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Old 01-28-2013, 05:52 PM   #1
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A quick vent
I hope this is the right place for this topic; MODs, please move it if it isn't.

Anyway, it's a quick rant about knitting. I've seen many of the videos/tutorials/etc here, gotten help from other sources... and any knitting I do STILL ends up a horrible knotted mess, or completely unraveled because the damn stitches won't stop dropping. It doesn't matter what the pattern is; it can be simple knit stitch and it will end up a mess. I've lost track of the amount of projects I've had to drop because of this. After frogging or outright starting over (after somehow getting the mass of knots untangled) so often... well... I give up on that particular pattern.

What'll help make knitting less difficult?

(Sorry if it's not terribly coherent. I've been attempting to knit for the last five-six years and I'm so tired of never getting any of right. Today was fighting a basic cable pattern. Yep, tangles and dropped stitches and yarn going everywhere but where it's supposed to go AGAIN.
It's acrylic yarn I use; wool makes my lungs feel weird and cotton's not common around here, or cheap.)
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:13 PM   #2
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So sorry to hear you're having difficulty knitting. I remember it being difficult for me when I first started, too. Over the course of several years, I learned the basics (and became somewhat proficient at them). It took lots of starts and stops and frustrating periods before I began knitting well--and then I discovered after doing the front and back of a sweater TWICE that I was twisting my stitches. So, yeah, I've been there!

What size yarn are you using? Perhaps it would help to use chunky light-colored yarn (but not the fluffy or fuzzy kind) and larger needles to help you better see what you're doing. Also, you might try postponing any projects until you've really mastered knitting well. I know I made swatches for a LONG time before I ever started on a project. It also might be an opportune time to learn how to fix some common mistakes; take a look at this videos and maybe practice on some swatches:

Let me also recommend using stitch markers (to mark off unique patterns, such as cables or repeats of lace) and a lifeline (

As for getting your yarn in knots, it's a good idea to keep it wound up in a ball (of some sort) even when you're ripping out a project. And if you've repeatedly knit and pulled out the same yarn over and over again, it's much more likely to form knots. Maybe use a fresh skein of yarn more often?
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:22 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. It's good knowing others have been there too.

I'll have to remember that about the lifeline. It looks useful! It should save frustration if I put it in the row before beginning the cable... *ponders*

The balls of yarn that've been frogged repeatedly, I've begun to use for loom knitting. Less chance of knots there.

Thank you again Antares. It helps knowing there's others out who also struggled and managed to learn to knit anyway. Er, something like that; it sounded a lot better in my head.

Last edited by Azrel : 01-28-2013 at 06:26 PM. Reason: to further thank Antares
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:40 PM   #4
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So sorry to hear you've been having trouble getting going. Maybe a switch in the type of needle would help. If you're using metal, try wood/bamboo as they 'grip' the yarn better and the sts may not slide off as easily. Another thing you might try would be circular needles instead of straights. You can knit flat on them and because the stitches stay on the cords and aren't crowding on the ends, may drop off less. I've been using circs only since my second project and a few years ago I wanted to make a sample of something and the only empty needles I had were some straight ones. I couldn't knit with them because they were so awkward to balance! I can see where being new and trying to do as well as remember how to make the stitches along with trying to balance the end of the stitcks makes it harder to learn knitting.

Also you might switch hands - if you're holding the yarn in the right, try the left, if in the left, try the right. It may be easier for you the other way. If the yarn you unravel is tangling, wind it into a ball as you rip out, or fold up the skein and wind the loose yarn around it. But hang in there, you may get it yet. If you can find a beginner class at a yarn store, that may help to have someone show you in person how to manuever everything.
sue- knitting heretic

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Old 01-28-2013, 06:45 PM   #5
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I've been thinking about your tangling, knotting problem. My first choice with frogged yarn is to wind it around the ball it's attached to but if that's not a great option and even though it means more ends to weave in eventually, if I have to frog enough yarn to be a knotty problem I'll cut and wind it up. I've made loops of the yarn and hung it on something too but that still can end up in knots and tangles.
Have you managed to finish anything? Something simple, small, and done is a great morale booster.
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Cheating is an option. . . . Cheaters never win and winners never cheat, but smart knitters who want to retain an iota of sanity do, cheerfully. ~~Kory Stamper
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:54 PM   #6
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What size needles are you using now? What weight is the yarn. If the needles are to small for the yarn it could add to the falling off. It's not a good idea to knit lace when you're learning.

My suggestion is a size US 9 or 10 needle and a smooth, light solid colored yarn. Go slow.

Is there an actual yarn store you can get to? They are usually very helpful. If you go to one and they aren't try another.

When asking questions ALWAYS post the name and a link for the pattern if you have it.

NEW! KH knitting video archive

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Old 01-28-2013, 07:10 PM   #7
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We've all been through the frustration of dropped sts, uneven tension, holes, big mistakes, you name it. No one gets a free pass to knitting success without a pretty steep learning curve.
I like the idea of maybe a grippier needle and also perhaps less tension on the yarn. Try just a practice square instead of a project. When it looks ok, add in a cable or other stitch patterns.
You will get this to work, I'm sure.
Knitting Help Videos Here!-
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:40 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Azrel View Post
What'll help make knitting less difficult?
There may be people who pick up needles and yarn and just begin knitting and never have a worry about it. I've never met anybody personally who could make that claim, but I'm sure that there are examples of Knitting Savants out there. However, for most of us, it's a process. And for some of us that process takes longer than others.

What's helped me more than anything is having a professional knitter for a girlfriend. You can't have her, but you can probably find someone who's willing (and able) to give you feedback and answer questions. I can't think of anything that's better than that. Places to start looking? The local yarn store is usually inhabited by pretty knowledgeable people, and there may even be classes. A lot of community/arts centers have classes and workshops too. Unless you live in the middle of the wilderness, there's probably some place around where people who knit hang out. There's an awful lot of us, ya know.

So. Besides finding a Yoda to mentor you, what else can you do? There's a HUGE community of knitters online. This site is only one of many. Ravelry and Knitty are two of the bigger ones I'm familiar with, but I'm sure there are a ton of others. Facebook, I'm sure, has knitters' groups (I don't FB, so I can't confirm or deny).

And as Yogi Berra once said, "Half of this game is 90% mental". If you expect to succeed, you'll have a better chance of success. But first you have to define what success is -- for you.

Breathe. No, I mean literally, breathe. It's hard to keep your focus when your brain isn't getting oxygen. You laugh, but I can remember when I realized I was holding my breath so long during a particularly stubborn k2tog that I actually got a head rush when the oxygen supply was restored.

Basically, anything that will help your mental state will help your knitting. If you're tense, your stitches will be too. The owner of the local yarn store here (and one of the two best knitters I know personally) always says "It's knitting, not rocket science". And she's right. No matter how hard you try or how much you want it to be a precision operation, it isn't. And there's no objective measure of "perfect", so don't bother looking for one. It'll only frustrate you further. As someone said in another thread, "If you can't see it fro the back of a galloping horse at a distance of 20 yards, don't worry about it." Believe me, if you start picking out every little imperfection, you'll never be satisfied with any project you do. If it doesn't show, it doesn't count.

As for dropped stitches, if you haven't done it already, learning how to fix them will probably go a LONG way. Not only will you be able to fix the dropped stitch, but because you know you CAN, you'll be less worried about them. And I'm betting that leads to having fewer of them... at least it has been for me. Plus, if you notice a flaw a couple of rows back (or even further) you can fix THAT, too. Just drop the stitch(es) above it, drop the buggered stitch... and then fix the dropped stitches! Pretty soon you'll be dropping stitches on purpose just to show off for your friends and family. (Okay, maybe not.) The key point to remember is that once they're fixed, they'll look a little bit loose and sloppy. Yanking the fabric around in various directions will help with that (sometimes a LOT), but once the item is washed/blocked you probably won't be able to find the fix at all.

Just Keep Calm, and Carry Yarn.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:28 AM   #9
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My Story
About 6 yrs I injured my back, had surgery and was told I could no longer run. I am a very athletic person and always considered myself to be an athlete. Needless to say I wasn't too happy, but decided I'd better find a more sedentary activity. I decided to take up knitting.

I felt totally out of place and I was thee WORST knitter in the class. I couldn't knit a square. Everyone was progressing nicely and I just wanted to scream. I actually got so frustrated practicing at home that I took one of the bamboo needles, broke it in half and threw it across the room!

The next week I bowed my head in shame as I explained why I needed to purchase new needles. When I arrived at the 3rd class the teacher looked at me in surprise and said, "We didn't think you'd be back."

Well that did it. I was going to learn how to knit if it killed me! I made so many mistakes, but that was a blessing as I was the only one at the end of the 6 week class who could correct her own mistakes.

The next six week class I was doing socks and bags when everyone else was doing scarfs (yawn) and they still didn't know how to correct thier mistakes.

So, hang in there my friend (s). I learned that making mistakes is the best way to learn. Slow down, take your time. Look at your work and try to understand how the knots are made (knitting is just making knots with sticks).

I use the bamboo circular needles as someone else mentioned. It's okay to hold your stitches at the end of the needle so they don't fall off. It does get better!

BTW- I am back running and totally healed.

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Old 02-01-2013, 12:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Azrel View Post
Anyway, it's a quick rant about knitting. I've seen many of the videos/tutorials/etc here, gotten help from other sources... and any knitting I do STILL ends up a horrible knotted mess, or completely unraveled because the damn stitches won't stop dropping. It doesn't matter what the pattern is; it can be simple knit stitch and it will end up a mess. I've lost track of the amount of projects I've had to drop because of this. After frogging or outright starting over (after somehow getting the mass of knots untangled) so often... well... I give up on that particular pattern.

What'll help make knitting less difficult?
l can sympathize with you. I happen to be a really slow learner and it can take me a long time to finish a project or decide to frog it forever. I end up using yarn that has been frogged many, many times. It's depressing really. But sometimes I figure something out and I get a project finished and its great. I'm wearing a sweater I knit right now - I love it!

I also think each knitter is going to have a personal source of tension for them that they have to learn to deal with. For me, it's money. Anything I make I need to be able to use, because that money comes out of my clothing budget (mostly-sometimes it spills over into other ones ). This used to be really stressful for me, especially when I first started knitting. I HAD to get it right, but the tension I created within myself meant that I rarely did.

I also went through a spell where Ravelry was having a really negative affect on me. I saw all these people on the site who seemed to complete a perfect sweater a week, complete with gorgeous pictures and I thought that meant I had to also be that prolific and perfect. This is as bad as my other problem and it made me obsessed with trying to knit at a certain speed. I have problems with my right hand and I will never be a fast knitter. Trying to keep up with everyone else had me dropping stitches and misreading patterns all over the place. Gah, that was a bad time. I got over that by making a serious effort not to care anymore about my speed. I then changed from knitting English style to Continental, which took the tensioning task away from my right hand and really helped me find a better rhythm. I also decided to no longer look at people's start and completion dates and by not filling in my own dates on Ravelry. I got through those steps by deconstructing my problem over time and trying different solutions.

Being tense takes energy from everything else. Now I make a conscious effort to chill out. I've had to really take a look at what I wanted knitting to contribute to my life. I couldn't let just take the place of some ready-made items because then I was making a bit of my life like a factory job. Knitting is awesome and I try to honor that by making sure the time I spend knitting is as pleasant as I can make it. I try to do things like listen to music I like while knitting and make sure I take breaks if I find myself a little too upset that I can't figure out short rows. I also don't allow myself to get too attached to a project, so if it doesn't work out I can put the yarn away for another day and then I do this:
Just kidding about that last part, I just like that little guy!
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