Look at me! I’m all done knitting the two rectangles that I’ll soon be seaming in an interesting way to form my Mood Cardigan, which can be worn two ways.
Again, I pause to express my abject devotion to Neighborhood Fiber Company’s new Rustic Fingering, a nonsuperwash merino yarn that is soft yet full of spring and character. this shade is Cooper Circle.
I’m on ball 3, knitting the third size, if you’re keeping track. This yarn goes a long way.
Your Brain on Lace
In my last post, I mentioned a problem I was having with the sk2p portion of the very simple 6-stitch lace motif that makes up the fabric of this cardigan.
To review, sk2p requires only 3 simple tasks of the knitter:
- Slip 1 stitch knitwise without working it.
- Knit the next 2 stitches together.
- Pass the slipped stitch over.
As I reported last time, once in a while I just plain forgot step number 3: pass the slipped stitch over. This left me with 2 stitches where there should be just 1 stitch. Although the mistake is fairly easy to fix later on, I was frustrated that I kept making it. It is the kind of mistake that doesn’t mess up your ability to finish the row, as many lace mess-ups do, so you don’t detect it until you come back to the mistake on the next RS row. You can fix it (see my last post), but you get tired of fixing it.
I tried to think of a way to stop myself from making this mistake, or at least notice it right away, so I could more easily fix it. My go-to helpers with lace knitting—a life line and markers—were of no use. So I tried to think of ways I might solve a problem like this in other parts of life. How do I avoid making an unconscious mistake that will cause me grief if I don’t stop myself in time?
And then it came to me, a lesson from learning to drive, or more recently, teaching someone to drive.
CHECK YOUR MIRRORS.
When you’re driving, there are certain situations where you don’t have time to make a decision on the spot, and can’t trust yourself—you have to have a failsafe.
For example, you are pulling out of a driveway or parking space, or changing lanes. You have to learn an automatic behavior, checking your mirrors, and you have to do it every time, whether you think you’re in the clear or not. It’s not a decision you make, it’s an ingrained habit.
What is the knitterly equivalent, I wondered? In the Mood Cardigan’s 6-stitch lace pattern, each yo, sk2p, yo is followed by 3 plain knit stitches. So I made myself a rule that every single time I worked those 3 plain knit stitches, I would look at the 3 stitches immediately preceding them, and check for the passed-over stitch, which is visible at a glance (it’s slanty). I wouldn’t just do it now and then, or at the end of the row. I would make that little flick of the eyeballs—which takes a fraction of a second—a part of the process of knitting the 3 plain stitches. I wondered if I could do it consistently, without feeling slowed down by having to do it.
Guess what—it worked. Just like checking your mirrors before backing up or changing lanes. Looking for the passed-over stitch became automatic. And then, because I was looking for the mistake, my brain got the memo, and stopped making it in the first place.
The moral of the story is: Check your mirrors!