Thursday, February 26, 2015

Learning to Knit

What's that you say?  You see pigs flying?  Hell froze over?  Well, I might know why.


I used to joke that crocheters and knitters were like the Sharks and the Jets (please see West Side Story if you don't get that joke), but then I started "meeting" lots of crocheter/knitter double threats on Ravelry.  Crocheting and knitting are apparently compatible.  Who knew?!  My one disastrous attempt at learning to knit in my early 20's had given me the idea that knitting was WAY harder than crocheting and that I just wasn't coordinated enough to handle two needles at a time.  But, OH!, those beautiful knitting patterns I kept seeing float across my computer screen... After Christmas crocheting season was done, on January 1st, I picked up knitting needles and gave it a try.

My first few swatches turned out great, so I dove right in to my very first dishcloth.  BOY, was that humbling.  It took me FOREVER and I hated how it turned out.  To top it all off, I ran out of cream yarn near the end and just decided to finish it with a different color, making it even less attractive.  Without further ado, I present MY FIRST KNITTING PROJECT:

Oof.  I got the pattern out of my 10-20-30 Minutes to Learn to Knit book, and it drove me nuts, switching back and forth between knit and purl stitches.  My brother suggested that perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew with this first project, but honestly, it is the very first project presented in this book, and I think there's no time like the present to dive in feet first.  Still, I took his comment to heart, and for my next project, I found a WAY simpler pattern.

This Basic Adults Knitted Beanie is a fantastic learner project.  You work the hat flat and seam it up at the end (with a yarn needle), so there is a seam that any experienced knitter would consider a pattern deal-breaker, but for a beginner, I say it's fine.  I even bought a Clover brand pom-pom maker after deciding that wrapping yarn around cardboard and then spending the next hour trimming the pom-pom into shape was not good enough for my first knit hat.  Sonia chose the yarn-- can you tell?

I next decided that I wanted to try my hand at cabling.  This simple Diagonal Owl Dishcloth pattern looked like a good idea, but it was poorly written and didn't include any stitch count checks in the middle, so all my cabling, while done correctly, looks wonky due to losing count of my rows.  I gave this dishcloth to Sonia to use in her play kitchen.  Good riddance!

For my next project, I decided to see what my favorite Knit/Crochet designer goddess (Margaret MacInnis) had for me to try.  She teaches people to knit in her Ravelry group, and I have crocheted a bunch of her patterns before (including Niki & Corey's afghan), so I knew she wouldn't steer me wrong.  I found this cool Hazelnut Stitch Dishcloth and gave it a try.  The hazelnut stitch pattern is really beautiful, but unfortunately, I chose yarn that is WAY too busy to show off the pretty texture.

Here's a slightly better picture of the "hazelnuts".  Aren't they cool?

Armed with more knitting confidence, I gave another of Margaret's beautiful dishcloth/afghan block patterns a try.  This time, with a much better written pattern to follow, my cabling efforts were successful!  I can almost hear these owls hooting.

While I was doing these other knitting patterns, I was lurking in a knitting thread on Margaret's Ravelry groups' discussion board.  I watched as knitters posted pictures of this Turtle Ford dishcloth/afghan block pattern that Margaret presented as a mystery knit along.  After I finished the waffling owls dishcloth, I screwed up my courage, bought the turtle pattern, and got to knitting.

How hilarious is this little turtle?!?!?  He pops right off the dishcloth.  At the request of the teacher, I brought him in to show Sonia's kindergarten class, and the kids were enthralled.  They just finished up a learning unit all about fabric, so I was showing them how I knitted my own fabric.

Ok. So, I think I'm hooked on knitting.  I still love to crochet a lot, too, but expanding my yarn-maniuplating skill set to include knitting is absolutely thrilling.  Margaret put out a call for testers on a new series of garden-themed dishcloth/afghan block patterns, and I shyly put up my hand an asked if I could help.  She kindly let me join in the fun, and I dove right in.  These patterns are beautiful, amazingly written, a ton of fun to knit.  And, just for kniter/crocheter double threats like me, Margaret includes an optional crochet boarder for each pattern!  Here are my attempts at knitting the Garden Series:

Block 1: Beetle Mania

How cute are those beetles?  Hilariously enough, the back of the dishcloth is just as cool as the front:

Block II: Raindrops (don't look too closely-- there are several mistakes-- but at this point, I hadn't yet learned how to rip out my mistakes without having to start the block over from scratch, so I left them in)

Block III: 'Brella (loooooove the purl stitch rain drops!!)

Block IV: Picket De'Fence (v1) (I somehow forgot to take a picture of it after it was done, so here is one taken at the 99% point.)

Block IV: Picket De'Fence (v2) (Margaret changed the pattern to add pickets to the tops of the fence posts, so I re-tested this block.)

Block V: Lattice Bud (soooooo pretty!!)

Block VI: Sculpture (This one is absolutely gorgeous when knitted well, but I had a bit of trouble with a few of the stitches.  I am SO trying this one again once my knitting skills improve a bit.)

Aaaaaaand, there's more knitting to come!  Stay tuned!

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