Curlicue: the final chapter

As you remember, I mailed off the two-thirds completed Curlicue and enough yarn to finish it to Oat Couture a little while ago, and now the project has been mailed back to me: time for an update!

All along I have been corresponding with a woman named Annie at Oat Couture – I believe she may be the owner of the company, but I don’t think she wrote the pattern. Annie took it upon herself to examine my work-in-progress, work on it some more, and determine what went wrong. I know I’m a grumpy person, and I know all my exchanges with Annie were firm, BUT I always, always, always let her know that I very much appreciate her attention, time, and consideration. If all designers and pattern writers followed up as she did, our knittery lives would be much easier.

Initially Annie hypothesized that I was wrapping too tightly when making the short rows, but upon receiving the blanket and working a few more sections she decided that it was a matter of gauge. In an e-mail she wrote me, “I realized that there is another factor having to do with the stitch gauge being proportional to the row gauge. I measured your gauge at 20 sts. and 35 rows to 4″, so, in this instance, you need a lot more rows in proportion to your stitch gauge to knit an inch. This is why your coverlet is puckering. … Thanks again for sending it out. I am mailing it back to you this afternoon.”

I accepted this explanation for the moment, thanked her again, and eagerly awaited the return of the Curlicue (because, ahem, I wasn’t exactly buying it).


Not entirely educational, but rather impressive. For those counting, I knit 10 sections, and Annie knit another 4 – this blanket is therefore 93.3% done.

Let’s go in for a close-up:

The sections I knit are shaded a bit pink, and the sections Annie knit are shaded a bit blue. Do you see what I see? Although Annie’s knitting is clearly different, the sections worked by her STILL pucker.

I proceeded to measure the gauge of her knitting and mine. I measured my knitting to be 21 sts and 34 rows, and Annie’s knitting to be 20 sts and 32 rows (in pattern). If it is proportions that matter, my stitch/row ratio is 0.618 and Annie’s is 0.625. The pattern calls for 0.647 or 0.643, depending on yarn weight. As far as I’m concerned, first, both of our tensions are mighty close to the pattern. The pattern specifies the double-knitting yarn gauge as 22 sts and 34 rows – how much closer could I have gotten to that?!? Second, if such little differences matter, well then Annie’s knitting is much closer to mine than either of ours to the pattern!

Can you help me make sense of this? What am I missing?

In any case, knitter beware: if it’s still puckering after the people who wrote the pattern work on it, I would be very cautious about making this project.

I e-mailed Annie once again a few days ago, thanking her for her time, but reiterating my concerns, citing that the sections she knit still pucker, and that our gauges are very close to what’s specified in the pattern. I haven’t received a response yet.

And before you say anything, there’s no way I’m finishing the Curlicue. To be perfectly honest, I’m not so crazy about the sections Annie knit, and I’d insist on taking them out (I am not saying this arrogantly, but rather very matter-of-factly: my knitting is much more even). Then I’d be faced once again with spending my not-at-all-disposable knitting time on a project that’s destined to produce a result that won’t make me happy. And that’s just not going to happen.

On a more cheerful note, a week ago I gave Grumpecue to my coworker and her husband. Her reaction was wonderful – she was so thankful and hugged me so many times. She kept saying how beautiful it is, how great it is to have something handmade for the baby, and how she really loves the softness of the blanket. Which reminds me – no matter how impressive a design, functionality, color combinations, and fit, non-knitters only seem to pay attention to softness.

Anyway, I left work that day feeling like I was floating on cloud 9! I thought to myself, screw all these other projects, I just want to go home and knit for my coworker’s little babe because I know the gift will be appreciated. I went as far as to mentally run through the yarns in my stash-ette to see if I could cast on that night! I came to my senses by the time I got home, though :). Kathy, there’s time. The pre-baby gift has been given, the baby won’t be born until mid-January, and there will be many birthdays thereafter. Chill out ;).

A little while later (to add insult to injury, if you will), I received lovely notes from both my coworker and Jennifer, thanking me for their gifts.

This handknit gift idea rules ;).


26 thoughts on “Curlicue: the final chapter

  1. Norma

    You really hit on something there: No matter what we knitters think, non-knitters have an idea that knitted items (i.e., wool) are SCRATCHY, and the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS TO THEM is whether it’s soft. I’ve said it before, too: Know your recipient. I can’t tell you the number of people I have knit for who would 100% rather have a Lion Brand Homespun scarf with novelty icicles sticking out than a nice wool one. It might break our hearts, but if we want to win over recipients with our knitting, we have to listen to them. Nothing is worse than that, “Oh, you made this?” look.

  2. Bea

    Love it when handknitted gifts are well-received… 🙂 Major bummer about the Curlicue.

    It does seem like a tighter row gauge (in proportion to stitch gauge) would help… maybe this just isn’t doable in a cotton-blend yarn? Since wool and wool blends are a lot bouncier in garter stitch (row gauge is tighter, so the parts that aren’t supposed to elongate, won’t… but the parts that need to fit around curves will still stretch), maybe it’s really just the yarn.

  3. Esther

    In my humble opinion, the problem with your Curlicue is the choice of yarn.

    According to Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, ‘wool is highly elastic’.

    I ordered the pattern and the yarn used is a superwash wool. I think I will use that type of yarn to make the design.

    I really appreciate your combined knitting chart. I finally got an answer to my question about what the equivalent to ‘knitting through the back loop’ in old knitting was in the combined knitting way, so obvious when I read your chart, knit through the front loop.

    Thank you so, so much.

  4. Christina

    I agree with Esther. I also think there are too many rows along each edge. My little art mind is flexing it’s spatial muscles, and I can just imagine fewer rows would equal less pucker.

  5. yahaira

    I’m glad your blanket is loved by your friends and will be loved by the future babe.

    Burn, I mean rip that curlicue! It’s just not worth it anymore. Can you use that yarn for some other baby goodies?

  6. Dani

    Glad the blanket went over so well. I am sure it will be loved for a long time to come. Good luck with the Curlicue… I wish I could help, but man, I wouldn’t know where to start. Lots of hugs 🙂

  7. Colleen

    I don’t understand the explanation from OC, because her knitting looks just as puckered as yours.

    It’s a great feeling when a gifted anything is loved and appreciated.

  8. Angela

    I’m glad your coworker liked it! I would say she was smoking crack if she didn’t. The look on people’s faces when you give them a knitted gift (and they love it) is priceless!

  9. Mary

    I think that Curlicue should be frogged and resurrected as another Grumpicue for the next person in your life who is expecting a baby, (you know there will be more friends/co-workers having babies).

    I gave my first hand-knitted gift to someone this Thanksgiving, and it was a wool/acrylic mix scarf, and yep, the first thing she remarked on was how soft it was — “this is wool?”.

    Speaking of soft, thanks to your reference to it in a recent post, I went and bought some Berroco Plush Colors yarn to knit up a soft scarf for myself. You enabler, you! 🙂

  10. Purly Whites

    Hmmm, it seems to me that a pattern shouldn’t be so fussy about row gauge. It also seems to me that there may be a difference between a cotton yarn and a wool yarn and how the blanket puckers or doesn’t pucker. But I can’t remember what type of yarn the pattern called for, and if the fiber does make a difference in the puckering, well, the pattern should note that.

  11. betty

    Kathy, maybe the people that say the type of yarn is the clue are right. I remember visiting the site of one of your commenters, weeks ago, to watch a perfectly flat curlicue. If I ever do knit it a second time (ahem!), I will use wool.

  12. Theresa

    I love the Christmas skirt idea – real possibilities, that.

    My favorite is the friend who picked out and bought her own souvenir very rustic wool yarn to be made into socks, and was surprised that it hadn’t turned as soft as angora overnight. Although I must say that knitting with wool has made me much more aware of its virtues and much more tolerant of wearing it.

  13. Cheryl

    It looks like the top rows of the curlicue need to be longer (wider?) If you notice where the puckering begins you can see it starting to pull in at that point… When sewing sleeves into a garment there is only so much “ease” to work with, and that looks like what the problem is here… But that is just a judgment from looking at this photograph… I would try two or three sections lengthening the top 10 ridges or so proporionately and see how that works out… you really couldn’t tell without doing two or three sections. Sso it’s just whether or not you want to have the added investment of time into this project.

  14. Stephanie

    Glad to hear the gifts were appreciated, but I’m not all that into handknit gifts right now – the whole Christmas knitting thing. I can’t believe that silly Curlicue – you’re better off with out it.

  15. Christie

    Isn’t that the funniest thing? You could knit anything and all that matters is how soft it is! Crack me up. I’m glad that everything worked out with Grumpicue!

  16. Laura

    Thanks for the Curlicue update!

    I cast on for Oat Couture’s other circular baby blanket (I can’t remember the name) and don’t think it will have the puckering problems of Curlicue. At least I hope it doesn’t–we shall see!

    I’m happy to hear that the Grumpecue was so well received!

  17. Annie

    I am the designer of this, and all Oat Couture patterns.

    Kathy (Grumperina) had expressed her displeasure with my Curlicue Coverlet pattern because of the puckering she was experiencing. She mailed it to me so that I could try to determine what the problem was. I spent many hours knitting on her coverlet and found that the problem had to do with her gauge.

    I was quite surprised and disappointed with the photo she chose to post – it does not represent the problem fairly.

    To see a photo of Kathy’s coverlet that I took prior to returning it to her, please follow this link:

    If this link isn’t active, simply copy and paste it into your browser.

    I measured my gauge at 18 sts, 30 rows to 4″; Kathy’s gauge at 20 sts., 35 rows to 4″. Since our respective gauges are so different, the sections knit by each of us is making a different size circle. Therefore they will never join to make a completed coverlet.

    It is unfortunate that she has experienced these problems – I can only say that I have sold a great number of these patterns, and have spoken with many happy knitters.

    Thank you,

    Annie Dempsey

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