Appeasing your inner perfectionist

I have been working on my Exeter jacket again, after taking time off to knit Livvy.  I finished the sleeves, and washed and blocked them:

IMG_6356The yarn, Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed, undergoes an amazing transformation when it is washed.  I cannot believe how light and airy these sleeves are.  The Shelter feels much rougher and chunkier when knitting.  As soon as I took it out of the water, it seemed to have halved in weight (even while wet).  It is astonishing.  Exeter has a very interesting cable pattern, that combines cables and lace.  Here is a close-up of the cable on the sleeve:


The cable has a 16 row repeat.  It is not one of those patterns that is instantly memorizable, so you have to pay attention.  For anyone who is planning on knitting this, I have two tips, which will make it easier to navigate the cable.

  1. On the reverse rows (the even rows), you knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.  The yarn overs are always knit except on pattern Row 6, where they are purled.  As long as you pay attention to the yarn overs on Row 6, the reverse rows are straightforward and need no concentration.
  2. The set-up row at the beginning of the patterning establishes some stitches as knit stitches and some as purl stitches.  While you are cabling, you are crossing stitches in front and behind of other stitches, but it is always the case that knit stitches will be knit and purl stitches will be purled, except on rows 3 and 7. On row 3, a knit stitch becomes a purl when it is is cabled (twice), and on row 7, a purl stitch becomes a knit (also twice).

I really love this.   I especially love the way it looks on the back of the jacket, where there are four columns of cables.   I have only knit a repeat and a bit of the cables on the back, but you can get an idea of how great it looks with the four cable repeatsIMG_6342Here is a closup of the above photo.

IMG_6344Now, dear readers, look carefully at the photo above.  Can you see that I have made a mistake in the cabling?  In the interest of truth in blogging, I will help you out:

mistake detailedOn the left, is the properly executed cable.  On the right, there is a mistake.  I should have a column of two knit stitches travelling to the left, but for three rows, I have purled one of the stitches instead of knitting it.  This is the kind of mistake that is very hard to catch, in fact, one could easily wear the sweater for years before noticing it.  Once you know it is there, however, you see it every single time you look at the sweater, as if it is outlined in purple.  In fact, there is an infamous cover of Vogue Knitting magazine, from a dozen years ago, in which the sweater on the cover has a cable mistake.  I looked at the cover many times without noticing it, but once brought to my attention, it is glaringly obvious.

Now this is where we knitters have differing levels of tolerance.  Some knitters will blithely ignore mistakes.  They may fall into the school of thought whereby “mistakes” are charming proofs that the sweater is hand-made.  (The fallacy of this is that machine-made knits are so shoddy these days, that mistakes are rampant.)  Another group of knitters are fanatically anal-compulsive, and will rip out miles of knitting in order to correct any mistake, no matter how small or insignificant.  This school of thought follows the “I will know even if no one else does, and it will forever make me unhappy” principle.  I think the latter camp sometimes revel in their knitting masochism.  I try very hard to fall into the middle.  The sad truth is, I do a lot of frogging because I want things to be just right.  However, I think it is sometimes important to ignore your inner perfectionist.  Or at the very least, learn how to fudge.  Behold!

First, I thread a tapestry needle with a small length of yarn:IMG_6348

Then I insert the needle at the bottom of the mistake, where I  purled instead of knit, and I pull the yarn through.


Then I make a loop, and pull the yarn through the loop, as in the below photo.  This will have the effect of embroidering a knit stitch on top of the purl.


When the yarn is pulled tight, we see a knit stitch, exactly where it should be.


I then repeat twice more:

IMG_6354By the way, what I have done here, is basically the same as what is called duplicate stitch.  However, duplicate stitch is done with a different colour of yarn, and the embroidered knit stitches are put directly on top of knit stitches; this allows you to insert small areas of colour without having to knit them in with intarsia. So you see, a good bag of tricks is a knitter’s best friend.

Here is the final product:


Perfect!  No one will ever know.  And I didn’t have to rip.  I won’t tell if you won’t.

10 thoughts on “Appeasing your inner perfectionist

  1. It is so great to see this sweater in progress! It has been in my queue for quite some time now, thanks for the tips for whenever I can get to making this myself. : ]

  2. That is a wonderful correction! Promise I won’t tell either! I’ve been knitting a lot of cables recently and mistakes happen. It is SO EASY to simply isolate a number of sts, drop them all down, and knit them back up again in the correct fashion. Now if I could wrap my head around doing that in lace-work, I’d be that much further ahead!

    • I can’t agree with you more. Fixing mistakes in cables has a logic to it; it’s easy to “read” your cables and figure out what needs to be done. As long as you are careful and slow it’s usually do-able. But lace is another story. I am not a skilled enough lace knitter to contemplate doing something similar. Maybe someday.

    • Years ago when I took gymnastics the first thing they taught us was how to fall properly. I think that if knitters were taught a good bag of tricks early on, they would have a lot more confidence. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. Yay! That’s right what I thought: “Hm, could she dublicate-stitch over the purls?!?” That’s a very neat trick to have in one’s repertoire, thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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