Monday, April 25, 2011

Updated: Hobby Horse

Let's say you haven't purled a stitch in living memory.

Let's say you really like learning new things and making clothing.

Let's say you belong to an awesome community of crafters - many of whom seem to do all textile arts equally effortlessly.

Then you're kind of honour-bound, when you think of it, to give knitting a go. Yes?

In truth I've been considering it for quite some time. I like to think before I act, you know - unless the activity involves food (in which case the less thinking the better).

As such, I've been asking people about knitting and surreptitiously checking out knitting blogs. I've almost bought Vogue Knitting at least 10 times - putting it down each time as I feel it's wrong to buy a mag about a subject on which I'm clueless. (It's sort of wannabe.)

This post threw me over the edge. I warn you, don't click if you're on the fence.

Since reading it at 10 a.m. yesterday morning I have taken a few steps:
  • Bought this (rather expensive, esp. if you don't knit) aspirational book.
  • Bought two others recommended by Suzy: Chicks with Sticks and The Knitter's Handbook.
  • Bought a set of Denise Interchangeable Circular needles. They're the modern, yet still affordable, way apparently.
  • Bought Vogue Knitting - I think the rest of it gives me the latitude.
  • Signed up on Ravelry and Knitting Help. (Thanks Raven!)
  • Emailed and tweeted long into the night with my blog friends (now also knitting friends), Suzy and Raven.
  • Watched 100 videos on how to cast on and knit and purl and magic loop and knit in the round and use circular needles to knit flat etc. (Note: As of right now, I still haven't picked up the needles to try this for myself. Baby steps.)
  • And, most fun of all, got a practice skein of fabulously soft, brightly-coloured Cascade Farms superwash wool (i.e. it won't felt - and people, I loathe felt...)
Colour 890 i.e. blue jewel tone

However, please note the following:
  • This is my $200.00 experiment. I may not enjoy it. If I don't, I'll do a fun blog give-away of these knitting items and call it a day.
  • Sewing is my first love. I sincerely hope that knitting will be a meditative evening, lunchtime or travel activity, but it won't eat into my sewing time. I will ensure that.
  • Totally in contradiction with the above: I'm not doing this to knit scarves and pot holders. I want to make those crazy-ass sweaters in that fancy book I just bought (over time, with hard work and skill development, of course). If I don't see myself going in that direction - I will likely move on.
  • I suppose I could utterly suck at this - which would be suboptimal for my ego. If that is the case, I will likely hide it from you all. Or talk about it incessantly.
  • It's exhilarating, but scary, to start a new craft. If anyone has any words of wisdom to offer - I would love to hear them. Please tell me, also, if you make sweaters, how long it generally takes to make one i.e. 20 hours or 100 hours. If it's more than 100 hours, maybe you should break it to me gently.
Now to tie a slip knot...

Updated: Hey Knitters - I would love to follow you on Ravelry but not everyone is listed there according to their blog monikers. I'm known (for reasons of every other name on the planet being taken already!) as kristinm100 on the site. Please add me to your friend list if you'd like - and let me know who you are if your name deviates from that of your blog...


  1. Oh yay! I've been thinking of learning to knit for a while now, especially since my sewing machines have moved to the office and I have nothing creative at home anymore! Am looking forward to your progress and any helpful beginner tips that you might have...
    I'm like you, I want to make pretty things in addition to sewing, have coveted everyone else's knit items, but sewing will always be my main love. :)

  2. I'm sure you'll get the hang of knitting and purling quickly--you are a sewing whiz so I don't think knitting will be hard for you at all. I can only do a simple stockinette stitch but I have found that knitting is a really relaxing way to unwind on my train ride home each day. It's so therapeutic and I don't really have to pay attention to what I'm doing. Good luck and I can't wait to see how your knitting turns out!

  3. You move fast! I shouldn't be surprised though. :)

    As for hours, a short sleeve sweater I made took a couple of weeks. I made this months ago so I don't remember the details. I don't think I worked on it consistently everyday.

    A general tip on time though. The more interested you are in the project (along with yarn choice) and the outcome, it'll fly off the needles.

    Also, when you're knitting to the point that your fingers start to hurt, STOP. Take a break.

  4. I am not very wise, but I have some words of wisdom:
    It takes a really long time to knit a sweater. And it can be frustrating. My advice is to learn basic sweater construction and such on a baby or kids sweater, before tackling a grown up sweater. Knitting was my first love, but have switched to sewing because it takes so long...
    And don't be afraid to start - its really not that hard, and the only way to get natural at it is through practice...

    And even though it takes so many hours to make a sweater, there is so much mindless work that it can be done while watching TV, or chatting with others, so it's not so bad. It's not really an instant gratification craft, though.

    I don't think you will suck. Anyone can knit well, with practice.

  5. Awesome. Friend me on Rav! :D

    Words of wisdom: it's easy. All those complicated patterns? Knitting and purling. That's all there is. (Well, okay. There's a little more to it than that, but not much.) The moment I realized that is the moment I went from years and years of garter stitch dishcloths and afghans to sweaters, hats, mitts, shawls, etc... it's all in the attitude.

    The most important thing at the beginning is simply to build your muscle memory and establish consistent tension. That's why they always recommend a long, simple scarf... although, if that was me I would go batty. Feel free to pick whatever inspires you as your first project! YouTube and KnittingHelp can get you through almost anything.

    And personally, I don't find it overlaps with sewing time, much. It's more meditative and portable... I do it out and about, on transit, on lunch breaks, while watching movies with my SO... sewing time is generally my dedicated alone time at home. (Which clearly I don't get enough of, judging by my lack of productivity!)

    Have fun!

  6. Yay! I wholeheartedly support your decision!

    I don't find overlap either (between sewing and knitting) - although, being an instant gratification sort, I knit much less, as it takes so much longer!

    I've totally decided the day before a baby shower to do a quickie sweater and socks and I've gotten them done in time. If you want a sweater fast, big wool is the way to go - of course, big wool doesn't lend itself to the designs I suspect you are interested in!

    My tips for new knitters... Buy super expensive wool (or whatever) that you are completely in love with. I HATE knitting with craptacular cheap yarn, and it will sidetrack me from a project like nothing else. Also, if you at all get into knitting anything with any sort of design (like cables, lace-type details, etc.) find a magnet board - it's totally old school, but you put your pattern on it, then use magnetic strips to keep track of where you are! It rocks! The other totally handy tool is your ipod (you got one, right?? before NY?) there are great apps for a whole bunch of things, but the stitch counting ones are perfect for ipods/phones, because you just tap your screen to make the stitch counter add one on!

    And M. Modiste is totally right - it's all just the knit stitch and the purl stitch!

    Back to sweater love, I'm off to find you on ravelry - and there's a sweater I'm jonesing for that apparently is a quick knit! Yay! hello roadtrip season!


  7. Wow,look at you-- You're well on your way. Looking forward to following your process and "thoughts" on the matter:)

  8. I used to love knitting and I did have done some nice pieces. Now I have no interest....
    But you're very smart and move fast, so I have no doubts that in a second you'll be doing nice pieces.


  9. Oh, this will be fun, reading about your experience. I have a feeling you're going to be really good at it!

  10. Hey everyone: It seems this is a popular topic. Who knew?? Love your comments!

    Tasia: As a SERIOUS newbie, let me tell you, it's fun!

    Lindsay: Just learning the stockinette now! It's quite relaxing. Except for the whack tension part :-)

    Raven: Such smart advice. The woman in the knit store today told me that she'd made a cardi really quickly. I asked how long. She said 2 months of constant work?!?! Needless to say, that had me a bit depressed.

    Farah: Your words are very wise! I should start on a kiddie thing. Of course, you know how I feel about working for others :-)

    Ms. M - gonna get into Ravelry soon. Still working on Knitting Help. And I love your advice. Tension is Queen!

    Patty: I love your ideas - expensive wool is prob the way to go. It's all about the textile, yes?

    Vic: Do you knit? I don't remember seeing you blog about it. This will either be super exciting - or very fast :-)

    Seeker: You have to take it up again! I bet you'd be fab.

    Susan: Just what we need - another Kristin addiction :-)

  11. Just one more thought I had, reading through the comments...

    I started sewing again because I was a bit fed up with how long knitting was taking. However, now that I'm back into sewing, I find it's taking just as long! The difference being that with knitting you start with the final product and just plod away slowly... whereas with sewing you go through pattern adjustments and tissue fitting and muslin-ing and then cutting and sewing and ripping and sewing again... each part is quick but the whole thing isn't as fast as I thought it would be! (Then again, I'm relatively new to sewing clothes vs. experienced with knitting, and it sounds like you're the opposite, so your mileage may vary!)

  12. I liked Patty's tip on buying gorgeous yarns that you love. It works for fabric too - wasting time on cheap crap, yarn or fabric, isn't any fun and you won't love the finished result!
    Besides, it justifies purchasing goodies for a hobby we haven't started yet.. :)

  13. I just started knitting last October, and I'm now totally addicted. I have enough scarves to last a lifetime down here in the south, so I'm knitting other stuff. Like toys. Patty (ms. snug bug) linked to an adorable sweater a few posts ago, that I am totally going to make. I'm ellesie on ravelry. (strange name due to other choices being taken)

    Oh, and seems to have gorgeous affordable yarn (experienced knitters may have an opinion on that).

  14. Ms. M: I hear you - I suspect it's all a big time expenditure doing something well. But I appreciate the way you've articulated it. Since I'm no advanced sewist, this frightens me slightly. But you can't become an expert without first being a beginner.

    Tasia: I've been working with my daughter this evening (she has crappy acrylic yarn and needles from a kid kit). It's terrible going. I have to get her some decent materials tomorrow.

    Elle: I've friended you, thanks! And I find it hilarious that you've been sewing scarves in Florida. You've got to go on a ski holiday!

  15. Yay!! I feel very guilty about this ;)

    To be honest, and I think I mentioned it before, although I considered and tried knitting before it was that book that threw me over the edge. I saw it and I knew I had to make them for myself. I also have no interest in knitting socks or potholders. Just like I have no pleasure in sewing quilts or bunting or whatnot.

    Add me on Ravelry (SuzySewing). I list there what I'm knitting.

    And btw, let me know how the Denise interchangeable are. I want to get a set but haven't been able to get my hands on those to try them.

  16. 3 words... You Are Awesome.
    Knitting is a whole different animal, but you'll manage... I know it!

  17. Suzy: Well you should! How remarkable that it hit us in exactly the same way. I'm still really liking the Denise's btw.

    Stacy: I'm defraying my lack of knowledge over numerous crafts now! :-) Do you knit? You must tell.