A stitch in time saves nine… or ASK JESSICA

A selection of knitting disasters faced in the last few weeks – and how my wonderful knitting mentor Jessica solved them!  I’m allowing myself to reach five issues before posting in the hope that the number of posts of my knitting dilemmas will start to dwindle as I get better!


Knitting Nightmare8 rows in and I have just realised that the reason my beautiful ribbed pattern is not emerging from my knitwork is because I haven’t been alternating the starting stitch between purl and knit.  I’m devastated.  

Ask Jessica:  Unravel, start over.  Sometimes you just have to.

Knitting Nightmare:  2 inches in and my ribbed pattern isn’t emerging and I don’t understand why!!

Ask Jessica: I started well, then I lost count of what was purled and what was knitted so I swapped half way.  The answer – I could leave it as a design quirk or unpick to the point it went wrong (at this point I passed the wool over – it was far to stressful to try and unpick part way without losing the decent stitches!).

Lessons Learnt:  Probably don’t share a whole bottle of wine while knitting with friends – it makes things like counting and looking difficult.

Knitting Nightmare: General stresses around the age old problem (for me) of ‘is this a knit or a purl?  how can I tell again?  I’m looking for the noose aren’t I – but I can see that in different places on both sides….’

Ask Jessica: The RIGHT side of your knitting is the side you should go by.  if the last stitch looks like a noose then it’s a purl and if the last stitch looks like a scarf around a neck (looser with two piece of wool twisting round each other) then it’s a knit.  Also I’m not knitting on the longest needles and with 70 stitches per line everything is very squashed together so it’s much harder to see patterns emerging – I maybe need to buy longer needles

Lessons Learnt:  I really need to get good at recognising my stitches and I really really need to not look at the wrong side because the back of the stitch looks like the opposite to what it is….if that makes sense.  Basically – Pay Attention!

Knitting Nightmare: STOCKING STITCH – I’m not getting the smooth texture on one side and bumpy on the other.  it keeps changing – I know it’s because I’m not alternating properly between purl and knit but I can’t work out when I’m getting it wrong!!

Ask Jessica: make sure you look at the right side to work out what stitch is coming next!  The right side being the RIGHT side of your knitting.  Treat this as the front.  If it is smooth and you see the little scarf-like stitches then you need to do knit stitches.  If it is bumpy, with little noose-like stitches, then you need to so purl stitches.  Stocking stitch is a great way to start learning to recognise the patterns because the whole row is the same, so if, like me, you’re forcing a lot of knitting onto quite short needles then it’s much easier to see the continuity of the stitches.

If that doesn’t make sense (and even after this advice I did it wrong again and had to unpick two lines) I’ve found a really helpful YouTube video that has sorted our my confusion!

Stocking Stitch How to

Knitting Nightmare:  Generally my stitches get tighter and tighter and it’s a bit of a battle to get the needle through the loops

Ask Jessica: RELAX!  Just enjoy – it’s meant to be fun, not stressful.  The more you relax the less likely you are to pull on the wool and tighten everything up, and particularly watch out for having your wool running through your hand because this means as you pull each stitch off the needle you could be adding tension in the wool and tightening the knot!

I’ve got this far into my first knitting project and the next step is to knit a shape into the side of the hat, within my stocking stitch, which will require counting, focus, recognising and alternating stitches and keeping my stitches even.  Bets on now for how long it will be before my next five Ask Jessica stresses and solutions are ready to post!


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