Monday, April 6, 2015

Learning how to knit - I encourage Continental style

Here is a list of videos I recommend to help you get start with knitting:

Long Tail Cast On

Very Pink Knits. I love her videos, I usually start with her series when learning something, but I like watching multiple videos to find the subtleties that will work for me. This video is great for long tail cast on with a slip knot. I think it's a wonderful beginner way to learn how to do long tail cast on.

Another version with the slip knot start: Long Tail Cast On

This is closest to the way I do it. I like how slow she is in showing how to do a long-tail cast on. Long Tail Cast On

Learning how to knit - Continental Style

Continental and English style knitting are two methods of how you hold the yarn while knitting. I learned English and was encouraged to switch to Continental because my hands would hurt with the English style. I'm very glad I made the switch. Continental is overall more efficient (i.e. faster) because you move your hands less. You can get very fast with the English style, but your hands still move a wee bit more. However, as is pointed out in the last video, it's good to know both styles of knitting to help when you have repetitive motion stress/injury. Being able to switch it up gives your hands and arms a rest. 

This is one is good with beginner continental.... but how she pulls the stitch through is good for beginner but very inefficient in the long run. However, I like how she teaches this because it's how I've noticed beginners tend to work when learning Continental.

When you get comfortable with the beginner, here is the version that helps you refine your continental knitting. This is the video I used to help me when I switched from English to Continental. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Knitting OCD

Ever since I knitted three of these neck warmers for my lovely friend from New Zealand, I've been a knitting fool. 

Oh, yes. I've gone off the deep end. Below is the pile of things I've knit since then. Three blankets (one already given away) loads of scarves and cowls, three capes (two given away).

I'm particularly fond of the three very colorful pieces in the front. The one on the far left took two weeks of serious OCD knitting. I made a second one in a different color way and that was already given away. The middle one took about a month with a more intricate lace pattern. And the one on the right, I just love it's rainbow color transitions in the fern pattern. I did that  in three evenings of OCD knitting.

It's been so bad, I haven't even wanted to stop long enough to write these posts. I've composed them in my head... but I can't break my fingers off the needles. But, here I am. Finally trying to make some time to start blogging again. 

I'm going to have to start selling my stash of snuggly cowls and scarves to support my habit. See stash below. Oh yes. I have fallen in love with several expensive brands. Sunday Knits, Malabrigo, Cascade Ultra Pima. I have learned, if I'm going to spend so much time with these yarns, I want them to feel good, and I want to enjoy feeling and looking at them. I went back to knitting with craft store yarn for a one of the six projects I have started, and I'm not just feeling inspired. I'll try to get going again. It is teaching me useful techniques. 

Latest arrival of delicious Cascade Ultra Pima to be knit into a decorative baby blanket. Oh, the sheen on this cotton is sublime! Will probably make another one in the Cascade Super Wash for daily use.

                       Stop! .....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New knitter notes

So, technically, I am not a new knitter. I've been trying to learn to knit for 30 years. Someone taught me the basics when I was a teenager and I can make scarves. I would try off and on (mostly off) for years and years but would get frustrated and give up.

In 2009, a lot of the art blogs I read, the artists were picking up knitting and I really wanted to learn. I even signed up for lessons, but never really could break through. When I moved back to the U.S., I had a friend who was a knitter and I made more scarves and starting exploring unique yarns. Still, only progressed to scarves with interesting patterns, and a few blankets. One small breakthrough in this I phase was that my friend encouraged me to learn continental knitting. I switched from English to continental through a YouTube tutorial. Much much easier on my hands. It takes about 1-2 weeks to get comfortable with holding yarn in the new way (a scarf or blanket project). It has been totally worth it for me.

Finally at the end of 2014, I suddenly "got it." The Internet is a fabulous resource for figuring out certain stitches and how to read a pattern. YouTube for showing me how to try different stitches.

I'm going to credit my friend for wanting a chunky neck warmer.

I had been shying away from heavier and chunkier yarns because I live in a warm climate in Florida. I need thin, light yarns, right? Wrong! I can still use chunky yarns in blankets! Bring on the chunky yarns!

This simple neck warmer taught me a whole bunch of things: how to read a pattern and adapt and fix mistakes. Plus chunky yarns are very forgiving. My seams on the three neck warmers are not very good but you can't really tell. In addition, these projects were very satisfying. It's s quick, one-skein, one-night knit. Boom! You're done!

With the chunky yarns, I made up a cape of my own design, knit top down... This is teaching me gentle shaping techniques without having to be precise yet. My tension is still inconsistent. Another benefits of chunky yarn is it hides or embraces inconsistent tension.

To sum up, if I were passing along notes to another new knitter:
- start with chunky yarns and bigger needles
- English method is easy to start with, but switch to continental style when you get serious

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Lizard Ridge Infinity Scarf

I pinned this gorgeous afghan on Pinterest and have been obsessing over it ever since I started knitting. I'm a color fiend. And when I start something new, I tend to mix loads of colors together. Seeing this afghan made me want to try it. This is Laura Aylor's Lizard Ridge Afghan. Laura is a beautiful knitwear designer. 

The yarns used in this pattern are also part of what make this pattern so spectacular. This is Noro Kureyon yarn. Eisako Noro is a true artist with the colors and Laura maximized the impact of these colors with this design. The yarn appeals to me because of it's organic nature. The mixes and graduations between colors, plus the inconsistency and organic thickness of the yarn. It knits up into a piece of art.

 Lizard Ridge Afghan by Laura Aylor

Here is my first piece. I used three different skeins of the Noro Kureyon and knitted them into an infinity scarf. Here it is posing on a piece of coquina at Marineland Beach in Florida. Don't you want to be the scarf?

I got loads of compliments in the first wearing. It is most definitely a conversation starter. I always test my pieces for feedback. And this one is a big winner. 

And while yesterday in Florida was 83 degrees F (with a tornado!), today it was in the 60's. Gotta take advantage of the coolish days to wear the pretty knits. 


I make my infinity scarves long enough to wrap around twice. 

Self-Imposed Knitting Apprenticeship

Since I'm in OCD mode on knitting, I've been buying yarn, supplies, patterns, and Pinning anything I love on my new Knitting and Crochet Pinterest board. I love the free-from crocheting, too. But, I'm restraining myself from exploring that until I get more basic skills under my belt with knitting. 

I got the idea to consider this deep dive into knitting an "apprenticeship" from Barbara Walker's book,  A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I found this bit of information particularly interesting, "During the Middle Ages the famous 'knitter's guilds' -- which were, of course, composed entirely of men -- brought the art of knitting to a very high degree of refinement. A young man who wished to become a member of such a guild had to serve as an apprentice to a Master Knitter for a minimum of three years, and spend another three years year in travel, learning foreign techniques and patterns. After this, he had to pass a grueling examination, knitting a number of original 'masterpieces' of his own in a very short time, and then was admitted to the guild as a Master in his own right. The men of these guilds made exquisite garments that were worn by kings and princes, and every member of the nobility had his or her favorite Master Knitter, as well as a favorite tailor or dressmaker."

The internet makes this much easier in so many ways. If I get stuck on something, I can look it up and/or watch a video. I switched from English to Continental style knitting simply through watching a video. So cool. While I started with English knitting when I learned on my own, and I have taught this to my nieces because it's the easiest way to get started, I switched to Continental to ease the strain on my wrists. It has been much easier on my hands. 

Lizard Ridge Pattern - Skill Development Notes
  • Knitting backward - I'm noticing that while technically it's possible to knit backwards continental, it's more efficient for me to knit backwards English. I'm still slow, but I'm starting to get a better rhythm with it. I just couldn't get the proper tension with the Continental hold. It's still slower for me than knitting forward.
  • Steam blocking - I have the HomeRight Steam Machine. I used the hand-held with the squeegee attachment with the fabric cover. Works like a dream.
  • Reading the knitting (knowing where I did the wrap and turn without using a stitch marker). I'm not a big fan of the wrap and turn method. When I pick up the wrap, you can still see the stitch. I found some other methods to try to see if I can make that short row resolution more invisible.
    • Carol Sunday's Wrapless short rows
    • Update: I learned German Short Rows from Very Pink Knits.The transitions using German Short Rows are much more invisible to me than the wrap & turn. It took me a little while to figure out that basically you're pulling up the row beneath with the working row and squishing them together with this method. I prefer this method MUCH better than the wrap & turn. Technical note: if you're using German Short Rows to replace a wrap & turn, you include the wrap & turn stitch (i.e. knit 8, w&t becomes knit 9, then you pull up on the 9th stitch). I find it easier to translate the w&t directions rather than mentally translate them.
  • Learning to adjust to mistakes. I tended to add a stitch. I think I figured it out with the wrap and turn I would accidentally turn it into 2 stitches. But, I learned how to just adapt and roll with the flow. The yarn and the pattern are very forgiving to mistakes.