreciate the art of anticipation:

1. It’s practice. Learn a new stitch/technique without fear of stuffing up the actual project! Or work out if there’s something about the stitch/pattern that needs modifying.  For example, it would have been helpful to try out the pattern instructions as part of my swatch before I started my project, as in Twisted Stitches.

2. Discover the yarn’s properties and make sure that it is the right match for the project in mind. Particularly important if using a yarn from your collection, and not the yarn specified in the pattern. As in my discovery in Death of a Project.

3. Experiment with gauge, to make sure the project you’re about to spend 1000% more time on than this little piece will come out the way you want it to.

4. “Try before you buy” – now the stitch pattern is in 3D in your hands, is it still as desirable as the project you fell in love with on the page?

5.  Make friends with the yarn and find out what it’s capable of.

6. It’s therapy. I can knit relatively mindlessly, lost in the hypnotic trance of the rhythmic swish of my knitting, the gentle click of the needles, watching the yarn curl around the needles, the feel of the yarn threading through my fingers, the magic of seeing a ball of “string” turn into beautiful fabric, enjoying that comfortable, blissful, “soothed gut” feel of a contented knitter. No need to worry about how it’s turning out – it’s time to just enjoy the actual process of knitting.

7. And if it doesn’t turn out, it’s comparatively not that much time down the drain. Look at it this way – all knitting is also learning.