Tuesday, May 22, 2007

In Answer to a Reader's Questions

First, let me please apologize to a dear fellow hs'ing mom who asked me some questions back in NOVEMBER (!) and I'm FINALLY getting around to posting an answer! I'll excerpt the note as I try to weave a post about how best to keep the knitting thing going, especially if you're just starting out and live in a warm climate.

So, AnaB., this post is for you!

AnaB wrote:

I only knit and purl and am working on an afghan and alot of dishcloths. I'm at a weird place in my knitting. I'd like so much to try my hand at other projects but feel I need more instruction. ... I guess I'm not sure how to build on my knitting knowledge right now.
OK, first: being able to knit and purl is ALL you need to know. These are the basic building blocks ... all other knitting comes from these, whether it's cables, lace work or colorwork. It all is basically knit or purl stitches (and technically, purling is knitting backwards!).

So we'll build on knitting and purling and get some confidence to do bigger projects. Living in a warm climate does put a bit of a crimp in the projects that are usable, but this is really not an insurmountable problem. First, anywhere there is air-conditioning necessitates a sweater, shrug or shawl to throw over your shoulders ... a great book for these is Wrap Style: Innovative to Traditional, 24 Inspirational Shawls, Ponchos, and Capelets to Knit and Crochet from Interweave Press. I love Interweave Press books -- the directions are clear, the projects are fun and cover the spectrum of easy to challenging.

Another tack you could take would be making baby things. Baby blankets are just bigger dishclothes! Baby blankets can be done in yarns from cotton/acrylic blends (like Coat's & Clark's Cotton Plus) to really lacy, lightweight yarn (like Lion Brand's Seranade) or to a heavy, bulky yarn (like Lion Brand's Jiffy Thick and Quick). Remember that doing all knit (garter stitch) or knit and purl alternately (stockinette) on big needles with thin yarn, will create a light and lofty (and even lacy) baby blanket. I just always try to make baby things that are washable -- unless I'm creating an heirloom -- than the more elegant and fancy yarn, the better! Debbie Bliss has written some fantastic baby books including: Simply Baby, The Baby Knits Book, and Baby Knits for Beginners. These should get you off to a great start with baby stuff -- and being good active Catholics, there is always SOMEONE we know having a baby!

Don't forget too that there are lots of charities that love to get knitted items -- Birthright, Red Cross, hospitals and other charities love getting baby blankets, baby booties and outfits, chemo caps, etc.

AnaB wrote:

How did you progress with your knitting? How do you fit knitting into your busy homeschooling life?
I started knitting when I was 8 -- taught myself by taking out my older sister's knitting (she was learning from a friend's mom) and try to imitate the stitches and then pulled it out so she wouldn't know. I liked knitting but switched to crochet as my brothers -- I have five(!) -- used to pull my needle out and run off. When you have lots of stitches, that's not funny. With a crochet hook, I'd only lose a stitch at a time!

But I came back to knitting in high school (when my brothers had grown up a bit!). I loved the versatility of it and have never looked back. Now, I only crochet when I need it for an edging or to join pieces.

I knit WHENEVER I can -- my dh thinks I might have a touch of ADD that needs to be curbed by the knitting. I knit at concerts, plays and meetings. If I'm going to be somewhere for a while -- waiting in the car or long road trip or doctor's office -- I bring the knitting with me. I knit at night and even in bed while dh reads to the kids. I knit in front of the TV watching a DVD or video. I knit while the kids are in quiet time. I knit when I'm on the computer, catching up on blogs. I knit!

AnaB wrote:

Would it be counterproductive to learn crochet at this point? ... It seems like knitting continental style would also be quicker, but I can't seem to get the hang of it.
I'm not a fan of crochet -- I made my quota of granny squares when I was in elementary/middle school and really don't care for it. That said, if you'd LIKE to learn crochet, it wouldn't hurt! It might even help you with holding the yarn properly and bring you back to knitting.

Continental knitting is faster but it takes practice. I continental and American knit at the same time when I'm doing color-work -- holding a color in each hand. I don't normally knit continental, however. I just haven't practiced it enough. I think once you find a way that feels comfortable -- no matter what way that is, as long as your end result is nice V's and purl bumps -- than stick with that. My way of knitting is unlike many others, but my end result is as good, if not better, than most. If you'd like to learn continental, the Wollcott sisters have a book called YNotKnit that is exceptional and easy to understand. They have a great website with lots of info and also do conferences/classes throughout the year.

That's another thing you might want to look into -- local or regional knitting classes, meetings or conferences. The Knitting Guild of America is a great site to check for area-specific courses; they also have regional and national conventions where you might get some great help. Also, check out your local yarn shop and see what they have to offer -- Michaels and some of the other craft shop chains also have hands on classes.

Bottom-line is that knitting is supposed to be a fun craft -- relax and enjoy seeing what you produce. Knitting is a relaxing, productive, creative outlet. Have a blast and keep those questions coming -- hopefully next time it won't take me six months to answer!

1 comment:

AnaB said...


I am so honored! This was so helpful! I've had this image in my mind of knitters and that they have a secret formula to cranking out the projects and that they only use fancy yarns from the yarnstore. My local yarnstore had scoffed so much at my purchase of LionBrand that I put it aside. I also thought I HAD to learn Continental. I used alot of books and online videos and I still can't get the hang of it. But I do pretty well American style and it's pretty consistent. It does get a little tiresome doing ribbing, but at least it looks good!

You have made knitting so accessible and doable. I'm starting to take my knitting everywhere (except church) and I get the most knitting done in the car! I will check our the books you recommended and will print this out for my knitting notebook!

I can't thank you enough for your time and expertise. I really like the things you've knitted, especially your felted bag and the Edelweiss sweater--simply stunning!

Many Blessings to You!
Ana Betty