"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Monday, August 9, 2010

Don't They Make Machines For This?

Okay, so remember my post about the book Do Hard Things? Well, knitting was one of the things I decided I needed to do. I embroider, crochet, sew, paint, quilt, etc, but I don't knit. I had a dear friend attempt to teach me about 15 years ago, but I had just learned crochet, and the lack of a hook on the end of a knitting needle frustrated me beyond belief. So after one lesson, I quit. It didn't help that she was left handed, but that's hardly her fault ;)

So Sunday afternoon, I figured it was time to try again. I spent the afternoon watching how-to-knit videos on You Tube and found some really good explanations. I had to watch three different videos before I found one that made casting on simple. Then I felt ridiculous for not seeing how easy it was. My favorite video was from Threadbanger, which I have to say is very much not my style, but they explained it the best and had a good quality video.

At this point I was doing fairly well. The knit stitch was a simple thing to learn ....

... until I went to turn around, that is. It took me a few times before I could see where I was supposed to start on the next row. I felt like my hands were tied together, and I was wondering why on earth these needles have to be ten feet long. I imagine I will appreciate that if I ever get to making a garment or something bigger, but for learning, I was wishing for half the length - especially when I'd be doing fairly well, and my 21 month old son would grab the end of a one. Argh. (There was a lot of "arghing" and talking back to those video people, I'm afraid).

Clearly I need to work on my tension consistency, but at least it was starting to look like something.

It was when I had gotten to about this point that I realized that this didn't look like what I thought knitting would look like. I thought this was the purl stitch. I kept watching videos, trying to figure out where I went wrong. But I found from one of the videos that this is called the garter stitch - knitting every row. And I also figured out that what I considered knitting is really called the stockinette stitch - knit one row, purl one row, repeat.

By the end of the evening I had a decent little sampler. The bottom section in the picture above is the garter stitch, the middle section is the stockinette stitch and the top is knit two, purl two, repeat. I had read about that last one making a pretty pattern for a scarf so I wanted to see what it would look like. I also learned (but didn't try) that if I knit 10, purl 10, repeat for ten rows then do the opposite for ten rows, it will make a checkerboard pattern.

I really struggled with the purl stitch when I first switched to it. I can see a couple places (at least) where I dropped stitches, and I need to figure out how to pick them back up. There were a couple times (thanks especially to the little man) where my needles came out before I wanted them to, and I wasn't quite sure how to pick them back up. For the most part I got it right, but I see places in the stockinette stitch especially where something clearly isn't right, and I'm not sure what it is.

Seriously though, it's hard for me to get too excited about this when a machine can duplicate these exact stitches and nobody would know it was done by hand. I hate machine embroidery with a passion, but it doesn't mean I hate embroidery, because there is a clear difference between hand and machine embroidery. You would never mistake the two. I am also still struggling with the slick, hookless needles and my hands felt like I was a 90 year old with arthritis even while I was still on the garter stitch section. I'm guessing it's because I was tense and trying to hold on to several things at once, as well as fighting off a one year old with grabby hands :) I won't consider myself to have mastered this skill (well, mastered enough to cross it off my list) until I have a finished product, and I'm thinking a scarf will be a good place to start (especially considering my daughter borrowed mine and got too close to a woodstove and burned my favorite one). I love some of the patterns for little animals and baby items, so maybe I'll stick with it longer than I think. At least I'm working on my Do Hard Things list :)

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