When I first got the Quintessential Cardigan pattern in my hands, and I had a read though the beginning sections, a set of instructions jumped out at me, almost right away, that set my heart racing and filled me with dread.
It was a very intense looking SPECIAL TECHNIQUE disclaimer and instruction - the technique itself goes on to take up a quarter page of explanation on the following page.
The brand-new-to-me special technique that I was about to be introduced to, very early in this new cardigan project, was the CLIP AND TURN.
As you know, I’m here because I’m a novice knitter, so I’m still at the stage where the mention of anything at all that’s not a basic knit, purl, cast on and cast off, fills me with angst. I currently know very few special techniques, let alone a clip and turn.
But I am here to learn and be challenged in my knitting journey, and learn I will!
As I entered week 2 of my project, having completed the bottom ribbing of the back panel, I knew that this was the big step that I needed to conquer if I were to progress onto the rest of the back panel.
The ‘Clip and Turn’ is a variation on the ‘Wrap and Turn’, which uses locking markers to help you close the gaps once you're done. The technique, online, seems to be more commonly known as Japanese short rows - which I only found out because I kept searching for Clip and Turn online only to be confronted with something that looked and sounded the same but was called something totally different. That’s was really confusing!!! When you’re brand new to a technique and don't really understand what you’re looking for, or why, it’s not all that helpful for the technique to be called by a different name!
Clip and Turns, or Japanese short rows, aka. Short Row Shaping, for the uninitiated - like me - is the act of making a set of shorter rows to create a nice drape and hang on the section. In this project it's to create a subtle drape over the waist band, so that it’s not flat. Which makes perfect sense when you put it like that! However until I actually did t for myself, I couldn't understand how it worked, or why! I kept picturing entire short rows, dramatically ending half way along, with massive blank gaps at either end where the rest of the row should be! Instead it’s more of a gentle taper that we’re going for here, rather than a literal 'short row'.
Once I understood the WHY of what I needed to do, and what effect I was aiming to achieve, really helped me get my head around it and approach it with a little less hesitation and nerves.
When I got to the section, I followed the instructions, using four locking markers, and with the guidance of an online video or two - you know what - it was actually fine. Despite all of my dread and low key anxiety about this section, it was surprisingly straight-forward. All I was doing was placing the marker on the working yarn, making sure it was pushed against my work, and turning the work over. Why didn’t it just say that to begin with?!
I understand why instructions have to be comprehensive, you want to explain things and make your pattern the one-stop shop for your entire pattern. But the over-explaining sure makes things look and sound a lot harder than they often are.
My lesson, this week, is don't take everything at face value, and don’t be daunted by the volume of words in front of you on the page. Every pattern maker and designer has their own way of explaining things - some will be far too scarce on information and some will go above and beyond and explain far more than you may feel necessary. Both can be frustrating and make your project feel more intimidating than it needs to be. But don’t get worked up about it. Keep going, one row at a time, and cross each technique off as you come to it.
I spent a whole week worrying about this clip and turn method because the phrasing and wording gave me the impression that it surely must be really really hard. It turns out they were just being kind and extremely cautious in their instructions. There was really no point in me getting anxious about my short rows way in advance as there was literally nothing I could do about it until it was time to do them!
With knitting, perhaps you just have to get on and DO IT. You can read up on, watch, and study all you want on new techniques and methods, but these things are often going to make it all look a lot trickier and more complicated than it actually is when it’s your yarn and your fingers at work!
It’s like driving a car - if you had to write instructions down for an alien as to how to do it, you would easily fill a book, and it still make no sense. But when you’re driving...well you just do it, don’t you?!
I’m happy to say that I’m now past my clip and turns/ Japanese short row and ahead of me lies 68 rows of stockinette stitch (totally not daunted at how long this might take me AT ALL!!!).
I have a brand new technique under my belt, that now I’ve done my first attempt at them, I can save myself a whole heap of panic for the next time we cross paths!!
Until next week, happy knitting,
PATTERN:Quintessential Cardigan by Churchmouse Yarn and Teas via Ravelry
YARN: Bohemia - Radiance by Outlaw Yarn
I'm Lou, an Ōtautahi based personal stylist and craft-lover, and this is Never Been Knit - my journey from complete knitting virgin to...well, let's find out together!