Knitting Without Mistakes

Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote the book “Knitting Without Tears” as a guide for knitters to learn when and where to take short cuts. Extremely witty and full of useful tips, it is a fantastic read, not just as a book of information, but as a book of encouragement.

I should have read this book on Friday before I began the task of joining two pieces of my yoga wrap together…

This simple garment comprises of two sleeves and a back. No shaping, some patterning and some rib – nothing hard. That said, I had misread the instructions and found myself re-doing the trellis pattern four times! Once I got it, I was on the home stretch. I knit across the back and then well into the 2nd sleeve before I realised I would run out of yarn. Drats!

So I unravelled the 2nd sleeve and some of the back. Rather than re-knit the sleeve in the current direction and risk running out of yarn again, I decided to knit from the band up and join the two pieces together. Makes perfect sense… until I got to the grafting!

I watched some YouTube videos and set to work. The 1×1 rib on the edge stitches looks a bit messy, but I continued… 2 hours later, I’m still going and whilst the middle section looked fine, those 1×1 rib edges are just not right (tight with a clear ditch). By the time I finish, I decide to that I wasn’t satisfied and so pulled the last 18 stitches out.

I tried everything I could think of – grafting with a wool needle, grafting by knitting, and crochet grafting. How could these stitches defeat me! This is where I needed Elizabeth Zimmermann to tell me in her reasonable voice to put my knitting down and have a cup of tea!

Instead, I pulled the stitches out again and tried making up my own version. Surely if I just glare at the stitches for long enough they will do what I want!! After searching through my books and more YouTube videos, I come to the realisation that the only way to do it is with a two step grafting technique. By now it’s too late and the tears are coming!

Why does a piece of knitting bring out such emotion? For me, my perfectionist streak comes out. I know that finishing can make or break a garment. It can ruin a neat piece of knitting by rushing to finish those dreaded seams. As I am making this garment for myself, I knew that I would be looking at those stitches and feeling disappointment every time I went to wear it.

For now my yoga wrap is sitting unfinished in a project bag. I’ll get to it again soon, after I drink some tea, read some Elizabeth Zimmermann and make peace with my knitting.

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Time for Tea

What is it that makes tea so comforting and warm, like a big cuddle? Coffee can taste good and give you bursts of energy, but tea hits the spot with that “ahhhhh” sound. It can be relaxing and refreshing. It can give you 5 minutes away from your desk (or even at your desk) that clears your head and soothes your soul.

I drink tea all day long. I have a black tea after breakfast. Another mid-morning. Another after lunch. Then for my afternoon break, I swap to green tea (one cup a day is meant to have multiple health benefits). Then after dinner, I’ll have a flavoured tea (with black or green base). I love liquorice, ginger, chai, cinnamon. Anything warm and spicy.

How much of the fondness we have for tea is in the dried leaves and how much is in the ritual of it? Measuring the leaves (or grabbing a tea bag), waiting for the kettle to boil, pouring the water and then having to wait for it to brew and to cool down to drink. And we can only ever sip it.

In a world where everything is so fast, this tea making ritual is the 5 minutes that slows us down and makes us contemplate the world through a steamy lens. All the more reason to get that good teapot out and fill it up!

PS. I might just have to crochet a tea cosy. It could save me pouring so much cold tea down the sink!

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The Common Cold

You can determine when a common cold has got to you by the amount of knitting you are able to do.

The more knitting done shows the better you feel. Less knitting indicates low energy. Knitting with lots of mistakes indicates it’s time to take a nap and sleep it off.

Undoing your knitting for the fifth time indicates a state of delirium and you should not be making knitting decisions during this time.

So instead, I’ll watch some reality TV and drink endless cups of tea. If I’m lucky, I’ll fall asleep and dream that I’m knitting…