Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Knitting Journey - Ponchos

This is a bit dated, but I need to have some posts to which to link Ravelry projects. I don't think you're supposed to use the comments area as a de facto blog.

So I started knitting at the urging of a good friend of mine (who will be moving to Turkey in a few days. Guess she just couldn't take me anymore). I had been taught the basic skills of knitting, purling, casting on, and binding off as a child, so I wasn't starting from scratch. I had tried knitting during my first pregnancy and quickly grew frustrated - I don't even remember what pattern I used or how I approached it all, but I definitely did not do any background research. I just had my needles, my yarn, the pattern, and hope. Not enough hope, though, and the growing baby inside me made it's own demands, so the project was quickly abandoned. I remember being frustrated because I couldn't count the stitches when I looked at a row of knitting (it didn't occur to me the little loops on the needle are what you count! Pregnancy brain, maybe).

This time, I used the training wheels of a kit from HearthSong for a kid's poncho. I figured using a kit designed for kids would be good for a beginner. So I had big needles, big yarn, and instructions, all in a convenient kit -- no running to the store looking for this or that. I made one and it worked out well. This kit was easy to use, the bulky yarn and big needles mean it knits up quickly and knitting for my 5 and 7 year old daughters was satisfying, they were thrilled, they never noticed the little mistakes. Granted, they don't exactly take care of the ponchos, but that's the flip side of them not demanding perfection. The poncho is your basic, two rectangles seamed together. The pattern used the eyelet stitch for each rectangle. It was more interesting to do than simply knitting and purling, but it was not difficult for a beginner like me. The varied color yarn and interesting stitch kept me from getting bored. The pattern called for fringing around the bottom, but I skipped that, the kids never missed it. I made a second one for my other daughter.

Then, since I was the one who really wanted a poncho, I bought yarn and made one for myself using the same pattern. I was disappointed with it at first until my friend happy-talked me into how great it was and how part of the glory of the thing was I made it myself. I really like it now. But, alas, a poncho is fairly limited. You can really only wear it in the appropriate weather, it's not comfortable to wear it under a coat in the winter. Also, a poncho flops forward when you lean over, so it's often getting in the way (at least if you're trying to cook dinner).

Sometime during all this knitting, I started checking out knitting books from the library. I started out looking at pattern books because that's what interested me - I would mostly just look at the pictures. After awhile, I actually started reading the patterns. Later, I checked out instructional books. I like to look at books written for kids first, because it eases me into the subject. Then I started looking at all kinds of knitting books. I really like the Stitch n' Bitch series because Debbie Stoller has such a laid-back, sarcastic style - I found it very readable, but also very instructive. I enjoy cross-referencing several books - sometimes people explain things in different ways and it takes a few tries to find the one you can understand. The diagrams used in each book vary, as well, and some are easier for me to understand. Sometimes, you just need to put the books down and gain experience knitting to understand what the books are trying to teach you. Yes, you may have guessed I see a lot of analogies between homeschooling and knitting - or maybe it's just about learning generally. You can give someone instruction until you are blue in the face, but if they don't understand it, they don't understand it and you need to be able to give it a rest. Eventually, they will be ready for the information or instruction and they will understand it.

The web has lots of wonderful sites with knitting patterns and with knitting instruction. Knitting help dot com is wonderful, it has lots of short videos that demonstrate various techinques.

1 comment:

Tammi said...

Wanna see some pix :-) Tammi