A few days ago a knitter came into the “Knitting Doctor” (a knitting help session) with a scarf that had gotten off in pattern. I ripped down 5 rows to where the pattern looked like it went astray and then I told her we were going to read her knitting to figure out what row she was on so we could get her back on track. I started to read the row on the needle and I saw that the second stitch was unworked. I told her that can happen when she pulls her work off the needle to rip, she had dropped a stitch and so when she put all the loops back on, what she had was a slipped stitch, no worries, we’ll fix that.
I read the knitting and checked the pattern – no match. I tinked back one more row and again the second stitch was slipped. I asked her if she was following the pattern exactly (it had a selvage edge created by slipping the first stitch purlwise). She said yes, she was keeping a selvage edge and working the pattern. Again the row did not match anything. I said “are yousure you weren’t slipping the second stitch?” Again, she swore she was “keeping her selvage edge and following the pattern” . . . then the truth came out . . . she said she means, not counting the two stitches she added. She said she did what she always does, she adds two stitches to the pattern, “you know, a selvage edge.” A bit baffled I counted her stitches – yup, 26 stitches on the needle, 24 in the pattern, WHICH WAS WRITTEN WITH A SELVAGE EDGE!!!!
Turns out her friend told her that in knitting you “always” add two stitches to every pattern. So . . . the helpful designer had written a scarf with a slipped stitch selvage edge, which she was doing on the second stitch, since her friend told her that helpful (read – crazy) bit of advice.
This leads me to my Top Ten Least Favorite Knitting Myths (some real, some fanciful). Please read in the voice of David Letterman.
#10: You always add two stitches to any pattern!!
(Note: The designer helpfully thought of the edge so you don’t have to – that sounds like a TV commercial.)
#9: If you become a spinner and make your own yarn . . . you will buy less yarn
(Note: There’s no way to sugar coat this – THIS IS A LIE. You will simply have more yarn. The yarn you spin and the yarn you continue to buy, AND you will have less time to knit this yarn, since you now spin. Welcome to the rabbit hole.)
#8: It’s always better to create an SSK by slipping the first stitch as if to knit and the second stitch as if to purl
(Note: This is one of the least offensive myths on the list. It’s good hearted. It does create a nice flat SSK by twisting the second stitch. However, there are very few “alwaysessss” in knitting or in life. In some lace patterns that have YOs on alternative rows that reveal the base of the SSK, it doesn’t look great. Moral of the story – by wary of “always.”)
#7: Knitting is hard
(Note: the number of times I hear people tell me “I could never knit, it looks so hard, I would not have the patience.” This statement usually comes out of the mouths of brilliant people who have mastered their careers, and in some cases are juggling child care mastery at the same time . . . but somehow two sticks and string seems impossibly intimidating.)
#6: Knitting is easy
(Note: nothing to say.)
#5: You ALWAYS slip the first stitch of every row.
(Note: a cousin to #10 – this one makes me crazy go nuts. It’s spread like wildfire through yarn stores. Although a selvage edge is lovely if that’s your finished edge, if you are knitting pieces that you will be seaming, a slipped stitch in many yarns can makes mattress stitch a sloppy drag.)
#4: If you are a combination knitter you can’t do (fill in blank: lace, double knitting, brioche . . .)
(Note: This is posh & nonsense. I teach combination knitting, and I assure you, there’s nothing that an eastern and combination knitter can’t do. Once you understand the anatomy of your stitches and how to control them, the knitting world is your oyster.)
#3: Knitters are always friendly and kind
(Note: Knitters are human beings – for the most part, therefore, like all human beings, some are awesome and some are . . . well . . . not.)
#2: To get a long tail cast on with an elastic edge, use a larger needle (or dopier still) two needles.
(Note: This is by FAR my least favorite myth, and one that simply will not die. The needle creates the size of the stitch, therefore using a larger needle only creates a first row with taller stitches. The elasticity of the edge would come from how far apart you space your stitches, controlled by the thumb yarn. When doing a long tail cast on, plant your finger on the needle to the left of the stitch you just cast on, to act as a spacer between it and the next new stitch.)
#1: (Paul Shaffer’s drum roll here) KNITTING IS THE NEW YOGA!
(Note: STOP IT. Really, everyone stop saying that. First of all, knitting is not the “new” anything. Knitting is it’s own thing and has been around for quite a few years. Second of all, that pithy little sound bite was first uttered about 10 years ago – I remember first reading it in 2003, so seriously – get a new line. Seriously. I mean it.)