|Adventures in Knitting: The Project
||[Apr. 27th, 2011|10:29 am]
Though once I was a pretty decent knitter, it's been decades, and I'm back to "inexperienced" (though experience is rushing in, as I make novice blunders and have to fix them.) I picked a large First Project, for several reasons, one of them the conviction that knitting and purling long, uninterrupted rows would help me get back my rhythm, which lay behind my (formerly) very even stitches. Lots of just plain knitting, garter stitch and stockinette, I thought, would be just the ticket for retraining my hands, now used to a lot of little up and down and slightly sideways movements of typing.
It might have been wiser not to change all the variables at once.
But hey, challenges are good for you, right? ER.... Well, anyway, I started off with something bigger than I'd ever done before, with unfamiliar yarn (I'd never knitted with synthetic yarn, or vari-colored yarn), and unfamiliar needles (I'd never knitted on a circular needle of any kind--had knitted in the round on double-pointed needles.) And here I am, a solid inch and a bit into the length of it (but 180 stitches wide, total width of fabric of around 40 inches.) About a thousand stitches in, I estimate. It is making a relaxing change from typing--my hands like it. So my new plan (as if any plan survives contact with real life) is to stop and knit a row whenever my hands start to hurt. And I can take it along on trips or anywhere else that "sit and wait" is likely to be necessary.
I have made a number of mistakes. I have fixed them, more or less. This is not the most beautiful, even, perfect stretch of knit you'll ever see. Tough. It's coming along.
Things I didn't know going in: the color variation in this yarn coincides with variations in the yarn's feel and behavior on the needles. The dark blue feels soft, well-spun, and flows nicely on the needle tips. The yellowish feels harsher, the twist opens up making it very easy to split the yarn, and "wants" to widen out stitches. In between the other colors (and the blends between them) have each their specific behaviors. On a circular needle, the work likes to inhabit the cable, where it's got more room to slide (the cable being of much smaller diameter than the needle points.) It has no desire to climb up onto the left hand needle (I'm a right-handed knitter--this is the needle whose stitches I knit into) and put itself in the comfortable spot to be worked. So instead of being able to knit nonstop across a row, I'm constantly (every 10 stitches or so) having to stop and move the work forward (until near the end of that row, when the weight of the work isn't on the cable pulling stitches back.) That doesn't allow me to build up the long rhythm I was hoping to, but I'm developing better tension and rhythm anyway. The cable is also naturally curly (the manufacturer of mine claims its cable doesn't have a memory and thus doesn't curl up, but...yes, it does. Maybe less, but it does.) Its ability (and desire) to curl in 3 dimensions leads to interesting topological forms, but also wildly twisting work and (at times) a tendency to get in my way. I may be crazy, but I think a limp, more cord-like cable would be easier to work with. And if asked, I'd prefer needle tips about an inch and a half longer. I have big hands; I would like to feel the back end of the needle (where it joins the cable) with the heel of my hand, because it would let me keep the yarn on the needle tip from slithereing back onto the cable when I don't want it to.
Still: it's coming. I'm now over a thousand stitches into it, and the thing is an inch long. It's looking less like a mess and more like something that might turn into its intended end--a 40 inch wide fabric of some sort (ultimately a small, child-sized blanket of ~40" x 48". I have relearned (or invented) some creative ways to fix mistakes, using a crochet hook, a spare double-ended needle and intense concentration. Some of these are, no doubt, unorthodox....faced with the need to rip off 160 stitches to "properly" fix one, I looked at it repeatedly for a couple of days and instead did something else. Then fixed the mess that made. Don't ask--I'm not telling.
Current images of the project: first is of the whole project on its needle and the yarn (note pink "stopper" on end of one needle point (near yarn ball); you can't really see the green stopper point on the other end in this shot. In the close-up image, it's the confusing bit of green on the other one, underneath the bit of knitting. That loose end of sage-green yarn is from the long-tail cast on. Yes, I should have pulled it straight for the picture. And turned the yarn ball so you could see the label. Sorry... The needle is KnitPicks Harmony wood. Love the feel and the little wood-on-wood click. The yarn is Berella Comfort, a nylon/acrylic blend, knitting worsted weight, and I'm using size 7 (US) needle tips. The white stitch markers are set where I'll want them for the design I've planned (20 stitch garter-stitch border throughout, 35 stitch alternating sections of garter and stockinette for the interior.