I have decided to share a secret - a shameful and embarrassing secret. Seeing all of these "first projects" and reading all these comments filled with self-doubt, maybe this will inspire you new knitters and make you realize that you haven't done too badly after all! Who am I kidding, you're doing great! Be proud and rejoice!
I taught myself to knit 4 years ago. I searched on the Web for "how to knit" and just copied what I saw in pictures. As a result, I am a continental knitter (hold my yarn in my left hand) and everything I know, I figured out the hard way. I did not know about all of you wonderful people who are so willing to help so I just did stuff the best way I could figure out - with sometimes disasterous results!
My first attempt at reading a pattern was for the "Autumn Throw" in a KnitIt magazine. The pattern is still on the Lion Brand web site, just FYI. It is just beautiful but uses a LOT of yarn - different textures and weights, with what seemed like a fairly complicated repeating pattern. (It was an expensive first major project!) But this was going to be for my wonderful MIL so... it was worth it. She knits and had done amazing work for my kids so I really wanted to impress her!
I learned a few things in this project!
1. Trust the pattern! Ingrid is right!!!! It's like a Star Wars thing - "Use the pattern, Luke".
2. Understand the pattern. A repeating pattern includes the stitches between the two little * and only those stitches - not the one before the first *!
3. Check your work often! OK, you probably know this but I was so sure it was right that I really didn't do this!
I was knitting in the round and just kept going. The throw kept getting bigger and heavier. So heavy in fact, that it broke a pair of circular needles. Should have been a sign! Second sign, I ran out of yarn WAY before I should have. I just ignored these signs and kept going. BIG mistake!
My 4'x5' rectange did not come out right. It was a circle! When I finished it and spread it out, it kept curving and getting bigger and bigger and bigger! After I quit crying, I measured it.... the outside circumference of this circle is 35' - yes, that's feet! My husband laughed until he cried and to this day calls it "The Elephant's Tutu".
After I measured it, I cried even harder.
How did I manage it? I added one extra stitch each repeat - each row got exponentially longer creating the circle effect. How much yarn did I use? I refuse to calculate how much - I would probably faint! Why haven't I frogged it? I can't bear to do it! I just put it in a box and keep trying to think of a use for it! Looking, back, there are so many little "boo boos" and "oopsies" but... compared to the BIG oops!
So... for anyone who has been embarrassed by their work. At least it didn't turn out like this! For anyone who is afraid to ask for advice... this is what happens when you don't! For anyone who thinks maybe the pattern is off... TRUST THE PATTERN! This is my early holiday gift to you!
I am much better now and have never created another such disaster. I can read and follow a pattern and I ALWAYS ask for help when I need it. It's OK, you can laugh when you see the photo! (By the way, the photo had to be taken from a distance to get the whole thing in the picture!)
Happy knitting! Angela