Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Post About Knitting

Not that I have knit anything recently, mind you. The closest I've come is working three rows on a fuzzy yellow baby bonnet, three rows which Piper promptly unraveled and then carried the (glittery, chunky plastic) knitting needles off into another room.

I did, however, order a bunch of books during the 40% off sale at Knit Picks. I got three Elizabeth Zimmermann books - Knitter's Almanac, The Opinionated Knitter, and Knitting Workshop. I got a couple other ones,too (a Debbie Bliss baby book and Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits), but so far I have spent the most time with the Zimmermann ones.

I think I'm sorry I ordered them. I didn't go in expecting to love them, since I am no fan of Fair Isle (I don't care for the way it looks, and why in the hell would I spend that much effort on something I'll never wear?) or cables (ditto). I work with and like cotton, silk, or linen waaaay more than wool yarns, since I learned to knit while living in southern California and now live in North Carolina. Neither of those places have climates conducive to working with, let alone wearing, anything resembling wool. But I've heard people rave about EZ and her methods, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Maybe I should've started with Knitting Without Tears or something, I don't know. I find her work a largely irritating read. Maybe it's just that the stuff I have is beyond me, but I find myself going "Uh-huh, it's GREAT that you went skiing today and all, but could you please tell me what the hell I'm supposed to be doing here?" The directions for patterns are buried in chatter about EZ and her family or activities most of the time. The details of daily life are charming, but not necessarily what I'm looking for in a knitting pattern. I also didn't know that a lot of her stuff involves knitting something, then cutting it apart and machine-sewing as a means of finishing. I don't have a sewing machine, and I'm not yet skilled enough to translate the directions/patterns into a way that doesn't involve one. And as for her "percentage system?" Fugheddaboutit. I have yet to finish an entire adult-size sweater, so I think I'm just not experienced enough to apply what she's trying to teach me there.

I am a fan of Fitted Knits so far, though. I've been going through it trying to pick out what I want to do first. There are so many cute things! And the patterns aren't given in general "S/M/L" sizes, but rather in the actual measurements (mostly the bust measurement) so you can measure yourself first, then pick the right size. Japel also gives instructions in most of the patterns on how to alter them for a better fit as you go.

Trying to pick a project has reminded me of just what an expensive hobby this is - I wanted to make the sweater-coat from Fitted Knits as a Christmas gift for my mom, but it takes 32 balls of yarn. I priced it out and it was over $280! I just don't think I can conscionably turn my mother loose with $300 worth of hand-knitting. I don't think I'd even trust myself in a sweater that expensive, unless I was standing exactly in the middle of a totally white room with nothing in it, and I was doing nothing but admiring my sweater.

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