Friday, January 2, 2009

Teaching An Old Crocheter New Tricks

I've been crocheting for close to 18 years and knitting for only one so I'm still really new to knitting. Hell, it took me 2 years of trying to actually really understand how to knit. I think it was because I thought I knew what I was supposed to be doing. Knitting is sorta like crocheting - wrapping yarn and making a series of loops. No problem - I got it.

No, Grasshopper. There are differences that must be learned and to which strict attention must be paid.

Case in point - when I was first learning to knit, I didn't pay attention to the whole yarn in front or back of my needles. These mysterious extra stitches kept creeping into my swatch accompanied by random holes. I remember the Queen saying, "You did a yarn over." And I said, "What the hell is a yarn over? How did I do that?"

I finally understood the whole knit and purl thing and I could do yarn overs without a problem. But still, my knitting is slow going, especially when compared to the speed and consistent gauge of my crocheting.

The BUBBLES bubbles wrap tested my patience to its end. Not the most difficult pattern but not a beginner one either. I've knit and frogged and knit and frogged and frogged and swore and knit some more. But alas, it has sat untouched (except to dust around it) on my yarn cabinet since July. I was so frustrated, I had to pick up a hook to regain my sanity.

I did continue to knit but not with the gusto that I started. I did some dishcloths and a hat and then I ventured to knit a baby blanket. I started it in early October - though it feels as though I've been working on it so much longer than that. Without a pattern, I just cast on what looked like enough stitches and tried to make some kind of garter stitch border around my stockinette stitch blanket.

Three months later, it's still not done...though not for lack of trying.

Warning! I'm about to confess some incredible knitting ignorance here. Please, no laughing.

I noticed a few days ago that I had somehow slipped a stitch - or that's what I thought I had done. I tried my best to fix it by pulling up a stitch. But I really didn't know what I was doing. I thought it was because it was like 10 rows down that I couldn't get it. So I tried to just increase a stitch - with a yarn over. Yep - it was the only way I knew to increase a stitch. Needless to say, it didn't work. Not only did the new decorative hole in the fabric look wrong, the stitches and rows leading down to the slipped stitch were too funky looking to continue. I pulled out two of my reference knitting books to investigate how to properly pull up a slipped stitch. Why I didn't do this in the first place is a mystery to me.

I looked at the book. I looked at the blanket.

I looked at the book again. Then I looked at the blanket.

The blanket's issue looked nothing like the book and I couldn't find the loop to pick up and save.

Can you sense the frustration that was building up?

And so, the frogging began...

No worries! I didn't frog the whole thing. Did I think about it? Yes - but I didn't do it. I did have to pull out close to 17 rows and that alone was traumatic enough.

When I frogged row 16, I found out what the real problem was. Somehow, I had only knit into about 15 stitches of a row and stopped. Probably did this during a commute one day. Apparently when I picked it up to begin again, I proceeded to purl those 15 stitches back where I came from. And thus, the cause of my funky looking slipped stitch was found.

I was proud of myself for trouble shooting and frogging to fix the problem. I was proud of myself for getting all my stitches back on the circular needles. I was also proud of myself for reading more in my Maran's Illustrated and Stitch n' Bitch books to learn that there are other ways to increase than a yarn over.

See what you can learn if you just read the instructions??? I guess I should add to my crafty resolutions for 2009 - read and follow the instructions in my knitting instructional books.


The Queen of the Snow Cows said...

You are an enjoyable and funny lady! I think everyone's done that at least rule when I started knitting was to never put down a project mid row.

I don't worry as much now because I've been knitting awhile but in the beginning it was a big deal.

the mistress said...

That was a great story. We learn from our mistakes, right? When I made the Brooks Farm scarf, I didn't get yarn-overs at all. I had to call Queenie to get her to explain. She's so good, she knew what I was doing wrong without even seeing it.
I'm so glad you encouraged me to get the Maran's guide. I heart that book. It taught me how to do some of the stitches for the viking hat. Love it!
BTW, when I'm working on Bubbles bubbles, I have less trouble if I keep going. If I put it down for a month, it's always a pain to pick it back up. I will conquer it! Hopefully, before MS&W. I always remember what Queenie said when we spent 2 days trying to get the knots out of my first skein: "We will not be defeated by an inanimate object."

Sam said...

Thanks, Girls. :)

Have I mentioned lately how much I miss you both?

the mistress said...

Miss you too!!!!