Knitting Lesson: Knowing When to Move On

How do you know when to move on from a knitting pattern that just isn’t working? You are excited about a knitting pattern and you are excited about the yarn, but it’s not going your way.  Do you keep trying?  Do you try a different yarn?  Do you look for another pattern to knit?

Luckily (??), I have an example for you!

The Background of My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

A couple of weeks ago, I started the Diamond Tempest Cowl with the impossibly soft and wonderful-to-knit-with Cascade Baby Llama Chunky yarn.  It had a great pattern to it and I thought it would make a great knitting class in learning how to do right twists (RT) and left twists (LT).  And the yarn! Sooo great.

BUT, there was the game of yarn chicken, in which I lost, running out of yarn with two rounds and the bind off still to do:

This was completely my fault for using the wrong needle size and not checking my gauge.  So, out it came and I started over, changing my needle size and checking my gauge.  My gauge was a tiny bit tighter than suggested, which was okay, because that meant I would need less yarn.  It also meant that my cowl would be a tiny bit smaller but that was okay too.

When I got halfway through the pattern, I weighed my yarn to make sure I was in the clear, and that I wouldn’t run out of yarn again:

The Decision Point in My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

I had exactly half my ball of yarn left.  In any normal circumstance in which I am the only one affected by this cowl, this would be fine.  If it was really that close at the end, I could cut out one round and it would be fine.  However, since this is going to be for a class I’ll be teaching, I need to keep my students in mind.  Several things come into play:

  1. If I had gotten the correct gauge, I probably would have run out of yarn again.
  2. In a knitting pattern there really should be a buffer in terms of yardage needed.  This allows for differing knitting tensions of the people working this pattern.  Adding 10-15% to the amount used in the sample is a general rule.
  3. You may ask, “Why not just get more yarn?”  And the reason is that this is supposed to be a one-skein project.  To spend money on another skein of yarn, just to need 2-3 rounds worth is just not practical to ask students to do.
  4. I did not want to ask the students to modify the pattern. They are coming to class to learn the pattern that they saw and liked, not how to modify it.  (That’s another class I guess!)

At that point, I decided I had done my due diligence to make this yarn and pattern choice work together. I did not want to change the yarn I was using because I love working with it. The only option was to abandon that particular knitting pattern and find another quick, chunky cowl to make for a class.

The Solution to My Knitting Pattern Dilemma:

I found the Airy Alpaca Cowl:


The yardage needed was 100 yards, and while there was not a range in the pattern, I knew that I had a buffer with my yarn (which was 109 yards).

It knit up quickly!

The end result is great.  It is not what I wanted starting out, but I did still get to use this wonderful yarn. I got a wonderfully cozy and soft cowl, that was quick to knit.  I can work the Diamond Tempest Cowl another time when I’m sure I have enough yarn!

Extra Bit of Knitting Info:

By the way, here is the difference between pre-blocking and post-blocking:

Before blocking:

After blocking:

Can you tell the difference?  This example is a little subtle, but you can mostly see it in the middle pattern.  The diagonal sections are laying flatter and allowing the holes to open up and be shown more.


Have you ever had to abandon a pattern or yarn for some reason?

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