Thursday, February 5, 2009


Knitting doesn't scare me. Though I have been knitting for a relatively short time (coming up on 2 years) I have accepted that all I have to do to succeed in knitting is follow directions. The craziest, most whacked-out looking stuff in knitting all boils down to very simple directions and as long as you follow them dilligently and in the right order, you're fine. Skp? What the hell's a skp? Oh...slip knit pass slipped stitch over. Okay, I can do that. Piece of cake. It worried me when you crammed it all together like that but when you break it out, it makes sense. Just follow the directions. SSK? Slip slip knit? I needed a little expansion on that one but once again, pretty easy.

I have occasionally had issues with directions that I thought could maybe be broken down a little more - most notably, "pick up and knit." I was fine with the knit, but the "pick up" thing had me stymied for a while. Just...just pick it up? That's it? Pick it up how? Through where?

Fortunately for me I live in the age of the internet, a time when a panicked knitter with half a sock in her lap can google the living daylights out of something until she has read 6 different explanations of how to go about this thing and can therefore feel somewhat mentally prepared for following this unusually complex simple instruction.

The only new technique I have really abandonned as of this date is the toe-up sock. Not because it was hard...but because I couldn't get over the idea that it was STUPID. Intellectually I know that there are very good reasons to make a toe up sock. But as I sat there shortrowing and wrapping and contemplating the next step, I kept thinking, "I'd be halfway down the rib by now" and I just gave it up and went back to my unrepentant top-down sock knitting ways. However, this is temporary. Now I have to knit a freaking toe-up sock or I will never respect myself again. It probably didn't help that I tried this technique out of desperation with a sock yarn with which I had started a top-down sock that I then quit in the middle of because I HATED IT. Because I am a Harlot Whore (I know it sounds redundant, but I can't help it, it's what I am, but we'll talk about my constant desire to knit what Stephanie's knitting some other time - though did you see my noro scarf?) I decided to try the Leyburn sock and see if it could overcome my dislike for this colorway. So I tried to work a new technique in a yarn I hated and it didn't work. I. am. so. shocked.

I digress. Often, actually. Where was I?

Yes. Knitting does not scare me. Why, then, despite the fact that I have for the last year at least been determined to knit a sweater...not knitted a sweater? First it was a cost issue. I couldn't figure out how people were paying for these sweaters. I will admit I am a sucker and a bit of a spendthrift and I will buy just about anything - as long as it is cheap. I will put myself in the poorhouse with nickle and time purchases that add up and then I get to the counter and I'm like WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT'S THE TOTAL but I am there and I am too proud to back down so off goes the money. But offer me a seventy-dollar sweater and I will laugh in your face. So I had to find something inexpensive to knit it in, and I kind of did, only it was out of stock in the color I wanted and blah blah...

Enter the SO, who very sweetly gave me a sweater's worth of yarn for our anniversary back in October. I was thrilled, I was excited, I was initial sweater choice didn't seem right. I thought about it, but I worried. I didn't want to spend a lot of yarn and time on a sweater I would hate. I decided to look at other patterns. I narrowed it down to three. I debated which would be best. I conducted a poll of friends. I eliminated one. I waffled between the others. I didn't have the book for the sweater I wanted. Besides, it was Christmas season and I had some major knitting to do for Christmas so...I'd wait until the New Year.

Meanwhile a friend gave me the book with the sweater pattern I wanted and so lo, here I was, fully equipped and ready to embark on my sweater voyage...except I wasn't done with the Christmas knitting yet AND I had not double-pointed needles, which were a requirement. Normally I use double circulars or magic loop to do anything that would otherwise go on a dpn, but since I was going to be knitting a pentagon and not a circle...five needles seemed like an advantage (I am going to have to figure out something for the sixth, since I am not buying another package of double-points just to get one more needle).

Well, I finished the Christmas knitting and several sizes of DPNs are now sitting in a box on my table waiting for me and...I still have not started the sweater. I was going to swatch for it (I remembered later, that's what the unidentified yarn in the MLK day pile was) and then I looked at the pattern (duh) and realized I didn't have enough yarn to spare for swatching. Back in the pending pile it went. The SO generously offered to buy me another ball of the same yarn (but in a different color, as the one I am using for the sweater is backordered and it would be a different dyelot anyway) and so now I am waiting for that to get here so I can swatch, but I have to tell you, as we cruise into February and I have yay verily, not a stitch of a sweater on the needles...I might be a little afraid of the sweater. I may have built up some unreasonable sweater expectations.

My fear comes from 2 major quarters:

--This is a Norah Gaughan sweater and I am a little afraid that it might be too complicated for a first attempt - however, I am sticking to my experience which tells me that all I have to do is follow directions and I will be fine.
--It has seams.

That is the part that really gets me, I think. Seams are not knitting. Seams are sewing. I do many crafty things. I do not sew. At least, I do not sew in a way designed to make things actually look neat and hold together at the same time. I cross stitch. I am intellectually aware of the basics of making the seam. I have knitting books galore at home with detailed photographs of mattress stitch and a bunch of other seam-sewing techniques. But I have to say...I'm a little terrified of the seam. I know there are seamless sweaters out there but 1) I really like this one 2) I am a Harlot Whore and the Harlot says that learning to seam things is an essential knitting skill. And also, while I believe the Harlot to be a comedy writing genius...frankly I'm not sure that she knits better than me. Faster, for sure. Absolutely. With more confidence, definitely. And experience probably gives her an edge with regards to appropriate yarn choices for particular projects. But knitting is knitting and there really is no good or not good about it. As the Harlot long as you are ending up with socks at the end of the day and not (what was it, I loved that prhase...) wee knitted cows, you probably aren't doing too badly. My stitches are even and I have not stabbed anyone in the process of knitting. Although I probably have to give her colorwork. Colorwork takes some extra skills that I do not yet have. My one experience with it was mediocre at best. Fabric too tight, colors peaking through. Not so wonderful. So she does colorwork way better than me. Well, and there may be some levels of neatness about her edges that I have not acheived. But still! Regular knitting? Plain sweater knitting? I can totally do that.

It's just, you know. Seams. Also fit. And guage. And stuff.

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