Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Learning to Knit

One of my 2012 goals is to learn to knit. I can crochet at probably an Intermediate level, but I had never held a pair of knitting needles in my hands…until Christmas. You see, Mr. knew about my goal and decided to push me along by giving me knitting needles of many sizes and knitting books as a Christmas present.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

1. There are two stitches in knitting – knit and purl. Anything that is knit is a combination of these two stitches.

2. The purl stitch is a backwards knit stitch.

3. There are two different methods of knitting (okay probably thousands of methods because of people’s individual style, but two well known methods) – English and Continental.

4. English (or American) knitters are sometimes called throwers because the yarn is held in the right hand and “thrown” around the needle.

5. Continental knitters are sometimes called scoopers because the yarn is held in the left hand and the needle “scoops” it up to form a new stitch.

I searched books, YouTube and individual knitting sites and I ran across a knitter who prefers the Continental method, but originally learned the English method. Because of this, she posts videos of everything she teaches in both English and Continental.

Out of curiosity, I watched a Continental video and it looked foreign to me, so I moved on and kept learning the English method. But as I kept practicing, I kept getting pulled back to the Continental videos. I decided to give it a whirl and it stuck! After learning the English method, I feel like I had a foundation and suddenly the Continental method didn’t look so foreign.

Here is my very first swatch that was done entirely in English method. It's not pretty.

I started at the skinny end. I must have dropped a stitch or two at the beginning, because it gets skinnier and then I must have started picking up or making new stitches because it starts getting wider again. I then must have figured out more of what I was doing because it seems to stay the same width.

Here is my very first completed project – a washcloth.

I started this project with the English method, but somewhere in the middle decided to give Continental a try. I again switched back to the English method for a couple of rows toward the end to see if I liked it any better and eventually finished it off with the Continental method.

What I noticed is that my tension is very tight with the English method compared to the Continental, which makes getting into stitches difficult (and frustrating). Toward the very end, when I decided to give the English another try, I immediately noticed that I started picking up stitches again. I feel like I can be more consistent with Continental.

I have so much more to learn, like why are there two holes in my washcloth? I don’t know if I picked up a stitch or dropped a stitch, but I know I didn’t plan for those two holes. Oh well, it’s soft and functional.

So from one beginner to another…I urge you to give both methods a try and do what feels comfortable to you. And to those advanced knitters out there who may be shaking your heads because I’ve explained something terribly wrong, please correct me. Happy Knitting!

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