Knitting Lab Notes #1b: new techniques, mindfulness and full service

I am not very good at keeping a tight lab notebook… here is our update for the second week!

We got new additions to our lab. Most of them were here last week, but I didn’t know what pattern they set their mind to. Without further ado, here they are!

  • Cydney is knitting the Calidez vest, by JenJoyce in Cascade Eco;
  • Michale is working the Come here cardigan by Drops Design, using their Cotton Merino;
  • Sandra is knitting Boxy, by Joji Locatelli using Indigo Dragonfly Fingering.

Again, the variety of patterns is something I’m very happy with. It’s fun to compare notes, tips and tricks, and everybody gets exactly what they want. Take that, standard knit-along!

A quick photo of the lab team! Clockwise: Olivier, Cydney, Sandra, Liane, Michale, Rosie and Haley!
The sweater lab dream team! Clockwise: Olivier, Cydney, Sandra, Liane, Michale, Rosie, Nicole and Haley

Lesson #1: Practice any new technique BEFORE using it in a project.

Silly lesson, isn’t it? Well, ask me how I know. My last sweater is hiding in a drawer because “meh, short rows are simple” and the collar looks like, well, poorly made short rows.

The pattern I chose asks for tubular cast-on, in the round. After leveraging opinions from the crowd, I was suggested to use a few yards of my practice skein for this cast on. I ended up spending most of the night trying it (twice). While it errs on the bulkier side, with a yarn as delicate as the Ultra Alpaca light, it looks very professional and finished. I made a few mistakes on my first iteration, which would have landed on my left sleeve if I hadn’t practiced.

Swatching, practicing new techniques, will I ever start the project?

Lesson #2: Take advantage of your LYS, as they have much more than meets the eye

I must admit, I was willing to practice a little more as I was still waiting for my yarn. When it comes to a sweater (or any sizeable project), a good yarn store will be happy to order the right yarn in the right color/dye lot. In my case, I got 15 skeins (1.5 bag) worth of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in 4288 (blueberry mix). Haley gladly opened her binder, we looked at colors, and it was delivered in a week.

Most yarn stores will be more than happy to order you some yarn by the bag for your garment project. Take some time to ask questions, look (and touch) at store samples and, most importantly, remember that this is part of their offering. You might find a new favorite yarn or pattern!

Lesson #3: Learn to be mindful

Find your groove. When knitting in a group, be conscious of what other people are making, and don’t hesitate to move aside if you’re doing a tricky part of your project. I stopped interacting with people for a few minutes while picking my stitches, making sure I let the group know beforehand. Nobody found that odd and it really helped me avoid some stupid mistakes.

This goes beyond the knitting itself. Our sweater lab is a very diverse group, with people from every horizon. Learn how to interact with your fellow knitters. After just a few meetings, some people really opened up, and I realized the importance of those social gathering.

Always, always aim for kindness. It’s a hard world out there, we all deserve a little break.

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