Spent £50 on knitting aids today. I am recovering from the misery of knitting failure because disaster isn't a mysterious punishment from the gods - the whole process of getting it wrong was due to human error and therefore can be fixed. The first mistake I made with the shrug was to ignore the pattern instructions for tension because I wanted to use my nice wooden needles and was too tight to pay out for another set. The moral of the story is to buy the needles you need. I've send off for them. And double pointed pins for making the sleeves in the round, so that's 3 sets of needles straight away, and it is expensive. But what's the money for needles compared with wasting 3 weeks knitting time and feeling horrible?
The next mistake I made was in not reading the pattern carefully before I started. I started knitting the wrong size because I misread the pattern. Then, once I'd noticed, I thought, oh, it'll be OK, and carried on. I could have stopped and done a tension square, or bought the right needles at that point. NEVER ignore that little voice that tells you you're making a mistake! Stopping when you hear it and spending an evening investigating the problem can save a lot of pain and wasted knitting hours. Last night I did a little tension square, and I get perfect tension on the right needles. (Horrid charity shop needles, by the way, that's why I didn't want to make the garment with them, but now I know that I do need that size.)
The last mistake I made, which delayed getting to the point where I realised I'd made the wrong size, was in letting my tension go on the sleeves. I made both sleeves and sewed them up BEFORE I even tested them against the armhole. If I'd made one and checked it that would have saved a lot of time. Anyway, the sleeves were huge. I thought I'd made a pattern error so I ripped one sleeve back and knit it again. (Yes, that's right, without checking the tension, so that's a whole second sleeve I knitted that was a waste of time!) It came out exactly the same size. Finally decided to test the tension. HUGE. It had gone from 23 stitches per inch on the body to 19 stitches per inch on the sleeve. I think what I'd done is to concentrate while I was knitting the body because of all that shaping, so my knitting was neat and I worked on the tips of the needles. Then, I got to the sleeves and thought, I can do sleeves. Sleeves are easy. And relaxed - and whoosh - there went my tension out of control. Ripped both sleeves back and re knit one, this time keeping it tight. Ever so slightly too tight this time, but it didn't matter because this is where I discovered that the body is too big.
What a tangle. And it's all due to my methods of working. Slapdash, mean, arrogant and lazy! No wonder I was upset and crushed. I've learnt too much to give up knitting at this point - the technical execution of the stitches was perfect! The bodice was so neat and perfect to every last stitch so far as numbers went, even though I chose the wrong size. I am fast now as well - if I didn't make any mistakes, I could knit this shrug in only 2 weeks. All that's left to master is buying the right equipment, tension, setting off right in the first place and checking as I go along! Who would have thought that knitting would be so character building?
I sent off for two more Lucy Neatby DVDs as well - one that includes setting in fitted sleeves and the first intarsia one. I will not give in.
The brown yarn I'm using washes and re balls very well, but the balls are getting smaller and smaller as this is about the fourth time they will have been pulled back! Oh well. It's only practice yarn.