Well, since my last post on knitting I have acquired several new skills. Small, simple things that have pleased and delighted me as small, simple things tend to do. Especially small, simple things that either threaten to be complicated and prove not to be or, best of all, look stunningly complicated and impressive when finished but were actually really nice and simple to do.
(I’m not quite sure what this reveals about my personality, a lazy streak? Or maybe that I’m not the brightest spark on the planet; I’d definitely concur with that one.)
And there is something so pleasing when you have the finished article in your hands that is just beautifully executed and impressive, isn’t it? You get a real kick out of it, you’ve spent the time and energy and whatever other resources that were required in learning the skill and carefully putting it into practice, and there it is finished and looking good. You’re like, I made that, I did that! You’re quite chuffed at your success. Maybe it’s a knitted project, a homebaked cake or some other craft. It’s even better when someone else notices your success and compliments it. Yes, I made that, I did that!
(In a modest, un-big headed way of course.)
I have recently put my hard learnt skills into several projects that I have actually completed and made up. (And blocked them properly along the way too, I’ll have you know! Well, sometimes.) And they look good. Even the things I’ve knitted for my knitted-presents-phobic husband have met with success. If you can win his approval, then things are definitely looking up.
Along the way to creating these new projects I’ve had to learn several new skills.
I’ve learnt a new cast on method which is so ridiculously simple and fun to do that it never ceases to entertain me. It’s called the thumb method, I think it’s the basic cast on that most folks seem to start with. I started with something that may or may not be the two needle method. The thumb method is kind of the reverse procedure to my standard cast on. It took a little while to get my thumbs and brain used to the new system, all yarn and thumbs rather than all fingers and thumbs! The only thing that you need to be careful with is the amount of yarn you allocate for it. If you leave too short a tail (for example, when you only want to cast on a few stitches) then you can run out of yarn to wrap around your slightly chunky thumb. But if you take the recommendation I found in printed instructions and allow one inch per stitch then you can get a rather too long a tail, 34 inches for 34 stitches?! (I hate waste too so I wasn’t impressed.) You definitely do not need this much. This new cast on is perfect for rib stitches, nice and stretchy.
Then I embarked on something absolutely TERRIFYINGLY COMPLICATED. No, honestly, I did. I wanted to find out if this particular knitting skill was as TERRIFYINGLY COMPLICATED as it threatened. If it wasn’t then possibly I would be able to add a particularly grown up knitting skill to my repertoire. More as a boost to my self confidence rather than as a boast to all and sundry.
I decided to investigate CABLES. Nothing to do with wires, cables are those twisty things you find in fancy knitwear, long runs of stitches with a twist at various intervals. With my growing confidence and skills base I had a funny feeling that it might not be quite as bad as everyone would like to make out. In fact, it’s DEAD EASY!
You just end up with an extra needle and have to work reverse stocking stitch in the area that you want a cable. Whether my cables twist to the front or the back, I’m not sure. My sample looked like either version depending on which way I looked at it. So you do, say, three stitches of reverse stocking stitch followed by four of normal stocking followed by a further three stitches of reverse stocking stitch. Just like rib, really. Then after say four rows, you put the first two stitches of the four in the middle on a separate needle (preferably one of those kinked cable ones otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time dropping stitches, trust us) and ignore them for a mo. You go on to the last two stitches and knit/purl as them as usual. Then you bring back the other two stitches and knit/purl them as you did the other two. Yes, it does sound rather complicated and you’ll have needles all over the place but it’s actually really simple once you get the hang of it. Get a really good knitting book with decent pictures and it’ll all make sense.
I’ve revised bobble/pompom making (it was seen as a viable way of passing a rainy afternoon when we were children, simple times!) and learned how to make tassels. We have also learnt to make twisted cord. I do mean ‘we’ because this is a two man job and is so simple and entertaining that my husband can be persuaded to help me make these whenever I so require. (As opposed to counting stitches which he hates doing.) I have also made an I-cord (akin to the French knitting that I’ve done intermittently from childhood).
Learning new skills is always great. It can be fun, especially when you get pass the pulling your hair out stage. It’s definitely rewarding. It allows you to do more.
There’s another new knitted skill that I’ve learnt which I love so much that I’m going to dedicate an entire post to it another time …