So here it is, finally, after several abortive attempts to knit it.
This pattern is included in the Rowan Dalesmen book and states that it is suitable for the average knitter. I clearly was nowhere near as good as the average knitter:
I started this in February 2012 and got so frustrated that I had a break for 4 months.
I dropped stitches.
I reset the row counter by mistake and kept losing my place
My dog sat on the knitting, which I’d carelessly left lying on the sofa and broke the bamboo needles, meaning that the knitting slipped off and had to be re-knitted.
I completely mucked up a couple of the rows and had a disaster trying to unpick them. This alpaca yarn is soft and light and fuzzy, but almost impossible to unpick and reknit without ending up in a hopeless tangle. But the yarn was expensive and it was as much as a challenge to me as running a marathon, so I persevered several times over many months.
All in all I re-started from the beginning AT LEAST 9 times.
There were times when I threw the knitting across the room in my frustration and left it all for hiatuses of months at a time.
This is what I have learned from this whole Fairbank episode:
- It is best to transcribe charts in full. This is a tedious process but one that will prove worthwhile in the end.
- Sometimes cabling looks like dropped stitches and holes. Don’t unpick it. It’s meant to look like this.
- Do not leave knitting on wooden needles lying about. Wooden needles, especially small ones, are fragile.
- Unpicking and then trying to knit with hairy yarn like alpaca leads to endless tangles and frustration. If the going gets tough, it is not worth the time and trouble to save the waste. Best just write off that ball of yarn and order some more. They will probably still have the same batch somewhere.
- It is far too easy to pick up extra stitches without noticing.
- When doing something beyond you in terms of complicatedness, it’s better to do a row at a time and concentrate on it fully than getting cocky and knitting several rows only to find later that you’ve made a careless mistake and have to unpick.
- A complicated pattern like this deserves 100% concentration. It’s not something that can be done while watching TV or chatting. Do not tweet or hold an outraged conversation about a controversial subject whilst in the middle of a row. Whatever the issue, it can wait or you’ll regret it.
- This project does not lend itself to be transported anywhere so you can do a couple of rows while you’re waiting at music school for a child to finish a chamber group. It won’t work like that.
- Even if you have to unpick several times, the cabling gets easier each time you knit, so it’s good practice. Through repetition you eventually get a feel for what you should be knitting and somehow realise when you’ve knitted a wrong stitch. I just can’t explain it, but it happens.
- Your row counter should be the right size for the needles. A larger one slips around easily and the number of rows will become confused.
- There are several keynote stitches that are the same for every row. Once you realise this, the pattern becomes less bewildering and you have an indication of whether you are still on the right track.
- Learning to unpick stitches is a great skill. Unpicking cabling is difficult, yes, but it’s better than having to reknit again and again dozens of times because of mistake that can be rectified using a cable needle. Use the cable needle, because that’s what you used to knit the cable!
- One stitch out of place IS a big deal and worth checking and unpicking if wrong. Otherwise the pattern will no longer be a pattern to a lesser or greater extent. If it is the latter, start from the beginning!
- Having good maths and logic skills always help when reading a knitting pattern. Increasing a stitch each end in a repeating pattern will require logic and a willingness to unpick if it looks wrong according to those cornerstone old reliable stitches that I talked about before.
- Transcribe the pattern and write in the increases or you will forget to do them. Usisng a different colour to add stitches to each increase on the pattern repeats is helpful.
- Moving your cursor along the transcribed stitches is the best way of making sure you stay in in the pattern. Get cocky and leave it a bit and this is a surefire way of losing your place and having to reknit.
- Check and check again what the pattern is telling you. Making wrong assumptions by not reading the pattern properly will ensure a re-knit, you mark my words.
- If you are feeling tired, STOP. This pattern needs the full concentration of someone who is NOT longing for their bed.
- Using a knitted project bag is very helpful for storing a correctly sized cable needle. Weave said cable needle into the stitches ON THE INSIDE of the project bag so it will fall into the bag and not on the floor under the sofa if there is an accidental dropping of the bag. There WILL be an accidental dropping of the bag. Alternatively, a project box which can accommodate everything required for the project safe from the inquisitive nosey of the dog, is a good idea.
- Just keep going. It’s all a learning experience and will be worth it in the end.
Thanks so much to Joanne at Wool & Buttons who, perhaps anticipating that I would run into endless trouble, kept back balls of yarn of the same bathc and sent them on to me!
Also to @Woolminer, who encouraged me all the the way through.
I WOULD LIKE TO DEDICATE THIS PROJECT TO PERSEVERANCE AND THE HUMAN SPIRIT.
Yarn: Rowan baby alpaca dk 100% alpaca Colourway: Cheviot
Knitted on: Millward Bamboo needles 3.75mm and 3 mm and a 3mm circular wooden needle from Knitpro