Let’s Be Honest

Hey, everyone.  How are your holidays going?  Treating you good?  I hope so.  Although this post has landed perilously close to Christmas and, I assume, other holidays, it has nothing to do with them.  Let’s take a break from that, shall we?

I want to take a moment and talk about us liars out there.  You know what I mean.  “Knitting is easy!”  “Crochet is a breeze.”  I’m very guilty of this.  And you’re shaking your head, if not physically, then mentally.  What is she talking about?  Knitting is easy and crochet is a breeze!  Ok, smarty pants.  Maybe for you, and a very small minority, it was a breeze.  Your needles fly under your deft fingers, your hook is moving so fast that it’s a blur and every stitch is perfect.  New techniques?  No problem.

Like the title of this post says, let’s be honest.  Think back to when you first picked up those knitting needles, felt their heft, or gazed wonderingly upon that crochet hook, marveling at the sleek lines and how they turned into…well, the hook.  Some of you may have to really dig in the vault of memories for this, but do it.  Did it feel natural?  Remember that first chain, and how proud you were of yourself.  And then, when you got tired of that, discovering how to turn and create stitches.  Let’s not forget that first successful cast on row.  My tongue worked as hard as my fingers!  Speaking of tongues, we also have our own language.  You think k2tog then yo or dbl through fp means anything to anyone else?

….but, think of the beginner.  How many will give up because it’s just too hard?  For whatever reason, they are done after that initial foray. Their skeins of yarn will either gather dust in some forgotten drawer or be thrown away (gasp! oh, no!) because they’re taking up space. And yes, there are a great many people, who, literally, simply don’t care.  Of course, they will enjoy the fruits of our labors, and marvel at the overall beauty of the gift, but that’s as far as it will go.  However, for us, we wanted to do it.  Whatever our motivation was at the time, we wanted to do it; and we did.  Look at us now –  champions of the crusade!  Not only is it easy, there are multiple benefits to knowing these crafts.

And I for one, think we should respect our hobbies for the honed crafts they truly are.  Will I stop saying it’s easy?  Probably not.  Should I?  Yes, most definitely.  Is all this work worth it?  That, I’ll leave for you to decide…

Knitting – machine or not?

Doesn't look like knitting

Doesn’t look like knitting

I made the mistake of signing up for a machine knitting group, thinking it was a regular knitting group.  I have just unregistered, but it got me thinking.  Again.  Am I knit purist or snob?  I don’t think using a knitting machine can be rightly considered knitting.  Is it even a craft?  I’m not dinging the people out there who love to do this.  I know it’s a lot faster to finish a project than hand knitting, but I also know it’s limiting.  I had purchased a machine about three years back because I thought for a minute that I wanted to crank out my own sweaters.  Then I went on YouTube and looked at some how-to videos.  It doesn’t appear to require a whole bunch of…technique.  Is that what a makes a craft?  Practice?  Discipline?  Does it take any of these things to use a knitting machine?  I have no idea, as my foray into the world of semi-automated knitting was short lived.  I didn’t even open the box; I returned it immediately.

Ah. There it is.

Ah. There it is.

I think it depends on why you’re using the machine.  My idea of making my own designs and then making the garment was valid enough; however, while waiting for the machine (I ordered it online), I realized that my passion was not for cranking out mass amounts of sweaters, but the act of knitting itself.  Feeling the needles in my hand, the yarn that seems to automatically wrap around my right hand fingers for tension, holding my mouth a certain way as I fight with a particularly difficult cable, the whole throwing vs. picking technique, continental vs. English, the mobility of it while you tote around your latest pair of socks, sitting around a table with other knitters while talking about knitting! – that’s knitting.

I would like to hear from both sides!  For those of you who use machines, do you use them exclusively or do you mix it up with hand knitting?  For those of you who hand knit, why did you start?  Was it a yarn thing, the finished product thing, a family thing…?  Let me know.

Sleep Knitting?

I purchased some yarn for a project about two weeks ago, and I was excited to get started on it, but I’ve been working on Christmas gifts.  I tried to get a head start on those back in July, but didn’t get around to it until September.  Typical.  They’re almost done, but I just couldn’t wait.  Breaking my rule about having no more than one project going at a time (I’m usually good at keeping this rule – honest!), last night I cast on the stitches with a feeling of guilty pleasure normally reserved for chocolate.  I had been working and running all day and was more than a little tired,

Tentative beginnings...

Tentative beginnings…and yes, I’m writing this while lying in bed since I refuse to get up until hunger or sheer boredom impels me out of it!

but I wanted to play “ketchup”.  Surprisingly, I was able to get more than a few inches done, considering I’m working with 122 stitches and worsted weight yarn.

Then it hit.  A busy day of activity and it’s 9:30 pm; can’t keep eyes open.  Must.  Knit.  More.

Suddenly, my eyes open.  When did they close?  I look down at my hands that are still holding the needles, yarn still twined around my fingers on my right hand for proper tension.  Wha…?  I blink my eyes, notice that I’m further along than I remember and look around in sleepy confusion.  Did the knitting elves show up and continue for me?  I run a hand over my brow, now thoroughly baffled.  And since I am primed to carry on, I do.

It’s not until a turn the row do I notice that the knitting elves are a confused lot because:

#1) I’m picking up dropped stitches more than once;

#2) Tension was maintained properly so the stitches that weren’t dropped are uniform in appearance.

It would be a wonderful innovation if I could fall asleep and wake up with the project half done, but I still have a few kinks to work out!


A New Tutorial and an Observation

It has been quite awhile since I posted a tutorial.  I don’t have a video camera, but I have quite a good still photo camera that has the video option, and it just seems to take forever.  I five-minute tutorial can have as many as ten takes, and then the editing.  After all that, I always find fault with the video, but as long as it conveys the message, we’re doing okay.  This time I tackled the Magic Circle, which is one of those simple innovations that makes a big difference, and one wonders why it’s never been thought of before.

Which brings me to my observation.  I learned how to knit and crochet a few years back (euphemism for a LONG time ago!), and the main source of communicating was through paper publications.  You know, you still see the books on sale at the craft and yarn shops.  However, I’ve noticed that since the internet, people have actually been coming up with patterns and techniques never thought of before, or at least, never shared with so many people.  My question:  has the ease of communication via the internet created a more prolific crafting community?  Seriously.  Am I the only one who’s noticed this?  Let me know your thoughts on this!

A Word, Please

Recently, I had my physical annual everything, which included imaging.  Determined to be entertained with something other than my smartphone, I took my current project, which is free-form crochet, with me for my screening.  The technician was interested that I crocheted and said she had learned a little but wasn’t confident she could do it again.  She also said that she had two friends teach her, and each friend taught her how to do the same thing differently.  I laughed and said “Welcome to the world of crocheting!”

390px-KnittingMadonnaI have noticed that the more one researches different styles of knitting and crocheting online, the more puzzling it can become.  The ancient craft of knitting has definitely grown and changed from it’s humble beginnings over the ages.  It’s like telling secrets; it’s whispered into the ear of one person, and by the time it inevitably makes it way back to the originator, it may have been changed so much that it’s not even recognized as the same information!  In the sharing process, hearing may not be as keen as it once was, or there are distractions for both the speaker and the listener, and many other reasons, so something as simple as one word being skewed or omitted will change the whole meaning of the original message.  I had my own shocker when my cousin, after viewing my crochet tutorials, informed me that I was holding my hook incorrectly.  *sigh* My advice?  Find someone with a wide and varied selection of tutorials, whose style you like, and stick with them.  If,  on the other hand, you’ve been doing something forever that works for you and your end product looks how it should, keep doing it.

It would seem that as mass communication devices become more prevalent in our world, eventually, there may be some standardization, but in the meantime, vive le difference!