Et Tu, Brute?

Purple knitting on red table

The purple thing is breaking my heart. Or stabbing me in the back, as the title of this post suggests. Is it knitting karma, I wonder, after my smooth ride with Down in the Woods?

I took the above photo on Friday, preparatory to making a bubbly progress post to delight and entertain you. See it there? Forty-nine rounds in, just about to divide for front and back. Get a good look at it, my dears, while you can.


I ripped it all out.

It was about 20 stitches too big. I’m not sure if my tension is different working in the round (my swatch was back and forth), or if I somehow changed needles between swatch and cast-on (not impossible: things are pretty crazy around here at the moment), or if I simply have a lot to learn about negative ease (entirely plausible).

“It’s all wrong,” I said to Niall. “I’ll have to rip it out again.” For alas, this was not the first time. My first cast-on was based on a sloppy measurement, and when I rechecked it I ripped out the first ten rounds. My second cast-on was made through a bleary haze of exhaustion, and I twisted the bloody thing and started knitting a Möbius strip. That was only about four rounds long before I ripped.

Not like this time. Forty-nine rounds, I tell you. I felt each stitch unravel as though it were tangled around my guts. Niall was slightly astonished that I went through with it. “I didn’t think you’d rip it out,” he said. “I thought you might just, like, eat loads, or something.”

But I’ve been making clothes for long enough to know that if I’m not satisfied with something, I. Will. Not. Wear. It. With the best will in the world, it’ll simply lurk in my wardrobe until the end of time, making me feel sad whenever I catch sight of it. In the face of that, forty-nine rounds doesn’t seem so bad.

Fortunately, I’m persistent, and I’m going to knit this thing if it kills me (with long knives, in the town square, getting blood all over my toga, to extend my conceit just a little further).

To add insult to injury, I’m using the magic loop technique this time around, which is a little absurd for something this big, but taking off 24 stitches (for the pattern it had to be a multiple of eight) brought me down below the manageable round length for my 100cm Addi Turbos. At least it also means I’ll get through those forty-nine blasted rounds a little more quickly.

It’s pleasing me, at the moment, that I’ll be able to look at my purple thing (which will be glorious, I decree) and know that this is probably the most thoroughly knit yarn in my entire collection. (As you may recall, it started out as a scarf.) One takes one’s comfort where one can.

On that point, actually, the Louet Riverstone has held up amazingly well to the repeated knitting and ripping it’s endured. If you’re going to make a spectacular series of blunders, it’s a good yarn to choose!

7 thoughts on “Et Tu, Brute?

  1. Ahh, the swatch-in-the-round dilemma. I’m afraid it definitely makes a difference to my gauge (sorry…). Boring as it is, I find it slightly less painful if I use the technique where you still knit straight on two DPNs, but bring the yarn around the back to the beginning of the needle each time. You get lots of loose yarn at the back of your work, but it’s less fiddly (and uses less stitches) that actually working in the round, and achieves the same end-result (eg, if it’s stocking stitch, you’re still knitting every row from the same side).

  2. Ah, of course! I made the purple swatch before I decided to knit in the round. Oh well.

    I’ve swatched in the round for socks, of course (using the technique you mention), but this is the first time I’ve directly experienced the fact that it makes a significant difference to gauge.

    On the plus side, I’m unlikely to forget in future 🙂

  3. Saw your post at Havi’s blog. As a knitter (novice), I have had my heartbreaking share of ripping apart projects and creating mobius strip hats that end up being weird little scarves for my friends that don’t know better. *sigh* AS for your sleep thing, sleep hygiene is super important. I also am a night owl and raging insomniac, so it is doctor’s orders to stay on a sleep routine. Start your routine every night around the same time, do it the same way every night for two weeks. Aromatherapy and progressive muscle relaxation helps. If you want more info, email me and I can send you links to my fav sites. =)

    1. Some day I intend to do a mobius strip on purpose. Just to slay the demon, or something.

  4. I think this may be why I only make scarves and blankets. I’m afraid I could never get the consistency of tension and gauge necessary to make garments, unless it didn’t matter what size the garments were.

  5. Scarves and blankets are great, though!

    In my experience, it’s a fairly unconscious thing: my muscle-memory gives me a particular tension, and there isn’t all that much I can do to change it. (My grandmother’s tension, for instance, was very much looser than mine, as we found when she did a few inches of a jumper I was knitting once.) The trick is to find the needle size that will give me the gauge I need at my tension.

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