Sunday, February 15, 2015

Artfully Meandering: New knitter notes

So, technically, I am not a new knitter. I've been trying to learn to knit for 30 years. Someone taught me the basics when I was a teenager and I can make scarves. I would try off and on (mostly off) for years and years but would get frustrated and give up.

In 2009, a lot of the art blogs I read, the artists were picking up knitting and I really wanted to learn. I even signed up for lessons, but never really could break through. When I moved back to the U.S., I had a friend who was a knitter and I made more scarves and starting exploring unique yarns. Still, only progressed to scarves with interesting patterns, and a few blankets. One small breakthrough in this I phase was that my friend encouraged me to learn continental knitting. I switched from English to continental through a YouTube tutorial. Much much easier on my hands. It takes about 1-2 weeks to get comfortable with holding yarn in the new way (a scarf or blanket project). It has been totally worth it for me.

Finally at the end of 2014, I suddenly "got it." The Internet is a fabulous resource for figuring out certain stitches and how to read a pattern. YouTube for showing me how to try different stitches.

I'm going to credit my friend for wanting a chunky neck warmer.

I had been shying away from heavier and chunkier yarns because I live in a warm climate in Florida. I need thin, light yarns, right? Wrong! I can still use chunky yarns in blankets! Bring on the chunky yarns!

This simple neck warmer taught me a whole bunch of things: how to read a pattern and adapt and fix mistakes. Plus chunky yarns are very forgiving. My seams on the three neck warmers are not very good but you can't really tell. In addition, these projects were very satisfying. It's s quick, one-skein, one-night knit. Boom! You're done!

With the chunky yarns, I made up a cape of my own design, knit top down... This is teaching me gentle shaping techniques without having to be precise yet. My tension is still inconsistent. Another benefits of chunky yarn is it hides or embraces inconsistent tension.

To sum up, if I were passing along notes to another new knitter:
- start with chunky yarns and bigger needles
- English method is easy to start with, but switch to continental style when you get serious