Knitting fail - Ribbed Tee

If I have a make that ends up as a bit of a fail, it doesn't often end up here, mainly because it never made it to a point that I can photograph it. In this case, I made such a huge error that I completely finished this one and it was only when I put it on that I realised it was way too big. All the pieces were seamed together, and the ends were woven in. The only thing it needed was blocking, and generally that makes things bigger, so this really is it. If this was a sewn item, I'd be able to unpick the seams and take it in, or add dart and bodge it to a satisfactory outcome. Knitting is not that generous. Seeing as it's rare that things get this far, I thought I should write a bit about it, as we all have those times that things just don't go well. I even caught a photograph - not one of my best but there it is!

In fact, this is the second project that this yarn has been frogged from.

Version 1. Scarf.

The yarn that I used for this was my very first yarn purchase ever. I bought two kits from We Are Knitters, and one was a beginner level scarf; The Selene Scarf. The yarn is made from their Cotton Pima, which is roughly a DK weight. I did have a go at the scarf, and about half way through didn't like how it was turning out. It looked more similar to crochet rather than what I wanted from knitting so I frogged it and got on with other (more interesting) knitting. 

So, this left me with 3 skeins of Cotton yarn in grey. I did try to source a fourth skein because this wasn't enough for a sweater, but got the wrong grey. I had no idea what to make with any of them. They have laid in the wardrobe for years.

Last year though, I did make the Stomp Sweater, which used 4 skeins (though it comes with 5 in the kit). I love that sweater because it's light and breathable. This got me to thinking back to the grey skeins in the stash. Surely, if I didn't need sleeves, I might be able to make something with 3 skeins?

Version 2. Summer tee

I can't remember if I came across the pattern or the KAL first, but it was around the time of the Grocery Girls summer tee knit a long that I started on the Ribbed Tee by Quail Studio for Mode at Rowan Yarn. It's a free pattern if you head to the site linked and it looked like it needed just about the amount of cotton yarn that I had, plus I love the look. (You can also buy it from Mode at Rowan as part of a collection for £2 - there are some other great summer patterns in there). Using the brioche pattern and cotton yarn looked like it would still be cool and breathable enough in summer. I live by the sea and though it's sunny, it's also windy so a knitted tee is quite a good idea for evening walks. This pattern is knit flat in pieces and seamed together. Something I usually avoid because I don't really like purling. However, the main pattern is basically alternating knits and purls anyway so knitting flat wasn't going to make much of a difference.

I downloaded the pattern and cast on the Medium size, which matched my measurements. I know it is meant to have more ease than I usually knit but that was going to be a good thing here. I used the recommended needle size and measured my gauge on the actual piece after a few inches of knitting in the main pattern. At this point, and whenever else I looked, the gauge was fine. So on I knit. I knit the whole thing and enjoyed it as well. Sometimes I need an uncomplicated knit that is very repetitive, where I can literally just pick up needles and go. It's why I like knitting vanilla socks on 9 inch circulars, and with this pattern I could also continue without looking at any instructions and chill out.

Small aside - the pattern does assume certain knitting experience and some instructions took a couple of times of reading to understand what they meant. There's one bit about alternating rows that definitely could be written in a more straightforward manner.

I did worry about having enough yarn, and it was close, but all fine. It was only when I tried on my tee that I wasn't overly happy. It really is too big on me. I like the bottom hem, sleeves and neck etc, it's the circumference around the torso that's too much. Playing around, I really needed it to be at least 4 inches narrower at each side. The Medium's finished measurements are meant to be 41 inches, and mine was closer to 48. Clearly it's got to be a gauge issue? 

The intended gauge is 19st over 4", and that is what I had read as I was knitting, and once off the needles, I was generally reading 18st. This would leave an extra 12 stitches in total across the circumference, which should equate to an additional 3 inches (approx). That still leaves another 4 inches unaccounted for (please help me out on that one...I'm feeling there's a knowledge gap I should be filling there). Which complicates next steps.

I considered living with it, or sewing the sides together again with a larger seam allowance (that really wouldn't work here), but concluded that I'm unlikely to wear something I don't feel comfortable or happy in. I do want this pattern to wear, but not in this way. Which leave only one option...frog the entire project and start over, with either a different size or smaller needle. 

Frogging was not easy after I'd done such a secure job weaving in ends either!

So, I'm back to square one, with 3 skeins of lovely grey cotton yarn that is ready for a summer tee. I now just need to figure out if I'm going to reduce size, needle or both. I liked how the hem sat, so I'm tempted to continue with a medium using a smaller needle for the brioche section. However, if I knit the smaller size with the same needle I already used, I'll be knitting fewer stitches and it will go faster! (That feels so lazy, but it is the second time around!)

In any case, I don't see me going back to it until 2022 now. As we are moving into Autumn and Winter I'm much more keen to cast on cold weather and gift patterns than a summer tee, so it will be a while before you see the latest version. Let me know how you think I should adapt to get a better fit - there's plenty of time for me to figure it out!


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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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