A lacy shawl teaches a lesson about using the right tools.
The recent break in the hot weather has me thinking about
fall (my favorite of all the seasons)! One of the best things about the cooler weather is wearing wraps and shawls. I have several that are crochet, but none that are knit. For the past year or so I've been pinning and bookmarking patterns for the someday when I'd finally give knitting one a try. It's been a while since I picked up the needles so I figured now is a good time to work on my skills. If you remember, I've only been knitting for less than a year, and my entire repertoire includes one pair of socks, a small stuffed baby toy, a few pairs of fingerless mitts, oneleg warmer and a scarf and hat that are still in progress.
(I have issues with finishing I know!) I sifted through the mass of beautiful patterns and finally settled on one called Blossoms by the Brook.
It's quite lovely and looks like it will keep me interested and be a good way to practice lacy techniques. It calls for worsted weight yarn and since I have a bounty of acrylics in pretty colors I decided that's what I'll use. Normally I'll pick a fiber that feels better next to the skin, but since this is my first attempt it seems the wiser choice to use something economical. If all goes well then a knit shawl in gourmet yarn is in order, but for now I'll stick with the cheap seats!
I have a fair collection of knitting needles. However, with the exception of a pair of dpn's I bought to make John's socks they've all been donated. Which means that lots of them have been very well used. Many of my crochet hooks came to me the same way and they've always treated me well. I have learned that all hooks are not created equal and to use the same one throughout a project, but I've never had one not work properly because of it's age. So when I picked out the size 8 circulars that the pattern calls for I didn't think twice about their condition. I used the long tail cast on and set to work. The first row is usually tight and hard to pick up, but once I get past that the tension evens out and I can get a good rhythm going. So why after 4 or 5 rows was I still struggling so much?? That's when I took a closer look at the tips of my needles. Well how about that! The finish was worn off and it's clear that these babies have knit a lot of stitches! What was once a fine chiseled tip is now blunt and dull! Of course I don't have another pair that size so I had to decide if I want to go up or down. I chose bigger needles figuring that with the worsted yarn the larger stitches would improve the drape of the fabric.
Wow! What a difference! Now I get it. I had the right tool but it's worn condition made it so hard to work with that I could probably use chop sticks with better results! And so I've learned a valuable lesson. Make sure your tips have good points. For a moment I thought that I had lost my knitting mojo, but once I got going with a healthy set of needles it was smooth sailing. The larger size has helped with the drape and the pattern is proving to be a fun as I hoped. Now that I'm nearly half way done I'm already picking out the "nice" yarn I'm going to use for my next knit shawl!
I'm sure that you seasoned knitters know exactly where I'm coming from, and may have even enjoyed a chuckle at my naivety! Somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain I know that I've read about points and lace needles and what makes for good easy knitting, I just got so caught up in the excitement of the project that I never even considered that I might have dull needles!
For this pattern I'm running a life line once in every repeat.
Crochet and knitting are activities that you really learn by doing. Books and videos are definitely helpful but the real knowledge comes from taking the yarn in hand and getting to it. One of my biggest knitting fears is having to rip out my work, that's why I'm using life lines. It's another valuable lesson I learned "on the job". Yes, it's a bit tedious but I'd much rather take the time to run a safety line than have to leave in a mistake (never!) or start over!
So there you have it. Check your tips! Working with dull points is frustrating and time consuming. Don't let shabby equipment ruin your knitting experience. Thanks so much for stopping and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!