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Old 01-28-2013, 05:52 PM   #1
Azrel
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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
Antares
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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: http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/knitting-tips

Let me also recommend using stitch markers (to mark off unique patterns, such as cables or repeats of lace) and a lifeline (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elJqui-bM-k)

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.

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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.
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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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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.
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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.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:12 AM   #8
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As a beginning knitter myself, going on a month now. I know your frustration, the skilled fingers in the videos made my head spin and my wife can tell you I've screamed out "why kind of voodoo is that" when watching some of the videos and it's like a Sigfried and Roy prestidigitation.

I currently have 2 projects going, a hat which I started a few days ago on my second attempt at it, and a scarf which I started a month ago and I lost counts at the number of attempts I'm at. A change in needles made all the difference in the world with me. I tried the craft store brand needles and the fabric store brand, I ended up going to an actual yarn shop and got a good set of needles (circulars) I paid about 2 or 3 dollars more than what I did for needles at the craft stores and I got some great RL contacts, if I have a question I can call them or pop in the shop and they are more than eager to lend help.

What helps me to not lose stitches is to grip the 2nd loop from the one I'm trying to stitch, doing this tends to keep it from sliding off. Another thing that helped was to do a swatch, last night I started a swatch to learn to purl, yes I know I'm an elite knitting but I only know how to do the knit stitch. So on my hat the pattern is k1 p1, so I did a small swatch on 5mm needles so I could really see the work and get the feel for the stitch as well as allow my hands to memorize the movements before I start on the hat.

Your biggest asset will be your patience and your desire to learn. Keep at it, it is very rewarding and almost instantly so, it isn't long before you can see something you've made with your hands grow and actually begin to look like something. As for my scarf it is not 100% perfect, it has flaws but I think they add character to the garment so I'll leave them in.

I don't claim to know everything about stitching but I do know our brains are wired for pattern recognition, stitching is all about pattern if you think about it and look at a sweater or a hat, practice so your fingers know what to do, the rest will fall into place.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:24 PM   #9
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I have been knitting on and off for about 10 years or so. hang in there. it can be frustrating at times. I have had to frog a project many times. I usually don't get tangles if I catch the mistake quick enough. I just tink back to where the mistake is and wind my yarn as I go
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:40 PM   #10
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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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