When Starting isn’t Straightforward

Sometimes you get an idea in your head about something you want to knit or crochet.

When inspiration hits, perhaps you’re like me and you are determined to get at it… right now! Whether the yarn inspired you, or a pattern did, or you saw someone walk past wearing something amazing, sometimes getting all you need to start a project is easier said than done.

One of the things I do is help people to “get the ducks in a row” so they have everything they need to get that project underway. I often see people who know exactly what they want to make, but they can’t find what they need to get there.

Here are a few suggestions

to help you muscle through the frustrations so you can get on with what you love: to knit or crochet something wonderful!

Follow The Inspiration:

So, where did the inspiration come from? Did you see someone wear what you want to make? Did you see it on Pinterest, Ravelry or Instagram? No matter what got your creative juices flowing, you’re going to need to track down a pattern (or at least some guidelines; unless you are a pattern-making guru already; and if you are, you probably won’t be reading this). Sometimes following a Pin just leads you down a rabbit hole of frustration. Just because you can see it on Pinterest or Instagram doesn’t mean that you are going to be able to track down a pattern from that post. And even on Ravelry, sometimes photos of a finished project are posted with no indication of what pattern was used or if a pattern was used. Sometimes you can see something you want to make online, but it’s only offered as a ready to purchase item.

If your local yarn shop doesn’t have what you need and if using the sophisticated search filters on Ravelry got you nowhere, try searching for a group on Ravelry that specializes in the type of knitting or crochet project you want to make. Whether it’s socks or sweaters, hats or mittens, see what groups already exist. Join up and ask questions. Chances are, someone will be able to point you toward a pattern (or a couple patterns you can mash up) so you have a place to start. Or you can ask around in your local community of knitters and crocheters. Often someone will know someone who can connect you with a pattern or can teach you what you want to know. Who knows, you might make a new friend while you’re at it. 🙂

Gathering Your Materials:

Sometimes getting the pattern isn’t the issue. Sometimes you already have a pattern but you just can’t seem to find the right yarn. Oftentimes patterns are designed to be used with a very specific yarn. They will ask for a specific brand and line of yarn for which the pattern was originally meant to be used. That’s really nice and all, but it’s not always helpful.

The reality is that patterns outlive the production life-time of yarns.

Yarn is very much a fashion product, just like fabric is. The trends come and go; yarns come and go. And the truth is that even though a yarn may be labeled with a particular gauge, that doesn’t mean that it’s always exactly accurate, or that you can transfer that information seamlessly to any pattern with the same term. Add to this that there are a lot of different names for gauges. The US uses different names than Canada or the UK use; translators may not understand the nuances that English-speaking Yarnies take for granted. At the end of the day, the actual finished measurements and the gauge numbers (how many rows by how many stitches), are what will matter.

Of course, not every pattern gives you that information in a clear, concise way. The pattern might just say, “Sport” weight. Well, as a yarn shop owner I can tell you that “Sport” is not a universal or standard term. I have seen yarn that they call sport weight that is closer to a lace weight, and other sport weight that looks suspiciously like worsted. It all depends on the manufacturer.

Don’t you just love it when it isn’t straightforward?

So get what information you can from the pattern. Does it give you a gauge count? If it does, compare that to the labels of the yarns that you hope to use. It’s unlikely that they will match exactly. But if it’s pretty close, you should be okay. You may be able to adjust by changing the needle size.

Are gauge swatches for sissies? Well, many expert knitters will tell you that they are. The reality is that when you have a non-straightforward pattern, sometimes it’s the gauge swatch that will save you from insanity. I know, I know! You want to get going on your project already. But for the time it takes to make up a couple swatches with a couple different sizes of needles, it beats the heck out of casting on 184 stitches, knitting 20 rows and having to frog it all because the gauge is out of whack! (Can you tell that I speak from experience?)

Impatience is not your friend here.

It may be a frustrating road, but once you gather all that you need and get started, it will be worth it. And even if the project doesn’t live up to your original inspiration, it will have taught you a lot of things that you would not have learned otherwise.

Happy Knitting!

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