Tag Archives: knitting

Some observations regarding knitting

I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to the skill level as to knit lace, especially when I can’t seem to get my knitting right. I always keep forgetting certain steps especially a YO before knit. I’m also still getting used to keeping a good tension. I guess the yarn also has a lot to do with how a beginner fares with knitting. I tried using cotton thread size 8 and it turned out to be difficult for me with lace because it didn’t have resiliency, and loops started getting awfully tight. When I switched to cotton-cashmere it was better. Somehow, cotton-cashmere gave me more “feedback” so I could feel the tension better.

With enough practice, I started getting a feel for knitting. Somehow by learning to knit, I was also gaining a better understanding of crochet.

Trying a Lace Pattern

“Spring Bookmark” is a free knit pattern by Natalia Prats. I decided to give this pattern a try, just to see if I have enough basic knitting knowledge to be able to make something other than garter or stockinette stitches.

When I looked at the “Spring Bookmark” pattern, I was so surprised that now I can read and understand it. I used to be confused by looking at knit patterns, all those P’s and K’s and SSK’s – but now it’s not Greek anymore! I’m so happy because this opens up a whole new world of patterns for me to try! :)

My first knit lace pattern, from Spring Bookmark by Natalia Prats.

My first knit lace pattern, from "Spring Bookmark" by Natalia Prats.

And I’ve done it! I used my large 6mm needles and worsted weight acrylic yarn. I nearly made a mistake in the purling rows – I was being too smart and figured I’d drop the YOs rather than purl them. Good thing I didn’t do that – and should do so only when explicitly told to do so.

I should also mention that these videos helped me with the SSK and the k2tog:

I didn’t use fingering weight yarn called for in the pattern but rather used some worsted weight acrylic-wool. As a newwbie knitter, it would be easier to work with thicker yarn and my intention was just to make see if I could understand a knit pattern.

Technically, I still have problems inserting the right needle into two loops when doing the k2tog because the bottom loop is somewhat tighter than the top loop. I was able to solve this problem by knitting a bit more loosely and by bringing the loops closer to the tapering pointed end of the needle. I am also still to understand the role of each stitch in knitting, and I also have problems counting purl rows (knit rows seem easier to count).

Now I need to learn to unravel a small section of a knit fabric when I make a mistake, and then try to get the stitches back on the needle properly. Usually, I rip the whole thing if I can’t manage only the part where there’s an error. I know I can’t keep doing that.

Thanks to Natalia, I learned about using a lifeline for knitting.

Using a Lifeline in Your Knitting

According to the video notes: This is a preventative measure when doing lace work, or any knitting where unraveling and putting back on the needles properly would be tricky or impossible.

Still using the “Spring Bookmark” pattern, I decided to test my knitting and pattern modifying skills by making a simple pouch with it. Here is what I came up with: “Sheep in Purple Haze”. It’s nothing fantastic, but I am happy to be able to knit this.

Using the bookmark pattern to make a pouch.

Here I used the bookmark pattern to make a pouch decorated with jumping sheep.

Notes:

Using larger needles (6mm) and worsted weight yarn, I love this lace pattern as it reminds me of some pastoral scene. So I crocheted some sheep on it. :)

Making a pouch from the “Spring Bookmark”:

CO 18 instead of 16.

Begin and end the knit rows with k3 instead of k2.

Final rows are some 4 or 5 rows of ribbing (k2, p2) to make for the opening of the pouch. I should’ve used smaller needles for this.

Make two for each side of pouch.

Using grey (or white if you prefer) mohair-wool yarn:

Crochet body of sheep: ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch fr hook, and in next ch, sl st all around until you get desired shape and size.

Sew body of sheep on knit and embroider head and legs with dark deep maroon worsted weight yarn.

Sew pouch together:

Wrong side facing, sew the pouch together.

PS. Sorry about poor quality webcam photo, my camera’s batteries need replacing. I’ll take a better pictures another time.

Basketweave pattern resulting from Knit and Purl stitches.

When Crocheters Knit …

Crocheter Knits

My dad took us out to the mall and, because he had just been paid for a large freelance engineering project, told us that we could buy anything that we wanted. My sister and I were shocked and we didn’t quite know what to buy.

But then after a while of browsing around the mall, I knew what to get. A couple balls of acrylic yarn and aluminium knitting needles size 4mm. I also got a book, “The Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework” by Thérèse de Dillmont.

I was about 10 or 11 years old when I learned to knit thanks to Madame de Dillmont, and my dad. I managed about 4 to 5 rows of the plain stitch (See de Dillmont’s section on Knitting), which looks like stockinette. And then I got promptly got back to crocheting.

"The Plain Stitch" - this produces a fabric that looks quite differently on the wrong side from what it does on the right where it presents the appearance of vertical rows of plaiting.

"The Plain Stitch" - this produces a fabric that looks quite differently on the wrong side from what it does on the right where it presents the appearance of vertical rows of plaiting.

Over 30 years later, I went back to knitting, having just purchased a bamboo needle set, size 6mm. I went back to de Dillmont but I was reading her with a rigid crochet-conditioned adult mind. I couldn’t go back to knitting as when I was a child.

This month, I tried again.

Cast On

The Continental Cast On worked best for me. From de Dillmont, this was called “Crossed Casting on with a Single Thread” (illustrated below). There are many other ways of casting on depending on the project. As a crocheter, I like working with one tool and the Continental Cast On required just one needle held in the right hand, just like a crochet hook. I also learned to cast on without a slip knot, because the slip knot always confused me.

"Casting on" is the formation of the first row of stitches which are to constitute the foundation of the work.

"Casting on" is the formation of the first row of stitches which are to constitute the foundation of the work.

Knit Stitch

Although I cast on in Continental, I knit in the English way. It seemed easier for me as a crocheter because my right hand was always moving, swinging the yarn over the needle.

Loose stitches at the ends of rows were a problem previously, but completing a few rows made it clearer to me that at such ends, I needed to tighten more than usual. I also learned that slipping the first stitch off the left needle worked fine in place of knitting it.

Here is my first knit of which I am particularly proud of. The stitches as reasonably even and the edges are neat and the bind-off reasonably clean.

My first swatch in worsted weight acrylic and 6mm needles.

My first swatch in worsted weight acrylic and 6mm needles.

Purl Stitch

Purling took more time to learn than knitting because this was the first time I was doing it. For a while I became confused with the direction by which I should insert the needle. Upward or downward? I was certain that it was the front loop on the left needle.

Upward for knit, downward for purl. Yarn in front for purl, yarn at the back for knit. And because purling is the reverse of knitting, this answers one of the mysteries of beginner knitting: why does my knitting look exactly like purling?

Garter Stitch

When you knit or purl on every row, you come up with the “Garter Stitch.”

Stockinette

And when you knit and purl alternating rows, you come up with “Stockinette Stitch” which looks different on each side: the knit side (front or right side) is smooth, while the purl side (back or wrong side).

So when I tried doing a knit 3, purl 3, knit 3, I came up with a basketweave pattern!

Basketweave pattern resulting from Knit and Purl stitches.

Basketweave pattern resulting from Knit and Purl stitches.

And then just to keep learning the basics, I tried increasing and decreasing stitches in both purl and knit rows. Here’s what I came up with:

Purl, Knit, increase and decrease.

Purl, Knit, increase and decrease.

Difficulties

As a crocheter, the most difficult part of knitting for me so far are:

  1. Recognizing stitches and rows in a knitted fabric.
  2. Counting rows and stitches in a knitted fabric.
  3. Increasing at the last stitch on a purl row.
  4. Keeping a good tension.

Lace Knitting

The real reason why I want to learn to knit is because of the beauty of knitted lace.

So I quickly tried it using a pattern from an old book called “The Art of Sewing: Delicate Wear.” I tried making what it called “Spider Web Motif.” Here is what I came up with so far:

Spider Web Motif.

Spider Web Motif.

I can see that for this motif to work, I will need to work with thread or lace-weight yarn. But by practising with worsted weight yarn, I was able to get a glimpse into how lace is made with techniques such as “yarn over” and what de Dillmont calls “Pulling Over” which means “slipping a stitch from the left needle to the right without knitting it, knitting the next plain, and pulling the slipped stitch over the knitted one.”

Knitted fabric has a charm all its own, just as crocheted fabric does.

Also, knitting was but a brief moment in my childhood and with it came rather comforting memories and feelings. By learning to knit today those feelings and memories come back.

Learning via Videos

I haven’t looked far and wide but these are some of the videos that quickly helped me find my way:

Orientation Video of the English MethodThis quickly tours you into knitting, from casting on to the basic stitches. It’s good to watch this every now and then while you learn the basic stitches since this gives a context for the individual lessons.

The Basic Purl Stitch in English and Continental Methods for comparison, if you are curious.

Can you Slow it Down Some More??

If you need a slower video, then this Knitting Basics is a good one.

And to learn about combining knit and purl stitches to make a pattern, take a look at Variations in Stitches.

And Can you Speed It Up, Please?

It also helps to watch Speedy Gonzales do it. For me, this helps in developing some techniques that help speed up my knitting a bit. I would recommend The Ribbing Stitch and most videos by Judy Graham.

So there you go! And I still got plenty to go :) I will update as to how my knitting progresses. And I hope you try picking up the needles too. :)

Materials:

For my practice knitting, I just use worsted weight acrylic yarn in light colours. Don’t use black or very dark colours because it’s very hard to see the stitches with those.

Bamboo knitting needles are the best – the yarn won’t slide off like a snake swallowing a chicken!