Thursday, February 01, 2007

Circular Thinking

I have serious issues with double-pointed needles.

(I have serious issues with Blogger too: I tried multiple times to upload photos and it claims they're "Done" but nothing shows up on my blog. Argh!)

First, there are the ladders. My socks had them. My mittens have them. The rungs are perfectly straight and beautifully consistent and I CAN'T GET RID OF THEM. I went to my LYS and begged them to fix my problem. The lovely Yarn Lady told me to pull the last stitch on the previous needle tight and the first two stitches on the next needle tight. I did that (I had BEEN doing that) and I still got a ladder. She suggested a few other fine tunings that failed to collapse my ladders. Finally, she had me shift beginning and ending stitches back and forth between needles on each round so the ladder's rungs got moved around which made it less obvious.

Second, there's, well, circular thinking. As my New Yarn Resolution #5 indicated, I think in rectangles. Maybe that makes me two-dimensional. I'm making this convertible mitten (which as I mentioned in a previous blog is WAY too much like a sock) and I managed to bumble my way through until I tried knitting the flap that flips over the fingers. My first attempt flipped the wrong way. My second attempt ended up inside out. My third attempt...well, the less said the better.

I went back to my LYS to seek more help. (Pretty soon they're going to charge me rent.) The Yarn Lady looked at my work and said that somehow I was reversing direction and knitting on the inside instead of the outside. She made me start over (mind you, I had frogged the *$&#%#@ thing three times already). She patiently showed me the proper orientation and explained about always knitting on the outside of the tube. Then another customer arrived and she left me alone with my knitting. Big mistake! By the time she returned I was inside out again.

So we started over. Two more customers came in and I was cast adrift on the stormy sea of DPNs. You guessed it. Once again, despite my total concentration, I got reversed. What amazes me is that I don't even know how I do it.

I ended up spending two hours in the LYS until finally the lovely Yarn Lady gave up and simply started the tube for me so I could see which side was in and which was out. Now I'm happily decreasing away. However, I face the next mitten with fear and trembling.

Please, please, PLEASE, if you have any suggestions as to how to keep track of which direction you're supposed to be going on DPNs, clue me in! I'm verging on suicidal here.

8 Comments:

Blogger monica said...

This is surprisingly a very common thing. I found this out when I started teaching knitting classes at the LYS last year. What I did for the knitters that like to knit from the inside is this. I put saftey pins on the outside of the knitting for them. One on each needle of knitting. The needle they are working on should be the one closest to their body and the pin should be on the outside. So many people knit on the needle furthest away and then from the inside of the tube. The safety pins really seemed to help them. I hope this makes sense to you and will help.

1:29 AM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

What a good idea, Monica!

I sometimes think circular knitting is like a Rubik's Cube. You either get it or you don't. But the safety pins could really help.

9:09 AM  
Blogger georg said...

I'm a freak, I guess. I just look at the two needles I am holding and knit them normally. It doesn't matter if there are four needles in the project, circular needles, or conventional needles, I just look at the two where I am working and forget the rest. The loose yarn is on the finished side (the right side since I knit from left needle to right), and that never changes.

I've never had ladders either. You are welcome to continue to think me a freak. For socks, I can knit tighter than I like to do with the afghans I make, and because I am making my stitches on the edge of too tight, it doesn't ladder.

Have you tried moving a stitch around the DPNs? Even if you ladder that way, it'll make a lovely spiral pattern instead of vertical oops ladders.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Like Georg I've never had a real ladder problem. My 2 best tips for avoiding them:

1) MAGIC LOOP
2) Give the second stitch on the new needle a sharp tug

The Magic Loop will relax you because there's only one needle change which means only one chance for ladders to break out and run amok up and down your knitting.

I never did the inside out thing so I can't even work my head around it. (I make other, weirder mistakes!) Again I'm with Georg: concentrate on the needles closest to you and ignore the rest.

And this: did you ever think of knitting the first two rows flat and then joining them into a round? You can easily seam the two rows later. Maybe that would help.

And Blogger: maybe it's time for us to abandon the old and embrace the new. The new Blogger technology is supposed to deal w/these annoying problems. Sooner or later we'll have to make the move . . .

I have the same problems with uploading photos. I find if I've typed in even a sentence of text, the pictures don't upload. I have to save as draft, exit, re-open it, and then upload. Most of the time it works. Sometimes I have to try five or six times. It's a crapshoot. (And incredibly annoying.) One of the more foolproof ways is to upload the photo into Flickr and shoot it over.

Boy, am I yappy today.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Dallas Schulze said...

For what it's worth, I always knit inside out when I'm working on dpns. This isn't inherently wrong, it's just different. I've read that it can be an advantage when you're doing stranded work because the strands are traveling around the outside of the circle which helps keep things nice and even.

For reasons known only the knitting gods, when I knit Magic Loop, I knit right side out. Either one works but it is important to be consistent on a given project or you can end up with some unexpected design elements.

When you pick up your knitting, the working yarn should be coming off the right hand side. I believe this is true whether you knit continental or English style. Look at the work, maybe tug on the dangling end of the yarn a bit and see which side it's coming from. That side should be in your right hand.

I also agree with Georg that, whether you've got two needles or ten in your knitting, you're still only knitting with two needles at a time. Try to forget the other needles and let them flop where they want. Eventually, they'll land in a way that's comfortable to you.

As for ladders, I could never completely get rid of them with dpns. I tugged the first stitch, the second stitch and random stitches across each needle. I tried incantations, prayer and muttered threats. I got it down to a very tiny ladder but it still annoyed me. When I switched to Magic Loop, the ladders disappeared. I have no idea why.

I also find Magic Loop is easier on my hands. I loved knitting on dpns because they felt so knitterly and I liked the flow of the work but I had pretty much quit knitting socks but they made my hands ache.

9:55 AM  
Blogger kshotz said...

I alwaysknit inside out on circulars, but just fine on dpns. I think the problem is when I use the circulars I end up knitting on the needles farthest away from me (I don't know why....it just is what it is....) On dpns the one's closest to my body are the easiest to knit so it works out.

As to the ladders....I read somewhere someone was knitting into the back of the stitch on the first stitch of the new needle to make it tighter. I tried it once and it left a funny little "line" in my sock sole. But perhaps it's better than a ladder?????

(ps....do the ladders disappear over time as the sock gets washed 2 or 3 times??)

11:34 AM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Monica, your idea about the safety pins is brilliant. I'm definitely going to try that!

Fran, I stink at Rubik's Cube so I guess it's not surprising that I stink at DPNs.

Georg, if you're a freak, you're a very lucky one! I'm going to follow your suggestion to think in two dimensions since apparently that's what I do anyway.

Barbara and Dallas, you keep espousing this Magic Loop thing. What is it exactly? Could one of you blog about it with photos (assuming Blogger will let you upload them)? I'd love to have a better idea what the joys of ML are.

Kshotz, I've never actually finished anything with ladders in it so I don't know if they disappear with washing. One can only hope!

So now I will take all of your excelent advice and begin my second mitten with renewed fortitude. Onward and upward!

(Dallas, I think I'll add some incantations while I'm at it so if you hear strange chanting mixed with howls of frustration emanating from northern New Jersey, ignore all of it. It's just me knitting mittens.)

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

Yes, the ladders generally vanish after a wash or two. I occasionally get them in socks, and after a time or two of wearing, they go away. Another method that helps (me) prevent them is the 2 circs method--half your stitches go on one circular, the other half go on another of the same size. Those stitches always stay on the same needle that they're on. And the working yarn is always attatched to the right.

10:48 AM  

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