Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stop me!!!

I love crocheting.  I have crocheted for years and have made many, many items:  sweaters, purses, doilies, bags, baby booties and bonnets, a halloween costume for a baby (she was so adorable!), and a few more sweaters.  (The links refer to previous blog posts I've written about crocheting.)

So why is it that I keep feeling the pull to learn to knit?  Well, if you look at podcasts through iTunes, there are millions of podcasts about knitting and hardly any about crocheting.  No, there are not millions of knitting podcats - it just feels like it.  I've listened to some of them, and knitters are so passionate about what they do.  Some of them have even learned to spin.  They talk about wool and roving ("A roving is a long and narrow bundle of fibre. It is usually used to spin woollen yarn." according to Wikipedia) and colorways and patterns and OOOH!  Look at that yarn on this Etsy site!!  It's amazing. (drool drool twitch)

Members of the Loose Bead Society frequently bring their knitting to meetings and seem to get a lot done.  A number of the best patterns in magazines I've seen are knit.  There are a number of great crochet patterns, don't get me wrong, but it seems that knitting is just, well, so cool.  It's not just for grandmothers anymore.  The sweaters and socks look comfortable and so trendy.

Then when browsing in Barnes & Noble I saw the book Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini.  She decided to knit a very complicated sweater by the designer Alice Starmore, who I had never heard of, but through reading this book on our trusty Kindle, she's brilliant in her Fair Isle patterns but is brutal in protecting her brand.  I hesitate to even write her name in passing.

Anyway, I started reading this wonderful, funny book, and my fingers started itching.  I have flirted with knitting a few times in the past, including one humiliating experience where I used my mother's dining room table as a prop to get a needle through a loop.  My mother and my Aunt Senta laughed at me.

As a crocheter, I, of course, have spare yarn.  I also have some knitting needles from previous attempts and from finding them on clearance (I can't pass up a clearance price on something there's a remote chance I'll use).  I did have to weed through a large number of long crochet hooks - single and double ended - but I do have a few pairs of needles I can use.

The first thing you do is a slip knot.  No problem there.  Same thing is used in crocheting.  The next thing is casting on.  This is what puts the yarn in loops on the needle.  I found a good website with text and pictures, but for some reason it just wasn't doing it for me, and I was very confused.  I remembered that I used to be able to cast on.  I never had a problem with that.  So I sat back from the computer and just let my hands do what they wanted to do.  They, too, remembered that I used to be able to cast on, and in no time I had 40 or so loops on my needle.

Then comes the knit stitch.  All the loops need to move from one needle to the other, then you switch the needles and do it all over again.  There are two basic stitches to do this - knit and purl.  You have heard these terms hundreds of times in your life, even if you've never picked up a needle.  I'm left handed, so I knew I was going to have some problems - most everyone is right handed, so most directions are going to be for the majority.  It should be no big deal - I do a number of things right handed.  I'm pretty sure I've discussed this in the blog somewhere, but I can't remember where.

Through reading Sweater Quest, I found out there are two ways to hold the yarn - in your right hand (the needle you're knitting onto) or in your left hand (the needle you're knitting from).  I tried holding the yarn in my right hand (called English knitting), but I couldn't get it to work.  So then I tried Continental knitting, holding the yarn in my left hand.  According to Wikipedia, this is also called German, European, or left-handed knitting, so maybe it makes sense that I can get that to work.  After a quick call to my mother a few minutes ago, she confirmed what I remembered - she holds the yarn in her right hand, so that must have been what I tried to do in previous attempts.

I am now on my fifth attempt this time around.  I've had problems with yarn splitting, dropped stitches (where you lose the loop and it comes unraveled), and much swearing.  Steve says he can tell how it's going based on the severity of my cursing.  My biggest problem is that I'm knitting too tightly, so I'm having difficulties getting both needles through the loop where I need them to be.

My mother says I've always done things like this too tightly.  Here's a quick crochet story:  My mother and I used the exact same yarn, pattern, and size of crochet hook, and my hat could have fit a child, and hers was nice and roomy.  I wish I'd have taken a picture of them together.

So what I need to do is relax.  (Yes, I am aware that I need to relax all throughout my life, not just with the knitting - no comments necessary from my friends and family, thankyouverymuch!)  My hands will not cramp as much, my arms will not tire so quickly, and, most importantly, I'll be able to get my damned needle into the loops.

I have not yet started to purl.  There's a video online that says, "Once you're comfortable with the knit stitch, you can purl" or something like that.  I instantly stopped the video and started knitting more rows.  I will continue doing this until the swearing stops and rows take less than 5 minutes a piece.  As you'll see, the rows are pretty short, so you can tell how difficult this has been.

I like it so far, though, even through all of this.  I picked up a magazine this weekend, and there are so many neat sweater patterns in it, and there's an article that explains how to knit socks for every size foot!  I have duck feet, and none of the patterns I've seen will work for my fat feet.

At a recent Wisconsin Handweavers Guild meeting (I went as a Loose Bead Society representative with our President Elect - we're joining the Guild for a "Loominosity" sale at the end of October at the New Berlin Public Library) I bought a cone of something in between thread and yarn.  I think there is enough there to make a short sleeved sweater, but it's really hard to tell.  I would love to knit with it, but...

I have a really long, long, way to go.  (This is standard cotton yarn, not my new stuff.)  Fortunately, I found a cute short sleeved sweater in an old Crochet Fantasy magazine.  I think I'll do that instead.

Stay tuned for more knitting drama!  I'll keep the swearing to a minimum (in here, at least!).


  1. Traci, when I first learned to knit, I started out with an easy project, like a good noob. My next project was too advanced for my skills but I finished it. Like you, I knitted tightly, but with practice I relaxed ... and so did my knitting. Good luck!!