Wednesday, 18 March 2015


At Christmas, I was sitting with my mum, knitting one of the many cowls I made around that time, and she said a fatal phrase: "Hmm, the way you purl is odd."

For the last two years I had been wrapping the yarn the wrong way when I purled. The way I was doing it is, it turns out, actually a real stitch just not the stitch I was trying to do. On the one hand, this does explain why I found knitting into purl rows so difficult/tight, and why my fabric never looked quite right. On the other hand, I now had to correct a two year old habit in order to start purling the correct way. I tried for a bit kind of half-heartedly on some minor projects, but then I knitted my Nurmilintu scarf (which has no purl stitches at all) and when I came to gauge swatch for something else I found I had regressed and was still purling incorrectly out of habit. I decided the only thing to do was to brute force a change in habit by knitting something with masses of purl stitches and making sure that every single one was purled the right way. I have therefore been knitting the Groovy scarf (Ravelry link), which is pure stocking stitch and thus includes many many thousands of purl stitches.

Groovy scarf in fingering (4-ply) weight cotton/wool yarn
By the end of this scarf, victory was mine! I think I have successfully changed the way I purl. Initially, my purl rows took FOREVER while I tried to break and relearn the muscle memory of how I've purled up to now, but by the end I was whizzing along just a little slower than on the knit rows. My fabric looks much better (no more weird little twist) and I found it MUCH easier than I ever have before to knit into the purl rows when doing stocking stitch (which, uh, probably should have told me I was doing it wrong before, maybe? I just thought I found it harder than other people seem to because... the knitting gods did not gift me with great knitting prowess. I don't know.)

As far as the actual scarf goes, apart from my own personal agenda: the pattern is fine, and I got exactly what I expected to get from it after all that knitting. It was a great knitting-while-watching-TV sort of project and good for picking up and putting down on and off all day if I wanted.

The actual scarf, though, eh, not my favourite thing I've made, mainly due to the yarn I used. I chose to knit with this very basic cotton/wool/nylon mix that I bought from Lidl (a discount supermarket) when I was living in Ireland. I've used other colourways to make two pairs of socks and probably I should have stuck to using it to make socks, because it's SUPER ITCHY when it's up against the rather more tender skin of my neck and face. I hoped, rather optimistically, that the blocking process would soften it up a bit, but NOPE. SO ITCHY. I don't hate it, but it's reinforced my intention to buy much less yarn of much higher quality from now on.

Next up on my needles: I am knitting a very boring rectangle for felting & bag making purposes next, though that should be a relatively short project.

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