Monday, January 13, 2014

Two sticks

insert screechy-needle-on-record sound here

Lately, I've been working with two sticks, instead of one. This is pretty darn miraculous. I'd wanted to learn how to knit for a long time and had tried on a few different occasions, but I couldn't get past the casting-on stage. In fact, I couldn't really cast on at all. I ended up with a big knot, or extra loops that came from nowhere. I also couldn't hold the needles correctly and my arms would hurt after awhile. My hands hurt too, because I kept a death-grip on the needles. It was anything but enjoyable when I attempted to knit.

I've known the basics of crochet since I was a child, maybe eight or nine years old, and I've been seriously crocheting for a couple of years now. My crochet skills are moderate, I'd say, and I'm happy with that. There's always more to learn, and I will. I've wanted to figure out knitting too, especially as I become more knowledgeable with crochet. It seems like a good idea to know how to do both and there are so many wonderful things to make. I could crochet most items, but some look better knitted, to me. Maybe they work better too, I'm not sure. In any case, my knitting journey has barely begun. I'm not making plans yet, but I'm excited to be on the cusp.

So what changed for me? For years, I tried learning from numerous books. The Bear even tried to help me, by teaching himself (from one of the books), then attempting to teach me. This patient man! It was so nice of him but I still couldn't figure it out. Recently, I decided to try videos. A few months ago, I found a video which has really worked for me, on a website called KnittingHelp.com. This video, How to Knit: A Complete Introduction, is great! The instructor's demonstrations are clear and simple. I watched it about ten times before I started trying with my own needles and yarn, which helped me get my mind around the whole thing in a way I'd never been able to before. Casting-on suddenly made more sense, and I was able to make my fingers move properly. There were no giant tangles of yarn. Even the knit stitch seemed easy-ish all of a sudden. Or, at least not the witchcraft it had seemed like before. I ripped back and re-started many, many times, but I can do it, basically. For the past two weeks, I've been practicing my knitting.

Oh, you know, just knitting away the afternoon at the kitchen table in my Cath Kidston apron. 


It turns out that I feel most comfortable "picking" the yarn, as opposed to wrapping it. I've been holding the yarn in my left hand, around my index finger. My understanding is that this may be similar to the Continental style of knitting? All I know is that I find the other way, the wrapping, to be awkward. I feel like I need an extra hand. I am getting better at keeping the stitches close to the ends of the needles, though I learned that lesson by stabbing my fingertips a few too many times trying to take each stitch off the left-hand needle. Sometimes it takes an injury or twelve to teach me a new trick. One thing I appreciate about crochet is the reduced stabbiness, especially in the learning stage. But it's getting better and that feels good.

It took me almost a week to knit this much.

My knitting is painfully slow, and kind of messy. The stitches are lumpy and bumpy, and there are holes where I dropped a few stitches. I've been working with my "big" swatch, where I cast on a lot of stitches and didn't pay much attention to how well they fit on the needle. These are size 8 needles, with worsted-weight yarn. I think I'd have been better off with shorter needles. But I am improving; my work is looking much neater than it did at first. My tension is more consistent, and I'm not dropping as many stitches anymore. I'm relaxing my grip on the needles and learning to hold the yarn gently. I even get a clicky sound now and then.

 So here's what I've got after two weeks of painstaking "picking." Drum roll, please...



I'm actually knitting. It's about seven inches from the bottom up to the needle. It's around thirty rows, I think. The stitches have gotten much neater and I like the way it stretches. I feel that I may almost be ready to attempt purling. This is serious progress, both in my head and on my long-suffering needles. Knitting is not so daunting anymore. I'm beginning to understand why people enjoy it so much. Occasionally, I get into that trance-like state where it's all working well and I have a good rhythm going. I know the feeling well from crochet. I have a long way to go with knitting, but I'm enjoying it. I knitted while watching the Call the Midwife Christmas special, which was a nice way to spend an evening. I did feel a little smug when I saw Chummy using the granny-square afghan that the other midwives "knitted" for her last season during her pregnancy - I know the difference and I can do some of each. There's a lot to learn but I think I'm ready. And I do have a goal project loosely in mind - one of these - for the next new baby who comes along. If no babies, then maybe a bigger one for a big person - I know just the guy.

What about you? Are you a classy crocheter or are you a natty knitter? Or are you one of those amazingly talented beings who can do both? 

50 comments:

  1. Yay for you! I like to knit, and have knitted scarves and potholders... but that's the extent of it. I'd really like to learn more. I know you will!

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  2. Well done Jennifer!! Way to go for conquering this. I am sure that you will just get better and better as time goes on. I hope that you love it as much as you love your crochet - but don't give up the crochet as I love seeing what you make! xx

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  3. Good on you and well done learning a new technique. It is very irritating but practice does make perfect and if you are comfortable with one craft then there are numerous little tricks and technique points that you'll put into practice without even thinking about it. Look forward to seeing what else you knit.

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  4. Well, done for your perseverance Jennifer, there is no right or wrong way to hold your needles or your yarn it's whatever feels best for you, you are doing great! :)

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  5. Oh it's great that you are beginning to master knitting. I haven't knitted for years but I remember the thrill of completing my first project. Keep up the good work and look forward to seeing the end result. I'm behind with my reading so no doubt you have other posts I will catch up with this evening!
    Patricia x

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  6. Well done! I've knitted for years but couldn't crochet for toffee until recently... so I know just how much patience is involved in making the first steps. Enjoy your new woolly journey! Jx

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  7. Yay,yay and thrice YAY!
    Well done Jennifer.
    Keep on clicking x

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  8. Yeah! Your swatch looks great. I also learned to knit by videos, mostly utube. I didn't know anyone who could knit and the only classes I found locally were during my working hours. So I finally taught myself using the computer and I'm so happy I did. I'm also a "picker" because I've crocheted for almost 47 years now. Holding the yarn in my left hand just feels natural to me. I hope you continue to enjoy knitting. I go back and forth between knit and crochet now constantly and can't imagine not doing either one.
    I'm so happy you've mastered knitting and shared your newfound skill with us. Enjoy!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  9. I knew we'd convert you to 'The Two Sticks Side' at some point! I was the other way round a few years ago; I could knit, but my crochet was very basic (I could go round and round, but I couldn't work out how to go back and forth in rows!).

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  10. well done - I still feel new to knitting, it doesn't feel as natural to me as crochet, but I like what you can do with it! I look forward to seeing all your knitted makes!

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  11. yay for knitting, I learnt to knit but find it much harder than crochet which come more instinctively to me, I also remember that episode of Call the Midwife and at the time laughing and say you can't knit a crocheted blanket. Happy Knitting
    Clare xxx

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  12. Well done for persevering... it looks great. My friends and I are going on a beginners crochet course in May as we can all knit but not crochet. Julie x

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  13. Good for you!!!!! I have started knitting just this past fall. I too learned from those videos and now am off to take a class at our local fabric store. Your work looks awesome and I am sending you a huge high five over the computer! Keep it up lady!!! Nicole

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  14. I love this Jennifer. It's so nice to see someone that I admire learning and enjoying a new skill. It gives me hope!! I have knitted my scarf. It is lumpy and bumpy, but I love it because I made it.

    (I can practically hear you saying to yourself "Admire? Me? Why?" Well I do. Your honesty and generosity and bravery comes accross so well. And I admire your crafty loveliness too!)

    Leanne xx

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  15. This is great Jennifer! Before long you'll be knitting your gorgeous daughter a dress and maybe hats for the rest of the family. There will be no stopping you once you mastered the purl, too. Funny coincidence, my post today was about knitting. Thanks for stopping by and commenting btw. You are holding the yarn the same way I do, it is very efficient and fast and yes, I think it might be continental style. Cx

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  16. I just recently learned to knit as well. In the beginning my fingers would cramp and my hands would hurt but now I think I'm getting the rhythm of it. So far I've made a scarf for myself. I need way more practice but it's enjoyable anyway. Keep at it. You'll have it down in no time.

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  17. You're doing just great Jennifer! I think you've got it down pat! I'm so much better at crochet than I am at knitting and way faster too. I tell myself that it's because I learned how to crochet way before I ever tried to knit. Having a needle in both hands is so much harder than just one hook, for me anyway. Keep up the good work. You're really doing beautifully....and thanks for the instructional link! xo

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  18. Go You!You're making a great job of your first attempt....keep going. Do you have any local knitting groups in your area? You'll find lots of 'enablers' there who would be more than happy to help you if you can get to one.Also, maybe try and find a 'beginners' knitting group' on Ravelry for extra support? I love both knitting and crochet and am happy which ever one I'm doing at the time.x

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  19. Well done you, I know you're going to love knitting.

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  20. Knitting is a wonderful pastime and it appears you have taken to it nicely.
    In my neck of the woods Winter can be a long season and it helps to have something productive on the needles to pass the time.
    Enjoy...
    Susan

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  21. Good for you Jennifer. My Mom taught me the basics many years ago. Last month I bought a skein of yarn and set of needles, thinking I would remember or figure it out. Ha! Like you, I can't cast on. I read some instructions, but still messed up. I'm looking for the group that meets at the library to start again so I can go for help. Maybe I should look for a video too! :)

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  22. Congratulations! It looks super - and you've thrown down the gauntlet, because I've vowed to re-learn how to knit this year... ;-) Chrissie x

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  23. Congratulations to you! I admire you stepping up to the challenge. I knit and crochet, and one of my sons is a wonderful knitter as well. I can't help but feel that your way is quite challenging. I have seen expert knitters do it your way. I think it takes a great deal of skill. But I think wanting to hook the yarn may come from learning crochet first. At any rate you are off to a beautiful start! Aren't we glad the temps are back up here? Now it's time for me to complain about wind! haha!

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  24. OH well done Jennifer - practice makes perfect and you've already made huge strides into 'the knitting world'. Congratulations on your sheer determination - you are a WINNER! Oh and BTW, that little baby blanket will be super! Hugs, Joy xo

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  25. Hooray! Good for you! What a terrific husband you have there :) Definitely a keeper!
    I've tried to teach myself to crochet - fail! I've done it through books but aha! A video...never thought of that. Can't wait to see all of your finished knitting projects!!! Have fun.

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  26. You are waaay ahead of me! I neither knit nor crochet. But I do quilt, and with the amount of hoarded fabric and bookmarked ideas in my library of quilt books, I better just stick to that skill!
    I love to watch people knit or crochet - I have seen that rhythmic process take hold and the project just flows from fingers that are contentedly happy making something beautiful happen!

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  27. Like you I knew crochet basics as a child but had done very little until I found Attic24 a few years ago and then crochet became my first love but knitting is something I have always done (although with some long breaks!) i think you need to swap around crafts, helps your hands/wrists for one thing and it stops you forgetting parts of the "skills" you have learned. At the moment I have sewing, knitting, crochet and cross stitch projects all on the go!
    Keep practising you will soon be an ace knitter. Socks are a very satisying project.
    Carol xx

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  28. Well done for your perseverance- i neither knit nor crochet- but am determined to learn at some point- your first project looks impressive. I really like the soft gentle colour of the yarn too:)

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  29. Go you ☺ I knit sometimes and agree with the stabbiness.....
    Been working on a pair of socks for a year lol that slow... but do enjoy
    Love crochet though.

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  30. I can knit, but crochet is another story :) My mother was great at crochet and made beautiful blankets etc. She tried teaching me, but it never stuck! Good luck with your new craft, it looks like you're doing great!

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  31. Jennifer,
    My hat is off to you for conquering this skill and knitting away-I am an off and on again crocheter. I use to make quite a few nifty pieces and just maybe- after seeing your nice work I may be enthused enough to try again! Thanks for the inspiration-
    Jemma

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  32. Bravo!
    I can do both...but....I am bad at casting on....much like you!
    I actually knitted quite a few sweaters, back in the 80's....even an argyle one!
    I have also been thinking of re-sharpening my skills....perhaps a class at Michaels..in the spring!
    I also agree....the knitting patterns seem to have a lot more selection....
    Good luck....keep us posted!
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  33. Good for you to learn both.. I also like having both skills and it came in handy when I knitted the dress for Alicia Paulson's bunny I made last year. Knit is great for scarves, too.. they come out a lot more drapey. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  34. That is wonderful that you are giving knitting a try. I have to say I love both and can't leave without one or the other. If I do too much knitting I miss crocheting. Immensely and if I start just crocheting I have to go get a knitting project started so I decided I love both, I do both and I'm happy... So great Johan d you are doing wonderful. Your stitches look very good and you are going to do wonderful. Can't wait to see your next knitting project :) congratulations !

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  35. Well done, Jennifer! You are making great progress and have encouraged me as I continue to practice continental knitting. I have not tried purling yet with this method, but I am feeling much more comfortable with the knitting stitch. I love the pattern you linked to :) I love knittinghelp.come as well, and need re-visit her wonderful videos! xx

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  36. I love it when someone perseveres like this. You will find it gets easier. I'm the opposite....been knitting since the age of 7 and have only recently started to crochet. I'm determined to master crochet as I agree that they both have their uses.

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  37. ¡Lo estás haciendo muy bien Jennifer! Yo hice una pequeña manta (con muchas imperfecciones), pero salió de mis manos y eso me hace feliz. Hugs :D

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  38. Look at you go!!! I am so proud of you and using the Continental style, too! I am a thrower, I throw that yarn and that is the only way for me although I have tried it the other way, and I hear it is faster, but I am okay knitting the way I do. I think this will open up a world of possibilities for you. I love them both, crochet and knitting that is and sometimes I just have to have a hook in my hand and sometimes it is two needles.
    Good luck and let me know if I can be of any help to you.
    Meredith

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  39. Before I ramble on about how excited I am to have just read this post, I want to say well done you for persevering and finally getting there and it is looking great!! You must be so chuffed! It is on the cards for this year as I have been wanting to have a go for so many years and I have failed to make the time, but this year I hope to make a start so thank you for sharing this video link with us, I am sure I will make good use of it. Love the fact that hubby helped, aren't we lucky to have such devoted men! Sending much love xoxo

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  40. Yay, good for you! I always feel like I need three hands to knit and have to kind of wedge the right hand needle against my hip (my mother in law tucks this needle under her arm) to keep it steady. I have no idea how people knit without doing this. The main issue I have is that a crochet error can be quickly and easily rectified, whereas a knitting error...dear god. But yes, I agree, many things to look better knitted, especially clothes. x

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  41. Well done. A second yarny hobby means a second yarny stash and that can only be good. I've been able to knit for as long as I can remember, I can't even remember learning, but I'm not an accomplished knitter by any stretch of the imagination. I only learnt to crochet a couple of years ago, I learnt from watching You Tube videos. I enjoy alternating the two, you will too.

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  42. Congratulations on tackling learning to knit. Looking great! I can knit dishcloths but that's about it. Find crocheting a whole lot easier and am slowly working on an afghan.

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  43. Well done you! Terrific job on the knitting, Jennifer, and good for you for sticking with it until you found a way to make it work for you. Always remember - there are no knitting police. :-)

    Picking, or knitting continental style, is an excellent way to go. In fact, I wish it is the way I learned all those years ago when I first picked up knitting needles. That blanket looks like a great project. And as I'm sure you know, lots of help is available on Ravelry.

    And that scene in last year's special where they referred to the corseted blanket as having been knitted drove me crazy! I'm sure they got lots of feedback about their blooper.

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    1. Of course, that should say crocheted not corseted. Silly auto-correct. :-)

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  44. Congratulations on your first knitted piece! I know the frustration you feel, believe me. I tend to tense up when I knit, kind of like when I'm driving on the highway, and don't realize I'm doing it till I put the needles down and it's like taking a deep breath of relief! It does get easier, and I found the best help was on the internet as well. Just googling a specific stitch or technique and up pops lots of hits ... and the videos are the BEST! I appreciate all those people who took the time to video their little snippets of information. I love the fact that your husband learned to knit for you ... gosh that's cute! Have a great week Jennifer. Wendy x

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  45. I hope you have fun with your knitting. I can do both (my grans taught me when I was very little) but I find these days that knitting is too time consuming and requires too much concentration. So crochet it is - at the moment. But I think these things go in cycles and both are great, worthwhile hobbies. x

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  46. It looks like you are doing really really well with your knitting! Keep going with it, it will get easier. I am the opposite to you, I learnt to knit as a child and only learned to crochet last year. I understand knitting much more as I am still very new to crochet.
    Marianne xx

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  47. I cannot crochet at all but my knitting is getting better. I find my tension is all over the place and sometimes I don't have the patience to take it slowly. I've a few things to get underway...including a toy dog (or two) for my girls. You've done really well there. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your efforts.

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  48. That's awesome Jennifer! Your knitting looks great! I hold the yarn in my left hand too, always have, and I'm not changing now! I dabble in both, I'm finding I get pain in my fingers after a session with the hook whereas I can go all night with the knitting needles so I dare say knitting is my current preference but I do love crochet too....Mel x

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  49. Oh, wel,l done, Jennifer! Your knitting is already much better than my crochet. :-) I'm a knitter through and through, though I hold the yarn in my right hand. I think the way you're doing it is European, rather than British. Happy knitting. :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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