We’re all guilty of this particularly knitty vice.
A friend pulls out her (or his) project and voices a concern about it. ‘I’m not sure I’m going to have enough yarn,’ they brood, or ‘It doesn’t seem large enough,’ they frown, or ‘I’ll never get it finished in time,’ they fret. You look at their project with a (supposedly) thoughtful gaze, pause, and utter a small half truth or even a full-sized fib.
We don’t mean to lie, as such. We just want to reassure our friend. Most of the time, we believe the answer, or want to believe it. We even do it to ourselves. What knitter hasn’t paused, spread their knitting out in front of them and thought: ‘Oh, it’ll be fine.’
Are these little white lies really helping people? Or are we simply putting off the inevitable, ie. ripping it back or going back to buy more yarn? Here’s a look at:
The Top Five Lies Knitters Tell Each Other (& Themselves)
5# You’ll definitely have enough yarn
As you knit, your last ball of yarn is diminishing at an ever increasing pace before your very eyes. You’ve only got a little bit to go – just the last bit of the sleeve and the neck edging. Oh, and the button band. But that’s not much. You’re sure to have enough yarn, right?
I can tell you from experience: it pays to measure. How do I know? Check out the Jaywalker socks below.
Three quarters of these socks are knitted in the lovely Opal sock yarn, looking very stylish and perfect for my step-father. Then I ran out of yarn. Fortunately my step-father only cares about warmth, not style.
With this particular lie, there’s no need to fib or even guess. An accurate digital kitchen scale, a bit of logic and you’re away sailing. And really, who doesn’t like buying an extra ball of yarn?
4# A couple of extra stitches won’t matter
You’ve just arrived at the end of the lace set-up row and there’s a couple of extra stitches. It won’t really matter will it?
Most of the time it won’t. A sneaky decrease here and a sly increase there, and you’ll soon be back on track. But sometimes, just sometimes, those extra couple of stitches are crucial. I give as an example: half an Echo Flower Shawl.
Yes, that’s right, half. Just half of the shawl. The Echo Flower is knit from the centre out – and I somehow missed the left hand side and kept going to the cast off. Moral of the story – if you are going to fudge the numbers, double check them again in a few rows.
3# Half a needle size won’t matter
You’re longing to start that new project, but the needles you need are tied up in another project. You do have some in the next size up – it won’t really matter will it?
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. It depends a little on the pattern and a lot on how big the needles are. The difference between an 7.5mm and 8mm isn’t an awful lot – but substituting a 2.5mm for a 2mm will increase the size of the finished product by 20%. And I should know.
These are a pair of Josephine wristwarmers I knit as a test pattern. Rather than knit a test swatch, I just knit them up – only to discover that once I put them on, I couldn’t move my fingers. Remember people: swatching is your friend.
2# It’ll be easily be finished on time.
You have a birthday/Christmas/baby shower coming up and you have a friend/family member you simply must knit something for. A particular something, that’s rather large and complicated, but you’re bound to finish it in time, right?
I once told myself this lie on an epic scale. I was working on a commission for a bar, which included three large and two incredibly large crocheted lampshades, as well as 16 metres of crochet tubing. On the last week, I was averaging four hours of sleep a night. On the last night before installation I got two hours. By the time I got home from the set up, I was so tired I poured boiling water onto my hand and didn’t notice.
For me, this is a lie similar to ‘you’ll have enough yarn.’ Take the time to work it out. Yes, you can pull an all-night to get it finished, but will you really enjoy the event on no sleep with crampy hands? When you do your swatch, time yourself and work out your average stitch per minutes. Do a rough estimation of how many stitches in the pattern and add 20% for fuck ups and rip outs. Do you really have that much time before the event? No? Do yourself a favour, and choose something smaller or simpler.
1# Blocking will fix that
I’m not even going to give an example here. If you’re a knitter and you know what blocking is, I can guarantee you’ve said one of the following to yourself.
- ‘It’ll block a size larger.’
- ‘The pattern will show up more once it’s blocked.’
- ‘I can block out that strange bump there.’
And I bet you’ve said it to a friend. The vast majority of the time of the time, it’s true. Blocking really does work wonders, smoothing out messy stitches, revealing beautiful lace motifs, and shaping clothing to our form. But it cannot, as a friend recently remarked, magically transform the garment into what you really wanted.
And there it is – the Top Five Lies Knitters Tell. Do you think I covered them all? Do you find yourself regularly letting these little fibs slip? Or perhaps there’s nothing wrong with a little white lie?