This week I’m knitting with Lion Brand Wool-Ease, which is a medium weight yarn that blends the warmth of wool with the ease of acrylic.
It’s Day 5 which means it’s time for the Galway Poncho! I fell in love with this pattern the moment I saw it. What intrigues me is all the pattern motifs used together in harmony and the oversized rib collar is gorgeous. When I showed it to other knitters, some of them responded by saying it was beautiful but felt they couldn’t make. That was my inspiration for this week’s posts. There is only one way to gain experience in knitting – by trying new things.
Today is focused on how to break down a seemingly complicated pattern into smaller manageable chunks, thus turning intimidation into accomplishment. Yesterday, we used some of the pattern motifs to make the hand warmers, and on Day 3, used other patterns on the hat. Those two projects covered off all the patterns used in the poncho.
The Galway Poncho is a free downloadable pattern designed for Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool. The specifications for Fisherman’s Wool is 16 sts x 22 R on a US 9 [5.5mm] needle, but I’m using Wool-Ease which is rated at 18 sts x 24 R on a US 8 [5.0mm] needle. The pattern gauge is significantly different but through the on Day 2, I was confident that Wool-Ease was a good substitution. If you’ve followed any of my previous posts, I tend to always personalize a stock pattern, but not in this case. I love it just the way it is. The only change I’m making is the yarn and color – I never make a pattern in the color depicted. Let’s get started.
The first tip is to have lots of different colored stitch markers on hand. You can never have too many stitch markers. They tend to disappear on a regular basis, or in my household, it’s a race against the kitties to find them. They always seem to win, hence you need lots.
If you look closely at the picture above, you can see one of my green markers that the kitties got to first. They chewed through it making it a removable marker instead of a fixed marker. If you don’t have a collection of different colored markers then you can use what you have and tie on a little piece of yarn or thread to distinguish it from the other colors. Just make sure it’s visible to you as you progress across the row. This is how I used my markers:
Green – Pattern A
Purple – Pattern B
Blue – Pattern C & F
Pink – Pattern D & E
White – Decreases
You may be wondering why I used Blue for both C & F, and pink for both D & E. Did I run out of colors? On the contrary …. C & F are the same pattern motifs as are D & E. The difference is that C & D are right leaning patterns and E & F are left leaning patterns. C & D are used on right of center and E & F are used on the left side of center . . . straight forward and simple to remember. As you progress, the pattern asks for a different colored stitch marker to denote where the decreases will occur. That’s where I used the white markers.
It’s Confessions of a Knitter time …
I frequently use stitch markers to denote a change in the knitting, but not usually so diligent about color coding it like I did here. I must confess, it made it so much easier to knit. (Is that a choir I hear singing ah-h-h-h-h-h?) Sometimes it pays to follow your own advice.
The next thing that the pattern recommends about experience is the ability to read your knitting. This is fairly challenging as I don’t know of any classes or YouTube videos that teach how to read your knitting. In the Knit Night for our guild, we did a segment on this topic and it was a challenge. As instructors, we all knew how to read our knitting from experience, but how to teach others was a new playing field. So we had participants do different types of stitches like left leaning vs. right, but it all boiled down to one thing … observation.
When you first get started with a pattern, it takes several rows to see the pattern emerge. But once it starts to reveal itself, you can see what’s happening and can anticipate the next set of stitches. If you look at the picture above, pattern B is on the left, A in the center, and C on the right.
Pattern B – 1st row leans the stitches out, 2nd row purls back, 3rd row leans the stitches in, 4th row purls back. By noticing how the stitches are flowing out and in a zigzag pattern makes it clear on what to do on the next row.
Pattern A – Note how every 5th twisted stitch is marked making it easy to determine when the next 4/4RC of Pattern C should be knit.
Pattern C – This pattern is worked on the right side of center, therefore, the 4/4 cross should always flow right.
This is what it means by “reading your knitting”. The number 1 rule in learning to read your knitting is
Stop and admire your handiwork!
Admiring your handiwork not only helps to anticipate the next stitch, but it also helps to identify the occasional boo-boo. We all make mistakes when we knit – we get distracted by other things and zig when we should’ve zagged. The sooner you catch it, the easier it is to correct. Confessions time again – the pattern that caused me the most grief was Pattern A, the easiest one. In the section where there are multiple occurrences of the Knot Stitch, I would count to 8 before I realized I should’ve stopped at 3. Back I went 5 stitches, fixed the problem and carried on. See, we all make mistakes.
You’re allowed to take pride in your handiwork. It’s not a cardinal sin when it comes to knitting, so makes sure you frequently stop and admire your handiwork. This will really help you during the decrease sections as well.
The poncho is now complete. I was a little concerned at the beginning that Oxford Grey might be a bit dark for the patterns to emerge, but not the case. The pattern detail comes shining through which is what I loved about knitting it in the first place. It was a joy to knit.
I sincerely hope that these tips were helpful in converting intimidation into confidence. Just remember these key points:
- Stop and admire your handiwork.
- Use color coded stitch markers to delineate the different pattern motifs.
- Right leaning patterns on the right of center and left leaning patterns on the left of center.
- Use a removable stitch marker to tag the row of a cable cross.
- Stop and admire your handiwork.
Now for the grand finale!
My ensemble is complete … all made with Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Oxford Grey and Tawny Port. I’m really looking forward to wearing the hat and hand warmers, but likely giving the poncho to one of my nieces. I’m actually still undecided about that after putting it on and wearing on a chilly October evening … it was so nice and warm. Maybe I’ll have to make another.
Thanks for joining me this week. I hope you enjoyed both the projects and the tips. I certainly enjoyed making everything.
This is part 5 of 5 in this series
Go back to part 4: Are they hand warmers or mittens … you decide