Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Knitting Story - Learning to Knit

Lini Lamb and Mama Picture from 2006

Learning to knit, for me, was a strong desire but also a necessity. I had a desire to learn how to ever since I lived in the Ashram but never found anyone to teach me.The need to learn is what finally made me get my butt in gear.

We have always cloth diapered our babies which amongst many other good things, saves money by using them over and over. I was using plastic covers on K for the first couple of months of her life but I really did not like the idea of the synthetic material touching her skin. The solution to that problem was simple - wool! If you have ever shopped for hand knit wool covers, you know how pricey they can be, and with good reason, of course! (I realize that now as I knit my own.) I was given a few covers from some very generous friends and that was enough to get us by but I knew I had to learn how to knit them. So, yep, diaper covers were my huge drive to learn how to knit.

Priya Pig and Piglet Picture from 2006

I tried some of those 'Teach Yourself to Knit' type books but I just couldn't grasp it. I needed to see someone knitting to wrap my brain around it. When K was 6 months old or so, my local Attachment Parenting group had a 'learn to knit night'. Finally, I would learn! There were quite a few of us there and I, again, was having a hard time understanding. I did at least master casting on. Then, ironically enough, a former Waldorf kindergarten teacher arrived with her baby in her arms and sat next to me. She taught me how to do the basic knit stitch. Over the next few days I did a few rows of knitting but then got bored. So as you can see, I never did do the typical first project of knitting a scarf. The teacher then gave me the tip of knitting something from 'A First Book of Knitting for Children' by Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton. This book is meant for children to learn how to knit with, so needless to say, it is written very clearly and easy to follow. I choose the simplest pattern in the book - the lamb. It's done in garter stitch (your most basic knit stitch) and it challenged me enough with sections needing binding off and casting on to keep my interest. I couldn't stop knitting them. I soon figured out that with different weight yarn and different sized needles I could made the lambs any size I wanted to.

I was so happy with my progress I decided to try the pig which is a slightly more challenging pattern in the book. It took me a bit longer but I eventually got it down. I knit many, many little lambs and pigs. So many, in fact, I needed to do something with them to prevent them from taking over our home. I joined a few other Mamas on Hyena Cart under the name Knitters Kritters, and sold some of my little knits(I named them after K). I did this for months, and months, but I wasn't any closer to my goal of knitting diaper covers. I am not sure why, but it took me a really long time to break away from those knitted animals and try something new. It wasn't until K was about 18 months old that I finally got the courage to try something other than lambs and pigs. I found a free diaper cover/shorties pattern somewhere online and decided to try it. It literally took me months to figure it out and finish it, but mistakes and all, I finally did. I wish I could remember the name of the pattern so I could pass it on to all of you.

I slowly but surely tried a few new knitting projects here and there, I think my nesting with C helped move me along a bit. I even conquered those scary double pointed needles but still wasn't very confident. Then C was born and something just clicked inside of me. I became very serious about knitting and learning new techniques. I can't quite explain it. I just couldn't stop myself. I was very grateful that I stuck with it through all the misunderstandings, frustration, and mistakes.

Now, three years after I started knitting seriously I still would not call myself an expert nor advanced by any means. I still see myself as perhaps an advanced beginner or intermediate knitter learning more and getting by every day, one stitch at a time.

K's own Priya Pig and Piglet made from hand spun organic wool. Picture taken in 2007

My favorite knitting resources (beginner and advanced):

A First Book of Knitting For Children - The book that basically taught me how to knit
Knitting For Children - A Second Book - The second book for when you have mastered (and in my case, made many armies of) the projects in the first book
KnittingHelp - I visit this website for help quite often. It saves me when it comes to knitting terms I haven't heard before or stitches I have never done. I am a very visual learner and their videos really help me to fully understand a stitch, etc.
Ravelry - The ultimate knitting resource IMHO. Whenever I start a new pattern I reference it first on Rav to see if there are any issues,corrections, etc. This has saved me from having to rip out stitches and start over more times than I can count. There is also a great forum to post questions and get great advice. I really don't know what I would do without it.

Well, that's my little condensed story. I hope it made sense, and I hope I didn't bore you too much, and just maybe I may have even been of some help. Please let me know if you have any questions.

What was your inspiration to learn how to knit, crochet or sew? (I still want to learn how to crochet, K learns in 4th grade...maybe she can teach me then!)What advice do you have for the rest of us? Please leave it in the comments below, I know we would all appreciate it.
Happy Tuesday!!

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