I taught myself to knit about a year ago. Unfortunately, this has meant I've learned a lot of things through trial and error. To help other knitters not make these mistakes, I am making this post, including pictures(!).
Please add your own cautionary tales as you see fit. Hopefully this will turn into a fun topic for everyone and people can get some use out of their disaster FO's. Cautionary Tale #1: Always mark the top of your felted swatch
I drew up a pattern for a remote control holder. You know those long things with the pockets that lay over a chair arm? I bought the wool, I got a few metal washers to make the end heavy so it wouldn't slide off the air when the remote was in the pocket. Took all the measurements. Double checked the math. Then I felted my swatch, so I could figure my gauge.
Except, of course, I forgot after felting the swatch, which way was up. So I hazarded a guess. Big mistake. I give you the completely useless, extra wide, super short, remote control holder. Cautionary Tale #2: There's a reason there are no knitted trinket boxes out there
Again, I drew up a pattern. Took all the measurements. Double checked the math. Then I felted my swatch, so I could figure my gauge, and this time, I threaded a blue piece of yarn through the top so I'd know which way was up. Spent a lot of time figuring out a beaded scheme for the lid. The result? Cautionary Tale #3: Do NOT work on two projects at the same time in the same area of space
This one, I used a pattern. It's Sesame from Magknits. Love the yarn (Merino Style, Knitpicks). I had to redo the button edge, which is why there aren't any buttons on it yet. Everything was working out just fine. Looks good, right?
I was also, at the time, working on a red sweater. Sitting on the same couch, with the yarns relatively close together. Caron Simply Soft in that Autumn Red color.
See all those safety pins (there's about 20 on the back too)? They're marking big pink blotches that you can't see in the photo. The fibers of the simply soft got on the sweater, and when I washed it (by hand, in the sink), the color from the fibers transfered to my nice, vanilla sweater. Cautionary Tale #4: Do NOT work on a pattern that does not list a gauge
Seems pretty obvious right? Well, when you usually get gauge with the recommended yarns and needles, you figure that it will probably work out for the best. I am taking an internship soon working as a penguin keeper in the zoo, and when I saw the pattern for webbed feet in Wild Knitting by Angela Jeffs, I immediately thought, "Halloween Costume!!". But there is no gauge for the pattern. But I used the same size yarn and needles. And before you ask, they definately look like adult feet in the photo.
First, it was too small, so I frogged then used bigger needles. Then it started to work. I followed all the measurements. Until I went to put it together. The toes aren't wide enough to stretch across the web. I couldn't get it together no matter what I did. And to top it off, it wasn't long enough for my foot. So this is now a yellow ball of yarn. Cautionary Tale #5: Do NOT work a purse strap in seed stitch
I *love* this purse. I based it on that cabled handbag that's on here that's so popular, except I made sides for it, deepened it, got those magnetic clasps for it, and made the strap so I could wear it over my shoulder and across my body (otherwise I lose my purses).
But I made the strap in seed stitch, thinking it wouldn't stretch so much. And I made sure not to make it too long by flipping it across my body every two seconds.
But when you put something weighty in the purse, it stretches to all hell. The purse comes down past my knees. I haven't gotten up the motivation to fix it yet. Cautionary Tale #6: Do NOT put your heart and hours on end of your life into a knitted object hoping it'll be appreciated by men
This was the hardest one to learn.
A few months ago, my aunt got tickets for The Price Is Right. In case you're not familiar with the show, it's a game show on CBS in the US. Contestants are picked out of the audience after an interview with the producers. Bob Barker has been hosting it forever. Our tickets were for August 22nd, it was last week (show will air in October).
I wanted to do something for the show no one had ever done before. Everyone makes shirts, you know? But I wanted to be on TV. Didn't even want to get picked, so much as just have my face on tv, being recognized for something cool I did. Not even 15 minutes of fame, just 15 seconds.
So I learned intarsia, and made a Bob Barker purse based on the one in SnBN. I came to the boards and asked for help from the stencil gals to get a good pic of him. I frogged a million times. First time because I had the boxes on the graph paper the wrong way. Tried again and I finished only to have him look like an ape, so I changed the colors and re-knitted (to off-white and navy, it looks black in the pic), and it looked okay. I made two different linings because the first one didn't fit. I didn't learn from Cautionary Tale #5 and I spent about 10 hours knitting the sides and strap in seed stitch (which again, although only two feet long, stretched down to my knees, forcing me to knot it at the shoulder). I seamed, I ripped, I reseamed. I worked my butt off.
The other members of the audience really liked it, really seemed to understand what went into it. The producer interview dude said, "cool, you'll have to show that to Bob" During a commercial break, I held it up to show to Bob. He told me (quotes are from memory, not word for word) "that's nice, did you make that?" Yes. "You must have used a younger picture of me." Some laughing from the crowd.
And that was it. He moved on. I was so excited that I was going to get to show the world my craft, an FO that I had spent 2 weeks almost non-stop working on. Other people's things had made it on TV before (like a belt that was like a store sign, lit up with words running across it), so I thought, "duh, no one has done this before and it's actually GOOD! I'll get on tv! A Bob purse! He'll get a kick out of that!".
I have no hard feelings for Bob or the Price is Right. I mean, he's a man, it's a male run show, and the majority of men don't get the time and effort it takes to do this. I'm still watching the show, and if I go to California again, I might go to it again. But I was crushed. I still kinda am. I wanted to frog it when I got home, but I don't think my relatives and my mom's friends would let me because they like it so much. Too much time and effort I should have been spending with my family before I move out next week. But that's what this post is about, live and learn.
So there are my cautionary tales. Tell me some of yours, or I'm sure I'll eventually make the same mistakes
ETA: I put this here because these are (except one) all FO's. If it should be on the discussion board, I apologise).
ETA #2: Took me a while to find my post on the stencil board (the search thing wasn't working for me for a while), but now that I have, I can give credit where credit is due. The wonderful gal who stenciled Bob Barker for me was distimica.