Friday, February 20, 2009

On Knitting

If I were to categorize myself, I'd say that in general I'm more of a crochet gal. Crochet is arguably more free form than knitting; it provides more immediate results, it's easier to hide your mistakes, and is less exacting. You can easily make things up while crocheting and don't even have to count stitches if you don't want to.

My mom taught me (and my little brother, who right now is making crazy crocheted costumes out at his grad school) how to crochet. I was in college when I learned and went through a spate of crocheting scarves and wonky looking hats and even one very, very embarrassing sweater where I used all leftover yarn and totally made up the pattern and didn't count anything. It's acrylic and horrid and striped and the arms are different shapes, but I digress.

Though knitting seemed painstaking to me, I always loved the look of smartly knit things. I love the tidiness of knitting. The put-together-simpleness. So though knitting seemed like something I'd never take on, I have been lucky enough to know a few knitters in my life.

You would think that with all the hullaballo around knitting these past years I would know more, but I actually only know three true knitters. Knitters that really are serious about their craft, that go beyond making a hat or scarf once a year and really pull out the big needles. They knit sweaters and bags and garments and they amaze me. The best thing about knowing serious knitters is that they sometimes gift you or barter with you for their sweet and tidy creations. I have a favorite black shrug that was knit by a dearest friend and given to me for my birthday. It is perfect for 3 seasons of nights out that have a little nip in the air (or not); it's consistently commented on and very well made. I have a bartered white knit bag that I like to carry around to the point of it getting perhaps a little too well-used looking. I have a new red hat this winter and cute grey fingerless gloves. Knitted gifts are really the best gifts.

So after all this knit love and lust, Ms. Alyssa (the shrug knitter) decided to teach me how to knit.

The first attempt she made laid the groundwork, but unfortunately didn't take right away. A year ago I knit a cell phone case. The stitches vary in size and the whole thing is way too big and though she left me with my very own pair of wooden needles, they were left in my big basket of fiber project stuff for, oh, the rest of the year.
Then some bug bit. It may be that cliched old thing about pregnant women picking up knitting to make baby things, I dunno, but suddenly I wanted to try again.

A has one of the aforementioned wonky hats from my crochet days. A little too pointy on top, and a crappy blend before I knew any better than to just buy cheap yarn; overall he's been a saint for wearing it all these winters with no complaints. So I decided that for my first real knitting project, I'd knit him a new winter hat.
Lyss was kind enough to jog my knitting memories one day while I was over at her place making marmalade.
Funny thing: I found out that knitting can be almost as free form, make-it-up-as-you-go as crocheting. I am not a real knitter, and I only know knit and purl, but still the possibilities are clear. AND, as any new knitter can tell you, it's kind of addictive.

So I knit A this hat in just a few days. Knitting while watching the daily show online, while listening to radiolab, while in the plane to visit A' s folks. While still on our trip, the knitting itch continued and so thought I'd try to make a matching hat for The Bean. I didn't really know what I was doing, and am accustomed to just making stuff up and trying it out, (sometimes failing miserably, of course) so I thought I'd just try 1/2-ing the stitches (for what will be a much smaller newborn noggin). Those few stitches were too small for the circular needles so I knit it straight with intent to sew it together on a seam. Turned out too small, so I knit a smaller section and kinda grafted it on.
I guess I'm back to my old fudging-it crochet tricks. It's not perfect, and after a few projects I know that knitting is not my true calling. I likely will forever be a one or two projects a year kind a knitter. A hat knitter. A scarf knitter. A knit and purl simple-stuff kind of knitter (but a happy knitter). And that's why I feel so lucky to know the knitters I DO know, who kindly send their knit love my way, and I rejoice.

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Alyssa said...

ha! i said i'd never be a real knitter either! (or knit socks until i was a grandma!)

plus, we need something to do together when we are sittin on the porch drinkin blue moon when the children have grown up ;)

the hats are lovely!

karen said...

these hats are great!
it was YEARS before i felt confident a) knitting hats, and b) fudging things to work with my needs...
deny it all you want, but, friend, you are a true knitter. on part-time-only status.
it's good to see this.

shanna said...

this was such a joy to read, Megan.
On a totally unrelated note, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you about my RSS feed. I'm not sure what went wrong, and have been emailing support teams for help, but no solution is in sight. I hope to resolve the issue soon. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I do hope you're still stopping by from time to time! xo

Anonymous said...

SO! I just found this blog. I keep losing track of you on the blog front. But Megan, those are some very very cute hats! Knitting is more precise than crochet, and I too began as a crocheter, but I found that there are so many more patterns out there for garments that are knit than crochet and I just prefer the look of knitted garments. But if I'm going to make a blanket or a piece of lace, I'll always prefer to crochet it.

Someday, I do hope to have the time, patience and expertise to come up with my own designs. I rely so heavily on patterns, but now that I've been knitting for a few years, I'm definitely becoming more comfortable straying from a pattern, adapting it, morphing it to make it work for me, fudging a little. So hopefully I'll get there someday.

I highly recommend you pick up some books by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Her patterns are classic, and they're more formulas than patterns - so easy to adapt. The sweater I made for Finn is an EZ pattern from her book The Knitter's Almanac and it was a joy to knit. Lots of people have even knit it in an adult woman's version.

My next big adventure is learning to spin this fall. I can't tell you how excited I am about it. The idea of being able to spin my own yarn and THEN knit it really, really excites me. THEN I must learn to DYE my own and I'll be able to do it all - all I'll need is a sheep!

Love you!