Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

The Trouble with Knitting


I love sewing: we all do – that’s why we’re here ….the pairing of pattern and fabric, the choice of garments, trying on and (almost perfect) fitting, the construction techniques, the uniqueness. But knitting! I could swear here %***!*&

When I sew something, I try it on halfway through its making. If it’s too loose I sew a wider seam allowance, if it’s too tight I sew a narrower seam allowance. Simple.

But knitting – honestly – you have to get practically to the end for trying on purposes and if it’s not right then there’s only one thing to be done – swear repeatedly and loudly, stick the whole lot in a plastic bag, hide it and go back to sewing. And it takes soooo long to do.

Knitting – it’s a demon. About three years ago my husband asked me to knit him a sweater. I sent him off to hunt around Ravelry and thought that’s the end of that. Ha! However, he found a pattern and ordered wool – expensive stuff like alpaca and silk. I started the sweater five times! I’d knit up about 10cms then lose my way in the K1,P2,YO,K2,P3, K1 (that’s made up BTW) complicated rib; rip it out and start again, and again, and again. Then one day I did the only sensible thing and the whole lot ended up in a plastic bag and hidden from sight.

downloadKate got us all started on knitting over the summer with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting without Tears. I remembered the luxurious yarn that was sweating in a plastic bag so I bought the book and the circular needles and got stuck in.

Kate has knitted some stunning jumpers herself and is a real inspiration. See some other sewers whom she has encouraged and enabled to knit and their finished versions here.


eks-1-2The yarn that was purchased many years ago for the doomed jumper is Drops alpaca in indigo with a second yarn of Drops silk in a lighter blue, knitted as one strand. It produces a lovely mottled/marl effect. It really is the softest thing. If I remember correctly it was bought from Purple Sheep Yarns – really quick dispatch and the cheapest, even though this is not cheap yarn.


The pattern is the mock raglan sleeve jumper from EZ book with the only bit of sewing being under the arms.


But look…….

Only joking!



It’s not for me, it’s for him….


The sleeves are a little long but not too bad. I just left the edges to curl – as per my customer who wanted something loose and relaxed. I didn’t cry. I didn’t swear. The plastic bag is empty. He got a jumper.

My confidence with knitting has risen slightly. EZ has a lovely, friendly way of writing that makes you feel that everything is OK. One extra stitch is not a disaster and I love her instructions for ‘approximately’ 10″ – my kind of rules. Of course, Kate has demonstrated many times that knitting is not the black art that I thought it was and that I Can!


I’ve started my second and this time it is for me.

I’m enjoying shopping for yarns – the colours, the thicknesses, the options……

It still takes me ages and ages to knit but at least now it gets finished and there are no tears, no stuffed plastic bags out of sight, nor swearing!

(Well maybe just a wee bit @*#*!)



27 thoughts on “The Trouble with Knitting

  1. Oh no! It’s as bad as quilting! You’re completely lost to the dark side, what will we do without you? Jumpers, meh, post-menopause, I rarely need a warm layer, and most of the classrooms inflicted on me are horribly over-heated, no need for knitting. It does take ages, and I will never find it as satisfying as sewing…no crunchy cutting out? Awful thought!
    Nice woolly pully though…

  2. First of all, shame on you 😉, I scrolled through and when I saw your picture, I quietly said to myself, ohhhh noooo. I felt so bad. But then, I saw that all was not lost and it wasn’t for you…anyway!!! 😊
    So happy that you have found knitting to not be quite so bad. I have been knitting since I was a child and it brings such a seance of peace to me. It’s just like anything else, the more you do, the more you develop a sixth sense about what is right, wrong and whether or not it will fit. Glad your husband likes his sweater.

  3. I knit, but mostly small things..hats and socks being the favourites. Honestly, my last big project was a sweater for me and it took 19 years to finish…but it did get done. I wear it camping, where no one cares that is just a touch out of style.

  4. Ha you have made me laugh so much !! I love sewing but I started knitting again when my grandson was born (he’s now 5yrs and his sister 2yrs). I’ve also taught myself to knit socks with dpn. I never thought I would master them but it was something I always wanted to learn. There is such lovely wool now to choose from we are spoilt for choice !

  5. So glad that I’m not alone in my collection of bags of expensive half knits.
    I’ll get hold of that book and see if I can make progress.
    Thanks, I love reading about the trials and tribulations of your adventures in sewing, just wish I had a similar output.

  6. Dip those overlong sleeves in boiling water: that’ll shrink them.
    Shows how much I know. But after years of resistance I have finally decided to join the ranks of knitters. What have I got to show for it? Nothing, ’cause like you, I keep unpicking. But whilst being frustrating, it’s also exciting to be in the depths of ignorance, a complete beginner, learning bits here and there, waiting for when it starts to make sense.
    Lovely jumper by the way, unlike with most sewing you just want to hold and squeeze the end product, enjoying the rich cosiness.

  7. I know how to hand knit. I have hand knitted. It takes me ages, that is, I usually start and never finish. A plastic bag with a half knitted back in a stitch I can’t remember the instructions for and a cluster of balls of wool is the habitual evidence of my defunct knitting projects. Machine knitting is in a different class. It’s pretty quick, and if you follow the instructions on the ‘knit leader’ the resulting garment comes out the size you expected. I used to do quite a bit of this, before I moved to somewhere without a handy machine knitting shop. But machine knitting doesn’t have that curling up by the fireside aspect. It’s noisy and space hungry. I’ll probably stick to sewing.

  8. As long as the customer is happy!! Looks most comfy–just what I like!

  9. Try doing a top down pattern. You can try it on as you go. It’s definitely been a life save for me. No more sleeves that would fit an orangutan. I do find it very meditative, except for the occasional running off the rails, which involves a fair bit of swearing. Good luck.

  10. Try doing a top down pattern. You can try it on as you go. It’s definitely been a life saver for me. No more sleeves that would fit an orangutan. I do find it very meditative, except for the occasional running off the rails, which involves a fair bit of swearing. Good luck.

  11. Last year, while trying to knit a pair of socks, I had the sudden realization that I didn’t have to do this. I wanted to knit, but decided that I would rather sew or embroider or even crochet. So I frogged the 2/3 sock, rolled up the yarn and haven’t regretted it a bit. I do envy those who can knit, but I’ll just admire from afar. Good for you for finishing that jumper for your husband – the colour is gorgeous.

  12. You have given me the courage to rummage around and dig out half-finished knitting projects from eons ago. God bless you, Ruth. Who knows what will evolve from these strange mysteries? We may curse you, we may bless you for inspiring us, but there is never a dull moment…..xxoo.

  13. I am glad there is a glimmer of hope for your knitting. As some one else has already suggested, try top down knitting. You can try it on as many times as you like and control the shaping progressively. Even a set in sleeve can be mimicked effectively top down using a contiguous sleeve construction (try a search on Ravelry if this is nonsensical). I personally think fitting for knitting is EASIER than sewing fitting and gives you more control, not less. You have so much control in the shaping, because you make the fabric, not just the pieces. I find it more meditative than sewing and it is also portable, which is a huge plus. If you are finding your knitting style is slow or cramped, there are a lot of places to improve your technique. Don’t get me wrong, sewing is also a wonderful skill and immensely satisfying, just give yourself a chance with some circular needles!

  14. Ha ha ha. Got me there. I thought you were drowning in the jumper. I really like it on the proper recipient, don’t you? I am doing a man jumper too and there is so much knitting involved for these large folk. My little jerseys come together fairly fast which is more satisfying.

    I am glad you like EZ as much as I do. Also I like the drops product which is good value and nice and soft. The blues have come out beautifully.

    Also thanks for mentioning my excursions.

  15. Ha ha if it wasn’t for the sleeve length I think it would make a cool slouchy look on you! Better on him though 🙂

  16. I bought the book too after seeing Kate use it. I did gasp when I saw you modelling it! Very glad to see it fits the intended wearer so well 😀

  17. Great story. My challenge with knitting is that you don’t know what you have until you’ve put in seven million hours and it’s done. But any sewer can tolerate that kind of thing… Time to get out the knitting needles. All my yarn has been knitted before and frogged! but I’m OK with that. The only thing I’ve ever knitted and worn is fingerless mitts and caps. Lot of those…

  18. It is awesome!!! My nearly two year old cardigan is still lying in the knitting bag, sans sleeves… Good luck with your knitting for you.

  19. Look at that! Congratulations!

  20. I do knit, but I find it more wasteful due to the larger number of abandoned projects! Also the washing is a pain. Really I think I just like buying wool! Love drops wool their prices are so much better. Hope your Hubble likes it, it looks great, bet it feels even better. X

  21. I am clearly the outlier. I knitted for years and everything fit perfectly, and I designed my own sweaters, with complicated color patterns and cables and bobbles. Then I got carpal tunnel and took up sewing, where nothing fits!

  22. Oh, you struck a chord there! This is my story too. I used to whizz through knitting projects but now I seem to have a much shorter span of attention. I can’t seem to resist complicated patterns but lose track of the pattern really easily. Your sweater looks good and you may have given me the nudge to rummage in some of those bags of my own.

  23. Oh I could never knit! But maybe it comes with a license to swear? That would help…oh wait, I swear when sewing. But I digress. Congrats to you for finishing the sweater, and thankfully it looks so much nicer on its intended wearer. The two colors made a lovely, unique marled color.

  24. knitting – gah! I attempted it once when all my sewing friends were crossing over to the dark side and producing gorgeous little sweaters and scrumptious socks… but no ways do I have the patience for something so boring. It’s a shame though, because I’d secretly love to be good at it!

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