Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

August 24, 2006

Oh, yeah: thirty-two stitches per hour!

Filed under: Knitting — secretmojo @ 12:54 am

[I’m knitting a hat for Made By Hand. And I’m an idiot. Which means you can do it too!]

I foolishly decided to perform an “alternate cable” cast-on, following the video provided by at the bottom of the page.

I’ve watched that video ad nauseam in real-time and in slow mo, succeeding at every stitch opportunity to put a unique spin on how to screw up: place the yarn on the wrong side of the needle, purl behind the whole stitch but knit only half, purl twice in succession, wrap the yarn around the needle the opposite way, and so on. Only many stitches later, of course, would I realize that I’d been doing it all wrong.

Rip out, repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I unraveled and re-stitched so much that the tail (howdya like that knitting lingo?) began to fluff up, fray, and send dust bunnies into the air—one of which, during an exasperated sigh, I sucked into my throat.

I gagged, hacked, and finally spat the blue mess into my hand. My first hairball. I decided it might be time, before my fifty-first curse word busted all the windows in the neighborhood, to set the needles down. But it wasn’t 20 minutes later when I picked them up again. Damn if they were going to beat me.

Takeaway? If you want to both feel retarded and become addicted at the same time, try learning to knit.

To be fair though, I’ll admit that, given stitches, the “feeling retarded” bit fades a little. And that—

Scuse me. I’d like to finish this row.



  1. A couple of thoughts here: This is a very cool cast-on which I’ve never seen before! I’ll give it a try on my next hat, I think. Something that may help with the cast-on is to just watch the yarn moving on the video — very often trying to mimic another knitters motions is harder then just focusing on the yarn.

    Secondly, because of the hat pattern you’re using, I can offer you a bit of a cheat. By the time you get to the bind-off your knitting will be much evener then it is at the cast on — binding off is always easier then casting on, in my experience. Your hat pattern isn’t directional, so (if you want) you will be able to hide a less then pleasing cast on row by seaming it as the top of the hat.

    Comment by Anna — August 24, 2006 @ 3:08 am | Reply

  2. Excellent tip about hiding the cast-on. By the looks of it, it’ll need hiding. I’m doing ribbing at the beginning, but maybe I’ll do some at the end, too, so I can flip it and get a good edge if need be. Does that sound right?

    As to learning yarn flow, I suprised myself by whipping out a knit stitch with my own personal movement. I was soooo proud of that moment. I also have a spare pair of chopsticks that I may use as a research device to find out what the heck the yarn is doing in the first place, before I throw a hole into some poor feller’s hat.

    The two resources I need desperately are 1) How to hide common mistakes, and 2) How to fix mistakes earlier on the needle. This knit/purl ribbing (it is just k1 p1, right?) sent me to the angry box when I knitted twice in a row. It took forever to reclaim the Gordian knot I’d just created.

    Perhaps I should actually READ the book I checked out, instead of looking at the pictures. 😉

    Comment by secretmojo — August 24, 2006 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  3. One thing you can try for some mistakes, is after the piece is complete, use your tapestry needle on the inside with a bit of left over yarn and tighten up stitches that may be too loose, etc. Also, if your caston doesn’t look quite right you can make an edging with a crochet hook and a bit of leftover yarn … very easy to do really and it can make a very nice, clean edge.

    Good luck to you.


    Comment by firefly8868 — August 24, 2006 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  4. I’m not sure about how well this will work in Homespun, since I’ve never tried this yarn, but what I do about stitch errors that I catch on the needle is to just poke my left needle back through the loop while the new stitch is still on the needle, then carefully slide the new stitch off and pull it out. When I try to tink a stitch by letting the live stitch fall and pulling it, I very frequently end up dropping the stitch and have to go for the crochet hook to get it back.

    Comment by Anna — August 24, 2006 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  5. firefly, thanks for the edging hint. I’m suspecting that Homespun yarn’s natural bumpiness may hide my nastiness, but if not at least I have two new tricks in my bag!

    Anna, it’s frightening. The yarn is so wavy, I cannot tell what’s a stitch and what’s a bump. I stared at 3 rows, trying to find where my purl/knit got out of sync (I ended on a purl–wrong!). Finally decided that if I couldn’t see it, others wouldn’t either, and, despite my persnickety angst, decided to soldier on.

    I am enjoying learning the tangible form of “A stitch in time saves nine”!

    Comment by secretmojo — August 25, 2006 @ 1:14 am | Reply

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