Thursday, January 15, 2009

Getting back into my knitting

I have a soft spot for crochet as the first needlecraft I learned so I feel a bit treacherous admitting that I like to knit just as much if not more. I tend to enjoy knitting more than crochet because the motion is a lot more fluid and easier on the wrists. Crochet is faster though and so I'm usually motivated to move through a crochet project with more gusto. The gratification is more immediate. Crochet yields finished objects (FOs) that are strong and durable. Knitting, in my opinion, results in FOs that have more movement and are a bit more delicate. I think crochet lends itself well to blankets and hats whereas knitting is more suited to sweaters, socks and gloves--garments that need to be very light and flexible to accomodate the body's movement.

Anyway and in any case, I haven't been doing either really consistently but I decided to get back into my knitting (and crochet). Z2 is at the age now where he can move around fairly easily which means that I can sit down on the couch while watching both of them play. I have to do a fair amount of refereeing though which means that the projects I do while the boys are awake have to be pretty straightforward or else I mess up tremendously. If a project requires me to be tied to the pattern or requires a lot of intricate stitches, I have to save it for when they're asleep.

So I've been working on the sweater for Emma (I decided on Swing Thing and may even try to tackle the simple embroidery), Z1's friend he met at the playground. I started on December 29 and hope to be finished by the second week in February at least. I've almost finished the yoke and the knitting is going smoothly. I'm enjoying it a lot. I would take a picture to show the progress but my camera is really on its last leg. I have to really do quite a lot of gymnastics to transfer the pictures to the computer which often keeps me from bothering. I'll try to get a picture up soon though.

You know, when I first started knitting, I was overwhelmed by the amount of implements I had to buy to complete projects. To make a hat or any other small diameter FO, you need to use double pointed needles (DPNs)

("DP Needle Holder" by HomemadeOriginals on Flickr)

or start with a 16" circular needle and then switch to DPNs

(Image from

or learn the magic loop technique which uses a long circular needle

(Image from

With crochet, you just crochet a loop and make what you need to make!!! That's it. Have hook, have yarn, will make whatever strikes my fancy!! So for a long time, knitting did not appeal to me--too much stuff to get.

But as I grow to appreciate knitting, I grow to appreciate how good quality implements (needles and yarn) make the craft all the more worthwhile. I made some Ebay missteps when it came to knitting needles and purchased a lot of circular bamboo needles (3 different cord lengths) from a seller in China for $20 all told. They are okay but not great. Especially the 16" needles whose actual needle (the bamboo part) is so short as to make knitting with them uncomfortable (it cramps my hands). I've actually considered (and am still considering) buying the KnitPicks 16" fixed circulars because of it. All the sizes I need would run me about $40. The lesson to me is to buy quality needles even if they cost more because they will be with you for a long time. In trying to save money initially, I purchased a Denise Interchangeable Needle set. Although for a new knitter they were great: no running out everytime I wanted to start a new project to get the requisite needles. Nowadays, it is the *last* thing I go to when I want to knit. The joins come apart and I'm just impressed by how sub-par the set it. There's a new set out now called KnitPicks Options but there is no 16" cord option which means I would still like to buy a set of 16" fixed needles (or continue to use the ones I currently have) or resign myself to using the longest Options cord to do magic loop. I don't hate magic loop per se but it's a bit too fussy. I like to just knit. The Options are a beautiful set though that any knitter would love having. I've actually looked at them and touched them at one of my knitting circles and they are dreamy. I haven't heard a single complaint from a knitter yet.

Oh, and I'm not completely writing Ebay off for needles either because you can get Addis (which folks swear by) for a couple of cents cheaper (check the shipping and handling always) and I managed to get a nice set of bamboo double pointed needles for $20. They're smooth, long, and quality.

As much as I can acknowledge the importance of quality implements, I also have to acknowledge that just like any other hobby, knitting can get expensive if you don't watch it. The Options set is $75. It's hard to justify that expense when you have other serviceable needles that do the job. But knitting is really about the implements. I've seen folks make their own needles using dowels from the hardware store and I'm thinking about that too. I know I'd enjoy that self-sufficiency and I'd definitely enjoy how little I'd have to spend on needles. All you need, really, is a Knit Chek to figure out the various sizes. Right now, though, I'm trying hard to carve out time just to knit. And so far I'm doing an okay job. If I can complete eight projects this year, I'd be happy. Next on the agenda are Clessidra socks after which I will be knitting my first Clapotis for my good friend who graduated recently.

For me, it's always a balancing act to do all the things I love to do (in a budget friendly way, of course). Knit, crochet, read, write. I sometimes have to take a step back and see which one is being neglected. When I do, I can get back into it and re-realize why I love it in the first place.


tifi said...

Before I say anything else, can I just tell you how much I relate to your blog? I don't always have the time to comment, but I'm always reading! That said, I bought the denise needles a few years ago and hated them. I am now building my needle collection as I need it. I only ever need 16" since I usually knit small items. I haven't had a knitting project in a few weeks, and I'm feeling the need to knit badly. Are you on ravelry? I'm tifi there.

Chi-Chi, The Original Wombman said...

Oh, thanks Tifi. The same goes for your blog. :) I'm on ravelry. I'll friend you!

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