Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lessons learnt by knitting

Stripes seem to be the new "in" look for shawls and other knits at the moment. I jumped on the bandwagon with the (free) Sencillo Shawlette.

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It was not the most enjoyable knit with 3 balls going at once - tangles, tangles, tangles. I tried all sorts of things to make the knitting easier but nothing seemed to help. It should have been a mindless garter stitch easy knit but ended up being just plain frustrating.

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I wanted to make myself a hot pink/black shawlette. But the yarn store didn't have what I wanted - the hot pink was only in a very expensive merino but no matching black. So I settled for John Q 4ply, a cheap alternative in a much more subtle colourway of lilac.

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The colour is pretty enough, but despite being purple, not really me. The yarn was scratchy and knit at a loose gauge looks "holey" in places rather than "fabulous drape". It improved a little with blocking but I will never buy this yarn again. I'm probably being overly harsh after being spoiled by so many lovely yarns from France, it's definitely an OK shawl, but just not what I wanted.

What should have been a nice relaxing knit was anything but. And now after all that yarn (about 400m) and time, I don't think I would ever wear it. The only consolation is that I think DH's Granny would like it so at least I have one thing off my Xmas knitting list.

Lesson 1: Don't settle for the cheap stuff. You deserve better.
Lesson 2: Read the pattern before you buy/cast on.
Lesson 3: Knitting with 3 balls at once sucks.

Now, I am not the only knitter in my house. Little Miss 9 is doing a great job with her little garter stitch projects (which I must blog). Moving on from little things her Nan found her a pattern for a simple child's scarf - garter stitch with a contrast edge, where the ends are folded up to make pockets. This seemed like the ideal "next step" project - still just knit stitch that she knows but an actual item, and something requiring a bit more effort and time.

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She started this in January. It languished for a long time until the knitting fairies visited last month and finished off the 2nd ball of yarn.

At this point DD wisely decided "it would do" - we had another ball yet to go (some 14ply unlabelled 100% wool we found at the last knitworld sale) but the thought of all that knitting (extra length required for pockets) was just too much. So a shorter pocket-less scarf it is.

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This scarf has lots of personality and design enhancements, as first projects often do.

Lesson 4: Scarves are not ideal projects for beginners. They take ages. Even bulky 14ply ones. Next time we'll be looking for something with instant gratification points. If you have any suggestions leave a link in the comments :)

So there you have it. Sometimes the knitting is about the project and sometimes it's about the process. There's always something to take away from every project.


  1. lol sorry, no help here. Only quickies I can think of are baby clothes.

    Oh, hey! Maybe a blanket? Yeah, I know, you said quick and small. But something like that one from Mason Dixon knitting? Where you knit up a ton of squares you sew together? The squares are instant gratification, and it'll allow for a lot of creativity on her part for how to color etc. And she can see the stack grow as she goes, before finally sewing up the blanket. And it'd be something she would be able to keep for years.

    If you don't know which one I'm talking about, PM me on Rav.

  2. Well even though it was a hassle to knit, the stripy scarfy thingy looks really nice. And love your daughter's scarf, the contrast edging is very cool!

    As for instant gratification projects, how about hats, small bags and cuffs (wristwarmwrs). Or even fingerless mitts -can be a garter rectangle, seamed down the edge, leaving hole for thumb. No shaping required!

  3. I really like it. It's very striking but sounds like it was a trial. I'm really surprised you stuck with it - and impressed that you did.

    I try and say that to people who are new to knitting and unhappy with their tools and yarn. It's worth getting the best you can afford to make it a more pleasurable and successful experience.

    I love that you've got a budding knitter in your family. That's just thrilling!