Saturday, March 08, 2008

Hand Knitting--Not for the Faint of Heart!

My mother taught me to knit in the English method, which is sometimes called "throwing" because you kind of throw the yarn around the crossed needle tips with your right hand. It's easy, which explains why you would teach a child this method...especially if that was how you learned to knit yourself. But you can imagine how much repetitive stress injury this causes, on top of plain old fatigue. I somehow intuitively knew this was primary knitting and I was always self conscious when people would watch me while I knit. I recently heard that there were two styles, throwing and "continental." There is an excellent video ( that I used to teach myself how to knit continental style. I probably don't have it down just right, and for several days I just had to force myself to do it because it felt so awkward, but now those days have paid off and I am knitting much more quickly and quietly.

As my technique improved, I took on projects. I knitted with tiny needles, circular needles and bamboo. Then I decided to make a real something, and I knit a shoulder shawl. It turned out good, but even more important to me, it became very enjoyable. Hand knitting is just relaxing...the rhythm, the feel of the yarn running through your fingers and eventually the fabric hanging from the needles, it's all very satisfying. So I went through my stash of hand knitting books and found "The Pattern Library of Knitting." I was not feeling well, having caught what I guess was a virus, so I just laid around knitting for two days. I was doing an 80 stitch swatch of "Beginner's Lace" from the book. It requires alternate pattern rows and purl rows, with 2, 4 and 6 in Pattern A; 8 in Pattern B; 10 in Pattern C; and 12 in Pattern D. It was going together beautifully until I hit row 25. I somehow lost my way (trying to knit while watching tv...nope, not something like this!) and I am so inexperienced, I cannot frog more than a few stitches. Eventually I wound up having to frog the lot.

Always looking for the bright side, I do think this yarn, which is a long blend of three variegations, was not a good choice for this pattern. You really had to LOOK for the pattern through all the waves of color, and if I'm going to work this hard, I want to get the "oooh ahhh" factor! So I have a lovely lavender wool blend for which I am going to reserve this pattern. And some empty hours without distraction.

I also want to make this more of a rounded triangle shape. I love this yarn and I think I'm going to keep this one for myself! I want something I can wrap around myself while I read or knit. And I'm going to try to find something with a pattern that repeats row after row. I'm still learning and I want to give myself some success to bolster my confidence!

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