Thursday, October 29, 2015

Adventures in #Knitting

I am behind on my self-imposed quota of five or six blog posts per month, so I'd like to quickly blog about knitting.

It's occurred to me that almost everything can be understood at a basic level; in other words, everything should initially be easy for everyone. Perhaps that's a confusing overstatement, but it seems that society wants to give the impression that various skills are hard to acquire, discouraging doing things yourself, so that you end up buying crap you don't need: "People who buy things are suckers."

My overall thesis is that entry-level, yet useful, knowledge should be -- and is -- easy. Novice electrical work -- basic wiring -- is easy. Beginning metalwork is easy. Introductions to woodworking, music, dance, math, science, writing, computers, etc. -- easy. I'm not saying the mastery of various disciplines is easy; I'm saying that the beginning of understanding and simple production in everything should be -- and is -- easy. Maybe "easy" isn't the right word. The simplest wiring jobs can get tedious. The simplest metalwork projects might take a lot of muscle and sweat.

The simplest knitting project might be both tedious and take more muscle than expected (either that, or I am woefully out of shape to have felt sore after knitting).

That being said, let's talk about knitting. Understanding and attempting the overall process of knitting is easy, just like wiring, metalwork, etc. Mastering knitting takes time, patience, and experience, just like any field of interest. If you are a serial dabbler like yours truly, then take some time to gain some working knowledge of various things, like knitting. Read a book to familiarize yourself with the terms and processes, and watch some videos on YouTube to actually see and copy how to actually knit. 

Here's the gist of knitting, as far as I understand it, in about seven uneven steps:

1. Gather your materials. Bamboo needles are less slippery than metal needles. Use a crochet hook to fix some dropped stitches. Use stitch markers to save your work in-progress. Use a yarn needle and scissors to finish your work. Pay attention to the lot numbers of your yarn, to make sure each color is consistent from skein to skein. I've read that a row counter is useful for pattern-work, but I haven't gotten that experienced yet.

2. Turn a skein of yarn into a ball of yarn, to prevent tangles.

3. Learn how to make a proper slipknot. The video below is extremely useful, except a proper slipknot is not used at the beginning.

4. Cast-on the initial width of your project. (Watch the video above.) There are several techniques and forms for casting on yarn onto a knitting needle.

5. Knit. I currently only kinda-sorta know the knit stitch. I've read about and watched other stitches in action, like the purl stitch. These various stitch techniques are used to create patterns and textures. Scarves, hats, sweaters, etc., all have their own patterns and techniques to successfully create each thing.

6. Cast-off the project, when you are finished. (Watch the video above.) Cut the project from the ball of yarn, leaving extra slack.

7. Use a yarn needle to weave-in any loose ends, to prevent your project from unraveling.

I've so far only knitted a couple of small, messy, dishcloth-type items. I really have no idea what I actually created. All I know is that (1) it took a long time to make such small things, (2) my right arm was sore because I was probably tensed-up while knitting, and (3) I kinda-sorta understand how to knit, so I now have the opportunity to pursue it further, gain more experience, and perhaps knit something useful ...

... in the far future.

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