Knittin' Gal
trials & tribulations
of a newbie knitter

The COZY Experience

Thursday, March 17, 2005
Well, up till last Wednesday (9 March), the only thing I'd ever knitting was a combination of basic knit and purl stitches. I'd decided to knit something more adventurous and after combing the vast catacombs of the Internet, I found a fairly intricate pattern that I thought would be perfect for a good friend of mine. As her birthday is coming up, I thought that it would make a great gift. The pattern is called COZY and it's been described as a "simple, tweedy lace wrap". So, armed with the pattern and some advice from the KL Knitting Meetup Group I bought the relevant tools and material during our last meeting.

I bought a 5mm circular needle and 5 balls of Sirdar's Double Knit Pure Cotton in a "champagney" colour. I thought that it is a lovely colour... neutral-type shade which will go with anything. As I couldn't wait to get started, I started casting on in the shop, on my first ever circular needle experience.

Tip: Casting on is easy, counting it is not, especially with circular needles and when one is in a group. I was with the gals from the
KL Knitting Meetup Group and with all the chatting etc., it was HARD to keep count. Maybe I'm just not used to handling yarn but I kept losing count for some strange reason... it was like 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, .... 30, 32,36... then it was ARRRGGGGHHH and I'd start all over again.

Regardless, I got the appropriate number of stitches on and I began knitting away in earnest (a brand new experience, especially with the circular needles which kept twisting away, like it had a life of it's own). So, 85 stitches I had, 3 rows of garter stitch I needed. I got this down pat when we were sitting in Starbucks after our trip to local yarn shop. You can read more about our last meeting (complete with pictures)
here. I thought that it would be better to start the lace pattern at home, where I can concentrate.

Now, I have to say that a lace pattern is HARD!!! I did the first row of the pattern without much hassle. Did the 2nd row, no problems. Then, on the third row, all hell broke loose. The pattern called for a repeat of 6 stitches and somehow, when I got to the end, I didn't have the prerequisite number of stitches. So I started working backwards i.e. undoing the last rows and trying to work out what went wrong. This didn't work as after I'd unpicked the last 2 rows, somehow I didn't have the 85 stitches I was supposed to have. So, I frogged it.

Again I began with the cast on, the knitting etc. After row 3 or 4, I lost my way. Now, you have to understand that this is my first ever "intricate" type pattern. I can do knit and purl stitches flawlessly, without looking at my work. I love watching television and knitting at the same time. For this project, with the needles held firmly in my hands, I was literally STARRING at the pattern the whole time. I was so afraid that I'd lose my way. If the phone rang, I'd ignore it until I got to the end of the row. If the BF talked to me, I'd ignore him, mumbling K2tog tbl, K1, S1, psso.

After the 6th or 7th time of frogging (before I'd even complete one round of the pattern), I smartened up. Swapped the circular needles for straight ones (heaps easier to count stitches) and I dug out my stitch markers. So, slowly I began, counting and marking every 18th stitch and doing a complete stitch count at every row (talk about anal and slow going). So, after more than 12 hours of me doing my first cast on, I had made my first repeat of the pattern, a whole 8 rows!! Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe the feeling. The BF was scared to approach me. I used a new yarn ball when I started casting on the straight needles as the original yarn looked rather icky after so much torment and I was sleep deprived.

So, armed with my straight needles, work progressed. I was still starring at the pattern, hugely afraid of looking elsewhere in case I lost my placing in the pattern. The BF was told (in between completed rows) to not come near me / talk to me when I am knitting. At the end of Day 1, after I put down my work, the BF cautiously asked me how long the wrap is supposed to be. 67 inches I told him. He looked at the measly 1.5" I had and shook his head.

Day 2 was heaps more productive than Day 1. My wrap actually grew and a pattern emerged! Truly exciting. I was still starring unrelentingly at the pattern, counting ever so often and THEN I realised that counting from right to left isn't enough... one has to count from left to right as well! This I found out after getting to an end of a row and discovering that I don't have the required number of stitches! Even now, when I get to an end of a row, I hold my breath and pray and hope that I have the right number of stitches.

Lessons learnt:
1. straight needles are a LOT easier to work with when working in a lacey type pattern
2. it is ever so easy to miss out on yarn overs
3. markers are indispensable
4. count, count and COUNT
5. make a note of where you are at when you take a break from your knitting as it is highly possible you'd start off at the wrong place when you start working on the project again
6. K2tog tbl means knit two stitches together, through the back and is NOT two separate instructions
7. following a pattern gets easier with time
8. count, count and COUNT
9. count, count and COUNT
10. count, count and COUNT

So, after 5 days of me starting the project, I can now recognise what the different stitches are supposed to look like so I can stop mid row and talk to the BF, answer the phone, take a bathroom break etc. I don't have to stare at the pattern anymore although I still use it as reference for every row (how the gals remember instructions without looking at the pattern is totally beyond me). Am progressing a lot faster now. Occasionally I get lazy and don't count and that's when I get into trouble... it is ever to easy to forget the YO or the sl.

So, on Day 5 of my project, my wrap looks like this:

Cozy on Day 5

The edges are a little crooked but I think that with "blocking" that it will straighten out. It is getting rather heavy and I hoping that it won't be too heavy as a wrap. I bought 5 X 100g balls of cotton so theoretically, it should be about 500gs... I wonder if that is too heavy for a wrap.

A Close Up
I've even started on a 2nd ball of yarn and I have little bits of yarn hanging out (which I have no idea what to do with yet). Will figure it out later.

Loose Ends
10:24 am :: ::
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