Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shhhhh, don't tell anyone ....

... but there really is no mystery or magic to knitting! There is no secret code or handshake or club dues ... other than you have to knit.

After yesterday's post, I've been thinking alot about the misconceptions out there about knitting. I think the "granny in the rocker" image has been dispelled FINALLY. But there is still the idea that knitting has some magic to it; that designers have some magic wand they wave over their yarn and then they have an haute couture design -- NOT!

Knitting is considered a craft rather than an art -- because it's not hard, you don't need some special talent to knit; anyone can create with knitting. It's an issue of self-confidence, I think. It's an issue of muscling through the initial discomfort of going outside your comfort zone and trying to knit.

One thing that I realized early on, when I was teaching myself to knit, is that the final product is much more critical than the process. In other words -- just knit. Don't worry about holding the yarn just like the pictures; don't worry about holding the needles in a certain grip; don't worry about "looking the part".

Do, however, worry about your knit stitches looking like nice, even, V's. Do worry about your purl bumps being consistent. Do worry about being comfortable and having fun with knitting. I think more people have been turned off knitting because they were told there is one way to do it and that's how it MUST BE DONE! Malarkey!

Here are a couple of books that will really illustrate what I'm talking about:

  • Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann is THE bible about knitting (IMHO). Mrs. Zimmermann is the mother of all knitters; she explains in this very readable volume that knitting is not hard, knitting is not difficult, and knitting is what YOU make it. She wrote a few other books, sprinkled with her words of wisdom and pearls of tips -- check my Amazon store-front for others. There is a blog group that just talks about Zimmermann -- and posts lovely pictures of their work.
  • Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts is a treasure trove of ethnic knitting patterns. But more pertinent to this particular post, this book also shows many different ways of knitting; methods that folks have used throughout history and the world to create with two sticks and a bit of thread. Some carry the yarn behind their necks; some use their left hand to throw the yarn; some wind the yarn 'round their hands -- the bottom-line is that the final result has knit stitches looking like nice, even V's and the purl bumps looking like nice, consistent dash lines.
  • Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd will take all the mystery out of most knitted garments. In these two books by the former editor of Interweave Knits (a magazine all should have on their shelves -- my goal is to get a design published in there, it's THAT good), you have basic patterns in multiple sizes for traditional knitted garments. The first book covers hats, gloves, mittens, sweaters, scarves, and socks -- simple, clean designs that can be made with any kind of yarn, in any kind of gauge and Budd has done the math for you. The second book delves into more design options for sweaters -- raglan, circular yokes, saddle shoulders, etc. Both of these books will free you to create your own designs -- in any size you want. Last year I posted about these books -- they'd be the 2 of the half dozen I'd grab from my collection if the house was on fire or flooding!

Bottom-line for this verbose post -- have fun with knitting, enjoy the sensual feel of the yarn and needles and the growing knitting in your lap. And most of all, relax!

1 comment:

Betty said...

Hi Mary!

I have been talking alot to my husband about who Elizabeth Zimmermann is and I think he's agreed to let me get her video workshop on DVD and her book for my birthday in July!

You are so right about the misconceptions. The Lord has used you and a few others to give me the courage to "just keep knitting..just keep knitting". I am paying attention to my stitches, and though I'm slow, I have received compliments on my stitches. Knitting has taught me that there are no mistakes or failures when you're beginning, just opportunities to learn something new (like how to pick up dropped stitches).

Thank you for the wealth of information on your blog. I'll be looking out for your name at Interweave!

Grace and Peace,
Ana Betty