But again, in time I'm sure that it will come. It only seems natural that the next step is knitting in the round. Especially since I don't like seaming anything - at all. But that means double pointed needles. Have you seen what this looks like? There are points sticking out hither and yon just waiting to skewer you. And there's nothing to stop the stitches from sliding off those smooth needles except for tension and gravity. I'm pretty sure that both of these things can work against you just as easily as for you!!
I did what I always do and headed for the books. I also watched a hand full of videos where everyone assured me that it's really not as hard as it looks. (Did I mention that it looks like you're performing a magic trick?) With my resources in front of me and a simple project in mind (leg warmers) I got to it. At first I tried casting onto one needle and then sliding the stitches onto the other two. It didn't work too well because my tension was too tight. After a few tries I was able to cast on to all three needles. I laid them out in a little triangle and then tried to pick the whole thing up to knit the first stitch. Ha! They swiveled and rocked and rotated about causing a fair amount of frustration and a bit of flowery language. I resorted to keeping them on the table and gently lifting the needles to join them. Success!! And it wasn't even twisted. Can you hear the halleluiah chorus?
Ever so carefully I picked up the fragile contraption and started knitting. Imagine my surprise when it worked! I was doing it. I struggled some when it was time to go from one needle to the next and again resorted to laying the whole thing down. But just like everyone promised, after a few rounds it gained stability and the whole matter was so much easier! Woo - hoo!! Now we're cooking. I was cruising along like no tomorrow. Then I remembered a post by my friend Pumpkin. Pumpkin is an accomplished knitter who creates beautiful garments. After years of knitting, she recently learned (and admitted!) that she has been doing it wrong. Doing what? Knitting in the round inside out. That is to say the front of her work was inside the tube. What? I panicked! Where was the front of mine? Was I doing it wrong too? Of course you know the answer is yes! It was so easy that way, so natural. How was I supposed to fix it? I pushed and turned and flipped it around eventually getting things to where they should be. Thanks goodness! And thank you Pumpkin for sharing your story. Otherwise I might never have known. I suppose it really doesn't matter that much, but I'd rather learn the right way from the start than have to fix a bad habit somewhere down the line.
Yes! Yes it is easier than it looks! Once you get the first few rows started and are able to accept that part of your work is just going to hang there it really isn't that hard! I'm convinced. But what about circular needles? So many bloggers sign their praises - for working in the round and back and forth. Not wanting to miss anything I decided to move my legwarmer from the dpns onto a 16 inch circular. Making the transition was a breeze and after just one round it was clear to me why people love using these.
I was even brave enough to go ahead and try stripes. The "jog" is there, but I can live with that if it means no seaming. I'm still struggling with carrying the yarn up the inside and I'm fighting with a little gap when I change colors. There are all kinds of techniques that I have yet to try so I'm not too worried about it. Plus I think that's a story for another day!
Are you still with me? I know this is a long one and I've been rambling on, it's just that there's so much to tell!! Legwarmer number one is all most finished. I switched back to the smaller dpns and only have a few rounds left. Did I tell you that I'm just making this up (the pattern that is) as I go along?? Something I never would have imagined a few months ago. Mitt number one is finished. I needed help with the thumb. Attaching the yarn and picking up stitches to close the gap are new and different from crochet. Once Jean showed me I realized that I was making it more complicated than it needed to be. Hopefully I'll remember what to do when I get to number two!
One last thing (promise!) I'm always working on several projects at the same time ( it's crafting A.D.D.) and recently discovered a great way to keep organized. Each project gets it's own plastic storage container (shoe box size). In it goes the yarn, the pattern, the needle(s), stitch markers, a pencil and anything else specific to that project. The scissors and tape measure stay on the table. Now everything is in it's place and there's a place for everything. Brilliant, right?!
Phew! That's it. All done for now. Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
P.S. : Don't Forget - There's still time to win these awesome books!
click on the picture(s) to enter
So I've been knitting for about a month now, and I have to say that I'm really lovin' it. My husband is calling me a traitor because I haven't picked up a crochet hook since I started. What can I say? It's so awesome to cast those stitches on and watch the fabric that develops. And for some reason the idea of designing my own projects seems natural with the knitting, something that I never really felt about crochet. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about my first project.
I've been on a hand/wrist warmer kick this winter and it seemed like the right size project to begin with. Jean W. (the library's knitting queen) gave me a pattern for fingerless gloves that she's made many times. They are worked in the round, but she told me I could do them flat and adjusted the pattern for me. They are a cable ribbing pattern which looks like a "mock" cable. It seemed a bit adventurous for a first project, but I figured what the heck! Plus I was flattered that she had such confidence in me!
I used the the easy thumb cast on and set to work on the first row. It was really hard. And sloppy. And I'm pretty sure it didn't follow the pattern. After several tries I sort of got the hang of it. It was tough going though and I don't think it was looking like it was supposed to. I decided that a different pattern might be in order. It must have been fate because the following day one of our knitting regulars (who just happened to be working on a cute little wrist warmer at the last meeting) came into the library. She didn't have the pattern with her, but told me if I searched Emerald Green Handwarmers I'd find it. Sure enough, she was right.
That night I set out to make a dusty rose version. Something clicked. The planets aligned and by the end of the evening I was more than half way through the first one. Honestly it was a thing of beauty! As I worked each row my confidence grew and I felt more and more comfortable with the needles. After a few more sessions I had completed my first knitting project ever!
I wanted to make another pair, but I get bored easily. (Sad I know, but at least I'm realistic about it!) One of the books that I have in my collection is called the Complete Book of Knitting. Among other things, it has page after page of stitch patterns in it. Since I was feeling comfortable with the knit and purl, I decided that I could substitute one of the simpler patterns for the section that is worked in the double moss stitch. It took a little bit of calculating and a little bit of hope, but I went for it and look!! It worked! This is the "small check" pattern and I think it looks terrific. If you thought I was happy after the first pair you should have seem me when I finished the personalized pair! My husband (bless him) even listed attentively and with (I think) real interest as I explained to him what I had achieved!
Here's the thing about me and knitting. For some reason I am able to visualize stitches and elements coming together to make changes - or even to make something from scratch. That never happened to me with crochet. Even though I have the big stitch dictionary I never thought about substituting one into an existing pattern. Strange isn't it? It's like the light bulb went on, or the door opened (or some other inspirational quote) and I can imagine creating designs of my very own. Of course I realize that I have a long way to go. I'm encouraged though that my brain is thinking that way. Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up crochet. I'm keeping myself open to the plethora of possibilities that exist. I love learning new things and flexing those synapses to keep me motivated and intrigued. I've all ready been entertaining the idea of a project that contains both knitting and crochet!!
Next up is knitting on double pointed needles. A daunting proposition for sure. Every book that I've read, and everyone in the knitting group assures me that it is much easier than it appears. Surely that can't all be wrong?? I'll let you know how it goes.
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me. And also a big thanks to everyone who entered the book giveaway. Karen W. was so excited to win. She told me this was the first time she ever won anything!! March is going to be a busy month. There's the knitting and crocheting and the book reviews too. Plus, it's my first blog-iversary and I have more giveaways planned. I hope you'll join the fun!
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
Lots of resources and my first swatch!
A Crocheter's Tale of Learning to Knit
(Or, When a Hooker Turns to the Needle[s])
(I'm sorry about the bad sub-title, but I just couldn't resist - I blame reality TV!)
I always wanted to knit. But, I decided to learn how to crochet instead because it seemed easier to learn how to maneuver one hook instead of two needles. I think I was right, because I took to it like a fish to water and I haven't looked back. That is until now.
So what happened? What is the catalyst that drove me to set aside my trusty hook and pick up pair of knitting needles? A book of course. What else would it be?!
Look at all those beautiful patterns!
Although the book contains enough information to get a beginner like me started, I checked out a hand full of knitting titles from the library. The more information the better as far as I'm concerned! I paged through each of them, studying the illustrations, mulling over the vocabulary and generally getting a feel for the craft.
Lots of it was familiar - the way the patterns are written, how garments are constructed. Increasing, decreasing, tension, blocking and seeming are all basically the same. But reading only gives you so much. Eventually you have to throw caution to the wind and give it a try.
I was ready to cast on. In crochet you make a starting chain as the base for your project and in knitting you cast stitches on to a needle. In crochet there is the standard starting chain and only one common variation - the foundation single crochet (when you work the starting chain and the first row of single crochet at the same time). In knitting there are several different ways to cast on. Probably more than I even known about yet. So far I've learned about: the thumb method or single cast on (my husband say's it's a knot called a half-hitch), the long-tail cast on or double cast on, and the knit on cast on. I also saw something that mentions a crocheted cast on, and starting with pearl stitch instead of a knit stitch! It's confusing to a beginner because all of the books have different names for what seems to be the same thing. What I gathered is you can use whichever method you prefer unless the pattern directs otherwise. For the sake of simplicity I went with the single cast on thumb method to start. I had a hard time with my tension, and my stitches were really tight. One of the books recommended casting onto two needles at the same time and them sliding one out. I found this helped a great deal.
Once I get the basics, this will be my first project.
Another challenge was figuring out the difference between the English and Continental styles. I think that this means if you hold the yarn in your right hand or left hand. As a crocheter I am most comfortable with the yarn in my left hand, which I guess means that I use the Continental style. I wonder what it's called when you hold yarn in both hands for colorwork?
And so I set to knitting. It felt really awkward and the needles seemed to have a mind of their own flailing this way and that. In time I found a tentative rhythm and before long my first swatch was born! I didn't know it at the time, but I was knitting every row which I now recognize as the garter stitch. A little help from the knitting guru at the library set me straight on purling and soon I was able to tell the difference between the two. More practice led to a stockinette swatch and my first attempt at binding off.
I had a bit of trouble sliding the stitches over each other and my tension was inconsistent, but I got it done.
I only have a limited amount of patience for swatching - I like to make things! Beth from the library kitting group was working on a pair of wrist warmers that seemed to be a perfect first project. But that's a story for another day!
It's been three weeks since I picked up the needles and I'm absolutely enamored. Everyday I learn something new and my work goes a little quicker and looks a little better. I have so much to tell you about already! I've been taking pictures and writing notes so that I remember all those first time experiences. I won't be long before I'm comfortable enough with the basics to start moving into the world of color and Fair Isle. I'm so thankful to St. Martin's for sending me this terrific book that motivated me to finally learn to knit. If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to Fair Isle I recommend that add this one to your collection. It just went on sale at the beginning of the month and you can buy it here, or through your favorite book seller. Sorry I won't be giving this one away - I'm keeping it as the first knitting book in my library where I'm sure it will get plenty of use!
Speaking of giveaways, the raffle for 75 Floral Blocks to Knit will be ending at midnight on Saturday. If you haven't entered yet go ahead and click over while you still can. It's a great book filled with lovely patterns that you can use to make all kinds of different projects.
And so my journey into the land of knitting has begun. It's a whole new world isn't it? I can't wait to see what happens next!
Thanks for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
and overcoming my fear of pattern modification!
This is one of my favorite pictures.
It's snowing in Massachusetts so it seems appropriate that today's post is about things that keep you warm! Do you remember this picture from back in November? After ripping the mitten apart several times for various reasons (like: it was too small in the cuff, too wide in the palm, too spacious in the thumb, too pointy at the top, the finger opening was off center, etc, etc, etc...) I finally had a mitten that I was happy with. Well, after I took off the daisy button and replaced it with one in plain white. Of course by the time I was done I was so tired of working on the mitten that I set it aside in lieu of something different.
As the weather became consistently cooler it was time to give my mitten the mate it had patiently been waiting for. I found my marked up December 2012 issue of Crochet World magazine still open to the Texting Mittens. This is first time that I actually made multiple changes to a pattern to make it fit better. I've done things like add rows to make something longer, or used a magic ring instead of joining a chain into a loop. But never anything like this. I've always been afraid that making one change would through things off later in the pattern. This time though I just went for it. I figured the worst that would happen is I'd rip it out and try again. Which I did many, many times before I got it right! Thankfully I was wise enough to take ample notes of the changes. One of the most important lessons I've learned is to ALWAYS write down everything in detail. No matter how much I like to think that I'll remember what I did, the truth is I have no hope whatsoever of that happening. I can't even remember what hook I used, let alone how many stitches I deleted or added! I was able to decipher my scribbles and diagrams and in relative short order I had a (matching) pair of mitts! I was so excited to wear them for the first time along with my coordinating Tassel Hat (from Voie de Vie's Accessories: Autumne 2012 Collection).
Does this sound familiar? If it does, I really encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and just go for it. Eventually you're sure to come up with changes that suit your needs. And even if you don't imagine all that you'll learn about what not to do!!
Did you notice that there is only one purple mitten in the picture? Are you wondering where the other one is? It's the same old story. I spent so much time finishing the red one and then on the pattern mods and making sure it works that by the time I finished testing it out I was tired of making these mittens and moved onto something new!! Of course now it is in the basket next to the chair taunting me. Telling me I have no excuse and that I really should be able to whip it out in an evening or two. Will I listen and finally get it done, I'm sure I will. I just don't guarantee that there will still be snow on the ground when I do!!
Well my friends, that's all for now.
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
By the way, just in case you're interested here is a downloadable PDF file detailing my modifications. If you happen to give it a try please let me know. I'd love to hear how it goes. I'd also like to hear about how you handle modifications. Do you stick to the pattern or do you try different things and make it custom? Were you always brave or were you a fraidy cat like me?
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My name is Robin. I am a wife, mother and strong believer in the power of faith. I'm a maker, a crafter and an artist. I love exploring new mediums and sharing my adventures with you.
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