Saturday, September 23, 2006

Road Trip Hiatus

I am leaving this morning for a road trip to California! I've never been on a road trip where I've had to stay the night somewhere. We have no plans, except that we're aiming for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I'm going with the friend I taught to knit in August. We haven't kept in touch these last ten years, but he's moving to Cali and I've never been on a road trip. I figure, we used to build things in the middle of the night on no sleep without killing each other, we can drive in the middle of the night on no sleep without killing each other.

My plan is to knit him a washcloth for every state we go through (I have one already knit, just in case). I've written down some patterns so I don't have to lug a pattern book with me, and I have about ten balls of suitable cotton. I'm not good at keeping surprises secret, though. I get so excited. What if he says: "Who are those for?" I can't lie! I'll just change the subject.

We're off! I'll be back in October.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I am not a process knitter.

In my beginning knitting class tonight, my students were asking a lot of questions about how I learned certain things. One of the students was especially frustrated with herself, even though I continued to remind her that mistakes are easily fixed. I can understand the impulse to feel so frustrated you feel stupid. My theory is that we forget how to learn HOW to do things. Almost everything we learn once we've learned to read and write builds upon something we already know. Learning something like knitting makes us feel like a kindergartener all over again. We're unsure of what to do with our hands; we can't see ahead to know what's happening; and we don't yet know how to recognize our mistakes. It is like learning to write our name: shaky, backwards letters all over the page, out of order.

I taught myself, largely through trial and error. I was building upon something I knew, though, since my aunt had taught me when I was nine or so. I didn't really remember how to knit, but the cast on and knit stitches were pretty easy to pick up. Purling was another matter. It must have taken me a year before it clicked. I tried and tried. I read as much as I could. I even asked a stranger in Joann's yarn section once. She was a continental knitter (no clue at that time) and purled differently than all the ways I'd tried. At the time, I didn't know any knitters and was living in Vermont, so my aunt in Michigan couldn't tell me. But one day I had that "Aha!" moment. It took another two years to learn that I had been twisting my purls all along (I was throwing the yarn clockwise).

Everything I've learned since then has been through trial and error and watching other people, though nobody has ever sat down and walked me through the steps of something. Sometimes the fact that I've learned this way makes it hard to describe the process of knitting to others, though I love to teach, because I just know. I also believe that knew knitters will someday just know, too.

I am always so proud of my students. It is a challenge for all of them, even the ones who pick it up as if they've been knitting for years, because they are doing something completely new to them. Most of them stick it out for the entire two-class session. Some continue, some don't. Some struggle for a while before it clicks, some just give up. But they all have made the effort, and that counts for a lot.

I started this post to talk about the progress on my sweater (not one stitch has been added to the shawl, by the way). Why I'm not a process knitter is going to have to wait.

Blogger still isn't letting me post pictures. Not happy. Not happy at all. The spirals on the hat are so good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I'm knitting, I swear. I'm trudging along on a sweater. It's my first attempt at designing an adult-sized garment on my own (plus reference books). It's slow going. I've also made a secret gift that I can't show or talk about here. It's nothing big, just secret.

Tonight I starched this hat. I finished the knitting a while back (during my UP trip), but I let the droopy hat sit there. I've never starched anything before, and I'm not sure about my efforts here. I'm letting it dry before I try it on again. I'll post a picture of it again, then. I guess I'll post all pictures later. Hmm, will Blogger be losing another user?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Nothing to Show

Knitting has been constant, but there's no progress to show. I was away over the long weekend visiting Jen and family. Joseph and I are pals, and it was hard to leave him. He snuggled with me after his nap, which made it even harder to leave. I'm home now, and sick-ish (Jen, I don't think it was Joseph, I think I started getting it on Saturday before I got there). I slept all afternoon, so I'm just starting knitting now. Which brings me to my topic.

I am not a lace knitter. I have two and a half repeats done on the Print o' the Waves stole. It takes so much concentration that for every row I knit, I have to rip two. I'm not the kind of knitter who just wants to knit rows and rows of stockinette--though you wouldn't believe it looking at the sweater I'm working on--but I'm finding that too much concentration and I get frustrated. I like a project that I can take anywhere. I like to stuff it in my bag and carry it around, even if I don't work on it; it's like a safety blanket. I can't do that with lace like this. I would rather have a pattern I have to look at and follow, but not one that I can so easily mess up. A 16 stitch repeat shouldn't be that hard, but I can't seem to get it. Give me cables any day.