WEEK 2: The Poncho Fabric and Fixing Mistakes


Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the second KAL post for the June Cashmere Sandwaves Poncho designed by Norah Gaughan. I really love the stitch pattern in this poncho, it is well suited to the cashmere yarn and when you have the gauge correct, the stitch definition contributes to the overall beauty of the wavy fabric. Today I want to talk about the fabric design and fixing mistakes. Oddly enough, they are related because if we understand the design, we can more easily recognize the pattern and the stitches that come next, which means knitting more freely without having to refer to the pattern so often.  It also means recognizing mistakes sooner and being able to correct them more easily. This post will be a little longer than most so bear with me!

Fabric Design

I said in my previous post that this pattern is deceptively simple.  Here’s why:

  • The knit row and purl row are exactly the same throughout the whole pattern, even on the cable rows.
  • If you look at the chart below, there are two 18 stitch repeats, each framed by two purl stitches.
  • If you look more closely you will see that the two 18 stitch repeats are each made up of a series of 9 stitches knit twice.
  • It all comes down to the nine stitch sequences and once you learn them, you have the pattern!
  • Right side- k,k,p,k,yo,ssktog,p,k,k
  • Back side - p,p,p,p,yo,p2tog,p,p,p
  • On the cable rows, the first set of 9 stitches are merely switched with the second set, alternating front to back, the 9 stitches sequence does not change.
  • The two cable rows that come every 14th row, give us the 28 row repeats that create the waves.

The waves don’t of course show on the chart, but if you look at the close up of the knitted fabric and at the chart you can see how the chart reflects the fabric even with the waves!  That is why a chart is so important, it is not just a collection of individual stitches, it is a picture of the fabric from the front.

          

Easy right? Yes and no--it took me knitting almost a whole poncho to get it.  I encourage you to think about the design while you knit and get into the rhythm of the pattern, you may have different insights into the design and I would love to hear them. Now let’s get on to the second thing I want to talk about.

Fixing Mistakes

Usually fixing mistakes is straightforward. If you see you have knit instead of purled on the 3rd row below where you are, you unravel the single stitch down to the mistake and turning from knit side to purl side with a crochet hook knit the yarn ladders back up with the correct stitches. At least that is how I do it.

With lace it is more difficult and I am grateful to Brooke Nico for lessons on how to correct knitting mistakes in lace. I was fortunate enough in January to attend the NYC Vogue Knitting Live event and went to her class on Advanced Lace. It was really fun!

There is one lace stitch sequence in the middle of our magical 9 stitches. The most common mistake I make when knitting those stitches is forgetting to slip the stitches purlwise when I YO,SSK on the right side, especially when I first turn the work from the purl side to the knit side. That puts the YO stitch to the front of the fabric instead of to the back where it belongs. This is a mistake that really shows and is worth fixing.

The lace stitch happens on both the right and wrong side of the fabric, which makes those lovely ridges on either side of the yarn over.  On the down side, with yarn overs on both sides it makes it just a little more difficult to correct.

What I learned from Brooke Nico is that, with lace, you need to unravel beyond the lace stitches to a stable, known stitch in the pattern, in this case, something that doesn’t involve a YO or 2 TOG. I unravel 2 stitches on either side of the YO for a total of 5 to now include the garter stitch on either side of the ridge. I initially unraveled 7 stitches because I felt it gave more room to make the repair but have settled on the five.  If your mistake involves more than just lace stitches, you will need to unravel more, as long as you start and end on stable, known stitches. 

To correct you will need a pair of double pointed needles the same size as your circular needles. A tip from Brooke Nico again, go a size or two larger if you are frustrated because you will be knitting more tightly!

  • Unravel the 5 stitches down to the mistake, paying attention to whether you start back up on a purl or a knit row.
  • Picking up the 5 stitches on the DP needle (this includes the YO), start the knit or purl row at the known stitch, using the appropriate yarn ladder.
  • Turn the fabric and knit the 5 stitches in the next row up, again using the correct yarn ladder.
  • If you are only going down one row, you can pick up the stitches with the DPN and knit back onto the circular needles.
  • If it is more than one row use both DP needles until you get to the top row.
  • There, you’ve fixed it!

I’ve made a short video to demonstrate. I’m not the most graceful knitter, but you will get the idea. The first few times I did this, I had to take it all out and do it again, but I got better as I went along.  It beats ripping out rows and rows of 206 stitches.

Having that deep understanding of the fabric pattern and what it should look like really helps to recognize and catch errors more quickly, often as they are being made. I am checking as I go, as well as taking a broader look before a cable row, so I can correct any mistakes before that row. No one wants to try and fix an error as well as cable again.

 

That’s it for today. Happy knitting and again, if you have questions or comments, please send them on.  Until next week, when we will talk about finding the perfect buttons for the poncho!

Signe

(Note: There is a wonderful description of the relationship of written instructions and charts in the beginning of Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook if you need/want more details.)