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March 2, 2007

Chatty Cathy and the endless puffballs, oh! And some questions answered.

Stitch 'n Bitch last night was fun and furry, especially if you sat next to me and my giant pom poms of acrylic.

(Imagine a real nice picture here. I forgot to whip out my camera.)

Wrapping the Lion Brand bulky wool-ease round and round on the pom pom form was a fine activity for me at a SnB, since I tend to do more visiting than actual knitting. But once I began the crucial "join halves and cut yarn" stage, little pieces of yarn dust went everywhere and left a fine patina of fuzz on all surrounding knitters.

Well, it isn't a visit with me unless you're covered in some kind of fuzz and/or cat hair, I suppose!

Recently I got a few knitting-related questions and thought I'd answer them here.

Okay I have eagle eyes with my knitting. It doesn't take me long to figure out when I have messed up. The only problem is that I don't ever know how to fix my mistake without just undoing the whole project and starting again. I probably made the mother of all mistakes by removing my needles. I am about to scream. What do I do? Brooke

Hi Brooke!
There are so many ways to fix mistakes without having to unravel all your awesome knitting. You can "unknit" which is where you sort of knit in reverse and take back what you started with, a total do-over for knitting. Just dip that needle backwards into the loop sitting on your right needle and get started "un-knitting." Now I tend to get my stitches all sitting bassackwards on the needles when I do this, but whatever. I can flip 'em around when it's time to knit them.

Or check out this page of videos from KnittingHelp.com. It shows how to fix some common knitting mistakes.

My philosophy is that heck, if you're just going to rip the whole mess out anyway, might as well try some techniques that feel weird or that you do a little wrong first time around. Why not try it! After all, if it all goes to hell in a handbag you can rip it out and start from scratch.

Now if only dating were that easy.

Another question. Let's hear it for "shoe number" awww yeah!!

I just recently discovered you when searching for a standard formula or decreasing the crowns on hats. Which brings me to my question: I have 112 stiches (small gauge!), what is a good shoe number would you say? Also, if my shoe number is pretty big, should I start decreasing sooner than I normally would? Thank you so much!

Hi Sarah!
First, I love you. You said "shoe number" in a sentence. LOVE YOU!!

For your hat, I would definitely knit up until a point where you can try your hat on and only see a little of your head poking out. I myself like quick decreases -- if you decrease slowly over a looooong number of stitches, you get a pointy cap. Good for some folks, not so good for those of us with ginormous foreheads. Heh.

Not suggesting you have a big forehead! Just making conversation. You know. Moving on.

I have never knit a 112-stitch cast on hat, but if I did I would probably pick 14 as my shoe number. So you will knit 12 stitches and then knit two together. Knit 12, K2tog.

Then on the next row, Knit 11, knit two together. And so on.

Please let me know how this turns out! And please forgive me if I gave bad advice. I will have to knit up a 112 stitch hat soon and see if I just led you down a perilous path. But still... shoe number. I love you.

Hi Laurie,
Looking for some help on a cardigan-sweater that has a trim about 2" going all the way up and around neck, shoulders and back down. My problem is I can't seem to get the corners right. How do you make corners? The pattern says to increase on the first stitch at the bottom and again at the last stitch before the neck... I've looked in all my knitting books with no answer. There are four corners - two on the bottom front and two on top front. Gah! I hope you know what I mean and can answer me soon. Going crazy.
Thanks, Raven

Raven! Now you see why I do not knit sweaters! I would be standing out on the corner of 4th and Main directing traffic with a bra on my head and talking into a stitch counter.

However, I am posting your question in hopes that one of the awesome (and sweaterly smart) readers can help you. I myself am still trying to get my pom poms correct half the time!

Hi, Aunt Purl!
I need some good advice. I have a favorite (and expensive) sweater that needs some loving care. Is there a place in LA that you would recommend for that sort of thing?
Thanks for your help!

Hey Sharon, do you need your sweater laundered or repaired? I know that our Los Angeles gals can recommend some great tailors/repair places/drycleaners so I am posting this even though I myself do not have an answer. Apparently I am filled with helpy desires today, but no real information. STORY OF MY DAMN LIFE.

Hi Laurie,
I would (really) like to start attending Stich'n'Bitch meetings but (and this is stupid because I am not outwardly a shy person) I feel very shy about it. Is it really OK just to turn up? The reason I ask because I have not had the greatest experience with groups knitting in LYS. I figure the reason they completely ignore me is because, for the most part, the people sitting around knitting are paying to be taught to knit, and thus they don't need to deal with me (who alas can not afford to be a regular at any LYS), but it has left me weirdly anxious that it all seems very cliquey. That or I really am just invisible.
-- Samantha

Hi Samantha!

I am so so glad you asked this.

Last night Faith was driving me back to my car after Stitch 'n Bitch. And we were talking about how hard it is to leave your house, leave the bubble, get out into the fray and knit with strangers.

"If you walked around our whole loud, happy, chatty table tonight and asked each person individually how they felt the very first time they showed up for Stitch 'n Bitch, they would all have the EXACT same answer. Every single one of them. Even me!" she said.

"Were you nervous?" I asked. It surprised me a little. Faith is not a woman who I think of as nervous, or scared.

"I was TERRIFIED!" she said. Laughing. "I was so scared! You walk in all shy and scared with your knitting, asking yourself the whole time, 'Will I fit in? What the heck am I doing here?' and everyone, everyone, has that fear the first time."

And if I hadn't gone to Stitch 'n Bitch with Jennifer that very first time, I'd have never met Faith, or Ellen, or any of the beautiful, lovely and kind women who make me feel welcome even though I sometimes say THE STUPIDEST THINGS and never actually knit anything at all during the evening.

And so Samantha, I hope you go. Yes, you will be nervous and yes it will feel weird the first time. But, um, so did sex and bicycle riding and pop-rocks and the side-ponytial. All great things which were a little awkward the first time around.

And unlike the side-ponytail ... it does get better.

I think knitters are some of the best folks around. You really can show up at Stitch 'n Bitch and just say, "Hey, I'm new! Nice to meet everyone!" and people at our SnB always introduce themselves and try to include folks in the conversation. It may take a few times to get comfortable (or, if you're me, a few years) but hey... progress is progress, right?

And in the end, what do you have to lose by going and trying? Will you just up and die of shame right on the spot if it's uncomfortable? I have to ask myself these questions all the time. I am always having to give myself a stern talking-to. "What is the very worst that will happen and can I survive it?" and when I ask myself like that, sometimes my fears seem rather dumb. I know how hard it is to go meet new people and get outside the comfort zone. But I did it, and now most of my friends are gals I met at Stitch 'n Bitch! I love all my SnB friends, they are some of the brightest, funniest, kindest women (and men!) I have ever met. I hope you have good luck at your local gathering and keep me posted!!

And I just want to say thank you to Bridget, whose name I hope I am spelling correctly. I met her last night for the first time. Thank you for reminding me why I leave my house even when I would rather stay home and eat Cheetos off my chest. Thank you for the kind words, and I am so glad you left your house and came to Stitch 'n Bitch!!

p.s. Horoscopes coming... uh. Sometime this weekend? Work is hard. I need a snickers break of approximately twelve weeks.

Posted by laurie at March 2, 2007 12:28 AM