I invested in a couple of short circular knitting needles last weekend and in one week’s time, I was able to accomplish knitting two hats AND a pumpkin.
Remember when I first started learning to knit and all I wanted was to knit a hat? Well, I accomplished that via the magic loop/half loop method a while back, but then once I got my hands on some good shorties (I bought two bamboo ChiaGoo 16″ needles from a local yarn shop), I discovered how much more I enjoyed knitting in the round on the short circular and transferring to magic loop for decreasing. That’s not to say I won’t be using magic loop for sock knitting or making mitts down the road–those are still goals!–but for now, I seem to have unlocked a reliable method to whip out some hats.
I was also on the struggle bus with a rather simple knit pumpkin pattern but after some tries and fails, I busted out the new short circulars again and that helped a lot. (Plus, the designer was kind enough to answer my newbie knitting questions!) I didn’t think the acrylic yarn did as well on bamboo; a bit too much texture going on. But wool glides really well on the bamboo needles. That said, I understand why people amass a collection of different types of needles. I still want to get some more red lace ChiaGoo 16″ needles, among others.
Blue knit hat: women’s XL done in Knit Picks Chroma Worsted. Colorway is Weathervane but I believe it’s discontinued. Simple pattern from the Craftsy/Bluprint class on magic loop with Lorilee Beltman.
Green and brown tweed hat: unisex medium (would fit child/teen/petite woman) done in Knit Picks City Tweed DK. Colorways are Chipmunk and Sage — unsure if either or both are discontinued. Pattern is a FREE one from Ravelry called Bankhead and is quite popular!
Pumpkin: done in Knit Picks Brava Worsted (can you tell I have a lot of Knit Picks yarn to get through?). Colorway is Persimmon and I crocheted the stem in another colorway which I think is Dublin but I’m not 100% on that. Pattern is available on Ravelry and Etsy for a low price. I learned a lot with the pumpkin because I learned how to knit a large tube in the round and then sew up the ends. Nothing wrong with leveling up on sewing skills!
I need to give my hands and wrists a rest but I’m already scheming up what to work on next!
At long last, I finished my practice knitted baby blanket! By the time I completed it, including giving it a gentle wash, I realized it would make a terrific donation to a local charity or hospital.
I bought two skeins of this sweet yarn that knits up into stripes with little flowers when you do stockinette stitch. For my practice blanket, I did a border of seed stitch. The colorway is Buttercup but if you follow that link above, you’ll see there are tons of different colors! (So hard not to buy more…) I even have some leftover that I think I’ll try a hat with down the road.
The blanket took me a while to complete, since I started it when I was brand new to knitting, and I would pick it up and put it down. Although it could be tedious at times, it really did help me practice my tension with knitting and just becoming overall comfortable with the pastime. There are plenty of mistakes in this blanket but no holes, and it is just the cuddliest blanket, perfect for a baby’s skin to snuggle up with.
I’ve chosen Project Linus to start and if I don’t get anywhere there, I will try Knots of Love next. It feels good to give back and know someone will benefit from the hours of toil I put into this piece.
Have you ever knitted or crocheted for a charity? If so, what have you made and given away?
When I last wrote on learning how to knit, I was swatching like mad.
Eventually, you wear yourself out on swatching, and you have to dive in and make an actual thing.
The month of July witnessed me making three dishcloths. I didn’t think they’d all been this month, but when you diligently record your projects in Ravelry, the details don’t lie.
This bright orange item that resembles a square now sits in my kitchen sink, and was my first official knitted project:
I didn’t block it, and because it’s done on the diagonal, one has to be careful about how one decreases, which is more difficult than increasing, which is a simple yarnover. I have higher hopes that the next time I tackle this design, it will look a bit more polished.
Then of course you have the hole in the middle, which I didn’t know how to fix. Still don’t. I don’t know what to do with dropped stitches and, so far, any mistakes I made either live in the project or I have to frog all the way or most of the way back; this is completely unlike crochet, where mistakes are easier to fix when you catch them right away. (+1 crochet)
After the orange thing, I graduated to attempting a chevron washcloth from Very Pink Knits. It’s quite pretty and I love that it’s reversible. In fact, I’m not really sure which side is supposed to be the front.
I don’t actually have a photo of it, just a video from Instagram, which you can see here.
That one ALSO had a mistake in the middle (what’s with me and doing that?) and I didn’t know how to fix it. Trust me when I say that I had to frog along the way, but only when I was catching the mistakes mid-row.
My most recently completed dishcloth is this ZickZack design from KnitPicks:
What I like about it is that it’s easy, with just knits and purls, and a simple row counter app on my phone helped me stay on track. I didn’t have to frog nearly as much mid-row, and lo and behold, I don’t have any holes in it! The toughest part for me was binding off, which I still need to perfect. This one got blocked and looks terrific. I’m thinking of making more to do bundles for the Etsy shop.
Little aside: I was encouraged by my cloth-making when a friend of mine tagged me on Facebook, who said she loved her (crochet) spa cloth that I made for her, as it was done up with KnitPicks Shine Sport, which is made from Pima cotton and bamboo. I can attest that they do make for seriously luxurious washcloths.
Last but certainly not least, what has contributed to my success in knitting has been investing in some better needles, specifically circular ones. My ultimate goal is to be able to make things in the round, namely hats and mitts and things, and I have hit some hard potholes going down that road so far. I am currently working on my Magic Loop skills, which I hope will be the key to my success in finally whipping up a hat. Stay tuned.
In sum, I have gone from ultimate frustration with loads of epithets and claiming I would never be able to “DO this,” to swatching, to attempting a dishcloth, to actually making a dishcloth that is attractive and doesn’t have any holes or other unsightly mistakes.
This crocheter is on the knitting path. If any of you readers are also experienced knitters, or just learning like me, I’d love to hear any stories, tips, or anecdotes you may have.
Last year, my mother brought me a bunch of things from her abode that she was ridding herself of; a large bag she gave to me yielded a bunch of knitting needles in all sizes and textures, some magazines from the 70s and 80s, and some really old yarn that I ended up pitching.
I didn’t pay much attention to this horde of items for a while. I loftily thought that maybe, maybe one day, I would “pick up” knitting when I had more time .
Turns out, I don’t have more time. No one does. But I got to a point where, after organizing my things and putting the knitting stuff in its own cubby in my craft room, that I noticed a seed had been planted in my brain. I know a few knitters from a local crafting group I’m in, and I have one or two friends who have dabbled in knitting.
Aside: while there would appear to be a fierce “rivalry” of knitting versus crochet, I prefer to think of the yarn arts as inclusive, and we’re all doing something to express ourselves creatively, no matter what it is.
In any case, after the planted seed had sprouted some teeny tiny roots, I decided to do some research online to see what was available for those wanting to learn to knit. A couple of women in my group had commented about Continental knitting being easier to learn for crocheters like myself, since you don’t “throw” the yarn, but “pick.” I was intrigued.
During my initial research, I came across this well worn (but very useful) demo of Continental knitting by a woman named Lorilee Beltman:
It’s not a HD video but Lorilee shows how sprightly one can knit and even specifically mentions that when crocheters want to learn to knit, learning the Continental method makes sense for them.
The little seed grew a few more roots, and I personally contributed somewhere between 5-10 views of that video as I continued my research in how I would learn this new craft.
As fortune would have it, Craftsy not only has a Continental knitting course, but it is taught by none other than Lorilee herself. (Right now, it appears to be 50% off at $20, which is a bargain! I heard on a podcast with Lorilee that she had to pitch Craftsy three times on teaching Continental knitting before they finally said yes. I’m glad she persisted, because she’s truly a fabulous teacher.)
I took a deep breath, snatched up the course, grabbed some straight needles from the pile in my craft room, and began to watch and learn. Truth be told, I had some concerns before starting that I would go down the rabbit hole and abandon crochet for long periods of time as I spent money and time on this new skill. Fortunately (or not?), I found knitting to be HARD, and so I have been forced to slow down, take breaks, and relax my brain with crochet in between bouts of learning how to knit.
When you start learning a skill such as this in your late thirties, it is decidedly not the same as learning something in your teens. I don’t know if it’s the learning curve or some by-product of age, but it just hasn’t come to me the way crochet did. I’d like to just make the blanket statement that crochet is easier than knitting (an opinion I hold) but I don’t think it’s as black and white as all that. I was practicing a knitting swatch with a seasoned knitter a couple of weeks ago, and she told me that for her, crochet is not relaxing, and her hands grip the hook very tightly. The opposite is true for me. Crochet is extremely relaxing and my personal technique does not make my hands hurt, though if I sit for too long with a bigger project, such as a blanket, I can make my arms and shoulders ache a bit with overuse.
All that aside, learning a skill that takes using both my hands at the same time is similar to learning piano. I *did* take piano starting at a young age, and despite having hundreds of hours of practicing scales in my lifetime, it did not prepare me for the knitting experience.
Since I am a firm believer in mind over matter, I expected to come to knitting similarly (but perhaps with a bit more difficulty) as I did with crochet. I didn’t learn to make amigurumi overnight, and it took a few dozen animals before I hit my stride (mostly with the sewing aspect, but still). In the past four weeks, I have hit frustration levels where I thought I won’t be able to do this, and have come close to tossing in the towel. (I mean, casting on and getting through ONE row of knitting took ages!)
Perhaps it’s Lorilee’s teaching style — which is not only thorough and well done, but Lorilee has a warm and personable sense about her — but I stuck with it, and I have learned the knit stitch and the purl stitch, and am on my journey of swatching. And swatching. And swatching.
A heap of swatches
I even joined a couple of knitting-help groups on Facebook to provide assistance where I get stuck along the way. Two examples are: attempting to make a swatch of seed stitch was really messing with my head, since I kept knitting the knit stitches and purling the purls, creating ribbing (or some mashup of stockinette) — I had to learn how to identify the stitches when I turned my work, which is still a work-in-progress; creating a selvedge (selvage) that wasn’t just a knotted mess when I would turn my work and would create a chained look. To be honest, creating the selvedge in Tunisian crochet proves to be much easier. (Tunisian crochet, in general, is easier to learn, in my opinion, but it does have some limitations.) Why learning knitted slip stitches is hard is beyond me, but that was another challenge I’m slowly learning.
The TL;DR version of all of this is that I find learning even basic things difficult with knitting.
Little by little, I’m getting there, and my hands are slowly less achy, and I’m getting a bit quicker. When I get to the point where I’m asking, “Now what?” is when I might try to learn to read a knitting pattern, or follow a simple pattern via YouTube, as I did when I was first learning to crochet and made baby hats. I suspect the first thing I’ll actually make will be a washcloth or a potholder of some kind, but that will also entail investing in a set of circular needles. I have begun to abandon the straight needles, as I find them a bit too long and unwieldy with Continental knitting (a point Lorilee makes in the class, and she’s right). Practicing on my plastic needles with acrylic yarn was a terrific way to have some friction while learning hand placement and getting tension. But I have finally moved on to needing the slippery-ness of steel/aluminum needles, and circular ones at that.
The journey continues, my friends! We’ll see if I become a knitter yet!
Question for readers: Anyone else bi-stitchual? 😀 Anyone else learn knitting first and then crochet, and find crochet more difficult than knitting?