I can’t really explain it, but after hearing a few knitlisters talk about the St. Brigid sweater (just FYI, here’s the story of St. Brigid), I went to have a look – and I was hooked. All week, even as I’m knitting away on my dinky little knit-and-purl scarf, I’ve been on a quest to find Aran Knitting. I’ve e-mailed Germany, Canada, and thanks to Knitting Beyond the Hebrides, I’ve even called a yarn store in San Antonio – others were looking for a kilt sock book, but I saw the magic words “they had some OOP [out of print] Alice Starmore,” and I was on that phone. There’s EBay, of course, and alibris, but then you run the risk of paying through the nose, when what I’m really hoping to do is stumble upon an undiscovered gem.
In other, more realistic news, I’m really enjoying patterns by Cabin Fever, and Blackwater Abbey Yarns; I think I’m gearing up to knit a sweater in the round (like the Port Orford or the Moose Walker). I can understand why people have so many projects going at once – I can’t wait to get started.
Here’s the progress on the Bernat Knit and Purl scarf so far; getting longer inch by inch – about six or eight down, 43 or 41 to go. It’s a nice P1 K1 rib with knit rows inbetween. I don’t understand why the rows fit together the way they do, rather than looking more like they alternate, but you can see the changes more on the wrong side of the work.
This week has been all about knitting books, thanks to interlibrary loan – my favorite thus far has been Hip to Knit, by Judith Swartz, which is fun, easy to read and well-laid out and has lots of cute projects, including an unconstructed slim cardigan. The instructions for her two tassel hat helped me finally understand how cables worked, and her mismatched striped socks have me absolutely choming at the bit to sock away. My sock research will get an entry of its own soon, I’m sure.
As if that weren’t enough, I also got The Knitting Goddess by Deborah Bergman, and The Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman. A quick look through both of them leads me to conclude that my first impressions will probably be proved right: Bergman’s philosophy of knitting is entertaining, but she’s long on words and short on patterns – though I may never knit long underwear as Elizabeth does, I’ll get more out of the Knitter’s Almanac in the long run.
Back to the needles – I had a goal of finishing the first ball of yarn for the scarf this weekend. Let’s see how close I get.
Here it is [this photo is gone - sorry], calmly drying after blocking. You wouldn’t know it to look at this, but making a 6-inch swatch out of cotton is harder than it looks; [this photo is gone too - sorry] particularly if you measure wrong and make an 8-inch swatch instead. My gauge swatch for this project turned out to be larger than the project itself! But it was a handy lesson in the value of swatching (note to self: buy new, more accurate knitting gauge ruler).
This was a seed stitch using Bernat Cottontots in Sunshine. The seed stitch slowed me down, but turned out to be excellent practice for knitting, purling – and frogging – mistakes were easy to spot. The other lesson learned? Buy a yarn that feels good wound up – the texture won’t improve when it’s knitted. The Cottontots is 100% cotton and also feels lovely to work with; I think this may also be a lesson in not buying the most inexpensive yarn you see – all yarns are obviously not created equal.
Off to France with you – a tout vitesse!
I made the mistake of tossing Becky’s swatch project into my travel bag as we left on vacation Thursday. I volunteered to make a 6-inch swatch for her because I was making a 5-inch swatch for the Wonton, and how hard could that extra inch be?
Knitting with cotton is like knitting with wire. It doesn’t give at all; there’s no wiggle, no slide. I picked out some 4-ply varigated Sugar and Cream cotton and thought I’d try a seed stitch. My seed stitch on size 8 needles looks like I’m knitting the world’s tiniest macrame plant holder – you know what I mean. Not graceful, just crafty. I needed a much thinner yarn, and the swatch deadline is almost here! I’ll have to work fast to produce something merely presentable. The moral of our story may be “find out more about your material before you blindly volunteer,” but I’m going to try again tomorrow – I’m not giving up yet!
In other news, after seeing Stepmom again on motel TV, I’m in the mood to make a Stepmom hat, and I can report that I thought Knitting Without Tears was delightful. See? I did do something good with my vacation after all.
Or, how I discovered my local yarn store. I’m sure I’ll look back on this moment and roll my eyes, but I’m writing it down anyway. I had been under the impression that I could teach myself all the knitting basics I needed; then I encountered ribbing, working the pattern for the Bernat scarf. I knitted and purled, and something was desperately wrong; the yarn was tangling, and for all the world, it looked like the scarf was eating itself. No matter how much I knitted, it didn’t get any longer.
After ripping the same stitches out for the seventh time, I was more than a little frustrated; my husband was begging me to call my local yarn store (which is not so local to our small town) for help. After swallowing my pride, I finally did; I imagined they might laugh, but the owner said “come on over.” It never occurred to me that yarn store owners see it to their advantage to help beginning knitters, because beginning knitters who stick with it become knitters who buy things.
Within five minutes, they had fixed my problem – I was not truly bringing the yarn to the front of the work when purling, so it was becoming trapped in the work with each stitch. After a few practice rows, I became a knitter who buys things, specifically tapestry needles to finish the Wonton, Knitting Without Tears and a pattern for an even cooler felted tote.
Such a small change, and I feel like I’m able to split the atom – I’m starting to feel like a knitter, or at least a knitter who can move beyond stockinette without screwing up.