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!