I’m working on the fab Cockwork by the equally fab Stephen West. It’s a pretty easy garter stitch scarf. It’s done sideways, there’s a 4 line repeat that’s mindlessly easy. Line 1 you make 6 stitches spaced across the piece, line 2 knit back, line 3 make 1 at each end, line 4 knit back. Four rows of color 1, four rows of color two. There are some slipped stitches too, but you’ve got stitch markers pointing them out. Easy. Keep that up until you have 12 stripes of color 2, remove all the markers, and redistribute where the slipped stitches go and keep on in established stripe pattern. All told, the scarf will be 10 inches wide.
I’m knitting and knitting and it’s starting to take forever. The scarf is getting wider and wider, I’m almost at that ten inch mark and I haven’t even started the second section yet. I make an executive decision that after this stripe I’m going to change to the second section. I started crunching numbers to see where I should place the markers so the second section will line up properly with the first. I figured that I had 330-ish stitches, but then I looked at the pattern and it said at the end of section 1 I should have 278 stitches. That’s a difference of 50-ish stitches. That can’t be right. So I counted the stitches I had on my needle and came up with 330-ish. That can’t be right. I decided to read the pattern again. EXTRA carefully this time, and noticed something:
Knit lines 1 & 2 of the repeat with color 1
Knit lines 2 & 3 of the repeat with color 2
I knit the entire scarf wrong. My number crunching says that the scarf will eventually have 360-ish stitches and had I made it to the end of the 1st section the way I was going I would have had around that number. I frogged it. The good news is that I immediately re-cast on and am ready to go again. No rest for the wicked.
I’ve been thinking though, this seems to happen to me a lot. It seems that most projects I undertake I’ll have to make at least twice. I need to institute two rules for myself.
1) When they say “knit a gauge swatch” they mean me. I am not exempt from this step just because I’m smart or pretty or special.
2) I must read the pattern all the way through before beginning, twice. Then I should write the pattern out in my own handwriting, and then proofread the page.
It’s sort of like when I was in College. The way I managed to get a B+ in my Biology class was to read the text before the lecture, sit through the lecture without taking notes, and then read the text again – this time taking notes. It was repetitive, but I learned what I needed to know, passed the class, and didn’t hurt my GPA too badly.
Hopefully, these new rules will save me time and headaches. And swearing, don’t forget the swearing.