Thursday, July 14, 2005

Beginner Knitting

So in my last post about my visits to Kokomo and Chicago, I left out the bit about knitting. This was not an oversight. No, no, no. Instead, I will here and now devote an entire entry to my knitting endeavors, modest as they are.

I'm new to this knitting business, and as Franklin pointed out, I have no local mentor. However, there is this swell knitting community in the blog world, so I learn a lot from reading everyone's knitting tales.

Why did I start knitting? I think it was so Franklin could get a free keychain. I hope he is enjoying it. What does he get when I actually buy my own supplies? Toaster oven?

My first project ever, the barbie shawl, looks thus:

I opted for the nature shot, a la Yarn Harlot.

It is a very silly little bit of fabric, but I am proud. The Senator said it would make a good finger blanket. He's very encouraging and supportive (and creative). I keep taking it out of my bag and looking at it. Is this normal? It is full of holes and mysterious extra stitches. I know that these extra stitches are not from having my yarn hang down from the back of my needle when I finish a row (Franklin warned me early on about this little knitting trap), so where are these stitches coming from? Mars? Maybe I'll call my first creation the Alien Barbie Shawl.

Now I continue to practice. I had lots of time at the airport before leaving Chicago, so I did some reading and then I did some knitting--my first public knitting. Why does everyone assume a knitting person is knitting a sweater? A woman who cut me in line (I flew Southwest) said in a casual, friendly (thus irritating) sort of way, "Gosh, she'll be done with that sweater before we board the plane!" It brought me a weird little bit of joy to totally unravel what I had done and NOT create a single thing while we were in line. That was a silly way to get satisfaction because the woman obviously did not care. By the way, I liked that I could knit standing up.

That's mostly what I did at the airport--knit some rows then start over. I got lots of practice at casting on. I kept getting those pesky mysterious extra stitches, and it was causing me a wee bit of frustration. Debbie Stoller (who I think is a riot) said I should cast on 20 stitches and knit 30 rows (see, brother dear? I'm reading the book!). Casting on was no problem. Keeping 20 stitches was damn near impossible. I either ended up with 18 or 22 every time I tried.

Now that I'm home, I'm trying to knit for a wee bit everyday. It's a nice break from the research and a good way to avoid the housework that is threatening to swallow me and the pups. Perhaps that's why I have been knitting outside.

So I continue to work on my swatch--I cast on 20 rows, got 21 in the next go around, and then decided that 21 is an excellent number. So know I've knit (knitted? What's the past participle here? The english teacher in me is difficult to repress, but obviously not powerful enough to make me go look it up) a mess of rows at 21 stitches each. When I get to the end of a row and spread out my stitches to count, a little voice in my head starts chanting "oh please oh please oh PLEASE let there be 21!" So far so good. As far as counting rows goes, I was a bit troubled at first. Seemed like I'd knitted a bunch (by my standards) and had only 4 rows to show for it. Then I got to thinking, maybe I'm counting wrong (math is not my strong suit). So I need to count the bump and the in between bits, right? Does that make ANY sense? I'm trusting two things here: 1) Franklin will read this and understand my question, and 2) He will reply to me after he stops laughing hysterically.

I'm still shooting for 30 rows as Stoller suggests. I think my rows are getting more even. This tension business is tricky. I've been experimenting with how to hold the yarn and I'm leaning towards option 2 on p. 39 of Stitch'n Bitch (I'm betting Franklin will look this up).

My setting for knitting is swell--in my rocker on the back porch with puppies frolicking at or sitting on my feet. When Milton started chewing on a long, skinny stick, I fancied he was trying to immitate me--not that I'm chewing on the needles, but dogs translate everything into chewing.

Time to get back to the research...maybe after one more row!


Sorka said...

Hey! You are knitting! YEAH!!

Each bump, or ridge is two rows knit actually.. see who need Franklin!!hehehhe

Franklin said...

Pleased beyond words, I am. Also envious of your Knitting Environment. I would like to knit with dogs and green grass all around me.

Sorka's right - one row of bumps = two rows. See, you have a whole universe of mentors!

Keep on going, and you're going to get to this wonderful place suddenly where the needles just start to go right. You won't even realize it until suddenly you hit the end of a row and think, "Wow!"

Phil's idea of calling the first item a finger blanket is lovely and creative.

I can guarantee you he's already having scarf and sock fantasies.

Dhi said...

Oh Sue, you're well on your way! just the fact that the counting is driving you crazy puts you amidst the best of company.

I just ran down to the Thai restaurant and sat outside and worked a few rows of a hat while they whipped up my take-out order. I'd wanted to stand (I sit all day) and knit, because I love doing that--makes you feel so industrious. But, I was early for the lunch crowd, and there were 8 empty tables by the doors so I just plopped down.

Let us know when you're knitting at red lights. (who, me?)

Barb B. said...

Counting rows: when you knit a row you are making a set of bumps on the other side. Next row, set of bumps on the next side. So if you count the bumps on each side, you have the exact #. The little "in" ridge on the one side, is a little "out" ridge on the other.
Extra my experience teaching people to knit these happen to new knitters for the following reasons:
forgetting to drop off the old stitch when you knit a new one.(most common)
splitting the yarn on the stitch so you end up making an extra one in the wool that's still left on the needle.
accidently knitting that little bar of wool between the stitches.
Your knitting looks great!
Barb B.

Cheryl said...

You are doing a great job!!! You are half way there! After all all you need to know are two stitches --a knit and a purl - once that's figured out the (knitting) world is your oyster!!

Rabbitch said...

wooHOO! That looks way better than the "scarf for Teddy" that my father and I knit for about 10 years. Teddy still doesn't have a scarf. An extra (or dropped) stitch here and there is no biggie at the beginning and soon you'll find that the stitches all behave for you.

At least that's what they tell me. I am hoping to reach that happy place some time soon ...

K2P2 said...

uh oh... new knitter AND a master's thesis??? Can't wait to see where this goes!!

obscure said...

Welcome to the knitting world. I've been reading Franklin's blog and happy to find yours.

Jude (knitting dog lover from Maine)

CJ said...

I am envious too... my knitting enviornment is a 11 month old, 9 an 10 year olds and hubby... knit a row take a kid break... knit a row get a coffee... knit a row... cook tea and so on... I am a newbie learned two weeks ago and I am already working on a blanket with 6 differnet stitches per square called building blocks in the Vogue beginner knitting book page 96-98

Girl with the Purl said...

I totally agree that being consistent with the amount of stitches is "damn near impossible". The alien barbie shawl is made of gorgeous yarn!

Ashanti Appassionata said...

I know I'm late - in fact I'm 3 years and 3 months late on the comment. What I want to say is - I love your pictures! I did a search on how to count rows and your blog came up. And those pups! Which I'm sure are adults adorable.

Enjoy your knitting adventures!

Simone said...

I did a search on "how to count rows" too and your blog came up. As a blogger, I was rather smitten with your writing and had a great time reading.

Phyllis said...

I love to knit but am not very skilled. I can't read a pattern. I've tried to knit booties and they are sooooo hard. I can even knit a sock, but baby booties kick my butt. Any help out there?