The Ups and Downs of Knitting

Good News

I've finished the rib, and the pattern is looking very pretty. Exciting!

Bad News

This sweater is enormous! Like a well-trained knitter I made a gauge swatch (2, in fact) before beginning. However my gauge obviously went wild once I started the project properly and on circular needles. In the comments for my last post about the sweater, redsilvia did kindly point out that it would be advisable to make another swatch for circular knitting, and while I noted this I totally neglected to check my gauge while knitting. All this could have been avoided if I'd checked it after a few rows.

More Bad News

This sweater is going to have to be ripped out and started again. For the third time. A week's worth of knitting. Despite this, and the fact that I hate knitting ribbing, I actually feel OK about this. I really want to make this sweater, and I really want to make it right from the beginning. Plus...

Good News

I don't need to cast on so many stitches! The fairisle pattern is in repeats of 24, so I reckon I can lose a massive 48 stitches from the front section and 48 from the back. While knitting I put stitch markers between the pattern repeats, so now it is easy to check that I can remove this many stitches.

It seems a little insane to be able to cut out so many stitches, but the other option is to go down to some crazily-tiny needle size. In my limited knowledge of stranded knitting, I am aware that the knitted fabric of the sweater will not be as stretchy as normal knitting, due to the strands at the back of the fabric. I think (hope) that the smaller size will still allow for enough stretch in the sweater while worn.

I have not yet ripped out the knitting but will do so this week. Any advice or general moral support gratefully received. How much knitting have you had to unravel in one go after discovering a mistake? I've ripped out a whole cardigan before, but it was knit in bulky, so not as heart breaking as it could be!

K x


  1. Oh no! I'm sorry to hear you're having problems and may need to start over again. Usually gauge tightens up a bit when working in the round compared to flat, but clearly that's not the case for everyone! Btw for future reference, you can mimic a swatch in the round just by working on a DPN or a long circular-- when you end the row, slide the work back to the other end, and leaving loooong strands of yarn at the back of the work, just knit the next row. It's a swatch, so it doesn't matter that you have a bunch of strands at the back. And the first and last stitch of each row will be wonky but again, a swatch, doesn't matter (so long as your swatch is wide enough, not counting those stitches, to measure your gauge). This will better approximate your circular gauge than knitting flat will.

    First question... is it just the ribbing that's huge? If you aren't using a needle size down, you might try that, or cut 10% out of the number of stitches for the ribbing as compared to the body, then cast on those stitches in the first row.

    Second...if you cut out a bunch of the pattern, just make sure the design is still centered (if it matters). Also compare your gauge across the stranding to the number of stitches you're planning to work with to make sure you don't end up with too much negative ease. You're right and allover stranded work have less stretch, so more than 2-3" smaller than your bust size and it might not be a good idea.

  2. Thanks Tasha! Handy tip about swatching in the round, will have to give that a try. I think my gauge was looser due to doing stranded knitting as I was aware of leaving enough 'give' in the strands at the back.

    Both the ribbing and body are too large and think I might go down a needle size for the ribbing but will look carefully at pattern placement if I remove some of the repeats, to check it is still ok.

  3. Don't take out too many stitches - when you get to the Fair Isle it might tighten up.

  4. I'm not qualified to offer advice, but am lapping up your learnings. Sorry you've got to undo it all. I am So knitting tension square #3 and following your wise words!! Bet youll still get make quicker progress than me despite this setback!!

  5. Wow, what a shame! Haha I go through the same stages: Oh no, too big! Oh no, must rip out! Oh yes, fewer stitches! It will be worth all your hard work (and re-work) in the end though.

  6. Boy have I been there! Ripping makes you want it more, right? You are investing a great deal of time and effort into this pretty sweater, so rip if you have to. Annoying but worth it!

    Tasha has great ideas so I will defer to her eloquent comments ;-) Good luck! I can't wait to see your progress.


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