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May 21, 2021 4 min read

Gather ‘round, yarn lovers, for I am going to tell you a story. It’s an epic story of love, hate, adventure, and house gnomes. It’s full of trials, tribulations, and wild successes. It’s a story…about learning to knit again.

The thing about working around a bazillion photos of amazing, gorgeous, stunning yarn…is that eventually, the desire to knit something overwhelms you.

“Man,” you catch yourself thinking, “that would make SUCH a nice scarf/hat/pair of socks/house-sized cardigan. I should really try that.” The yarn twinkles at you from the screen and you can almost taste…er…no…feel it.

So, when Allen presented me with a skein of No Care yarn (a delightful worsted-weight merino/cashmere/silk blend in teal, cream, purple and black) from Nerds with Needles, I knew it was time. I gathered my courage…and proceeded to stare at the yarn in a blank panic.

No Care by Nerds with Needles

What on earth was I going to make?

(that’s a censored version…my inner monologue is a real swearbear).

(Mostly) undaunted, I turned to our lovely social media followers for help and amassed quite the collection of patterns (thank you!). I finally settled on a shawl…or a hat. Definitely one of those two. Anyway, I figured I would look at my collection of needles and see what I had.

And that would have been a great plan…if house gnomes hadn’t intervened.

See, I have this craft bin in the basement. It’s chock full of the assorted remnants of 1,000,000 craft projects (give or take)—and trust me when I say that the only reason it’s one IMMENSE Rubbermaid tote and not, say 50, is that I have flirted with minimalism in the past and narrowed it down to “the essentials.” Well, a month or two ago, with the idea of knitting again, I pulled out my bag of random knitting needles to organize them.

They never made it back in.

Where these needles are, I do not know. I have torn this house apart multiple times in the past 3 weeks, and I genuinely have no idea where they could be. My only thought is that we have a house gnome infestation and the needles have been carried off and welded together to make a tiny jungle gym behind the baseboards or in the attic. They’ve gone to knitting needle heaven…or wherever the odd socks and lunch container lids get off to (if you have theories, please share them).

Luckily, my mother is a knitting fiend and she was already sending my family a package (containing, coincidentally, hand-knit sweaters), so she offered to send me the needles I needed. They arrived and I did a happy dance. I was finally ready to start my hat! (I had settled on the hat by this point…after all, I’d had nearly a month to think about it).

I googled “how to do a longtail cast-on” and got started.

Up until this point in my life, I’d only worked with cheap-ass yarn from big box stores. And WOW, the difference. This yarn is amazing. It’s smooth and soft and a pleasure to work with. The colours are gorgeous.

I’m freaking in LOVE with it.

And it’s a good thing I love working with it because the course of starting this hat has not been smooth.

Take 1:Never having done a longtail cast-on before, I blindly guesstimated the amount of yarn I would need for 110 stitches. I was…incorrect. I ran out about 90 stitches in. Dammit.I ripped it out and started over.

Take 2:  Undaunted, I tried again. This time, I guessed entirely too much yarn and was left with about ¾ of a metre once I was done the cast-on. I could have left this one, but I only have the one ball and I was concerned that future me would be stuck mere centimetres from the end, gazing despairingly at the useless length of leftover yarn at the brim.

Take 3:Goldilocks style, I picked a length that was neither too hot nor too…no, wait. Neither too long nor too short. It was, in fact, just right. I started knitting and successfully completed my 110 stitches, joining in the round. Huzzah!

…and then I looked up how to slip one purlwise, misunderstood the directions, and ended up doubling the number of stitches on the needles. I’m not sure I can convey how I managed this without showing video, but it involved thinking that I needed to wrap the yarn around the needle between each purl stitch (Look, people, I’ve been supervising online school this month and sleeping like 5 hours a night. I’m tired).

To be honest, my first inkling that there was a problem was a nagging feeling that there were just too many stitches. That’s cause there WERE.

Luckily, I discovered this issue only 4 rows in, so I didn’t actually cry when I ripped it out and started over.

Take 4: I couldn’t remember exactly how much yarn I’d used to cast on before, so I took another wild guess…and nearly messed up again. I had about 4 inches left after finishing the cast on and it only just occurred to me now that I have no idea how I’m going to weave in that end with that little left to work with. Oops!

Anyway, the angels were smiling on me as I successfully joined in the round and started the pattern properly, making sure not to, you know, accidentally double the number of stitches. And all was well…until row 5…but that’s another story for another time.

This is what it’s supposed to look like. More or less. I think. if you see a mistake please, for the love of god, don’t tell me!

What’s your worst/funniest experience when you’re starting a project? Any words of encouragement for a novice knitter slogging through the tangled trenches?