Tuesday, December 29, 2015

That Year End Post

The end of the year is always a good time for reflection. I think I knit more in 2015 than I did in the prior year but that's mainly due to the birth of my twins. My favorite knits for 2015 would have to be:

My Rhinebeck sweater tops the list. I in no way fashion myself a "sweater knitter", but I decided on a Tuesday that I was going to knit a sweater in a week, casted on the very next day and was done by the following Friday. My favorite attribute is the bright neon green contrast color. It's so unexpected and unique (just like me!).

My next favorite knit has to be a cute little number I knit for my friends toddler. I love knitting baby things because they go so darn fast, although the cables seem to slow me down a bit. I actually paid for this pattern which doesn't happen too often. I am so pleased with how it turned out and I think the pattern was absolutely worth every penny.

Rounding out the list is a kit I bought on Craftsy as part of a mystery knit-along a couple of years ago. I know the designer and I like to support my knitters when I can. I didn't think a lace beret would be my style but I'm glad I tried something out of comfort zone. I thought I was the beanie type, but I'm really diggin the slouch. The silk content in the yarn is good for my coily hair and the wool helps to regulate my head temperature. I don't think I've sweat once while wearing it, which says a lot.

also available as a kit here.

I had to add these socks as an honorable mention. They took no less than half the year to knit. The fact that I think they're stunning was the sole reason I didn't rip it out halfway through knitting and throw the yarn out the window. I don't know why it was such a difficult knit but I'm so glad it's over. I use to love knitting socks but I may need to take break before I start my next pair.

My current WIP's are a cowl, ardigan and shawl which I will hopefully get to finish next month. Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Joyous Kwanzaa.

And may the new year bless you with the opportunity to attain your wildest dreams!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Knitting Dilemma

I’m stuck in a knitting conundrum of sorts. First, a little history.

Like most knitters, I awkwardly started my knitting journey with clunky straights and squeaky acrylic. I slowly gained momentum knitting with yarn held in my right hand* by going in through the front door {pause}, run around the back {pause}, peek through the window {pause}, and off jumped jack! This was fine for a while, but being a crocheter prior to learning to knit, I soon was able to knit more efficiently with the yarn held in my left hand. I got faster and faster and the knitting possibilities were endless.

Everything was good for a while, a long while I would say. I could knit without looking, some knitters marveled at how fast I was, but I think I even knew then that something was off. I’m what you call a tight knitter. My tension was ALWAYS tight. It was to the point that I would automatically swatch in a needle two sizes higher than the size recommended to get gauge. I could only knit for a couple hours at a time before my left hand would start cramping and my shoulders would get all tense. Also, I always rowed out and my fabric was never even. I usually blocked the mess out of my knits to combat this but it still never turned out as even as I’d seen others knit. I have to admit that although I loved making things, I just didn’t love the process. I fancied myself a product knitter and knitted until the pain in my hands told me something had to give.

I went back to my roots, so to say, and trained myself to knit with the yarn held in my right hand. I figured the best way to train my hands was to knit a project so I dove right into the Tofino top from Knitting in the Sun.
It took longer than usual to finish but alas my fabric was even and my tension was looser. My upper body didn’t feel as tense but it still felt awkward to knit this way. So, I soon slipped back to my default left handed knitting until it became unbearable.

I don’t exactly remember how, actually I think I was reading The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt and came across the term “lever knitting”. I researched lever knitting, watched the youtube video of the YarnHarlot countless times, joined the rav group and practiced, practiced, practiced. Like I said before, the best practice is to knit a whole project so I knit a couple of project on long straight needles with the right one tucked snuggly in my armpit.

I’m not going to lie, it took a couple of months for it to feel less unfamiliar, but you know what? My hands didn’t hurt, and my shoulders were not one bit tense. I couldn't believe how even my tension was and I was falling in love with the process. I like the way my hands flowed, right hand swooping around the needle as it formed each stitch. I was becoming a process knitter.
Then I noticed that although I fell back in love with knitting, I couldn't figure out how to knit quicker. I recently realized this when I lever knit a sock and it took me about a month, where it would usually take me about a week or two in my left handed knitting days. I really wanted to finish the socks so I went back to my default to knit the other one, which took me about two weeks. You can really see the difference between my knitting styles in this photo.
So here’s the question I keep asking myself; am I a process knitter or a product knitter? I like lever knitting, it makes me happy. In the words of KonMari, it sparks joy. On the other hand, I don’t want it to take forever to knit something. I just started a sweater but I’m taking a crack at my default knitting form, being mindful to keep my fingers loose and not tense up. It seems to be working but I’m not enjoying the process as much. I keep on second guessing if I should have done this project knitting the way that makes me happy. Of course I can’t change in the middle of a project, so I’m stuck knitting in my default for a while.

I guess the question will remained unanswered for a while. I’ll knit on hoping that I can soon learn to increase my speed lever knitting and all will be right with the world again.

Peace and Blessing

*I prefer to avoid using the terms "English" and "Continental" to describe knitting styles. I would much rather use the terms left handed and right handed knitting. Yeah, I'm weird like that.