Episode 19: 7 times the knitting 'trick' is not the best option!

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Michelle:

Hello lovelies welcome to episode 19 of the Get Knit one podcast with me Michelle Gregory. As I sit here recording, it is a beautiful morning here in Long Eaton, but I have to say that despite the beautiful weather, I'm feeling a little bit nervous about this episode. I think it's because there are a lot of very set thoughts in the knitting community.

 

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Like it's very easy to tread on some people's beliefs, but as I start out, please believe me when I say that A I do not want controversy, controversy marketing and pity marketing and emotional blackmail marketing and kind of causing a stir, it's great and it works really well for some people, but I am at a point in my life where I just I couldn't have the stress of it.

 

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I hang out knitting Twitter every now and again, and I kind of like to have a look. And I've started having a look at craftsnark on Reddit, but I just I feel my heart rate rising and I think, oh, god, I hate that. So I'm definitely not here to offend you because like the controversy I cannot take.

 

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And B, I really do believe that unless it's an unwanted hole, pretty much anything goes in knitting because you know what? It is a skill. And if you know how to do it right, then you are most welcome to do it wrong as well. So honestly, as I start, this is just a little bit advice for people who might be tempted by one thing.

 

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But actually sometimes there is a better alternative, even if it's harder and sometimes it's worth putting in the effort. So with that disclaimer on the hopes that people will take this as it is intended and that is just as potentially good advice, I'm going to talk about my top seven things where I think some people take the easier option rather than learning the better option.

 

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And I'm not saying there's something wrong with the easier option, but sometimes it's good to think about the trickier option, even if it is a little bit more effort. Before I share those, though, I want to share what brought this episode into my mind. And it was a radio station that I was listening to. I listen a lot at LBC, obviously agreeing with some of their presenters and disagreeing wholeheartedly with some of their others and then a mix with some of them.

 

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But anyway, there was a maths teacher on, I believe, who was talking about how people feel about maths and maths, one of those really Marmite things where I hear a lot of people say, I hate maths. I can't be having with maths and what the person on the radio was saying is that it not that people hate maths.

 

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It's just that they have either been taught maths badly, they have been shamed while doing maths. They've been embarrassed. They don't like that. How it makes them feel or that they've never been taught it properly or there's a lot of different factors. And it's not maths. It's actually a lot of people's experiences around it And I think that's actually what a lot of the more difficult techniques in anything.

 

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It's not that you have failed. It's just that, you know, you might not have given it enough time or you haven't been taught well or you're expecting a lot from yourself. And I think that's what I wanted to say before I go back and talk about some of the things in knitting is that it's OK not to know it's OK to pick something that's easier but sometimes it's worth that little bit of effort to get to know the trick.

 

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Your things actually, you might discover that you're limiting yourself and you've a whole other set of options open to yourself. I think that's where I am I think that's what I wanted to say that I you know, I like to talk about the different options that are there as well and how some of them might be difficult, but worth it.

 

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I'm going to dive straight in with talking about seaming. So there has been a wave of people recently that I have heard saying I don't seam I will never seam, I'll never make garment that has seams in it and I think that is actually born out of looking at why people won't seam is because they have never been taught how to do it properly or they have had very bad luck with this or it's just one of those things

 

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that's a bit of a mystery. It feels like a bit of a bother. But the truth is, is that I felt like that. But when you learn how to seam really well, particularly something as straightforward as mattress stitch and you give it a little bit of time, you'll find that there are certain circumstances where you get a better result with a seamed garment than one that is knit in the round. Seams have a purpose in the garment.

 

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They're not just about making your life difficult and asking you to put pieces together, but oftentimes they give you structure in a garment. So for example, there are times when you will knit a yoked sweater in a very heavyweight yarn and there isn't any shoulder seams in this. And you find very quickly that it will drop down to your knees.

 

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Now, that is not always the case with your sweater. So some of them are beautifully designed and they're designed in the right way. Yarn but sometimes they down around your knees or you find yourself knitting a cardigan in a cable pattern and you knitting the backs and fronts and everything all together, and there's no seams in this the likelihood is, is that in a very heavy garment like that, unless the designer has really, really thought about it again, you are likely to have sagging issues with that garment.

 

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Particularly in some different types of fabric. And I say that as somebody who is not a trained designer. So my designs are based off of my experience of knitting and what I like to knit and therefore what I like to design. I don't always know when the right time to put a seam in and when isn't. And I think that as designing has become more accessible to lots of people, which is super, you also have a lot of patterns coming out where the designer may not always know, particularly beginner designers or people who are new knitters who go straight into designing that you need a seam some time.

 

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So you are knitting a pattern by an inexperienced designer, which also means that you are then creating yourself a bigger issue where the garment doesn't fit it. Right now, a lot of people are going to say, Who do I think I am to say, Oh, there are designers who don't know what they're doing. And the truth is, I don't think I'm anyone.

 

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I am one of those designers who's not trained, who doesn't have that classical background. Like I see some of the really great designers have, and I also happen on the receiving end of patterns that don't have adequate seaming in them, which means that they've been stretched out to my knees and I'm also seeing the results of people's knitting disasters where they have followed exactly the instructions.

 

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The fit has been terrible, the blocking instructions have been a mess, and there are lots of issues like that. So I'm not trying to shade any new designers or any designers in particular. It's just I can you can feel that in the industry now there's a lot of people designing, and I'm not saying you need any qualification because you absolutely don't, as there are people who come out of nowhere and design the most beautiful things.

 

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But there is definitely, you know, it's definitely worth looking at a garment and thinking, does this have adequate seaming to keep it together based on the yarn, the structure, the stitch cable, et cetera, et cetera, before you start. So no shade to any particular designer, but just so you know for yourself, that either you are if you're going to just going to knit in the round, that you should look at how the garment is structured to make sure that it will hold itself together.

 

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And then if you have only been knitting in the round, but you think you'd like to explore seaming, do have a look. I will share a video with this so that you can share a video of some very, very basic seaming that might help you a little bit along the way as well as using a three needle bind off in place of a graft or actually the reverse but I'll talk about that in a minute.

 

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I'm seeing a trend of people using a three needle bind off on sock toes because they don't like to graft. Now, I would say here that before you do that, do consider that when you use a three needle bind off, it creates a seam whereas when you graft, it doesn't. So when you're using this in a sock toe, you might find yourself that you are getting rubbing where it's worn that you won't get with a graft.

 

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I'm mentioning it because I've seen a trend towards it and I've seen it in patterns recently and I think is that the best way to needle bind off? I definitely think is actually it is easier than grafting. Well, I think so. And the people who are using it in place of grafting obviously think that it is. And I it's an interesting one.

 

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It's one to consider that is it the best because there is a seam and do you want a seam at the end of your shoe? You know, that's just one dimension. I don't think the easier option in that case is better, but again, if you like three needle bind off, the flip side is actually also true as well.

 

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So you'll see the tops of shoulder seams where people are using a graft because they like the way it looks because it's lovely and flat versus a three needle bind off and a three needle bind off is what's giving you strength, particularly in the shoulder seam? So it's picking your battles and picking which ones you like because I like to graft and I like to three needle bind off, so I'm happy about doing either.

 

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But if you like one above the other and you've began to substitute them in either direction, do you think about why one is better in some circumstances and why the other is better in other circumstances? Not hugely controversial. So saying that I don't think, although you never know with sock knitters. And I say that as a sock knitter. The next one is definitely going to be a problem for some people.

 

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I'm probably going to get an absolute lashing for this, but there are times when the Weavin' Stephen is not the best way to weave in your ends. There I've said it, I've said it. I love Stephen West's work. It's not always for me, but he has definitely taken design in the industry to a huge level. He runs an extremely successful business.

 

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He's actually a lovely person in person. I've only met him very briefly, but he seems like a very nice person. But the weaving Stephen which is really just twisting your ends as you go, is not always the best way to sew in your ends. And the reason I say that is because it creates bulk isn't as well hidden as when you knit in your ends in a different way using what would be more of a kind of a continental if you're a thrower where you're knitting it in weaving in knitting it in with it and rather than twisting it around the working yarn. I've said it, there it is, you can take from that whatever you want.

 

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I'm probably going to do an email series to go at this podcast and I'll show you the difference between the two of those or actually I'll just show you the best way to do it. I'm kidding. Not the best way, but just a good alternative, particularly where you have a bulky, soft wool that is likely to become distorted by using that wrapping method where you're wrapping your working yarn around the tail that you're trying to hide yeah.

 

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That's I think the other method gives you a smoother finish on a bulkier yarn. And again, I'll talk about this in the next one as well is that sometimes weaving in your ends as you go is not the right thing either. Sometimes it is better to go back and weave them in. And that takes me to the whole concept of the fourth item I'm going to talk about, and that is Russian joining or spit splicing or any methods where you're weaving in your ends as you go.

 

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I know the people do not like to weave in ends. I know that sometimes it can be a pain in the backside, excuse my language. But the truth is, is that sometimes when you're doing a Russian join, if you make a mess of it, it becomes a lump in your knitting that you cannot fix, you know, once you've committed to it and you've gone on from it and later on, it's, it's the lump you create.

 

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It's not always going to block out. Some people are really, really good at it. And if you get really slick at Russian joining or split splice splits, splicing, as, you know another method of joining, it's great. But I cannot recommend enough that you learn how to weave in your ends correctly. It will save you countless moments of finishing a piece of knitting and looking back and looking at the option that you've chosen that felt easier at the time and living with the regret of it.

 

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I know that sounds like a lot, but the two of those where weaving in your ends might actually make it look better. And again, we're back to that whole idea that it's not your fault that weaving in ends feels like a drag. It's just that maybe you haven't seen that there are some really great ways of doing it now.

 

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You know, lots of people have, you know, like under stitching, which is like the reverse of Swiss darning where you're duplicate stitching but on the back. That's really neat. You know, you can split your stitches, you can hide them in rows and I know it's a drag at the end of a garment. And I have plenty of garments where I haven't woven in the ends, but at least where I haven't woven in the ends, I can still find the ends.

 

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And they haven't become like a terrible, ugly lump in my knitting. It also allows you to fix things more easily and stuff. But that's a whole other discussion. Noe, I don't think there's anything too controversial about the next statement, though. I'm hoping it's quite positive for everybody trying out a new technique for the first time is best done in a swatch or a trial piece of knitting before you use it in a project in earnest.

 

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Now, I say that as somebody who only came to that since I've really started to teach knitting. So up until about two or three years ago, kind of before I really started teaching about like sock designs and knitting and really, really seriously I would just try and into a technique and get going with it. And I mean, it's an experience that I think that's actually fine, you know, because you, you know, how to correct and you know how to fix.

 

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But if you are a newer knitter or you are learning to knit, I would always recommend that you take a piece of knitting like a swatch or something and try out the technique there before you know, some knitters will say, just get on it and get into the pattern and get going. But it is really, really useful to understand the technique, how it's affecting your knitting particularly if it's working with other pieces of knitting that you're doing at the same time.

 

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And I don't think it's too controversial to say that I find myself doing it now and it has improved my knitting like tenfold. And I do it all the time now as well because I'm always swatching. I write Swatch patterns for all of the classes, and at school I make videos with those swatches and I practice the swatches before I do the videos so that I can make sure that the way I'm talking about it is right.

 

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And so that the angles of the camera correctly, I'm teaching it in a way that makes it understandable and it has really taught me, it has really improved. It has taught me a lot, but it has also really improved my knitting. So I couldn't recommend that enough. So just to say that again, if you are trying a technique for the first time and you haven't as much experience as some knitters, or even if you are inexperienced or perhaps give it a go in a Swatch honestly, I think it'll change your knitting

 

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life. My next item and I think we're at number six, I feel I feel like I'm rushing this a little bit since that I can get all the controversy out of the way as quickly as possible. Learning how to do a set in sleeve is worth it. You will find drop sleeves, raglan sleeves, top down sleeves, all great super super, super suited to certain things.

 

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But I cannot recommend enough that you learn how to do a good set in sleeve. And the reason is, is that you get more variety in the garments that you can knit, and you also get beautiful structural sort of you get great structured shoulders, which work really well for certain types of people. So if you look at what you wear yourself every day, if you look at the types of jumpers and sweaters and cardigans or et cetera that you wear, you will find that a lot of them have a set in sleeve.

 

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So by not learning how to do set in sleeves, you are missing out on a whole set of jumpers that very often suit you. So I know that for myself, when I wear a yoke sweater, I'm quite broad everywhere. When I wear a yoked sweater, it doesn't suit me as well as something that is structured on top. So I really like military set and my sleeves like I love that know a lot of those now as well is that you don't have to set them in.

 

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You can pick them up and work down from them, which is a beautiful technique and something you will see in a lot of Carol Feller's patterns. They're just beautiful and they're a great alternative to a set in sleeve, but still being able to do a nice set in sleeve is something that I would highly recommend as well. So not always opting for the other types of sleeve, but do treat it.

 

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Treat yourself to learning how to do a set in sleeve as well. It's worth it there are a lot of people who limit themselves and say, Oh, I'm never going to need a set in sleeve. Why would you bother? But there are times when it is, you know, it's trickier, maybe not always trickier. But it just it's worth that extra bit of effort.

 

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Sometimes I am in no way criticizing other types of sleeves. I love a raglan for a quick sweater that's like a raglan and either direction, because they're quick, they're easy, you know, they match up nicely. If you've done the shaping correctly, you know, a yoke is great, a drop sleeve. Less so for me. I'm not a great I. I find it easier to design a drop sleeve for sure.

 

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And I can assure you that there is I have no plans to design a set-in sleeve. I leave that to the I'll leave that to the hard core amazing sweater knitters out there, designers out there, and I think yeah, just just be aware of us. Do give them a chance if there's something that you haven't had to go out before.

 

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Item number six is one where I probably have a lot of bias. So I think I'm actually just biased here. So this might not be it's something to consider, but it's not like again, none of this is set in stone. It's just my kind of, you know, my take on it. And while something, you know, it's putting in the effort heel flaps versus other types of heels.

 

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And I say that as someone with a relatively low you know, regular foot arch in step ratio, and I know that they don't always fit for everybody. But putting in the effort and learning how to do a heel flap in a sock is worth it in both directions, either toe up or cuff down. There we go. I've said I'm not I don't know if I want to say any more about it.

 

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I just think that you have lots of fancy heels and actually to be fair, there are some really beautiful shaped, fitted heels out there now. That have been designed, and I'm not really talking about those. I'm talking about more generally around afterthought heels and short row heels, et cetera, et cetera. And for those, I'm not always sure that the fit is best.

 

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They look great, but the fit is not always the most brilliant. Plus, you are likely to end up with other issues with those while people think, oh, I don't want any gaps at the top of my flap pick up. You're still as likely to get those with afterthoughts, et cetera, et cetera. So it is worth that kind of getting that kind of purist view of socks and then maybe moving on to more decorative stuff as well.

 

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I don't think it's that controversial, but I know that among sock knitters there's obviously everybody has their holy grail heel. I think it's why I don't want upset anyone, but I do think learning it .learning the heel flap heel is definitely, definitely worth it. And I have saved the oldest chestnut for last that sometimes it is easier to swatch and take that time than to have the hard lesson at the end that you should have swatched.

 

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Now, I know, I know. I have my never swatchers and my sometimes swatchers and my always swatchers. I'm a sometimes swatcher. I don't always swatch. I do a lot more swatching now, actually, because again, back to that whole idea that the more you teach something, the more you realize the value of it. And I think, oh, actually, this is a great idea, you know, it just it is.

 

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But then I'm always I'm relatively confident of my gauge as well because I do a lot of knitting. So I'm always I know my gauge is tight so I should go up a needle. You know, you get a feeling for it. But always remember, if you are a new knitter or you are kind of intermediate and you're listening to lots of experienced knitters who say, I never swatch remember that they have a lifetime of swatch knitting under their belt.

 

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They just might not think about everything they've knit as a swatch, which technically it is. Every time you do a project, you're getting some kind of gauge. You're getting more familiar with what you knit. So it's kind of like, Oh yeah, you know that you know your gauge because you've knit a thousand garments. So I would definitely say take time to assess whether or not what you're about to make deserves a swatch, you know, eighty hours of knitting to make a garment that doesn't fit is really, really lonesome.

 

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But yeah, I think that's probably, you know, I think we're getting there. I think we're getting swatching out there as a thing. And so that is it, my dear, is my top seven things that it can be better to learn the trickier way or the perceived trickier way. Because honestly, once you've done this a few times, you'll be asking yourself why you haven't done it before.

 

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There's nothing really tricky in knitting. There's just something you haven't done and put a little bit of effort into. And once you do that, you will it'll change the way you feel about this thing. So I have been recording this episode over the last few minutes I've been thinking about I will do a little I think I'll do a TIPS email series on this so that you can see all of what I kind of consider to be some of the loveliest techniques that you can kind of use.

 

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And while it's not done, yes, it will be done by the time this podcast is live. So you will now find either in the show notes where you're watching this or on the show notes in the on the page for the podcast, they'll definitely be a link for you to sign up and go through and see some of these techniques live, including my alternative to the weave and Steve in grafting versus three-needle bind-pff, et cetera, et cetera.

 

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You might not see me do a Russian join those same you know what? I'm just OK with weaving in my ends, but I might share my weaving in ends video so you get a little bit of a look inside Knit Schooll as well. Don't think Knit School members will mind because everybody's much happier when everybody, you know, has a little bit of better techniques as well.

 

00:21:35:14 - 00:21:53:10

 

So that's it, my dears. I hope that's useful. And if you find some of what I'm saying a little bit tricky to kind of, you know, digest or you don't like what I'm saying, that's absolutely fine too. We're not always going to have the same view. And that's one of the great things about knitting is that we can have those different views but still remain friends.

 

00:21:53:19 - 00:22:15:07

 

I hope yes. Yes, we can. Next week, I'm going to be talking about learning to knit and what you might tick off to feel like you're now ready to call yourself a knitter. Or of course, the minute you pick up yarn and needles and cast on and do a little bit of knitting, you are a knitter, but I think some people like a little checklist.

 

00:22:15:07 - 00:22:43:10

 

So I kind of have one coming. And I also have and I'm hoping to have it ready when I do the podcast episode. It's not ready yet, but I'm hoping it will be. Is my knitting journey planner, not a planner, planner is the wrong word. My Knitting Journey checklist guide thing. It's not ready yet, but it's coming. And I'd really like to share that with you because I think that sometimes it's nice to have a destination in mind.

 

00:22:43:18 - 00:23:01:02

 

Although knitting is definitely a journey, there isn't a destination like it's you get to the destination, you realize there's a whole other series of techniques to learn, but sometimes it's nice to have something to tick off. I certainly like coloring things in and going, Oh, I can do that though. And Oh, there's that to learn next. So I'm working on that at the moment.

 

00:23:01:02 - 00:23:19:16

 

I'm hoping to have it for the next episode of the podcast. If I don't, at the very least, I'm going to be talking about all those things that I kind of think that if I was setting out to learn to knit again, I would want to check off for myself as well. So that's it, my dears. And with that said, using whatever technique you prefer out the ones we've just been talking about, go and get knit done.