Nothing to knit and feeling grumpy

I have nothing to knit.  This makes me very grumpy.  How, you might ask, could I find myself with nothing to knit?  (Doug would certainly ask this if he were at home.)  Do I not have piles of stash yarn, bags and boxes of haberdashery and knitting paraphernalia, bookcases full of knitting pattern books and magazines (not to mention, dare I say it, the internet, which is teeming with patterns)?

The sad truth is that, surrounded as I am by the detritus of knitting, I can find nothing to knit.  I remind myself of a teen-ager who whines “there’s nothing to do”!  Surely, one thinks, they can pick up a book or go for a walk instead of whining?  But here I sit, annoyed and grumpy that I have nothing to knit.

I have, of course, looked at patterns.  I have looked at patterns until my head nearly explodes, but none is saying “Knit me! Knit ME!”.  I have also sorted through my stash to look for creative inspiration.  I have even knitted swatches – 7 of them this week – trying to figure out how to best utilise some old skeins of yarn that turned up in the bottom of a box. To no avail.

Since I am feeling grumpy (have you noticed?), I have decided to roll with it and publish a grumbly post regarding a pet peeve.  To get to the pet peeve, however, you must first wade through the following tale. One of the things that I found in my stash is five skeins of lovely, hand-dyed sportweight yarn from Skein Queen – a wool and silk mix.  I have three skeins of the grey and two of the mix (which is called Fig). Here is a photo:


Unfortunately, I bought these many years ago before I realised how much I disliked variegated yarns.  (Truth: I adore variegated yarns in the skein, just not in the knitted product.  I am not into speckles, or fades, and I hate pooling.)  Regardless, I decided that these skeins might become my next project and so I sought a pattern to use them with.  Only a knitter would believe me when I mention how much time I spent searching.  It is rather embarrassing.

After some time, I found this pattern:


© Rowan Yarns, 2013

It is by Lisa Richardson and is called Hip.  I kind of like it.  However, it is knitted in three different textures of yarn, in many colours, and weaving in all of those ends would be a nightmare.  What if, I speculated, I knitted it with just two colours, alternating stripes, but in which one of the colours would alternate between cream, brilliant purple, pink, yellow, and taupe, and the other would be grey?  That way, the yarn can be carried up the side of the piece and there would be virtually no ends to weave in.  Sounds good, yes?

I should mention at this point that the pattern is in Rowan 53 from 2013.  I looked at my stack of Rowan magazines and found that I had ….50, 51, 52, 54, 55…. but no 53!  I should have called it a day and kept looking for alternate patterns but instead I searched the internet for someone who was selling Rowan 53, and purchased it.  I then had to wait for it to arrive.  I should have guessed then that the knitting gods were against this whole enterprise.

When the book arrived, I promptly knitted up a swatch, alternating my two shades:


And guess what?  I don’t like it!  Not at all!  It doesn’t look anything like the pattern in the photo (probably due to the lack of mohair and crunchy textures in my yarn selection, as well as the lack of bright colours).  And, it demonstrates why I don’t like variegated yarns.  I was expecting a row of purple, and a row of pink, etc.  Instead, I got speckles.  UGH! Not only that, but the grey and the taupe don’t spark together at all.

At this point, I got a new idea: I would knit something using only the grey.   I started by knitting up two swatches in stockinette – one with a US4/3.5mm  and one with a US5/3.75mm.  These are lovely, with the larger one being perfect, and giving me a gauge of 24×36. However, three skeins is sort of a dead zone – too much to waste it on a pair of mitts or a hat, but too little for most garments. The skein is 363yards/332 metres, for a total of 1089yards/996 metres.  (Not counting all of the yards I used up in making multiple swatches.)

My next job was to search everywhere for garments that could be made (in my size!) using only 1000 metres of sportweight yarn.  This, as you may have guessed is not easy. I have run so many pattern searches on Ravelry that I could have knitted up a cute tank in the meantime.  And here is where my pet peeve comes into play!  (Remember the pet peeve, which started this tale?)  Why do so many designers not list the yardage needed per size, but instead tell you how many skeins of their preferred yarn you will need?  (Most patterns will do both, but I have noticed a trend towards the latter.)

For example, one design states that you will need: “2 skeins for sizes XS and S, 3 skeins for size M, 5 skeins for sizes L and XL”.  If I want to substitute yarns, I need to pull out my calculator and start doing some math.  However, that still won’t tell me how many yards I will need to make the size L, only how many yards I would need to knit the size XL.  This gets more egregious the more yards there are on the skein.  If the yarn called for in the pattern has 400 metres on it, and a size L needs 3 skeins and a size XL needs 4 skeins, how much yarn do I really need to knit the L?  It could be anywhere between 800-1200 metres!  That can make a big difference when I have x-much yarn and I want to know if I can knit said garment with it.

I understand that many patterns are designed for particular yarn companies in order to showcase their yarns; regardless this practice makes me want to tear me hair out!

Okay. I feel calmer now.  Rant over.  I did just today find a pattern which I think I could knit up with the grey yarn.  It is the #09 Eyelet Top, by Rosemary Drysdale from Vogue Knitting, Spring Summer 2019:

eyelet top

© Rosemary Drysdale

Unfortunately, the pattern page on Ravelry states only that it needs 735 – 1176 yards (672-1075 metres) and that it comes in sizes S, M, L, XL, and 2X.  This means that I would probably have enough yarn to knit my size.  However, I have to buy the magazine first to know for sure.  I don’t even know if it’s available yet in the UK.  In any case, I can’t cast on now.

Knitting gods: I have listened to you and am about to read a book.  Maybe I’ll go for a walk as well.

22 thoughts on “Nothing to knit and feeling grumpy

  1. I truly feel your pain! Even though I have a very long queue sometimes I just feel lost for awhile.
    Wait it out, do something else and voila, problem solved. Right now I have two great sweaters going. But suddenly I “needed” to knit a quick “Morning Walk Hat” to relax. You could always keep a hat yarn on hand for these moments. I love!!! Tynd yarn from Woolfolk as it’s my favorite.

  2. Crochet! That’s my answer for both knitting grumps and variegated yarns. Lately it has been hexagons of old sock yarn which I’ll join together for a blanket.

  3. I’m sure it’ll be no surprise to you that I’ve been there, done that. MANY times.

    If I’m truly stuck, I usually start a shawl. (Of course, I won’t admit how many patterns I recently looked through to find just the right shawl pattern…)

  4. Oh this is just awful in every respect – poor you! I completely agree with all your points, particularly re yarn which looks delicious in a skein but is hideous when knitted up. Ugh! I agree with Shortrow about turning to crochet for a while. Your variegated skein in a chosen shape, with the taupe as a border/joining yarn might work nicely.

  5. I’m feeling your pain. and i’ve recently been there with the not enough for a whole sweater- so i present to you Northfork! I’m also doing a Pippi variation – mine uses more of the contrast for the yoke – i.e., i make it more like Northfork – and I’m doing set in sleeves (which I’m stuck on for the past 3 months bc it’s only my second time doing them and I ripped out the first whole sweater because they weren’t right). i also don’t care for the jaggedy edged to the stripe so mine are plain.

  6. I completely agree with your pet peeve! I often run ip against it! Not only is it helpful for the sizes listed, but if one comes across a pattern that will need resizing, knowing the yardage differential between the sizes listed help to estimate the yardage for a size not listed.

    I hope you find something fun to knit, and maybe start destashing your pretty speckles and use the cash for yarn you do like?

  7. What I find frustrating is when before the pattern you are guessing what the yardage will be for your pattern, only to find the sizing bands are not what you expect. I can range from Medium, M2 and large depending on the pattern and odds are if I have the M1 yardage my size is Large arrggghh!!

  8. I hate not having anything to knit. Even though, as with you, I don’t have a shortage of things to knit, sometimes you’re just not in the mood for any of the things in the queue at all. You will find the next thing soon!

  9. You are speaking my language. My initial reaction is to go wild over something and order yarn. When the yarn arrives, I’ve moved on and so there it sits.

    Maybe I need to swatch. I also need to move out of sweaters and onto other stuff. Or, spin. I might have a spare braid or two of fiber.

    (I was momentarily contemplating speckles. Thanks for bringing to my senses.)

  10. I feel your pain! I have mountains (it feels like it anyway) of yarn in various gauges, colours and fibres. Do I often dip in and use what I have? Er, no, I purchase more. I find I hardly ever have enough to make a whole project or I don’t have the correct gauge or I just don’t like what I have. I dislike pooling too – so variegated are often out for me. Do I have variegated in my stash – yes of course I do. I am actually sorting out some yarn to sell on or gift to others. I have tried to gift this variegated but at the time no one wanted it either! Think it was a bad purchase or about 8 years ago. Oops. As for speckly yarn, baby ones are ok for blankets etc in my opinion. I have two young nieces, new mums, one liked the speckles but the other didn’t. Good luck with future projects! Oh and here’s a hint for commercially produced yarn substitutions – if you have a pattern with details of specific yarns used go onto – you can enter details of a yarn and it offers you substitutes. It doesn’t work with handspun/non commercial yarns Good luck!

  11. Totally understand, Kelly! I spend way too much time looking at potential sweater patterns for my stash yarn. I buy new yarn for a specific pattern and then decide I don’t want to make the pattern and the yarn becomes part of my stash! And, getting gauge is another issue that, at times, raises its’ ugly head. I belong to a weekly knitting group and find it very inspiring and so motivating to meet regularly with like-minded, passionate knitters. Good luck and try to take comfort in knowing that this too shall pass.

  12. One more thing: I have all of my stash on Ravelry and use the ‘yarn sort’ function to sort by weight. This helps me determine if I have suitable stash yarn for specific patterns. I know at a glance how much stash I have and can also attach stash yarn to projects in my Queue. I have learned to buy at least one or two extra balls of yarn and this usually helps ensure I have enough to complete a sweater project, whatever pattern I decide to knit.

  13. Gift all your variegated yarns to Knit for Peace, they’ll go to a good home and they’ll love you for it. It’ll lift your mood no end.

Leave a Reply