Ask Patty: The Slinky Strikes Again
I love knitting cowls in the round. I read your column about the slinky thing and how to fix the gap at the start of the round for a hat, but what about the end? I know the jogless join in stripes by working into the row below, and I’ve tried to apply the same logic to the end, but can’t figure out how to work into the row below on the bind off.
Lovely Start, Icky End
Dear Lovely Start,
Ah yes, as my mother would say, “they get you coming and going.” The dreaded slinky effect strikes the edge of both cast-on and bind-off. The bind-off jog is a bit more dramatic because that last row has nothing to attach itself to. It’s just hanging out there naked.
The trick of working into the round below for a stripe is done on the second round of the new color, working into the jog row below. And of course, there is no row above your bind-off to smooth out that jog.
Once again, your yarn tail is your hero. The “braid” of edge stitches is even clearer on the bind-off, so we need to create the final braid that closes up that ugly gap.
If you look closely at the braid, you can see it’s made from nesting Vs of yarn.
Put the yarn tail on a tapestry needle and bring the needle under the legs of the first bind-off V:
Now, go back through the heart of the V it came from:
Like magic, the braid is joined. It’s as if it actually were knit in the round, and no more slinky.
(Ugh, it took me two months to get that song out of my head.)
In the MDK Shop
Bigger or Smaller?
Do you have an easy method for remembering if you need to change to a larger or smaller sized needle to get gauge?
This is such a common problem. I’ve seen even experienced knitting store owners measure a customer’s swatch and then say “let me get you a larger, wait, smaller, no larger needle.”
As a knitter, when you’re looking at a ball of yarn, you know instinctively that if a yarn is 32 stitches per 4 inches, you’ll be using a smaller needle than you’d use for a yarn one that knits to 14 stitches per 4 inches. Yet often, when measuring gauge, we get it backwards.
What we need to remember is this: if we can fit MORE stitches or rows in the same 4-inch space than the pattern calls for, those stitches are too small, so we go to a LARGER needle. If we can fit FEWER stitches or rows in the same 4-inch space that the pattern calls for, those stitches are too large, so we go to a SMALLER needle.
I used to use the “how many people can fit into a phone booth” analogy, but since nobody knows what a phone booth is anymore (thanks, iPhone), I use the iPhone vs iPad analogy. If you can line up 7 iPhones on a table, but only 4 iPads on the same table, it’s because the iPhones are smaller. Get it? Smaller stitches, smaller garment. If you want to make small stitches larger, larger needle!
Don’t forget: this also applies to rows. I often get messages along the lines of “I’m only getting 28 rows per 4 inches. The pattern is calling for 32 rows per 4 inches, but I’m short so that might work because I want my sweater shorter.” Hmmm, well, you’re gonna be sad then. The sweater will be longer, not shorter, since each row is bigger. (If you can only fit 28 rows in the space that the designer fit 32, your rows are taller.) As one knitter once said to me about a knitted coat, “my row gauge meant I knit myself either a long bathrobe or a wedding train.”
Just remember: don’t knit an iPad when you wanted an iPhone.
For Love or Money
Photo by Fluid motion. Used with permission.
I know people mean well, which is what keeps me from wanting to punch them (well it keeps me from actually punching them), but I kind of dread a nonknitter’s question “did you knit that?” because it’s immediately followed by “you should sell those, you’d make a fortune.”
What do I say? How do I explain that there might be a reason that no handknitter is on the Forbes richest people list?
Never Gonna Be Rich Knitter!
Dear Never Gonna Be Rich,
What? There are no knitters on the Forbes list? Way to kill a girl’s dreams.
OK, I’m over it.
Yes, it’s true that nobody understands how much time and effort goes into our knitting. Here are a few options depending on whom you’re speaking to. As always, let’s go to the poets for advice.
1. The practical approach, with a little help from Oscar Wilde.
“The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it.” (Oscar Wilde)
“The knitter knows all about what they are selling, including that they are charging a great deal too little for it.” (You)
Ask the helpful business consultant what they think you could sell a hat for. Then sit them down and explain that even a superfast knitter, who might knock out a hat in a few hours, would still end up making $2.27/hr if they sold a hat for what people are willing to pay for it.
2. The haughty artistic approach, with a little help from Ezra Pound.
“Nothing written for pay is worth printing.” (Ezra Pound)
“My knitting is my art, selling it would only cheapen it.” (You)
Explain how knitting feeds your soul and brings you joy. That it is deeply personal, and even the mere suggestion of selling your art is an insult!
3. The knitterly approach, with help from Seinfeld.
“So, you think you’re spongeworthy?” (Elaine Benes)
“So, you think you’re knitworthy?” (You)
Explain how knitting is something you love. Before you could possibly sell it to somebody, you would have to determine if they are worthy. For instance, would they wear your lovingly hand-knit hat paired with a cheaply made mass-produced sweater? Since it is far too difficult to vet every potential buyer, you feel it’s best to not enter the mass market.
I hope one of those approaches will help. If not, just take a cue from my personal guru, Grumpy Cat, and cut off the questioner with a simple “no.”
[Editor’s note: See Patty’s update on these techniques here.]