Sunday, August 7, 2016

Knitting - What I Learned from Patty Lyons' Corcoran 2.0 KAL

This post started as a reply to a thread in the Patty Lyons' Fan Club Group on Ravelry, but as I was writing it, it became apparent that I had learned way more than I realized, and that this would make a great addition to my blog.

I have just finished my very first sweater thanks to Patty's Corcoran 2.0 KAL, and she asked those of us who finished to write a story about why I loved this KAL and what I learned.  So here is my contribution. (And here are the tags she asked us to put on the posts - hoping they work on my blog as well as in the Ravelry Group - #CorcoranKAL, #pattylyons, #whatIlearned )

I am predominantly a sock knitter. I love dyeing my own yarn and knitting socks to give away to other people. Occasionally I keep a pair, but mostly I give them away. Socks make me happy, and are easier than mittens because they don't have thumbs. Although my Aunt June would disagree....she likes mittens because they don't have heels.   I do knit mittens occasionally, as well as baby blankets, and the occasional hat. But what I don't do is knit sweaters. Especially for myself.  Sweaters are too intimidating.

As some of you may know from a previous post, I have recently discovered what style of a knitter I am. I had always thought that I "knit backwards", because I always wrapped my yarn "wrong", according to some other knitters I have met. I recently learned that I don't actually knit backwards, and that there is nothing wrong with how I wrap my yarn. I am simply and English Eastern Crossed knitter. Which translate to a thrower, who wraps her yarn so the leading leg is at the back, and up until recently, always knit into the front of the stitch, thus crossing my stitches. (Incidentally, I have since learned how to actually knit backwards, which is a lifesaver when working on entrelac stuff).

After learning all of this, I decided to try a few different things to see how I could adapt patterns or adapt my knitting. I was fortunate enough to be part of the Combination Knitters Ravelry group when Patty asked if people thought it would be helpful to have videos that were recorded for Eastern Knitters and Combination Knitters as part of an upcoming KAL she had planned.  I was blown away that she would ask that, and vowed to take part in her upcoming KAL, even though a sweater is a far cry from a sock!  I knew that I liked her teaching style thanks to her Improve Your Knitting; Alternative Methods and Styles class, so I figured if anyone could help me figure out the enigma of a sweater, it would be her.

I bought the pattern, debated over the yarn for a while before finally deciding to go with the recommended yarn (figured it was best to use what she was using for the first one, then figure out yarn substitutions if it turned out), and then re-watched a couple of classes I had downloaded. I even worked on a couple of baby blankets  to get me comfortable with knitting through the back look of my Eastern seated stitches, since Patty had said I would not be happy with the look of the lace if I twisted the stitches.   I think I watched too many videos and classes though, because as one thing went in one side of my brain, something else was pushed out the other side.

Throughout the KAL, I asked a lot of questions. Some of them felt silly or stupid, and for a few of them, had I not been so eager and watching the videos too fast, I would have figured out the answers for myself, but Patty was awesome and never treated me like my questions were silly or stupid. And I have to say, I was extremely grateful for that!

So here is what I learned from this KAL (in no particular order).

I learned how to swatch for gauge. - I can quite honestly say I have never done this before in my life. I am usually the type to grab the yarn, grab the needle and hope for the best.   And more importantly, I learned WHY you should swatch for gauge.

I learned how to convert my pattern from inches to rows/stitches - I find this incredibly helpful. I am a numbers person, and "knitting until the piece measures X number of inches" always freaked me out. Knowing my gauge allowed me to convert into a finite number of rows. I also learned that some days, math is not my strong suit... a couple of hiccups, but nothing that I couldn't recover from.

I learned how to stay in pattern while shaping - this was really cool, and somewhat empowering. When you figure out how to do that, you feel like you can rule the world.

I learned how to frog back and fix something while resisting the urge to throw the whole darned thing in the campfire. Some of the mistakes I made were not readily visible until you got 4 more rows into the pattern.

I learned how to read my stitches - This was really cool. It quickly got to the point that I didn't have to look at the lace chart, and where I could put down my work then pick it up later and be able to keep going.  Patty's How to Read Your Stitches and Master The Pattern was quite helpful with that.

I learned how to modify the pattern to suit me - All of my sweaters were longer than this one, so I had to make this one longer too, to be comfortable wearing it.

I learned that you should not block your ribbing if you want it to stay elastic - but also learned that it is not the end of the world if you do.  My sweater still fits just fine, but now I know for next time.

I learned that blocked pieces take FOREVER to dry - especially if you are waiting to seam them!

I learned that if you are going to modify the pattern, you better order more yarn - luckily the people at FiberWild are amazing....they found me the yarn I needed in my dyelot and had it to me within a week. I also learned that if you order more than $75 worth of yarn from them, the shipping is free to Canada. Most Canadian retailers don't offer that!!!

I learned how to do a bunch of seams - I can now do a mattress stitch, and can do head to head seaming. I can even do mattress stitch on my ribbing and you can't see the seam!

I learned that I have a lot more to learn - but I am okay with that. The ribbing on the back collar was picked up one row too far down, so there is a little ridge of stitches, but you can't see it, and I don't feel it.  My shoulder seams are not perfect, but they will hold together. And as long as nobody decides to inspect my underarms, no one will know that I had to do some creative seaming because I had more stitches on one side than the other, and hadn't started early enough in advance to compensate for that.

And most importantly, I learned that I can knit anything I put my mind to.  It just take some patience and the help of an amazing teacher.

Here is my finished sweater:
Corcoran 2.0 in Ballerina, modified to have a slightly longer body
There is another KAL coming up this winter, and I can't wait.

Oh, and I learned that I can turn anything into socks!  While waiting for one of the clues to drop, I adapted the stitch pattern for a pair of sock, which Patty liked so much she posted the image to Facebook and called me a brilliant knitter!!!
My Raindrop Lace socks, inspired by the lace pattern from the sweater


  1. Wow! What a great journey you had. Amazing sweater. I'm so glad you could join us. Looking forward to the next one this winter

    1. It was a pretty amazing experience. I have a whole bunch of new classes to watch, and a couple more I want to purchase. I am even trying to practice continental and combination knitting, although I do feel like I am knitting with broomsticks :)