"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy New Year, part 2

So where was I? Oh yeah, knitting.

flit 'n float scarf pattern WIP
courtesy of Birdy Evans
The knitting thing is something I've always wanted to do. My grandmother seemed to constantly be knitting and I always wanted to learn. Mom said knitting was far too complicated, so she taught herself to crochet then she taught me when I was about seven years old. I figured I'd eventually learn to knit, but crocheting made me happy enough. A few years ago, during a lunch hour trip to JoAnn with a coworker, I ran across this learn-to-knit kit in the clearance bin and picked it up along with a couple of skeins of a beautiful boucle yarn (pink ombre, of course). It was during that time that everyone was making and wearing those simple scarves knitted with eyelash yarn and how could I pass on the chance to finally learn how to kint at a discount? the kit couldn't have been more basic. It contained a pair of size 15 (10mm) plastic needles, two balls of eyelash yarn in candy pink, and instructions for a garter stitch scarf all packed in a project bag that was just the right size for traveling with my WIP. I was a few rows into it before I really got the hang of the whole knitting thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was also a huge ego boost because I was working a job that was, at times, humiliating to me because I felt as though the harder I worked, the less I accomplished. This was something new that I could accomplish and be proud of. It was exactly what my psyche and my self-esteem needed at the time. Needless to say, virtually everyone I knew got scarves that Christmas whether they needed them or not.

football helmet dishcloth pattern
courtesy of Knitted Kitty~Carol
Still, I felt I hadn't really learned how to knit. I could knit, not purl, which meant I could make anything I wanted so long as it was in garter stitch. That was my impression of "real" knitting: knit and purl. I vowed I'd one day teach myself to purl. I even tried to do it a couple of times, but I wasn't getting it. I eventually developed what I thought was my own way of knitting. By guiding the yarn with my left hand instead of my right, I found I was much more consistent with my stitches and I could handle the needles easier. I wasn't so clumsy because the motions resembled crochet. When I finally tired of knitting scarves, I packed up my needles and abandoned knitting for several years. This leads me to New Year's Resolution #2: Teach myself to knit, for real, and complete a minimum of two projects by the end of 2011.

football dishcloth pattern
courtesy of BunnyStamping
I discovered Ravelry in April or May of 2010 and quickly became addicted and completely spoiled. It was like this immense online library of knit and crochet patterns. I'm not so sure when or how I stumbled upon the football dishcloth pattern, but I knew I had to make it. I vowed that I would find the time to finally teach myself to purl since I'd finally found the motivation to do so. Seriously, what self-respecting, needle wielding Patriots fan didn't deserve a football washcloth? (Dishcloth? No. This sucker's too awesome for dirty dishes.) Unfortunately, that now meant that I had to re-teach myself to knit. I'd convinced myself that my little way of knitting was wrong and I had to learn to do it the right way before I moved on to real knitting projects. That's how knitting became Mission #2.

basketweave scarf pattern by Sarah Blalock
courtesy of Red Heart Yarns
Still not fully committed to the cause, I did a bit of research here and there, and finally figured out that my method wasn't as wrong as I'd believed. My technique was a bit lacking, but the method had a real place in the knitting world. I found out I was a Continental knitter; I wasn't a hack after all! Thanks to a few tutorials on Youtube, I was able to refine my knit stitch a bit to the point that I felt confident in trying the elusive purl. Well guess what? It was nowhere near as complicated as I'd previously thought. Now that I was working my yarn with motions that were more familiar to me, I took to purling easily. In fact, I find using a purl stitch easier than a knit in many circumstances, but I'm getting beyond myself. So, I got the football cloth done in just a few days and decided that a basket weave scarf would be great practice in working both types of stitches and in my concentration. You see, I've been crocheting for so long that I can literally crochet and read at the same time if I'm working on a simple pattern. I've reached a point where I can crochet by feel. Perhaps in another 20 years I'll be as skilled with my knitting. Until then, I'll listen to the TV as I knit.

Claire scarf pattern WIP
courtesy of Lynn Anne Banks
So I worked on the scarf for a bit and got about half way through it when I messed up a repeat. Rather than live with the mistake I chose to frog the whole thing and start it over when the weather started to cool down again. It seemed silly to knit a solid scarf which would be too warm and cuddly as spring approached. Besides, I'd been searching the Ravelry library and finding way too many beautiful lace patterns that I simply had to try. So much for completing (only) two projects in 2011. I currently have three different lace scarves on my needles, each with a different degree of difficulty, and I've completed two others as well as another cloth. The second cloth has a football helmet design, of course.

By the way, many of these stunning lace patterns require no purling whatsoever. Most of them are variations on knit such as knit 2 together or knit through back loop. Still, I've come to rely on this site for instruction and guidance when learning new techniques.

Marlene scarf/shawl pattern WIP
courtesy of Christine Ebers
So what's next? Well, I'm looking forward to finishing at least one of these scarves soon so I can move on to another pattern. I refuse to be one of those crafters who has a gazillion UFOs sitting in bags for years on end, so I won't allow myself more than three knit projects at a time. However, I'm in no real rush since I've already achieved my goal. Besides, there's always next year to start new projects.

Happy Knitting!

Here's a quick follow up to last weeks post: I finished reading Small Favor by Jim Butcher and absolutely loved it. And I'm about half way through Noble by David Hulegaard. I'll be posting that review soon. I'm going through Noble somewhat slowly because I've been reading shorter pieces here and there and not focusing on the novel except maybe a chapter or two at night before I go to sleep. My days have been full of kids and crochet with a bit of time set aside for knitting and reading.


  1. I really want to learn to knit so that I can make the Hermione hat in my Rav queue. However, I am making myself finish my CED goal by 2014 first... the desire to knit is just making me go a bit faster! :) Love your projects!

  2. Thanks Meg! The funny thing is that I'm actually finding knitting a bit easier than crochet. There are really only two stitches to learn. After 30+ years (Wha? OMG!) I'm still learning new crochet stitches. Plus, my "old lady hands" can tolerate the fine yarns and threads for knitted lace where I can't crochet with anything finer than sport weight. Even an F hook is sometimes too small for me to manage.

    I've been watching your progress... beautiful projects are coming off your hook.