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2012 – A Yarn Odyssey Part 2 November 28, 2012

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Crochet, Knitting, Yarncraft.

Part 1

So back in my stateroom I begin the process of learning how to knit. There are four basic things to know: casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and casting off. Casting on is just the process of setting up the yarn on one of the needles. The knit stitch is using the other needle to pull yarn through one of the loops on the first needle and pulling the completed stitch onto the second needle. The purl stitch is the same thing, just on the back side of the loop. Once you get to the end and have transferred all the stitches to the other needle, you turn it all around and do it again. Each row builds upon the previous and before long you have a knitted fabric. Casting off is doing a series of special stitches that sort of “seal off” each final loop on the final row and completing the project. Knitting is probably 95% of doing just this. You get various textures by varying when you do a knit vs. a purl stitch and there are variations on the basics. You also shape your fabric by adding or subtracting stitches and there are various ways to do that. Knitting is also more than just back and forth; you can knit circular things too with additional double pointed needles or two needles joined with a cable.

Casting on is a bit tricky as the loops have to be put on in a special way that involes a twist around the needle. I got that down before too long and was underway. Exciting! I was determined not to make the same mistake as the kid in the story by doing everything too loosely. I’d make sure each stich was nice and snug before moving on. You have to keep a certain tension on the yarn as do each stitch. I did everything the way the book said, but the yarn in the hand feeding the knitting always felt too loose, like I just didn’t have control over it. Wrapping it around a couple extra fingers gave me good, tight tension. No loose shit for me! I ran into some problems very quickly though. That darned chenille didn’t seem to want to slide on and off the needles very well and every row just seemed to get tighter and tighter. Invariably it would get to the point where I couldn’t knit anymore or the yarn just broke. I struggled with it a few days and then gave up for the rest of the trip. I was doing something wrong and it was pretty obvious I wasn’t going to figure it out on my own.

So we get back home and I seek out the fabric / yarn store my Mom goes to for her quilting fabrics and supplies. It turns out a lady teaches knitting classes there for a nominal fee. I sign up and take the class and I soon learned what was wrong. First, chenille is a terrible yarn to start a beginner on. It has absolutely no “give” and it doesn’t slide well metal needles anyway. For the record, wool is actually the best yarn to start with. It’s inexpensive and slightly stretchy. My second problem was actually the worse one – I was knitting WAY. TOO. TIGHT. Apparently I learned the wrong lesson from the story. You’re not supposed to have a stranglehold on the yarn, indeed you’re supposed to have hardly any tension at all. That…was very hard to learn. It seemed like cheating to knit so loosely. I also made the switch from the Continental knitting method to the faster American method which helped. Eventually I did learn how to knit fairly well and even some of the more advanced techniques like cables. I learned circular knitting and then designed and made my own Santa hat!

Santa Hat of +5 to Awesomeness

Off and on when we discussed the cruise or my knitting my Mom would mention how much she really would like something made with that wonderful qiviut yarn. Well, Christmas was coming up so I went online to see if I could order some. Yes, indeed there are sites that sell it. And YIKE$! That’s $ome pricey $tuff! It’s nearly 100 dollars per ball! At just over 200 yards per ball the scarf design I had in mind calls for four balls. At that price I need to know what color she wants so that I can be absolutely sure she will like it. I tell her what she’s getting and show her the pictures of the colors but don’t tell her the price. She picks the natural, non-dyed gray color and I order it. I notice that it’s “lace weight” so I know it will be thinner than the yarn I usually use. I figured it would be like sock yarn, which is the thinnest stuff I’d worked with. It comes in and…it’s thin. So very thin. It’s not like sock yarn. No, Precious – not like sock yarn at all. I begin to suspect that might be in over my head with this stuff.

To be continued…

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