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Dear Kay,

In ten years of blogging, I don’t think that we have ever had a simul-botch. There’s a first time for everything.




The other day, you Instagrammed a photo of a woefully twisted piece of knitting. My thought was, Empathy. Been there. My second thought was, I am having such fun getting started on my Carpino Sweater by Carol Feller, featured in the new Wool People 6.

It is a top-down sweater. Getting started on a top-down sweater is one of the fiddlier moments in knitting: the search for stitch markers, the quixotic quest for the 16″ circular size 5 needle, the joy at realizing it’s going to take a trip to the yarn store to get a needle that perfectly and exactly meets the requirements of this pattern. The searing challenge of getting out of the store without getting sucked into the Isager Vortex. You finally settle down, dig into the pattern, and begin.


Top-down sweaters require you to think like a bird, looking down on the sweater. I am not good at being a bird, I guess, because I have to draw a little schematic of the neck hole so I can visualize where increases will come. I also, everlastingly, will never get M1R and M1L in my head, so that goes in there too. I also need the lace chart right there in front of me, so in this case I MacGyvered that onto the page with the instructions. (I like a tight pattern layout–flipping through ten pages is a lot of flipping for me.)

I started out with the stitch markers that were closest to my person:


These soon offended me greatly both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. Plastic. Bulky. Ho Jo colors. How did I ever buy these dire markers in the first place? (OK, so I distinctly recall buying these with a fair amount of glee, at some distant moment.)

I remembered that I had laid in a store of the stitch markers of my dreams to give to you as a little present.


These are from Fringe Supply Co. These accomplish so much with so little fuss: Thin. Metal. Antiqued brass finish. When I need to mark the beginning of the round, I just put two on the needle. They’re so great. Love your gear, right?

Unfortunately–for you, I mean–I decided that this project was never going to work unless I used these dreamy stitch markers instead.

The instructions for this Carpino pullover pattern say “Join for working in the round.” I was joking yesterday about how the instructions do not say “Taking care not to twist, join for working in the round.” They do not say, “Join to work in round, making sure not to twist.” They trust that a knitter is not an idiot. I was pleased to see Carol Feller resist the impulse to nag me into doing the thing that any clever knitter automatically knows: do not twist before joining. D.U.H.

I TWISTED. I was being so careful! I even kept track of the increase rows with little check boxes:


I guess I now have evidence of the exact moment that I realized that I suck at all this–embarrassingly far along.

I don’t know the lesson here, except the classic Pride Goeth Before a Fall. Measure Twice, Cut Once. Close Cover Before Striking. Make Sure Not To Twist Before Joining.

Mostly: LOOK UP.



PS I feel kind of bad about using your stitch markers. But honestly, they are the only thing that is working with regard to this project at the moment.

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  • Ohhh noooo! I was so puzzled by Kay’s post-join twist. And I giggled at your tweet about the instructions not telling you to check for twisting. And now this!

    But I’m pleased and honored to have supplied the one bright spot in all this. And why did I never think of just using two markers to mark the beginning of the round?!

    Also glad to know I’m not the only one who makes checkboxes.

    • This is the second time in as many days I have seen Fringe and clicked. Once more and I am going to have to buy something. Glad to know I’m not the only smarty pants knitter who still twists, even when warned not to.

  • Um, thank you?

    It’s the thought that counts!

    I feel your pain!

    Xo Kay

  • It happens to everyone sooner or later. I prefer a top down construction; there’s a bottom up sweater languishing in my work room that I may just have to frog. Anyhow, thanks for the tip on the giant safety pin stitch markers. I have some itty bitty ones like that from HiyaHiya and like them, but they’re so fiddly.

  • In the category of “misery loves company” your post made me feel better about the cowl that I started last night. My night ended with it being ripped back completely and it will get re-started tomorrow. I didn’t twist, because I was careful to “join without twisting”, however, about 5 rounds in, my interchangeable circular needle decided to disconnect itself and stitches went flying. I uttered a few choice swear words, ripped it out and went to bed.

    Hope your sweater is behaving better for you today. I’m sure it had nothing to do with using Kay’s stitch markers.

  • I *love* those metal stitch markers! I got one for free in a pack of HiyaHiya needles and have been all, “My Precious” about it ever since. Also? I’ve got some of those Ho Jo markers, and I’m pretty sure that at some point in my past I was pretty gleeful about them, too. The love affair is over now, though.

  • What is funny about this post is not the twist in the knitting. That is tragic and unsettling. The thing that amuses me is the stitch markers. I have exactly one of those dark coil-less safety pins. It came holding a tag on a garment and I have been hunting high and low for more because they are gorgeous. Yesterday I clicked a link to Fringe Supply Co and today I have read your post. Some things are simply meant to be and I shall go and get my credit card out of my wallet and order some.

    • I have quite a collection of those- Jennifer Lopez uses them on her clothing line from Kohls !

      • Kohl’s finds knitters trying on Jennifer Lopez tops with crescent=shaped shawlettes and fingerless mitts.

  • So it isn’t nice to be grateful that someone else goofed – and believe me – I know it is SUPER AGGRAVATING! So – I am not grateful that you goofed – but I AM grateful that you shared your goof. Because I was just recently lamenting that I still get this wrong, somehow, approximately one time in three (and certain yarns and projects are REPEAT offenders….) it is somewhat comforting to know that this problem can strike even my mostly highly revered Celebriknitters, such as yourself.
    Keepin’ it real for the masses. Thanks.

    • Well said! *like button*

  • I have some of those HoJo stitch markers too. It’s truly hard to miss them and yes, they are ugly. Those metal ones are beautiful. And I can never remember where I put the Size x 16 inch circular needle, which then necessitates a whole house search and then I end up buying a new one anyway.

  • Could this be how those mobius cowls were invented? Unfortunately, I don’t think the world is ready for a mobius sweater.

  • No, little bird, do NOT “Look up” – LOOK DOWN! at the knitting!

    I mean, empathy from me. I feel you. I wish you luck and courage in beginning again.

  • I got a sample of one of those little pins with something I ordered and thought, what the heck is that for? I just went and ordered some. I hate these plastic ones too. And thanks for the tip about putting 2 at the beginning of a round. I had a little duh moment there myself when I thought about how do you tell the beginning. I’m new. LOL

  • I feel your pain (I recently twisted the join on a 350+ cast on row for a ruffled baby hat). I’ll be watching the progress of the Carpino with great interest. What yarn are you using? That looks exactly like what I want for another project I’m anxious to start.

  • Don’t worry, Ann, about playing “twister” with your knitting. Speaking for myself ( if not for the majority of our knitting sisters and brothers): Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt.

    No matter what happens, I think we enjoy the process of knitting. Most of the stuff we knit is about process, anyway. Otherwise, we’d be buying machine knits much cheaper. (That’s probably why it’s so tough to put a price on our knitted garments.)

    Knit on, m’ dear!


  • Oh my. There’s such a sinking feeling when you realize that you’ve twisted the stitches when joining in the round. I tend to think that it can’t be real and feverishly check it again only to find that once again, my work is twisted. And I’m glad to know that I’m not the only person in the world that can’t EVER remember M1R and M1L. I have to make notes on that too.

    • *agree*

  • Am I the only person who loves the green and orange plastic markers? I adore them. They are TOOLS. They work. End of story.

    But the metal ones are very classy, and blessedly bling-free; I see why you like them.

    • I use he Hojos all the time. They last forever and don’t snap like some others I’ve used. Not stunning, but they WORK.

    • I have a certain fondness for the plastic coil-less safety pin markers, too! Yes, they work. You definitely can’t miss ’em, for one thing. They mark those stitches like crazy. In fact, they scream, “Do something here! Now!” They are also a good over-the-needle stitch marker for needle sizes 9 through 11.

    • Yes, you are! What’s wrong with a loop of yarn, eh? ☺

    • Elio loves them, too. He puts them around the necks of playmobil guys.

    • The HoJos mess with my stitch makin’ once you get down to fingering weight yarn. I have to supertug on every stitch after a HoJo in order to avoid a HoJo-induced laddering effect. I have enough problems as it is, namely not twisting my #*$& work.

    • Kay, I have never used them. Most of the time I’m forever making markers out of yarn scraps; or, I.use those little plastic rings that pop off of the project without notice. You know, the ones that generally fly cross the room, never to be found until, maybe, when the project has been completed.

      Yeah, it’s all about process…..


  • I love the sinister, silver letter opener pointing out your mistake.

    • It’s fab, isn’t it? X

  • EEK! I did the same thing with a cowl this week. Get going on it and I look forward to pictures of progress.

  • I can only add: Objects in the Mirror are Closer Than They Appear.

  • I just did that same mistake on the weekend. What does the Yarn Harlot say – experienced knitters just make worse mistakes faster than beginners?
    I think I am going to have to use check boxes myself.
    I just realized that I too received some of the metal markers with needles but didn’t completely understand what they were … I like the idea of the double marker for the start of the round.
    I actually really like the orange and green markers. I think the company must have thought those are colours no one would be knitting with so they would stand out from the work … but I feel like I am always working with orange and green yarns. I use one colour for the start of the round and another colour for the rest of the round. With a triangular shawl I use different colours for the centre spine or the edges than the rest of the shawl.
    Anyway one can never have enough stitch markers! Happy knitting.

  • Oh, thank you, thank you for admitting that you can’t get the M1R and M1L memorized. I feel better now. It will not stick in my brain, no matter how many times I’ve tried. I also write notes on my pattern or sometimes I make up some silly memory trick for one of them (such as saying to myself “M1 right back”-so I remember to pick up from the back). I figure if I can just manage to remember one of them, I should be able to come up with the other by default!

  • I’m glad someone pointed out that that was a letter opener – I thought it was a knife, and was concerned about the future of the yarn. Or maybe the needles. It was already too late for the sweater. (Also, I love those classy metal stitch markers, too – I have some from HiyaHiya that are gold and silver, but am coveting the ones from Fringe….)

  • I have come to understand that no matter how carefully I ‘join to knit in the round being careful not to twist’, invariably it twists, such that I now always knit ‘straight’ for a couple of cms and then join, and seam that little bit at the end. Before I admitted this to myself, some of my friends were the recipients of honeycowls with a distinctive steeked and cobbled back together patch (I hate frogging) and they are much too polite to comment!
    I have the same problem typing the word ‘from’, nine times out of ten it ends up as ‘form’ so now I automatically do a word search for ‘form’ in any typing to be read by others…….

  • I could never remember M1L or M1R either until I came up with this reminder.
    For a M1L, you PUSH your needle into the bar from the front, and for a M1R you SCOOP into the bar from the back.

    Alphabetically, L and P come before R and S, so I associate Left with Push and Right with Scoop.

    As for where to knit, B(back) also comes before F(front) so Left = Push + Back and Right = Scoop + Front.

    Just a suggestion!

    • I think R is for Rear and now I remember!

  • M1L: the needle has LEFT the building (needle goes front to back)
    M1R: the needle pokes you RIGHT in the eye (needle goes back to front)
    On both, you then knit the stitch the hard way, i.e., the way that requires the most needle-cramming.

    Disclaimer: I am commenting before coffee.

    • *love*
      And it’s heartening to know I’m not the only one that comes up with (sometimes obscure) mental tricks (mnemonics) to remember these things. Not limited to knitting either! Like my ATM pin is a combination of my husband’s and my ages in 198x when I got the account. Huh, why I can remember THAT I’m not sure. Opps, I almost told you what my pin is…

    • Mnemonic! THANK YOU! And “Needle-cramming” is exactly what you have to do. So perfect.

  • Not the first to say it but I’m fine with the hojo stitch markers… Someday the hipster knitters will circle back to them like they have with typewriters and record albums. And I always draw schematics and M1R/m1L instructions on my patterns!
    I haven’t twisted when joining in a while, not since I did it while casting on for someone I was trying to teach to knit. She had to pull out her hard knit rows… all my fault.

  • I’m not the first to say it, but I use
    Right Increase (and right cable) = go to the Rear
    LeFt Increase (and leFt cable) = go to the Front

    I’ve twisted in my day too — but if I catch it in the first few rows I’ve been known to cut it and sew together. In fact, sometimes I might just knit the first three or four rows flat, join in the round when I can see what I’m doing and use my yarn end to sew them together.

  • I just twisted last week on my current project too! It was a short-row sleeve cap with a saddle, and the first time I have knitted one of these. You pick up stitches around the arm hole, add the previously knit saddle stitches and knit 3 stitches and wrap & turn, knitting back and forth, adding one stitch each row. I couple of inches in, I realized I couldn’t flatten out my work to check my progress. My pattern did not warn me to be “careful not to twist” and I wasn’t even working in the round (yet). I ripped back and started again and twisted my work a second time but was able to untwist on the first round!

  • I have a handy trick for working with M1R and M1L too. It’s to use Kf&b instead, whenever possible! Despite this, I still have to make a lot of check marks and notes on my patterns.

    Also, I love all of Karen Templer’s elegant knitting tools and accessories. The only one I have so far is the “Wool is an Essential Part of Any High Fiber Diet” tote bag, though.

  • When you join knitting in the round, you have to act like Santa and his list: check it twice!
    You check it when you first join, and once more when you get to the join and there is just one thread connecting the last and first stitches. If you happen to be twisted at this point, you can fix it and knit one stitch and you are forever safe. When knitting the first round of joined knitting, it sometimes happens that one of Santa’s little elves is feeling like having some fun with you, and puts in a twist when you are not looking.

    • He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake….. 😉


  • Oh yes, I’ve done this before – I was distracted (that’s my story & I’m stickin’ to it). Remember, making mistakes in knitting is just part of the process! This is my mantra & I share it with new knitting friends…

  • Only the other day I also twisted my work. So what I did was to cast on the stitches, initially, onto a straight needle and transfer onto the circular… I seemed to have better control for not twisting the stitches, although I think this depends on how many stitches there are – at the time I had 240 sts. Keep knitting…:)

  • ALL of my long knitting life, I have never twisted when joining.


    What is in the air??? No wine was involved. Maybe that was the problem.

  • The Isager Vortex — oh so apt! I bliss out on their colors.

  • I had to look at your photo this weekend of the twist and then look at my work again. Guess who had to rip out those stitches for the 3rd time {G}? Thanks for the photo though. It kept me honest and out of denial!

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