Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Knitting Stubbornly; Or, How I've Gracefully Surpassed the Stubbornness

In the last post I said there were a few skills that I'd chosen to ignore. Today's post outlines a few of the techniques that were once on that "gracefully ignore" list, and have subsequently moved in to the "knitting bits I've accomplished" basket (and why it was worth-my-while to move them there!)

One-time Avoidance #1: The Turned Hem
"Provisional cast-on" still strikes just that tiny bit of fear into my heart. But after playing with this technique a few times, its benefits are clear. I had one of those giddy ah-ha! moments when first I turned a hem. The end result was so pretty, and really didn't require all that much mental calisthenics.
Why it was worth my while: Having the ability to turn a hem takes away the necessity of ribbing (or some other such flat-lying-knit-fun), and of course ribbing isn't a desirable effect for every garment.

One-time Avoidance #2: The Circular Needle
They used to freak me out with all their bendy freakiness. I was an adamant dpn user for the first year or so of my knitting.
Why it was worth my while: One word - Interchangeables! They make me a very happy knitter indeed. Not to mention the ease of seamless knitting when you use circs.

One-time Avoidance #3: The Cable Charting
Once I took the time to understand a chart, I knew I wanted to be able to make those twisty turns twist and turn in my very own, rather unique, ways. I thought it might be a difficult task, but referring to Eunny's Unventing a Cable post, I overcame the technique fear.
Why it was worth my while: It entirely broke down my fear of the intricate cable. There are so many lovely cable designs out there that look intimidating, but once you understand how to "unravel" them, they suddenly seem accomplish-able.

One-time Avoidance #4: The Gauge Swatch
Ok, ok, I don't actually do gauge swatches, but I do pay attention to gauge.
I personally don't advocate the making of the swatch just to be a swatch. I can't do it myself, because it seems to me a large, and very sad, waste of beautiful yarn. Instead I put my inital trust in the yarn label, cast on, see how accurate it is (and honestly, it usually isn't) and then frog back and re-cast on accordingly. Wasted time? Possibly. Wasted yarn? Not at all.
Why it was worth my while: Ease is everything. I very quickly got sick of patterns that were waaay too big on me. And I also very rarely had the same yarn to hand as called for in the pattern. Subbing and modding was, is, and always will be, my lifeblood.

One-time Avoidance #5: The Short-Row Shaping
The whole "wrap and turn" thing messed with my head, and, being a fan of the extreme negative ease, I didn't see the use for this technique.
Why it was worth my while: Duh, totally fun shaping! My most recent applications of it have been on necklines (see Gaets and Arethusa for examples). I'm sure I'll be able to whip that one out for other garment aspects, but the neckline applications alone are exciting!

One-time Avoidance #6: The *gasp* crochet
Other than the afghan and decorative toilet-paper-roll-cover, I once saw no need for this skill.
Why it was worth my while: So many reasons! Crochet does have limitations, but partnered with knitting, a few basic stitches go a long way. See my one-time avoidance #1 for a great application. It also creates an "i-cord" with great ease, and allows for pretty little details (see scalloped edges on Anne Elliot neckline).


patricia said...

I don't see why you call gauge swatching a waste of yarn, I put on the stitches on the label plus a few extra, do some ten or so rows and consider that to be my swatch then I frog it and start the real project, no waste of yarn here

Hilary said...

I was, like you, at one time a #5 avoider, but I think it's fair to say that once I figured them out short rows changed my life! I use 'em mostly to shape collars or to raise the backs of sweaters, since I don't have enough bustage to need short rows for things like darts. And the gauge swatch...I hear ya. So I do a really dinky one, then rip it out. Oh, and I love turned hems, too!

Anonymous said...

I love these posts about your stubbornness! Great read, thanks!