Knitting – A Review of My First Year

I realized the other day that I had somehow missed the first anniversary of the start of my adventures in knitting.  Unlike cross stitch (which I learned by myself in drips and drabs), I took lessons at a shop to learn to knit.  My first lesson was on September 15th of last year.  That night we covered knitting, purling, casting on and casting off.  Over the remaining seven weeks, we also covered simple stitch patterns, cables, lace, reading charts and seaming things together.  (I later took a finishing class to learn more about the latter.)

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I never did finish my first project, a sampler pillow.  I have all but the cable panel done, and really should put it together once I have my Christmas knitting done.  But, as all you crafters (fibre artists?, knitterly and cross stitcherly people?) know, there is always a new project waiting to be started, and it is so difficult to find the motivation to go back to an old, only sort-of-loved project.

Sampler Pillow, Unfinished

Sampler Pillow, Unfinished

I’ve learned a lot in my first year of knitting.  I’ve read books by Elizabeth Zimmermann, the Yarn Harlot and other knitting greats.  I’ve spent a lot of time on the Ravlery forums and KnittingHelp.com, and I’m reading my way through the TECHknitting blog.  This has given me the courage to try a lot of things:

  • cables (Central Park Hoodie, socks and dish cloths)
  • lace (Lotus Blossom Shawl, Tesla, and other pieces)
  • socks (eight pairs at last count) – this includes knitting on dpns, two circular needles, two socks at once on two circular needles, turning heels, different types of heels and toes, toe up and top down, Kitchener stitch
  • an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern (Baby Surprise Jacket from the new, easier to understand pattern)
  • garments for Baby Man (top down sweater with raglan sleeves, and a jacket done in pieces)
  • entrelac (even though I ripped it out because the yarn was ugly)
  • different increase and decrease methods
  • short rows
  • modifying patterns (like shaping CPH shoulders with short rows and combining the smallest size of the pattern, to get the right length, with the size that reflects my bust measurement, to get the right circumference)

Not bad, I think, for a new knitter. I think the reason that I have tried so many things is that I didn’t know I was supposed to be afraid of anything.  I had no idea using dpns was supposed to be hard, or that turning a heel was difficult.  I just followed the directions and forged ahead.  I’ve also learned to buy the best materials and tools I can afford.  Knitting is so much more enjoyable when using nice wooden needles instead of the awful cheap plastic ones.  (Some people do like plastic needles though, so to each their own.)

This year I want to try fair isle socks (the ones from this pattern book), the magic loop method, and maybe intarsia if I find something I like, and who knows that else. My queue on Ravelry is big, and for every project on it, there is at least one more that I want to do but haven’t listed.  I’d especially like to knit an afghan for the family to snuggle up under, but I just haven’t found the right one.

My most favourite thing I’ve knit is my Central Park Hoodie, which I haven’t photographed yet.  And the thing I like the least is my Pretty Comfy Socks, because the patterning on the yarn makes them look awful when worn and the YO holes from the lace pattern just look like holes. If you’d like to see pictures of everything I’ve finished over the past year, you can check out my gallery.

One interesting thing I discovered when I started knitting is that I react badly to wool and other animal fibres, including alpaca.  Yes, I’m one of those people with the impossible wool allergy. (I am mildly allergic to my cat, so why I was surprised, I will never know.)  Everyone likes to say that it doesn’t happen, but when I am around animal fibres my tongue swells, my mouth itches, and my asthma acts up badly.  If I touch the yarn for more than a quick squeeze, I have a skin reaction too.  Honestly, I keep trying to tell myself that it is all in my head.  I really, really want to be able to knit with Noro sock yarn and Dream in Color Smooshy and cashmere and all of the other lovely yarns that are out there.  Every once in a while I will go to a shop and squeeze the wool/animal fibre yarns and hope that nothing happens, but they all feel like steel wool to me (even the very softest stuff like Qiviuk).  And, invariable, I begin to feel signs of a reaction coming on.  Oh how I wish that it is all psychosomatic.

I really enjoy knitting.  It is quick, fairly easy, and child-friendly.  But, honestly, my first love is cross stitch.  And, I suspect when Baby Man gets older and it isn’t dangerous to keep scissors and needles around him, I will likely knit a lot less and cross stitch a lot more.  But, in the meantime, at least I am keeping busy and productive.

To close off, here is my latest project, a dishcloth from Kris Knit’s Thanksgiving/Autumn Cloths, knit using Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Naturals in colour 23013 Terra Firma.

Leaf Cloth from Kris Knits

Leaf Cloth from Kris Knits

One more thing!  Don’t forget to vote for the Swirlgig you like best over at Stitch Bitch.

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