Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Other Yarn Art

I have a dark secret. Not only did I read, write and crochet during my personal retreat this past week. I did something else – something shocking, considering what goes on in my crochet mysteries. If one of my character’s knew what Iwas doing, she’d probably step out of the book and throw a fit.

What is this activity that would cause so much turmoil? I taught myself how to knit. Before I go further I ought to mention it is for something else I’m writing, and also out of curiosity so I can figure out what the big deal is about knitting, anyway. I know knitting has been around longer than crochet which might have earned it the first position when people refer to the two crafts together. It is always knit and crochet. Even though I object to the order, I find myself giving knitting first billing, too.

Back to my knitting attempts. I sort of knew how from long ago. I mean long, long ago. A college friend of mine had gone to a fat farm (is that a politically incorrect phrase these days?) and I went to visit her. It was this creepy place in Indiana which, if you weren’t on her diet , had surprisingly good food. It was sort of health resort. I think they were known for their mineral baths and some kind of sour milk drink. I partook of neither. But this has nothing to do with knitting.

My friend had taken up knitting to pass the time and got me to do the same during my visit. I think she’s the one who showed me the ropes or should I say yarns. I have no idea how I cast on the stitches. Maybe somebody did it for me. I just remember using baseball bat size wooden needles and four strands of yarn to make some sort of dress. All the rows were knitted and I didn’t learn how to purl. I think that’s called the stockinette stitch. I did finally finish the dress after I’d gone home and I have to say it was probably the ugliest most unflattering thing I’d ever seen.

I think knitting is a little like bicycle riding in that if you’ve ever done it, your fingers kind of remember what to do even years and years later, but since I’d never learned to purl, my fingers had to work on that one. I discovered purling was no big deal. You just stick the needle in from the top and put the yarn in front of it. I tried doing swatches over and over. My stitches got better and I realized why the edge looked crooked (I had dropped an end stitch several rows back). I figured out how to tell whether a knit or purl row came next if I had set aside my work in mid swatch. If the bumpy side is facing, it time for a purl row. If the smooth side is facing, the next row is a knit one.

I just moved beyond swatches and am going to try the little coin purse from the Klutz knitting book and kit I have. So far the edges look even, but I have to admit, I still don’t get the big deal of knitting. When I took a break and went back to my hook, I felt a big sigh of relief.


Camille Minichino said...

Welcome to knitting, Betty!
I love it. I'm just about to choose a pattern for a baby quilt for my niece's first. I'll do squares, some very complicated, some very simple for a break.

Show us some swatches!

Julie (Knitter, crocheter, and writer) said...

What you were doing at the fat farm was garter stitch--kind of ridged and bumpy on both sides, and it's hard to imagine a flattering garter stitch dress!
I, too, learned to crochet first, and initially found knitting very awkward, but I wanted to make my daughter a sweater that was more flexible than the crocheted one I'd just finished.
I like knitting better for garments (more flexible) crochet better for afghans (not so stretchy) knitting for socks and gloves (crochet seems too thick and stiff for those) crochet for curtains and mesh bags (again, knitting would be too stretchy). I don't see a conflict between them and their practitioners. Rather than sewing sweater pieces together, I slip-stitch crochet the seams.
Congratulations on your new (old) skill!
PS: What you've been doing, knit on one side, purl on the other, is stockinette stitch.
PPS: Crochet may actually be older than knitting, depending which history oook you're reading. According to some, the first "knitting" was done with needles that had hooks on the ends.

Betty Hechtman said...

Thanks for the Welcome, Camille. I must admit I am excited about the challenge of doing something new.

Thanks for the info Julie. I didn't know about the needles with the hooks except for the current ones used for the afghan stitch, which I'm curious to try.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I admire you for all your needlework efforts, Betty. I used to be slightly adept at several but am sure I'd have to learn them all over again if I ever dared to try again. It's great that you're so versatile about it!

Marlyn said...

You've finally seen the light!
Just kidding, really.
Welcome to knitting. I hope you'll come to enjoy it more.

I may even break down and try crochet.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, I like the challenge.

Marilyn, You ought to try crochet. You can make so many neat things with it. But I will admit knitting is better for sweaters.