Friday, January 2, 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Practical - Knitting Update

On my "things to do when I retire" list was learning to knit. I got started on that one this past summer. A couple of earlier posts gave the early reports on this "new trick". So, I thought it was time for an update.

After taking the hat class and making one hat, I started working on a couple of scarves. This is the GOOD SCARF:
very nice, easy to work on, very cooperative. In fact, I just finished it last night. The yarn is a tweed lambswool, made in England, purchased on sale at the yarn store in Manzanita (T-Spot). I found a very simple pattern on the internet - Aran Print, 8 rows of seed stitch and 2 rows of garter stitch. So, any experienced knitter will immediately see why this scarf was a successful project for a beginner.

This, on the other hand, is the BAD SCARF ( or what little has been completed on it after much time spent):

I also got this yarn and a pattern at the T-Spot. It looked like a good next step in terms of learning something new. I signed up for "Knitting Studio" - a class at Twisted where you bring a project and can get some help while you work. Very nice instructor, much patience and STILL - I knitted and ripped out, knitted and ripped out...... Then, I decided to get different needles - these are called "TURBO" needles. You'd think that would really make for some significant forward momentum. But, no. Not on the EVIL scarf. This photo represents fairly major progress and yet I've now made another mistake that I don't know how to figure out. This will be a real test of my patience as to whether or not this ever becomes a scarf.

And, the "practical" refers to what became my Christmas gift project. Some of these patterns were called dishcloths, some washcloths, but my favorite was the "spa cloth". Basically, they're all the same kind of thing, made with cotton yarn, using various free-on-the-internet patterns. The first one was my very first start-to-finish project. It has some noticable flaws, but actually works quite well. Then, off and on over the past few months, I made seven more that I gave to various friends and family as parts of Christmas gifts. Most were variations of these two:

So now I feel ready to try something new. Based on advice from a friend who is a knitter, I think my next project will be a felted bag. Probably something I can use - like a bag to carry around a knitting project I am working on. But, there are TONS of patterns for them and the trick is to find something that is just enough challenging so that I learn something new, but not so much that it is way over my head. If any of you are knitters, send suggestions!


livinginalocalzone said...

As a beginning knitter (and I mean that "beginning" very firmly), I am completely lost in the world of patterns, so I'm not much use on the advice front. Question though: How can you tell what pattern is basic and what will turn out to be a bear? Are there certain stitches that are hallmark "basic" to learn before trying even a simple pattern? And what are less important at first?

Joan said...

Well, I know the basics- knit, purl, knit or purl 2 together and yarn over. Any combination of those and I can usually manage (the purple scarf being the exception). Trouble looms when they talk about things like stitch in the stitch below or pass slip stitch over. I did the one hat with decreasing and using double pointed needles, but I would have trouble repeating that totally on my own, which eliminates hats, socks and fingerless gloves until I get more confident. The bag will require some of that, but in a larger format which I believe will be easier and a good way to practice those skills.
Some patterns are actually labeled - beginner, easy, intermediate. Or, they list the skills needed. If I read through the pattern, I can tell if it is really easy or really difficult - it's the in between area that I'm not so sure about.