Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Knitting Journey | Part Two

I think everyone should try working with fiber. There is something very old about this craft and utilitarian. In the past people probably had to knit their own socks and sweaters for warmth. Thankfully [as Kirk would say] we don't live in that era because we would freeze to death before I finished anything.

[WW1 poster - encouraging people to knit socks for our troops]

Someone did ask me about where do I possibly find the time. I will be honest, it's either knitting or reading - lately reading has taken a back seat to these recent projects. Both of these activities are my decompress time before bed, around an hour or so.

Here is one tip from a self taught beginner [that's me]:

Reading Directions | Patterns
Make sure you read through the directions thoroughly first - I know big PIA. But here is my hard lesson learned - For the Koolhaas hat there was a chart and written directions. I assumed that they were providing both a chart [for those that like to follow charts] and written directions for the pattern. Because I didn't read close enough the actual written directions were for the decrease. So after finishing the ribbing I started knitting the body [or at least what I thought was the body] - not knowing until things started to get tight and smaller...but I kept plugging along thinking 'maybe this will stretch out'?? Towards actually cinching the thing up I realized that this just couldn't be right. Kirk even tried it on and asked if I was making him a very warm Yamaka. I was stumped - I read all the forums, searched through the web, then finally sat down and read the directions word for word and busted out laughing. Coming to the realization that I had to actually follow the chart for 8" not start the decrease. Because I had never followed a chart before I ended up writing out the written directions and followed that. My experience did give the nice gal at my local yarn shop a good laugh.

Needles | Bamboo or Metal
This is definitely a personal choice. For this hat I used Clover Takumi Bamboo Circular kn Bamboo circular needles for the ribbing and then when I had to change to larger needle size I sent to the Addi Turbo Circular . Besides the price difference I noticed that maybe the metal needle might be a little slippery for a beginner. While the ease of slip off makes for faster knitting - at the beginning for me I was slipping off stitches and had to be very careful that I was paying attention. This definitely got easier as I became more comfortable. I am currently working on a new hat with stranded color work and loaded it on Bamboo needles - now I was wishing it was on the Addi's. I thought the color work was going to be much harder. But that will be another post!

Knitting Needle Stoppers
When I first saw these I had no idea what needle stoppers were - but Dottie said I definitely needed them. But did I use them right away??? Oh no, that would be too much work. Lesson learned - I was about half way through the Koolhaas hat and took a break. Left my project on the bed... with the dogs. My dogs had previously shown NO interest what so ever in the yarn or the needles. They just like the fact that was sitting somewhere for long periods of time. When I came back all I saw was a bare needle and two dogs staring at me and one rolling around on the hat. Fortunately, that was my lesson on how to pick stitches back up and get them on the needle AND use those needle stoppers.

Markers, Markers and more Markers
If you are like me and can't keep track of the number of stitches, you are going to need markers. Buy a package of them. I like the ones that clip like a safety pin vs. the ones that you knit in. Mainly because I don't always remember to place a marker - so the clip in ones you can go back and count and put one in. 

Tape Measure or Knitting Gauge
I have a knitting gauge but when I snapped this photo I couldn't find it. But most patterns it is recommended that you knit a gauge swatch to see if you either need to go up or down a needle size or loosen or tighten your stitch. This is one thing that I am not very good at doing beforehand - I measure along the way... which might turn out to be a hard lesson learned one of these days. You do need a handy measuring tool for various measurements. 

Needle Gauge
This has come in handy several times when I can read the microscopic print on the needle to tell me what size the needle is!

Pen and Paper
Definitely need a pen and paper to keep track of the rows you are on - be diligent on this tracking until you are comfortable enough to 'read' and count your stitches. I am not totally there yet - I know what a purl and knit stitch look like but have a hard time when it comes to increases and decreases. So I keep this handy little pad and red pen. I actually used this when I had to write out the written instructions for the hat.

So what's in your knitting bag??? [you can read my knitting journey part one here]


  1. ive tried knitting several times before- self taught, but it doesnt stick. We started a knitting group at work- i am the only one that cant knit- so i have a lot of catching up to do. We have planned to make a very chunky knit cowl- no pattern needed. only cast on 28 stitch and knit for a bit- i'll let you know what happens with mine

  2. @DKB Definitely give it another try - the group might help and definitely watch the videos on knittinghelp.com. Those saved me!!! Can't wait to hear an update -

  3. I'm a devoted Addis addict. I sometimes use my bamboos when I don't have the size in an Addi but I feel sullied when I do.

    Also, to loosen up circs that have become twisty, soak the wired part (don't get the needles or the join wet) in near boiling water for a few minutes. As soon as you remove them, pull them straight and hold them that way until they cool. You need to do this fast as they cool almost instantly. And ta-da! No more twists. Love that trick and I just learned it last month!

    Can't wait for MadTosh to start!

    1. Love the tip!!! Thank you - i had no idea that the hat twisted around


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