Friday, March 8, 2013

One Stitch at a Time

This week's projects on the go - one crochet; three knit
This entire adventure called knitting began with an impulsive walk into a yarn store one day and then progressed into learning how to knit.  Basic knitting.  Eight stitches one way; eight stitches back.  Over and over again watching the scarf yarn twirl itself below my needles.  Watching the yarn twirl itself around and around, watching the colours flow and the scarf take shape were fascinating to me.  I couldn't get enough of it.

I call them "twirley scarves" for that reason.  Simple knitting.  That's all it took to make these gorgeous "twirley" scarves.  That's all it took - besides the yarn.  And, oh!, it turned out that there were all kinds of scarf yarns in all price ranges.  And the colours!  From solid pinks and blues to varigated yarns in wild colours.  I had to try them all out.  And while I didn't get to try them all out as new ones are coming on the market all the time, I made a good stab at it.  In just a few months, I had more than enough for Christmas presents for all the ladies on my list plus a yarn stash for me projects.

But what about the men?  None of the men on my list would dare wear a "twirley" scarf.   Nope.  They would definitely want something more masculine.  At that point, more masculine wasn't going to happen.  They got chocolate for Christmas that yarn.  One size fits all.

Then there's the added dilemma that my mind always seems to be working - in one way or another.  At least with knitting, it's working on what the next project might look like rather than on what happened in the past.   I was continually looking at people's heads, necks, hands, whatever to see what they wore - and if it was handmade.  Always insecure, I felt like I could never go any further than where I was - and that challenged me.  I wanted to be able to knit more than just the scarves.  I wanted to knit.  Really knit.  I wanted to knit he-man type things for those men in my life.

So, I found a mentor in the yarn shop in Stratford.  After my bi-weekly counselling sessions, I would drop by and get help. My friendly mentor helped me select my projects.  Sold me yarn and patterns.  Encouraged me.  Praised my efforts.  Corrected my mistakes.  Gave me helpful hints.

From her, I learned a new word and a new "technique":  tinking.  The word "tink" is simply knit backwards and that's exactly what tinking is:  knitting backwards - or rather unknitting.  Works a lot better than ripping out because with knitting using two needles, if you rip your work out, you have to somehow get it - all of it - back on the needles.  I found that needles can be very uncooperative.  With tinking, you keep all your stitches on the needles and simply knit - or rather unknit - backwards.   Simple.  Well, kind of.  Especially after you've done it a couple of hundred times.

My first few attempts at going deeper into knitting rather then simply knitting back and forth created more angst than they relieved.  The exact opposite of the purpose of using knitting for right brain activity.  My mentor acquainted me with such  handy-dandy accessories as  counters and stitch markers - and how to use them most effectively in addition to the previously mentioned tinking, thereby showing me ways to forge ahead and relieve the stress.

She mentored me through my first projects of a cabled cowl.  Soon followed by a cable scarf.

Followed by a herringbone scarf.

I learned something new with each new project; each new skill.  My confidence increased.

I learned that when learning a new stitch to buy a less expensive yarn to work on the first piece, thereby causing less damage to the fabric of the yarn by repeated ripping out and starting all over again.

I also learned to practice the stitch on dishcloths and dish towels thus learning a new skill while at the same time making something practical to give away and bless someone with at a later time.  As a result, I have a basketful of knit "blessings", i.e. dishcloths, to give away.

As I write these words, my mind automatically goes to the colours, the patterns, the possible next project.  My accumulated stash of yarn and patterns.

What will I attempt next?

Only the mind knows.

And it's not telling ....

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