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When Knitting = Grumpy: Figuring Out the Formula

Usually, I start my morning with some knitting while I sip my coffee. And then I pick it up again in the evening, usually while I watch something on TV with Tom. It's such a nice, relaxing way to begin the day -- and wrap up the day. I find it calming and relaxing and centering.


Except . . . when I don't.

For the last week, I've been knitting the colorwork portion of the sleeves on my latest sweater, and it turned out to be a total Knitting GrumpFest!

But not for reasons you might think. I mean . . . everything is working out splendidly, gauge-wise and fit-wise. So that's all good. Yet . . . I was finding No Joy in my knitting last week. Every time I picked up my sweater, it was just . . . ugh.

So I decided to stop and analyze: What was it, exactly, that was making me so cross about knitting those damn colorwork sleeves? 


First . . . I enjoy knitting when everything "feels right." I like nice needles with smooth joins. I like having the "just right" number of stitches on the needles so I don't have to have scrunch up the stitches overmuch -- or deal with having the uncomfortable s-t-r-e-t-c-h of having an almost-but-not-quite-enough number of stitches on the needles. I hate "kinky" cables, and I especially hate cables that are too long for the project I'm knitting. For sleeves, I almost always just use my double-points, and that's usually fine, although sometimes I use "magic loop"-ing. But with colorwork, double-points don't feel exactly right (those floats), and magic loop? Well. That brings us to . . . 

Second . . . I am not a huge fan of tangles when I knit. I like stripes and fair isle colorwork, so I can deal with SOME tangling. But let's just say . . . you won't find me knitting a lot of intarsia. I decided to knit my sleeves using the magic loop method, but discovered that looping magically AND colorwork make for lots of tangled yarn. And that pretty much made me lose my $h*!. So. Double-points for me. Still a lot of yarn-wrangling on every round, but at least I wasn't also fighting the extra cable "loop."

Third . . . You may remember that I'm already not terribly fond of knitting the sleeves in the round on top-down sweaters. All that twisting and turning. So tedious. 

So. There's my answer to why I wasn't finding joy in my knitting last week:

Didn't Feel Right + Yarn-Wrangling/Tangles + Twisting/Turning = Grumpy Knitting

That's the formula!
No worries, though.


I got through it!

Now it's smooth sailing with just plain old stockinette.

(Until I have to finish the sleeves.)
(But that's just twisting/turning - all by itself - without colorwork, which will seem like a walk in the park now.)
(Nothing like a little small-circumference colorwork for perspective!)


Be sure to visit Carole for more Three on Thursday posts today.



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My thinking was running along the same lines yesterday. I was knitting on my second sock and wondering why things weren't "flowing" nicely. It seems that one of my carbon fiber double points with a metal tip had developed both a burr and a gap so the yarn caught and didn't feel right when I was knitting with that pesky needle. I can hardly wait to get back to NJ and trade out the stupid needle, then things will feel just right. That is a beautiful sweater and it looks like some grumpy knitting may be worth it for such a lovely result.


I'm sure in the long run it will be more than worth it. Beautiful colors in that sweater Kym and glad you are finished the colorwork on the sleeves. I ran into the same issue with DPNs doing color work on a sock - ended going up a needle size to make it fit, but those floats are hard to negotiate in my opinion when useing DPNs.


GORGEOUS sweater. Glad you stuck it out!


It's so incredible! I can see why it would make for grump knitting, though. I'm glad you've got that part behind you and you can just knit round and round. And round. LOL


It's gorgeous! I JUST finished four days of stockinette sleeves in the round. I will be knitting them flat for my next sweater and I am not sad about that!

kathy b

But but but, it is a masterpiece!!!! I think I'd make one someday. I like how the fair isle is not repeated. Oh it is lovely. Sorry it was a pain. I hate tangling yarn


I get frustrated as well when I'm fighting with my tools and materials. Knitting is supposed to be relaxing, so it's stressful when it's not! You may have already figured out this trick, but the way I deal with sleeves so that I don't have to constantly turn the whole project is to turn one way after half the sleeve and then turn the other way at the end of the round (NB: I usually magic loop my sleeves).


Sleeves are bad enough in the round, but colorwork on top of it? I feel for you! You'll get there and it will be worth the hassle, but I have no suggestions for making the journey easier. Knit on!


I find knitting color work on a small circumference challenging. I can’t seem to make the switch between needles look right (I use 2 circulars). My tension is either too tight or too loose. I think your sweater is looking lovely.


Ooo! The outcome is just spectacular though!! (I too hate tangled yarns!) I am glad you are to the "smooth sailing" portion of your knitting!


So glad you are finished with the grumpy part! Sarah’s sounds like a good suggestion. Wonder how the actual designers and/or their test knitters handle this? They probably knit a LOT of Fair Isle sleeves.


I agree with you that knitting has to feel right and that includes needles, yarn, cables. I rarely use magic loop because constantly wrangling the cable drives me nuts. I finally came to the conclusion that it was worth buying another needle than making do with magic loop. The colorwork on that sweater is gorgeous.


Oooo, when knitting is more irksome than relaxing is enough for me to pull my hair out! Right now I am knitting several of 2-3 color stranded sweaters, (3 on needles at present time). I feel I spend more time untangling yarn than making stitches....grrr. Also, I am so with you if my needles have a 'catch' on them, or I have a 'catch' on my nail/fingers (dry weather). Ha, it's a wonder I ever complete a project. Good luck, your sweater is BEAUTIFUL!
PS: My daughters and I took a cooking class from Sur La Table after you posted about your class and we Loved it. Made Tortellini and it was over the moon delish. We are signing up for more classes...thanks for the recommendation.

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