So if you’ve been watching on Facebook, you’ll know I’ve been chipping away at a little winter cardigan for Piper. It’s a cute Tikki Knits design called the Wallaby (I’m knitting the 8 ply version), and it’s been really nice and smooth to knit. The project has been slow going, but my knitting always is. Nevertheless, I’ve been trying to push myself to get it finished, because the cooler weather is definitely upon us and I’d love to see Piper wearing the finished product.
The other day, as I picked the cardigan up to start working on the sleeves, I noticed that the body looked really wide and short. I have this problem a lot – in fact, I am routinely complaining to my mum how all the baby patterns seem wide and short. The wallaby pattern lists all the finished measurements for each size, so I got to and measured the width and length. I knitted an 18 month size and a 2 year length, to accommodate for Piper’s slender frame. I discovered the cardigan was, in reality, the same width as the 3 year sizing, with the 2 year length.
I measured it several times to make sure, but there is definitely a whole extra two inches in width. I know all my stitch counts are correct, because I am a little particular that way, and I check them often – so what then? I’ve not been knitting an awfully long time, probably only about two years, which at my slow knitting speed doesn’t yield me that many finished projects. But, they’ve all been wide and short – and don’t get me started on the newborn baby booties that didn’t fit until Piper was almost twelve months old. At the time, I had been knitting patterns which gave instructions, but not finished measurements. This had led me to assume that all knitting patterns are short and stupidly wide. This time, with the wallaby, I had something written down that reflected finished measurements – and at last I realised what I had been overlooking all along. The problem is me!
I contacted my mum and my nana, who are pretty much my knitting gurus. “Is it possible to be a loose knitter?” I asked. It seemed a silly question, but there it is. How could you be a loose knitter? Don’t you just follow the instructions and have the finished product magically appear? (Yes, I really am this naïve.)
Nana said: “Of course. Have you ever knitted any of those tension squares?”
Nana: “Me either. Always thought they were a waste of time and money, to be honest, but that would tell you if you were a loose knitter. It’s okay, it just means you need to have a size smaller needles than what the pattern says.”
Mum said: “I thought your knitting looked a little loose when I saw it last.”
Me: “Am I not supposed to be able to see through it?”
I hold the cardigan up to the light to show her.
Mum: “Not that much. You need to go down a size in needles. Don’t worry, I was the same when I first started knitting.”
Me: “How did you find out?”
Mum: “Same way you just did – everything was short and fat.”
Me: “Nana said I should have tried some tension squares…”
Mum: “Waste of time and money – but then, that’s probably why I found out about being a loose knitter the hard way.”
Okay, so I’m not a total loser for thinking that tension squares were lame. If the knitting gurus never bothered, then I feel a bit vindicated. I do look back and wonder how I never twigged before, especially when the coat I knitted for Orion’s third birthday is still too big for him at four and a half. So it’s kind of cool, I guess, because the problem is identified and I have a solution. (And a legitimate reason to shop for more needles.)
Except now I have a cardigan, mostly finished, which I was so excited to see Piper wear this year. I won’t lie, I was fairly heartbroken when I realised it wasn’t going to fit her any time soon. My only real option is to adjust it for a bigger size – so I will finish knitting the sleeves to a longer length, potentially the 4 year old length, and then I will go back and extend the body to suit. With any luck she can wear it next year or, failing that, the year after. Not a total loss, because it will still be worn, but I am disappointed as I was so looking forward to her wearing it sooner, rather than later. But, I am not well known for my patience, so there is that.
How about you? Have you ever found out something the hard way? Do you knit? Is it tight, loose, or dead on the mark?