You learn something new every day

Hi, my name is Glenna, and last night I nearly died of self-inflicted embarrassment in front of Anne Hanson. True story.


I had the great fortune to nab one of the spots in her Advanced Lace Knitting class at The Purple Purl, and it was well worth it. Anne is knowledgeable, kind, and patient, and I am jealous of all the people who get to sit in her day-long class today. (I am on my way towards Edmonton later today, for a weekend in celebration of my grandfather’s 95th birthday. He does get to have priority.) I signed up because lace knitting is probably the skill set I possess the least experience in – I’ve been knitting socks and cables for about 5 years, but doing lace for only about 2 – and I also knew that I was going to be tasked with some lace design projects this summer, so anything to help me develop my skills in the lace knitting area is something I’m interested in. I was not disappointed! I have no doubt that everyone in the class enjoyed a revelation or two.



Among other things, I learned about crochet provisional cast-ons for the first time (I’d managed to avoid it up until now), salient differences between lace patterns with and without the purl-back ‘rest’ rows (I tend towards the purl-back patterns, for speed and memorizability, but I can’t live there forever), different kinds of shawl construction, yarn selection, and much, much more.


And then, while we were working our little test swatches to practice knitted-on edgings, I was running into some trouble and having difficulty figuring out what I was doing wrong. It was one of those moments where you know without a doubt that your work does not look the way it is supposed to look, and yet your brain refuses to give up the magical explanation as to WHY it doesn’t look right. And so Anne came over and helped me out and we figured out that the reason it wasn’t going right…is because I have been doing my yarnovers (YOs) wrong this entire time.

It rocked my world, I tell you. I immediately (well, today, after resisting the urge to cuddle all my knitted shawls in apologetic tears mumbling I’m so sorry my babies I DONE YOU WRONG) remembered my friend Liz reporting something similar on her Twitter about a week or two ago, and I emailed her to ask if my wrong way vs. the right way was the same as her wrong way vs. the right way. And it WAS. And I went and asked my mother to show me the way SHE does yarnovers, and it turns out SHE does it the same wrong way too. AHA.

So, dear knitting friends, I am duly prepping a post about this, because if there are at least 3 of us in this world who have been doing it wrong, then there are probably others too, and I would like to share this with you so that you don’t have to die of embarrassment while sitting in an Advanced Lace Knitting class with Anne Hanson.

And the rest of you who are doing it right, well. The first round of martinis is on me. Catch you next time (possibly live from Edmonton) with a photo-riffic YO post. It’s gonna be awesome.


  1. Waiting on pins and needles, because its quite possible I’m doing it wrong.

    I purled wrong for my first two sweaters eons ago, and I’ve been self taught on everything, so doing things wrong is apt to happen. Even if I have been knitting now for many years.

  2. I didn’t know that there was more than one way to YO – I wonder if I will be adding myself to your list of people doing it ‘wrong’ — clearly I’d be in good company so I won’t worry about it too much — I do hope you post quickly though!

  3. ah Glenna, my head is already hurting thinking about whether or not my YO’s are correct!

  4. Maybe Anne’s doing them wrong?

  5. Uh oh…I suspect that I might also be doing it wrong.
    In related news, I am fairly certain that I am doing ssk wrong, too. My k2tog on my latest shawl are all neat and tidy but my ssk look all wonky. However, I have decided not to check until I finish this shawl – I am NOT ripping it back, nor am I going to change the way I am doing them at this point (it would look funny) so for now ignorance is bliss!

  6. Don’t say “wrong”; say different! I am terrified this is going to happen to me one day – I’ll discover I’ve been doing ssk wrong the entire time, or something. On the other hand, better to find out now than not at all, right?

  7. Sarah JS · ·

    Am sincerely hoping your upcoming info on YOs jives with what I just learned — having gotten myself confused on the correct way to YO after a knit stitch, after a purl, and also when switching from one to the other.

    Best birthday wishes to your grandfather!

  8. Ruth Martin · ·

    And now we are all waiting with bated breath and paused needles for the YO revelation. Ah well, if we can’t all take a class with Anne personally, we can at least benefit from her wisdom at one remove. Thanks in advance, Glenna!

  9. I can’t wait for this post — I can’t imagine I’ve been doing YOs correctly if you haven’t…

  10. You know, I was at Stitches in April, taking a class with Barry Klein, and while swatching somebody in the class asked if it mattered which way we did our yarn over? I did a double take on that one; I didn’t know there was more than one way to do a YO. So, I thought I learned something new….or was it something wrong? I still do it the way I always have and look forward to your future post to settle things once and for all!

  11. Ha, I spent the first few months of my knitting career knitting EVERY SINGLE STITCH through the back loop! Looking forward to finding out if I have been doing YOs wrong all along too…

  12. kateohkatie · ·

    Stuff like this always makes me doubt things I was previously certain about – thanks a lot ๐Ÿ˜›

    Eagerly awaiting the instructional post… ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. OH MY GOD, you can do YOs a wrong way?! Oh noes.I’m left handed- I wonder if that increases or decreases my chances for doing my YOs correctly?!

  14. Hmm, I just finished a looks fine..what if the yos are wrong?

    Kalyn sometimes my ssks look wonky too. I find that if I ‘tweak’ the short side of the stitch with a needle they are fine. Not sure why it only happens on some yarn but the ‘non-official’ tweak usually does it.

    Thanks for the ribbed socks pattern Glenna, they are going to be my easy car knitting tomorrow. We have a 7 1/2 hr drive from here to London.

    Enjoy Edmonton..will wait for the yo instruction before I start my next shawl.

  15. Like Jen (and others) said, I didn’t know you could do it “wrong”! I will have to come and see if my name goes on that list, too!

  16. Excuse me, but I wonder,,, who decides if it is right or wrong?

    I think that as long is it consistent and the result is pleasing to the eye it is not wrong it is just my way of knitting it ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. We still love you Glenna. Regardless of which way your yo’s swing.

  18. There’s a wrong way to do YO’s? =8^O

    I love provisional cast on with a crochet chain. The unzipping makes me feel competent!

    And I like lace with purl back rows. I need time to space out…

    Looking forward to your wrong YO post!

  19. tinebeest · ·

    If you’ve been doing the YOs “wrong” then why do your lace shawls look so right?

  20. I can’t do a provisional cast on to save my life.

  21. Barb Melichar · ·

    Don’t feel bad. I also learned in a lace class about 2 months ago that my yarn overs were wrong and I have been knitting for only 40 years. We really do learn to be better knitters by hanging out with knitters.

  22. I’m thoroughly convinced that I’m doing it “wrong” and await your next post with bated breath!

  23. I may need a stiff drink.

  24. honeybee · ·

    I had been doing them wrong for a long time as well! I don’t remember how I figured out that I was doing it wrong – I think I read it in a book, and I was like, “WTF?” But, yeah, I thought I’d never, ever be able to do any lace at all whatsoever for the rest of my life because I just sucked at it.

    Nope. It was my yarn overs. Once I got that straightened out, it all worked out!

  25. Debbie B · ·

    I had my moment a few years ago, I am left handed and knit right handed, come to find out I have been purling wrong for 30+ years. My form of purling creates a harder to knit purl and uses more yarn, a simple answer to why I always hated purls and ran out of yarn before I finished my project. Humbling yes but as you say an excellent learning moment. Hopefully I yarn-over correctly, I await your post to find out. I hope you have an excellent weekend.

  26. How is it ‘wrong’ if it’s been working in your knitting all this time? Anxiously awaiting more details… ; )

  27. advanced lace knitting class with anne hanson!! *faints, then dies of envy* ‘->

  28. […] was amused by a recent post in which the writer discovers – much to her embarrassment while in a workshop – that […]

  29. When I first started knitting I found out in a class that I was doing the purl stitch wrong. It ended up being twisted. But the dishcloths I were knitting were the best ever, because the stitch was so tight and the cloth did not bag out…. my sister loves them… Then… on the next blanket square I was doing my yarn overs wrong… and THEN I read somewhere that different techniques require the stitches to be worked in this manner… but only, and only if you know that the purl stitch being asked is not the generally accepted stitch but maybe the twisted continental, european, alaskan, upside down and inside out, stitch. It is all great fun.

  30. I had my moment 25 years ago when Maggie Reghetti told me I was purling wrong. I was hurt because I had learned to knit and purl from a book. Since then I have learned not only how to read my knitting, but that there is really no right or wrong way depending on what you are knitting and what you are trying to accomplish. Look at it this way – you have learned another way to make YOs.

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