Monday, May 17, 2010

Adventures in Knitting

Let me introduce myself. My name is Stomper Girl, and I am a beginner crafter, with my L-plates firmly stuck to the back of my sewing machine. In 2007 I received my first knitting lesson (and here's my first ever completed project, oh the pride) but I've also tried my hand at t-shirt embellishment, card-making, and sewing (bags, soft toys, clothing, bunting and tea-towels to name a few.) Actually, now I look back on it, there's a goodly swag of creations. I might be eligible for P-plates soon.

Craft Mosaic
Craft Mosaic2

I think the reason why I've cast my net so wide is my shortish attention span and my gung-ho attitude : I can probably do that! and I don't really care if it's a bit crap.

Anyway. My sewing machine is a bit dodgy at the moment so although I have plans for some skirt-making, I've put them to one side and picked up my knitting again, which was neglected during the hot summer months. Ages ago, I'd flicked through my own Bible of Beginner Crafting (aka the Meet Me At Mikes book) and liked the look of the Chevron Clutch by Kylie of Kgirlknits. The specifications called for 2 skeins of Noro Silk Garden Yarn, but because I am gung-ho and all about instant gratification (if I want to start a project I want to start it now, right now) I just wandered into Lincraft, couldn't find any Noro yarn and without further ado picked up a skein of purplish variegated yarn that said it was silk. Then I put it in the knitting bag and forgot about it over summer.

chevron clutch 3006

But, as I said: dodgy sewing machine, cooler weather = knitting. So now I will tell you about the things I have learned since commencing work on the Chevron Clutch.
  1. If you buy yarn in a skein you should wind it into a ball BEFORE you start knitting with it. Otherwise there will be tangles.
  2. To wind your skein into a ball you should use the back of a chair, (or your offspring's hands but I doubt modern children would put up with this the way both Fixit's parents tell me they were forced to) or better still get a methodical friend to do it for you.

    nell winds the skein 3000
    (Nell with another skein of wool found in an op-shop by Pea Soup and kindly given to me because of my known colour preferences. Basil is helping her.)

    On no account should you attempt this in the car while waiting to pick the kids up from school. This will result in tangles. (It is also not advisable to let your kitty get involved with your yarn but if you are still in the he's so new and so cute love stage you'll probably ignore this advice.) If you, like me, are gung-ho, and completely ignorant of knitting lore, then pray you have a nice Mother-in-Law who will sit patiently with you on Mother's Day and help you detangle, despite her arthritic fingers.
  3. Don't make uninformed guesses about wool substitution. Just don't. The yarn I started with was too thick, and too stiff, knotty and bobbly. This meant that knitting in front and back was a nightmare, and a row of purl (110 stitches) took me 35 minutes and made me late for pick-up, plus gave me severe cramps in my hand. I ended up pulling the whole thing out. The yarn itself is now in about 5 small balls of wool due to it's breaking during skein detanglement, oh, and the bit the kitty bit off. If I ever get over my hatred of it (and let's face it, it wasn't the wool's fault that I used the wrong needles and pattern on it) I might make a scarf, but only after I get proper knitting advice on what needles to use. Which might be tricky seeing as I threw out the cardboard label telling me the specifications.
    bad wool chevron2988

  4. The bit I really really hate about knitting is stitch counting. And because I am a crap knitter I have to go back and count my stitches a lot. Especially if I am knitting and watching telly. And I quite often have little knitty accidents like pulling too hard to get a stitch off and losing the next one or just stitches sliding merrily off the needle when I take a sip of wine and then I have to go back and count again, and man that's annoying.
In the end I went to a wool shop and asked someone for help. She counted stitches against a ruler and said 8-ply was the answer, so I bought some [purple] 8-ply. And I've got the chevron pattern happening now but this is going to take a while to knit I think. My technique is a bit dodgy so I'm still working out how to move the knitting along the needle smoothly for the next stitch - there MUST be a better way than I'm doing at the moment which involves stabbing my index finger repeatedly with the pointy end of the needle, I'm sure that's not how the clicketty knitters do it. Also someone commented once on the fact that I lift my hand off the needle to pass the wool around so I'm trying not to do that but it all feels a bit crap and since everyone seems to have a slightly different technique I haven't done much research on correcting mine. Because gung-ho, instant gratification etc.

Also, when I look at the picture in the pattern, I seem to have way more chevrons than the clutch so I'm a bit worried about that.Not enough to stop, mind and research it. But I seem to have 10 dip-down bits and clutch looks like it has 5. Does anyone else think that? *Edited to add, I went back to check the pattern, you fold it in half and sew it together at the side, thus the need for twice as many. Make that 5 things I've learned doing this project: 5. Reading the whole pattern before you start is a good idea.

chevron knitting3007

Anyway, it's good to learn stuff, even if, like me, you do it the hard way!


  1. Since you are doing something (a) in a pretty pattern and (b) not in the shape of a scarf, you have my complete admiration. I take my hat off to you - knitting has me flumoxed. I can't wait to see how it looks when you finish. Good luck!

    (And in my opinion, you can never have too many chevrons)

  2. Stomper, you're amazing! Good on you for diving in headfirst. Looks like you might have zoomed right past the need for P plates.

  3. Looks pretty good to me.

    Your lessons on dealing with a skein are giving me flashbacks! I used my dining chairs in much the same way.

    Oh, and even though I've been knitting a long time, I still take my hand off to move the wool around. It's a case of whatever works and feels comfortable, I say.

    Looking forward to seeing the final product.

  4. Hoorah! I am a thrower too. This is not a rude term, this means I lift my hand off the needle and chuck the yarn over, and tehn I also poke the needle back through with my thumb which is not KNITTING APPROVED but essentially, who cares. I mean, using your finger to wrap the yarn does have advantages, it's certainly easy on the wrist, but I could just never master it. And look how many jumpers I have! If it gets you knitted fabric, that means you are doing it right.

    I dunno about the chevronny bits but I would suggest that it might be because they are all cramped up on the needle. You may be able to see them better when you have an inch or two of fabric and it will lay a bit flatter. I'd also be encouraged by the fact that it's exactly double - maybe it's an up and a down, but on the pic you're just counting one bit?

  5. man youleft any plates behind with the amazing outcome of the rainbow swap - in fact I believe matey who kust won the Monaco Grand Prix is planning in contacting you for tips...

  6. I am very inspired.
    I am want to learn to knit (again)
    and do some dishcloths.
    Need to galvanise myself away from garden and kitchen and LEARN!!!

  7. awesome! I think having a go is the only way.

    My winter project is going to be a vest from a pattern. Already I have different wool and different body to that specified. So my mum told me to a) do swatch and b) get out my tape measure and calculator and rewrite the pattern. As if it was easy! Then she'll help me! But she did unwind a skein.

    Can't wait to see your chevrons!

  8. I am so very proud of you, and I agree with the others, you are way past those P plates!

    I just love that photo of Nell and the kitty, he is super dooper cute and clearly he loves Nell as much as we do!

    I am so much like you in that I start things and never finish them. I love knitting, I have made some gorgeous things, but when it comes to stitching it all together...FAIL. I can't be bothered. Many babies born to my friends and family have gone naked because of my lazy attitude.

    I have started tapestries, crocheting, knitting, sewing...yes, I am a closet crafter (I hope Melinda doesn't see this). Finishing is not my forte.

  9. Oh Aunty I KNEW it! Closet crafter. I alone am the uncrafty one. The unchosen one.

    I notice a lot of purple in that montage! Purple wool, yummy. So lovely for winter things I bet. I was thinking how "helpful" Basil looks in that photo. I would not scold him either as he is too cute and purplish.

  10. Your new kitty is just fabulous. Ours feels like he is made of silk.
    I love to knit, but like you, can only do so in the winter. I have a half finished scarf that I might finish this year! haha.

  11. Kitties and knitting - never a good combination.
    I can't believe you've taken up the needles! Go Stomper. (PS: Want a job in knitting??).

  12. Yep, I just KNEW you and I were knitting sisters.

    I too am capable of knitting, I just choose not to very often.

    The kitty bits would be exceptionally challenging, especially on the chastising front.

    And it is worth suffering sometimes for our knitting aspirations, e.g. with poked forefingers while moving the work along the needles.

    I am trying Very Hard to avoid knitting this winter. It remains to be seen whether I will be usccessful, however my 'study/crafting space' is So cluttered I can barely find a thing, so I think I am safe.

  13. Hello - I am Isabelle's daughter, and I often read but rarely comment...

    I learned to knit about two years ago and all this sounds SO familiar. It does get better, especially the "moving the stitches on the needle" bit. Somehow you loosen up with practice and it all gets easier. I have never stopped letting go of my left needle, though - it works for me, and I can go quite fast, so I'm not too worried about it.

    I guess Suse has probably told you about Ravelry? It is a perfect resource for those moments when you realise the wool isn't working with the pattern.

  14. Hi K! Was it you made the shawl for your grandmother? Cos that was lovely. I actually joined Ravelry last week but I've no idea what I'm doing there! So I visited once, basically, when I signed up. Still feel too amateurish, I guess.

    I'm glad the moving the knitting along gets easier frankly because I am sick of stabbing my poor finger.

  15. Go Stomper! I'd say you are well past your P-Plates on the crafting angle.

    The only way to deal with a skein of wool is to have a willing accomplice, and no helpful kitty. My children are not so much willing as bribable. When in doubt husbands/boyfriends are equally bribable.

    I hate stitch counting too. My rule with knitting patterns is that it can't have more than a 5 row repeat on the pattern. I like to be able to memorise the pattern and once had to refer to the basic pattern for nearly every stitch which drove me MAD.

    Enuf warbling. Bye.

  16. Maaate! It's looking good!


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