Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Knitting: slow and steady wins the race
I actually haven't been working on this stuff much lately, because it is more important to work on other stuff. But unlike paint that gets dried out when you ignore it, or ideas that likely fly out of your brain, knitting waits for you patiently.
The biggest thing I have made is a rectangle, trying to gain consistency in my stitches, which is what the author of the sweater’s pattern recommended I do before I do something insane like attempt to take a sweater to completion as my first project. I’m not quite there yet. I am having yarn-tension issues, which I’m told is not unusual. You need stuff to stretch and move a certain amount so you can actually poke the needles into loops and push them around on the needle -- and this seems like a SURPRISING amount of movement, I might add. Particularly to a seamstress, since in the thread-and-fabric world looseness means eventual fraying and things that fall apart.
So but you don’t want things to be TOO loose, because then your stitches get wonky. There’s a lot of wonky stitches at the end of my little sampler here. Knitting works like zig-zags: you make stitches down along one row, and you turn around and head back, adding new stitches as you move along. And If you have a patch with wonky stitches, it doesn’t seem to...un-wonky, but instead your subsequent stitches in that area are in turn just as wonky as the existing stitches. Wonkiness grows. I’m sure there’s a way to pull things from other places and tighten up enough at the base of the wonkiness and make the wonkiness cease, but I haven’t yet found the correct places. And anyway mostly this exercise is to get a rhythm going, which I am told is the easiest way to avoid wonkiness in the first place. Stellar.
I should also point out that all of the stitches in that picture? They're supposed to be all going in the same direction. That is, I'm not going for ribbing. I'm not sure why it's ribbing. This is another reason I'm still at the swatch-and-rip phase.
Fortunately I LOVE ripping out stitches. It’s so quick compared to seam-ripping a sewing project, where you must take a tiny tool and sever nearly every little tiny threaded stitch. Ripping out knitted stuff just means removing the stick and pulling. Done. I don’t mind all this practice. I’ve knitted, pulled apart, knitted, pulled apart many, many rectangles at this point. I’m sure I’ll love it less when I have to rip out parts of the real project, but you know. Now it’s sunny out. And again, I have seven months until the weather gets cool enough for this particular sweater. No worries.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that while I don’t really have my knitting creation down, my comprehension has suddenly seen a MAJOR improvement. I KNOW about knitting, and all of the sweaters I see anywhere have a new fascination.
I know how cables are made, what the difference between the v-shaped stitches and the brick-and-mortar looking ones are. (Those v-shapes actually take TWO kinds of stitching! What!) I can look and see whether the creator dropped a needle size (or two!) to tighten up the cuff’s ribbing, or if they just left it alone, or just gave up and did a bind-off without making cuffs at all.
It's like I'm learning a language and I've reached that moment where I can pick words out of a cloud of speech. I know some key words and phrases. Now I need to start stringing them together and making sentences.