Saving The Bonsai Tunic, I

The original Bonsai Tunic

When I first seamed up and tried on the Bonsai Tunic, it was clear that something had gone Horribly Awry. It was huge on me. The photos I took made it look like a very pretty green lace tent. (One could imagine sitting inside it on a gorgeous forest slope, sheltering from the intense mountain sunlight, munching on trail mix and humming a few bars of Rocky Mountain High.) And it wasn't just that it was too big…unlike the original sample garment (which I had in the office), my tunic just fell from my shoulders and hung there, shapeless and stretchy. When I saw the photos, I wanted to delete them, or to beg our graphics people to spend hours photoshopping them—anything to avoid having to post them As Is.

However, my role as Knitting Daily Gal is not to shirk from Knitting Gone Bad, nor to pretend that everything that drops off my needles is perfect and lovely beyond compare. My role is to instruct, inform, and of course entertain. Well, surely here is an opportunity to do all three. So. Let's look at Saving The Bonsai as a learning opportunity.

The Big, Bad, Bonsai Tent

Sometimes, when something goes very wrong in one's knitting, the best thing to do is to set it aside for a bit. Distance is a great teacher; it is much easier to see mistakes when you are not quite so grumpy-faced about having made them. I banished the Bonsai to one of my plastic bins, and only got it out after a week or so when I could bear to look at it without cursing.

The first thing I checked was my old nemesis, Gauge. I measured here, I measured there…and found out that my gauge swatch lied. Things were fine on the back, which was the first piece I worked, but when I got to the front, all gauge heck seemed to break loose, especially from the ribbing upwards. I checked the instructions…and had one of those Uh-Oh moments. You're supposed to switch to smaller needles for the ribbing, and then keep using the smaller needles for the top front part. I never switched. The entire front was done on the larger needles.

This was particularly infuriating as I had been fairly clever about the whole sizing thing, or so I thought at the time. I'm big across my front, but not so big across the back, so in my Infinite Cleverness, I planned to knit a smaller size for the back than for the front, and thus have the whole garment fit better. I carefully measured across my upper back at bust level, and decided I could knit the 38" size for the back, and the 42" size for the front—since my full bust measures 43.5", this would give a nice bit of negative ease overall, allowing it to skim my curves attractively.

Or so I thought. All kinds of clever planning goes out the window if one refuses to read the instructions carefully and do simple things like "switch to smaller needles." The even more frustrating bit is that I did the needle switching perfectly on the back. It's just the front where, somehow, I got so caught up in Knitting Ecstasy, that I forgot about following the instructions.

The back of the Big Bad Bonsai Tent

Lesson Number One: Prepare for bouts of brain-out-the-window knitting ahead of time. Read through the instructions before you begin knitting, and HIGHLIGHT anything you are likely to miss whilst in the throes of knitting ecstasy, such as switching needle sizes. (Of course, then you do have to actually LOOK at the instructions now and then.)

Now that I had found the problem, I was faced with what to do about it. Ripping back and re-knitting the front on the proper-sized needles seemed like the honorable thing to do. However…I had already sewn the neckband and the side seams, and I just couldn't bear the dual-drudgery of ripping out the seams, and then doing all those bobbles up the front again. (I like bobbles, in general, I think it was just the thought of re-doing Those Particular Bobbles that was giving me a bit of a squigg).

Did I have a large-sized friend I could bequeath this to? Perhaps I could wear it at home, in the dark where no one could see, maybe over long-johns as a night-gown?

As some of you suggested, I considered just taking in the side seams, but when I pinned them in to see the effect, it pulled the front V-neck over to the sides so much that it didn't provide "adequate coverage," shall we say.

You see why this sat in The Knitting Meditation Bin for so long. It needed LOTS of meditating. I finally found the answer—in form of a humble swatch.

Next time: The Swatch Saves The Day (And The Bonsai!)

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Never mind the needles: What's on Sandi's FEET? Her nice warm newly finished pair of sockies, inside her new boots. We had our first snow this weekend, so suddenly finishing my sockly UFOs seems quite a bit more urgent that it did a few weeks back.

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


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90 thoughts on “Saving The Bonsai Tunic, I

  1. cindi, how about you plasticwrap the bottom and felt the top?
    maybe it will go very bad maybe it will work, u will give us all your experiment results then and SO many people will learn from it, what do u say?
    Zaz, paris

  2. Ummmm, bamboo doesn’t felt.

    Sandy, thank you for sharing your foibles. It means a lot to me to know that even experienced experts like you goof. I’ve become much braver about frogging lately. It’s kind of liberating, actually. How nice that in knitting, unlike in life in general, we can usually get a do-over! Therapeutic, if you ask me.

  3. Ok, now I have to know how you saved this. I was thinking about how you are bigger across the front but less so across the back. I am bigger on top than in the waist and hips (usually two sizes) how would you go about resizing for the waist down. I am especially curious because I am already dreaming about Henley Perfected, which I think will be flattering to my shape.

  4. I fully understand what you are talking about, since I did the same thing myself. Although I did not really like the thoughts of it or all the tedious tearing out and re-knitting, I did it anyway,while sometimes being kinda expressive. Now that it is done and over with I am really glad I did, because it looks beautiful on her and she is so happy with it. Now I am much more careful about little details, and read the pattern several times through before starting, and periodically checking the gauge as I knit, so I am sure it is right. Live and Learn springs to mind.

  5. Thank you Sandi. I can’t tell you the countless times I have made a mistake in calculations, reading directions, etc. I usually rip my knitting out after stewing over the error for a few days. I just dread the ripping but am glad that I did….because everytime I’d see that error…I’d get angry all over again and life is just too short to hold in all that anger!

  6. I’m so glad you are sharing your goofs and do-overs with us. It seems like Those Big-Name Knitters make the same mistakes I do, but they never have to rip back a WHOLE panel, resize a hat from the ground up, etc. “Swatch hats” are a great idea *unless you are making a bloody hat* for someone and want it to fit, without abusing the yarn by knitting it thrice or more.

    Speaking of which — if you do a gauge swatch (or hat) and wash it, etc., to determine gauge, can you re-use that yarn for knitting the same pattern on the same needles, and expect to get the same gauge? Or is the evil little gauge experiment only repeatable with virgin yarn?

    I’mnot anti-swatching — just sick and tired of getting arbitrary results.

  7. Sandi: I am so happy to see that swatches lie to others besides myself. My swatches lie all the time. All The Time. I am dying to see how yet another lying, lowdown swatch is going to save the day on this one.

  8. oh yes I can relate. I had almost finished a sweater and ran out of yarn, so I had to pull it ALL out, now I am knitting it on smaller needles and added a lace pattern to stretch the yarn, gauge.. (So worth it)

  9. Sandi, I made this sweater this summer and resized mine to 35″ with success. I will say that I learned a long time ago being geek is good as I make Excel spreadsheets that tell me what to do at what point. With a swatch I can pinpoint an approx rowcount for where I need to pay attention for needle changes and bind offs for arms and such. This also forces me to read the pattern well and understand what will be going on at what point. So far I am happy with my Bonsai Tunic. Looking forward to seeing what you do with yours.

    joy z – the yarn is bamboo/nylon so not feltable at all.

  10. Ooooooh, Sandi! I think my “Doh!” would’ve been heard from here to your offices there in CO. (Well, I AM only one state over . . . was that you a heard, a while back?)

    I’m REALLY curious even more, now, about how you saved it! The color is flattering on you (from what I can tell, without your face!)

    I think I’m going to use a bright highlighter for any such type of directions in patterns. Or y’all could start printing that type in all caps! Bold would draw the eye TOO much from the rest of the directions.

    That Perfected Henley is calling me, too, but wondering if it’s TOO tangy of a knit; the web project, the revisited Guernsey or whatever it is called . . . . mmmm, I like the look of that one! It might be just perfect – not vanilla, not too many cables at once for me yet, interesting look, yet looks like it could be a worn with alot of things. Can you imagine it in a faded denim blue? Or maybe a peacock green . . .

  11. this talk about bamboo not felting—leads to a question for me about felting–wool and soy used in a bag pattern from Paton’s. does any one know if this will felt or do I HAVE to SWATCH to be sure. I’d rather not buy the yarn and swatch to find out the SWS doesn’t felt. thanks to any one who can help me with this.

  12. I just had to re-start a sleeve – I’d sized cut my steek too big (and hadn’t been planning to knit myself a set of arm-wings, just sleeves). At this point, if the rest of the sweater doesn’t fit, I think I’ll take off the sleeves and turn it into a pillow…!

  13. I feel your pain. But then you made me laugh and the pain went away. I cannot even begin to imagine how you fixed this without selling it to Omar the Tentmaker (who would have been incredibly jealous by the way . . . he could have used your description of its uses as a marketing tool).

  14. You may also try to sew the V-neck opening little higher, which may pull the sides inwards, thus decreasing the circumference. You will get little bit different design, though it might be more wearable. Thanks for sharing your mistakes because it happens to all of us and at least we don’t feel that we are alone on this one.


  15. I am holding my breath waiting for details of how you saved the Bonsai!!!! I knit mine, never even had a chance to wear it and then lost 50 pounds. Talk about a big green tent….

    I wouldn’t mind ripping out and knitting a smaller size, but have serious fears about how the yarn would survive the process. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s post!

  16. it might have made you sad to look at the pics, and wish you didn’t have them as proof of your error, but i can tell you that just looking at that first one of you wearing the big bad bonsai tent (as you called it) makes me want to knit one. well, knit one while carefully following the directions, of course. 😉

  17. It it just me, or how many of you out there are thinking: “Well, I’m not sure what she’s complaining about, it looks great to me!” I mean, it seems a little large in the armhole area, but it’s still far lovelier than most of my FO’s – and fits better too. Sandi, you weren’t planning to wear in without something under it, were you?


  18. Sandi, dare I say that you have made my day? I did what you did exactly many times before I learned to be patient, to read through the instructions, chart what I was going to do and use many different colored highlighters to scream to myself to switch to different size or somehow change direction. You have truly become my hero!

  19. Thank you for showing us that anyone, ANYONE can have a brain freeze and end up knitting something wrong that will not fit. I have something knit with special yarn that will never look right on me. I just decided this morning that the only thing to do is carefully undo the side seams and unravel the thing to save the beautiful yarn. I decided this after reading pevious posts about UFOs and realizinng that this one is haunting me. I look forward to seeing how you saved this garment.

  20. Hi Sandi,
    I just thought I would add my 2 cents worth on huge sweaters as a result of a lying swatch. When I finished a wonderful, fuzzy sweater last winter, it was probably 10 inches bigger than I had intended! I was so mad, and ready to frog it after it came out of time-out. Before I could there was a death in my family, and that sweater turned out to be the best knitting mistake I had ever made. It was so warm, and fuzzy, and cozy, a true comfort sweater. Now when life deals me a bad day, I put on my comfort sweater, and feel better.

  21. I can’t wait to find out how this is saved, as I have a way too big sweater sitting in my chest.

    Oh, and if I start the summer shawlette and run out of yarn (a cashmere I accidentally “won” on ebay – NOT buying more) can I end it where I am?

  22. Iknow so well what you might be feeling,having made items without reading the directions more carefully..I only hope I can learn from your experience…I liked the post about re-reading the directions a few a registered nurse, we were always taught to read the label on the medicine bottle three times before pouring the medications..I think I should apply the same teachings to my knitting…

  23. I agree that it was really nice of you to share your knitting shortcomings as well as your victories with us. I have also forgotten to switch needles or have felt like a jerk for not noticing glaring errors “waay back” in the garment…but I usually figure out how to go back, unravel and reknit in order to save the project and all that beautiful yarn. I guess some yarn can’t handle ripping and reknitting? It took a huge “deep breath” on my part to do it but it was worth it and I felt so “patient” and victorious afterwards!

  24. CAROL J – I don’t think your wool and soy yarn will felt. Only animal fibres felt.

    Sandi, thank you for leaving your brain out the window! Teaching us how to fix mistakes and alter pieces is a great subject for Knitting Daily. I’ve been afraid to knit sweaters so far for fear of spending hours on something that doesn’t fit me quite right. I’m looking forward to reading how you solved the tunic!

  25. Actually, I don’t think it looks all that bad. What I do with something I sew, or knit, or crochet is put it away for a week. Then take it out and look at it, and the problems seem to solve themselves. It’s just that you’ve looked at it too long!

  26. I can’t believe you’re making us wait until tomorrow for “the rest of the story”. At least it’s not an end-of-season cliffhanger like “who shot JR?”

  27. Thanks for so honestly sharing your experiences!! I just finished making the Bonsai myself, and before starting, I checked for corrections on the website. Here’s what I found:

    “Bonsai Tunic (page 62)
    Under “Front”; the directions stating that the needles should be switched back to the larger size after the ribbing is complete were omitted.

    So…it looks like you were actually supposed to knit the ribbing on the smaller needles and switch back to the larger for the upper lace portion. So maybe yours would have been fine with the ribbing at proper gauge, or perhaps you don’t need as large a size in front as you thought. I myself have narrow shoulders yet am busty with a tummy in front, and the v-neck style is typically pretty forgiving of my body type.

    My Bonsai issues were entirely different: bobble unevenness, inability to do simple counting of decreases, stuff like that. It isn’t a perfect garment but I’m still happy with the way it turned out.

  28. thanks to whomever responded–that’s what I thought–I guess I’ll contact Paton’s and ask them for an explination of how that is going to felt!!!before I buy the SWS yarn. thanks so much for reinforcing that I’m not imagining things that only wool, alpaca, and similar animal fibers will felt.

  29. I know that feeling of just finishing your top and trying it on and then WTF!!!! I’ve done it a couple of times and frogging the entire thing so I can start all over again.

  30. I’d have been inclined to lace a long strip of ribbon or I-cord right across the top of the “waist” ribbing for a drawstring effect. The back might blouse a little but at least the tunic would convey some hint of the human form!

  31. Sandi, I just want you to know that When you announced awhile back that you’d made a mistake and that you were going to have to do lots of ripping, I felt “Oh she makes mistakes and rips them out and goes on! She doesn’t let them sit and mope in some bag!” so I took your example and ripped out the whole back of my sweater to the ribbing( strangely enough it is bamboo yarn also but a different kind and different pattern. I am now halfway done re-knitting it and feeling much better about it. SO you were a good example for me. Thank you Sandi and good knitting!MaryL

  32. so good to know that we are not alone, each of us has that little voice that says ‘check the pattern’ and I hit the quiet button and just keep on knittin’ and then oh do I wish I would listen!!!!!


  33. The Bonsai Tunic is so cute and I would love to knit it and will remember to change to a different size needle.Where can I get this pattern? I have subscribed to Knits magazine, but so far have only received one. Sandi could you repeat this pattern in your daily knitting column?
    It would be much appreciated.
    I look forward to your email every day.

  34. Thanks for sharing your knitting oopsie with us. It makes me feel so much better to know a real pro can have a knitting faux pas too! It gives me courage to go to my knitting meditation bin and get out a couple of UFOs I have been dreading.

    Keep on Knitting!

  35. Thank you so much for sharing your Bonsai Gone Bad story and pics! Although it would be great if we knit everything perfectly every time, that’s certainly not the case for me! It’s nice to know that even talented, experienced knitters sometimes make mistakes. Misery loves company 🙂

  36. hmmm… I thought the same thing as Brenda – I’d like to see it with a slim fitting top underneath. Maybe then I could see what you are. I have to say I also wanted to recommend a really good uplifting undergarment… I am always amazed when I wear one of my uplifting garments at the difference in how the clothes fit.

    Otherwise, I would definitely frog and redo the front. Worth the effort almost every time.

    Now if I could just get the dog to quit sneaking off with skeins of yarn I’d have more time to knit.

    I’m also eager to read the finishing techniques. I have a sweater that needs finished made from Feza yarns and I need some way to sew it up nicely. I wanted to wear it Nov 1st but time is ticking away….


  37. This is a post to Carol J, above, who wants to know if Patons SWS felts: YES!! In fact, it felts really quickly, so be sure to check your project after mere moments. I made a bag the size of a football field and in only 10 minutes or so, it was the size of a normal purse. It makes a lovely felt!

  38. i am an admitted bad pattern follower – i feel your pain. maybe we can think about ways to make those really important details stand out. like maybe some things bear repeating in a pattern. those of us who have been knitting for a long while sometimes just give the pattern a quick once over and have at it. i for one would like to see some sort of “overview for construction” in the instructions. e.g. top down, bottom up, needle changes, etc. whadayathink?
    it would help me greatly. and that’s all i have to say about that.

  39. Dear Sandi,
    Dare I suggest……..before you go to a lot of revisionist work, and following up on an earlier suggestion:
    Try it on with something more fitted underneath AND with a more uplifting bra. As many of us have learned from Oprah and What Not to Wear, way too many of us are wearing the wrong size bra. And as I look at the pictures and how the “girls” line up compared to the arm hole on the model’s picture vs yours, I think simply giving your girls a lift and good support could do the trick!! …..or it could really be the gauge, and I’ve totally offended you.

  40. Dear Sandi
    As a knitter and seamstress with her fair share of fitting disasters, can I suggest you could ‘shrink’ the front using some sewing techniques? Some stay tape along the front v neckline and armholes would draw them in nicely, and some elastic whiptitched to the back of the waist ribbing would draw it in enough to restore the figure-skimming shape.
    Whatever you do – don’t re-knit the whole front from the waist up – that way insanity lies!

  41. You could take out width by doing a couple of lengthwise tucks and either disguise them as seams (for the back section) or conceal them next to the column in the front where it switches to reverse stocking stitch. I did something like this in a disaster I knitted for my husband. I did a row of machine stitching down either side of the section I was removing then laddered the stitches to the bottom of the section I wanted to remove, flattened and trimmed back the loose bits then seamed it up again. It was barely noticeable because it was next to a panel – not sure how well it would work in this top however.

    Looking forward to seeing your solution!

  42. Thank you for sharing your woes. I will also take the time to read the comments, as I’m sure many others are way more inventive than I when it comes to fixing problems (and I would love to learn from them, too).

    I’ve encountered a similar problem with the modular-knit capelet from the front of the Vogue Knitting Winter 2006. Oh, I didn’t use Merino; I used mercanized cotton. It appeared to be to gauge (I haven’t re-measured since completion). It just was WRONG when it was complete (and I had to knit the sleeve ribbands in another yarn, as I ran out of the original, and it was over 12-15 years old, sitting in my stash. Anyway, I followed the schematic, and it just didn’t hang right. I sewed it up differently, and it still does not make me happy. I may remove a couple seams, add a few more modules with another yarn, and make a chair cover out of it, or something – I will not take it completely apart, as there will be too many pieces of yarn to contend with

  43. Thank you Thank you Thank you! I have been knitting Bonsai and just came off the front ribbing. As I was reading the directions, I thought there was a mistake and switched to the larger needles. Duh! it never said to switch back. I’m only a half inch above the ribbing. You have save me!!

  44. I’ve just been re-reading the Fall IK article about playing with cables. I’m really proud of what I did playing with cables a while back. Check my website, and look at the cablefly sweater. I also have another good reason to swatch. My friend is having a problem with a lace pattern. She has 194 stitches on the needle and did not practice the pattern on a smaller piece first. Now she has to frog 15 rows of 194 stitches to get a correct stitch count. OUCH!

  45. Dear Sandi.

    I so enjoy Knitting Daily! Just thought you should know that! I wanted to send a thought about your Bonsai Tunic. I grew up doing alot of sewing and it looks like you could sew a wide lining under the waist ribbing and insert elastic drawing in just enough to give shape. Your fabric looks lightweight enough. I sure would not want to take out all that beautiful work! You might try out this idea on the outside before sewing to see how it looks and even see if its worth your time! Have a nice day.


  46. I think the tunic looks good and falls nicely–you are being way too hard on yourself about this. I don’t think you’d want it to fit like the one in the photo of the model, nor would I. It has taken on a different look, but not unflattering–except perhaps under the arms.

  47. Sandi:
    I used to work in retail clothing and image consulting….from the looks of the fit the entire garment needs to come up, both back and front. I have not seen the actual pattern and assume there are shoulder seams? If you held it up off your shoulders the ribbing should fall correctly, the underarm areas should be better placed and smaller and the v at the chest should be more modestly located. The proportions of the entire garment should look better to you. I looked back at the picture on the front of the book after looking at your photos and it does look as though doing that would would line it up with where the sweater fits the model.
    So I think just undoing the shoulder seams and unraveling the tops of each shoulder area, front and back, [assuming it was knit up from the bottom] and then checking that the ‘strap’ areas aren’t then ending up too wide for you, should fix it all. May I delicately also suggest pulling the bra straps a litle higher also. That should stop the boobs from being ending up under the ribbing. In my work I can’t tell you how many times I found problems with the location of the boobs and or old bras and the fitting issues of a garment. Bra’s stretch as we wear them, over time, the straps often need to be re-positioned. Many women wash them in the washer and agitation will often cause the straps to re-adjust. Now you may not wear a bra…personal taste and all that, but if you do wear one, as a general rule [barring any physical issues and not accounting for personal tast] the boob’s tips should be positioned [look sideways in a mirror]no lower than approximately half way between the bent elbow and the top of the shoulder. And yes, there are some exceptions…I don’t think you fall [grin] into them.

    Good Luck! — WendyE

  48. Great advice about highlighting potential pitfalls. I, however, have a difficult time making sense of a pattern in a read-through. I do not seem to grasp the simplest notation until the yarn is on my needles. I am what I would call an adventurous novice, though. I’ll try anything that I fancy on my own and seek help along the way if needed.

  49. I think the solution to saving the bonsai tunic is actually fairly straight forward. Take out the side seams where the ribbing is only. Put the front of the tunic back onto the smaller needles at the bottom of the front ribbing, rip out the ribbing up to the top pattern, knit the ribbing on the smaller needles, use a tapestry needle to rejoin the ribbing to the already completed top of the tunic (kirchener stitch). This gives you a snugger fit at the waist while allowing a little more room in the bust as you had originally planned. I guess you need to be fairly comfortable with rejoining the ribbing to the top pattern but the junction would not be noticeable. I’ve done this before when adding length to sleeves or the body of a sweater.

  50. Hello from New Zealand!

    I have just read about the Bonsai Tunic. What I have done in the past is to pull a thread (i.e. in the rib section), undo to the bottom of the rib, reknit the rib section with the correct needles, then graft it back on to the top. I do this if I want to lengthen a finished garment, just undo at the bottom rib. It is a bit fiddly, but much better than having to undo the garment down to the wrong part!


    Shona Drake

  51. I feel your pain. I wore a sweater today (cardigan) because I couldn’t stand not to wear what I put so much effort into. It was my first sweater project and was finished just as Texas turned hot last April. I just put it away and never really looked at it ON me. It is short, boxy, and way too big. Wish I’d read your posts about negative ease being a good thing. I’m a “big girl” but I guess I’m not as big as I think (or knit) that I am. Live and learn! P.S. thanks to practice and lots of reading knittingdaily, I’m a much better knitter now. I finished a new sweater that is red and lacy and frilly and awesome! I keep getting OMG, Did you really knit this? from my students. :0) *I’m a physics teacher.* I say that if I didn’t knit, I’d probably be homicidal.

  52. Sandi, thanks for sharing that knitting snafu. It makes me feel better about my own knitting mistakes. I knit a baby sweater for a friend’s son, who I knew was “a big boy” at the age of 2. So I cleverly made his sweater one size larger. I did the back, the front, one sleeve and somehow got side tracked. Quite a while later I decided I needed to finish the thing. I think his birthday was coming up. so I knit up the last sleeve. Perfectly. Perfectly in the smaller size!!! I got so mad at myself I never fixed it. He’s about to be 5… however, he does have a younger brother…..

  53. Nice cliffhanger. I have a couple of ideas about how the swatch might save the day, and am curious to see if one of them matches your solution or if you went in a completely different direction. Tune in Friday. . .

    It’s even more fun when you go astray in a pattern you wrote yourself. This was a case of gauge relaxing on the way up, and might be attributable to a change in the weather. I don’t mind ripping seams, but I had finished the neckline ribbing with the Kitchener cast-off, which would have to be unraveled: too much fun. Like you, I banished it for a cooling-off period before I did something drastic and possibly unfortunate. When it came out of hiding, I found a simple solution that only involved resetting the sleeves — much less of a headache.

    Looking forward to your creative solution on Friday, Sandi.

  54. Hi Sandi! Boy, do I feel for you…but thanks for sharing this experience with us. I learned a lot in reading of your problem output for this garment–so all is not lost! You’re a wonderful inspiration for me, and I always learn something while reading of your knitting happenings. Don’t know if you’ll read this far down the list of responses, but here’s an idea that occurred to me: what about doing some sort of gathering technique on the wrong side of the work? And maybe a variation of the same technique could be done on the armholes. Just a thought, thanks again for telling us.

  55. Once in a while, f.e. yesterday, I don’t see the stitch of the day. Most days though it’s there. Wondered if other knitters have the same problem. All the stitches are making up a great library.
    To Sandy: eager to know, how you savet the BT. Have encountered the same problem on another model. Will the BT some day be in free pattern library?
    Knitting regards from Germany

  56. My exact thoughts were this: “Jeez that ribbing… uh oh…poor Sandi.. but wait, it’s a beautiful garment. I wanna knit a Bonsai Tunic! Now!”
    I have a sweater that was first supposed to be a cardigan, but I messed it up and had to rip. Ripped WHILE knitting a new top down raglan. I could not bear frogging it properly. It turns out that it will not work and I will have to rip it AGAIN. Big sigh. I am fooling no one but myself. This time I will ask a knitting friend to frog it for me.

  57. I think it is very brave of you to be so frank about this–and very heartening to your readers, who have this kind of think happen often! It gives me heart to take out the sweater I’m knitting for my husband, which has been put aside because I’m afraid it doesn’t fit–and now I’ve lost the directions, so I’m going to have to make them up as I go along! Well, you’ve given me courage.

  58. Sandi,
    Thanks for the insight into why “Knitting Goes Bad”. I don’t have a lot of advice/tips for this project except to take the shoulder seams apart and reknit the top part of the front again in the smaller needle. Since the yarn is a drapey blend, felting isn’t possible, and adjusting the side seams may make the garment hang differently.

    Also I loved the earlier posts on garment fit, sizing, and drape. This was one of the most comprehensive and useful knitting essays I’ve ever read!
    Thanks for the great column and thoughtful content,
    Beth B.

  59. I just read your column on Saving the Bonsai, and I have a similar problem. One that involves a sweater jacket that has had a considerable amount of time and yarn in it. After it was completed it seemed to fit perfectly. After is was fulled and blocked the length of the sleeves and body seeem to have grown. I was wondering, could I just put the sweater into the washer with a little agitation and try to creatively shrink it and reblock it to a smaller size? I have tried this on hats and it has worked. Please let me know what you think. Kathy

  60. I’m glad I”m not alone! I have just learned that I should not knit anything that requires thought (ie not stockinette) when I’m tired. I’m doing a stranded Christmas stocking and the pattern is very doable, but not when I’ve only had a few hours of sleep…

  61. Thanks for sharing, that sounds like something I have done and I’m glad that I’m not the only one! The highlighting is a great idea – I’ll have to try that.

  62. After ripping out a lovely project for the 3rd time I gave the wool to a dear friend who had admired it when I first bought the wool. I am happy, she is happy, the wool is in a good hands.
    I also missed the Monday and Tuesday “Stitch of the Day”.
    KNIT ON!

  63. Sandi, just wanted to say I love your blog and your funny way of putting things, and this entry is the best yet! (The comments are also a hoot, especially taken all together.) I too am facing frogging (dropped a stitch down six rows of cable and can’t seem to weave it back in correctly) and this gives me more strength to face it.

  64. “Saving the Bonsai” is a wonderful piece. I can’t wait for the next installment. I think one of the most important knitting lessons I’ve ever learned is not to be afraid of pulling out and reknitting. It took a lot of courage the first time I pulled out a whole sweater and knitted it all over again. But the results were worth it. So if you only have half a front to pull out, that isn’t so bad! (He, He! As I write this from the comfort of my computer.) I encourage all my knitting buddies not to balk at ripping out – it’s just part of knitting.

  65. Wow, a week is all it took for you to be able to look at it again? I have a sweater I knit in 1999 that I still can’t bear to look at for more than 30 seconds. It’s Microspun, and it has a feather and fan pattern, and I was being SO SMART when I calculated a smaller size than the pattern had…and would up with a fan UP instead of DOWN at the center neck. It flops over forlornly, and makes a very odd neckline. I have had idle thoughts of turning it into a cardigan somehow…but I always just shove it back into the dark.

  66. I’ve been away for a few days… so i haven’t replied to this thread yet.. I have about 18 UFOs… but honestly? the reason why is because I’m easily seduced by other patterns/yarns that suddenly catch my eye! It’s not a hobby.. it’s an addiction!

  67. WendyE, can I hire you? I don’t know how many times I’ve knit a garment and it’s exactly to gauge, exactly to schematic, and still just doesn’t look *right* on me and I don’t know why. Now I’m trying on my tops and checking the shoulder seam placement….

    One issue I have, sorta related to this (notice how we all develop patternlust when seeing an actual garment on an actual person on this site?): I have a strict rule, because of my…odd shape (big shoulders, big boobs, tiny waist). I never knit a pattern, no matter HOW nice it looks, if the magazine or pamphlet doesn’t show it on an actual human being. If they show a garment on a hanger, I automatically assume it looks like poop warmed over on an actual body. Same thing when I only see one side of the garment: all sorta tricks to pull in waistlines and tighten up sleeves done in back of sweater. I also object to those string bean models–no idea how the top’s going to look on a girl with a little meat (or at least boobs) on her.

    I think that your honesty in showing the Bonsai is awesome, not only as others have stated (nice to feel I”m not the only dizzy knitter out there) but because even though I can see some issues with that tunic, I can see that when it’s fixed, it’s going to be *gorgeous*.

  68. First, I’m so happy to see you sharing your kniting problems. I work in a yarn shop and find that most knitters think we “profesionals” never make mistakes. Ha! Second, I didn’t understand finishing until I took a seaming class that changed my world. Now I actually enjoy seaming and doing bands, because it’s where I get to show off my best skills. Why can’t we (the knitting community) do a better job of teaching/explainng these skills? And why can’t the pattern writers make it standard to do incs/decs on the second stitch from the edge, include one st st selvedge stitch on each side, etc.?

  69. Hi Sandy, I started a sweater, and discovered my 4 inch gauge swatch was WRONG WRONG WRONG!! I got suspicious when I was about 6 inches up the back, and when I measured it was 2 inches too narrow. So I recalculated, and after swearing up a storm I ripped it out, and started all over again using the entire back as my gauge swatch. The numbers were much different. Why this happened I do not know, but there ya go. All I can say is that I keep my measuring tape with me now, and I check and recheck my work all the time. It kind of takes the carefree element out of knitting, but it’s the only way I can keep on top of the measurements. It’s so hard to rip out a beautiful knitting pattern. Ecch!

  70. Good for you for ‘fessing up about your mistake. I relate completely. Also good for you for jumping back in and tackling it publicly! Good luck! Great idea about highlighting!

  71. Sandi, I love you to bits for publishing that you had a disaster! I don’t wish them upon you or anyone but it just makes me feel so much better about my lurking drawer of gonna-have-to-unravel-it-one-day disasters.

  72. Why didn’t you add sleeves to the design and probably when you were picking up stitches along the V neck you could have used a thinner needle and casted of tighter. That would bring up the V neck and also the sleeves gives a possibility to gather a little bit from the side and it would make it tighter around the chest.Marthe in New Jersey