August 24, 2011

a wobbly learning curve

Every time I embark on a new knitting project, I learn something about knitting that I never knew before (and inevitably, something that had I known it, my previous projects would have gone much more smoothly, sigh). In some ways this is frustrating, because I dislike looking back on a project that I spent hours and hours on only to realize that I did something wrong simply because I didn't know better. But at the same time, it's why I knit. I like to learn. I'm the kind of girl who would, but for the fear of amassing giant student loans, happily spend the rest of my life as a perpetual student, collecting degrees as my interests swing this way and that. But, as that's not a very practical approach to life, I knit and sew and make things, because there is always some new stitch or fabric or technique out there to try. Also, I think I knit for the same reasons that this person knits. I need that bag.
While I still enjoy me some crafts and, now that I have some fabric on hand, I'm sewing more again, knitting is my drug of choice these days. I love it. I might be a little obsessed with it. Which is why it was slightly upsetting to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong about the way I knit.

Now, I'm not talking about the fact that I can no longer comfortably leave the house without some kind of knitting in my bag, although I admit that does point to something scary in my psyche. I'm talking about the actual way that I knit, the stitches, as in knit, purl, knit, purl. I do it ALL WRONG. Shit.

I'm going to be snarky here and blame the Internet. Because, back during my college days I decided to learn to knit, except I didn't know anything about knitting, so I got online, which was a new and exciting idea in and of itself back then. And somewhere out in the ether I found a website that taught me how to knit. Except, it was wrong.

Ok, so it's not actually wrong, it's just not the more common way. After doing some reading recently, I've found that I knit in the Continental Style (it's also often called the German Style, but Continental sounds so much fancier, oui?) Which is a perfectly legitimate way to knit except for the fact that all of the YouTube videos that I've watched to learn additional stitches use the American/English style of knitting and that, my friends, can screw a girl up. Somehow this has led to the fact that, when I knit back and forth, I twist my stitches. I don't do it when I knit in the round however. And I have NO IDEA why. I mean, I've figured that when I knit back and forth I have to knit into the back of my stitches in order for them not to twist, but when I knit in the round I still have to knit into the front of my stitches (or they twist). It's very strange. And I only realized it because my Mother mentioned that she twists her stitches and I sat down to try to figure out how she could be doing that only to realize that I do it as well. So, maybe it's not the internet's fault. Maybe it's genetic.
Briton's sweater has been the most learningest project I've done so far. Apart from figuring out the whole twisted stitches thing (because I'm knitting both back and forth and in the round so I could actually see the difference - and fix it) I've also become a convert to the teachings of the great Elizabeth Zimmerman who, though some miracle has made it possible for me to create a sweater that should perfectly fit my boy without any real pattern, which is kind of miraculous.

Humm, what else have I learned. Well...

After knitting for eons on wooden needles because I thought they were supposed to be the best, I've figured out that I'm a metal needle girl, as evidenced by the fact that, after a week and two days, I'm almost done with an entire sweater. The sweater I knit for myself took three freaking months. Metal needles rock. I have these and I LOVE them.

Yarn over. I finally get it. And it's not my increase of choice. But I finally get it. And it's simple. In a "you didn't get it before now? Humm, there's something wrong with you" kind of way.

Mattress stitch, like kitchener stitch, is freaking crazy amazing. How did they figure that out? Their brains must be bigger than mine.

I should not knit after midnight. Even if I'm up because I'm watching a particularly thrilling movie. Knitting after midnight will lead to forgetting the pattern THREE TIMES and having to rip out many rows which leads to swearing.b Good thing the kids were asleep by then, Evie can already perfectly mimic the way I say "Dammit!", we probably don't need anymore underage swearing.

I'm still not quite done so I'm sure that there will be a few more lessons before the end. Like, how to do a double crew neck. I know I want it, not sure I know how to get it, but am hoping to figure it out. Also have to figure out how to weave in all those loose strings from the stripes without loosing my mind. I only just figured out how to weave in the ends properly on my last knitting project, and now I have lots and lots of little ends to invisibly blend into the inside of the sweater. Fun.
On a related note (and then I'll zip it about knitting for a while) did you know that you can buy recycled yarn on Etsy? Not recycled as in recycled content, recycled as in yarn harvested from cast off sweaters. Well, you can. And I am now the proud owner of some recycled cashmere yarn. This has prompted me to try knitting socks. Stay tuned. It will either equal disaster or really soft socks.