process_knitter_project_knitter

The Joys of Being a Process Knitter

I’ve often wondered, with all the knitting I do, why I don’t have more finished projects to enjoy.

Most of the things I’ve made, I have given away. I give them to friends and family to enjoy (I hope), and then I make something else.

It’s not that I don’t care for the finished products. I am excited to see how they turn out, and I enjoy seeing people wear the things I’ve made. But I’ve realized that the finished object isn’t what makes me tick.

For me, it’s all about the knitting itself. That makes me a process knitter.

Process Knitter vs Project Knitter

Process knitters enjoy the act of knitting, figuring out the techniques and the stitches, etc. If you mess up, you don’t mind tearing it out and starting again (see my experience with my Rolling Rock sweater).

As a process knitter, you’re more likely to have just one or two projects going at once.

Project knitters work for the finished product. You get excited about casting on, and about the finished product, but the time between cast on and bind of might not be so enjoyable for you.

You’re more likely to have a bunch of projects going at once, and to jump around between them.

Most people fall somewhere on a spectrum, and it’s hard to be just one kind or the other, but these are the two big categories.

The Joys of Being a Process Knitter

Dr Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at UT Austin in the US, suggests that process knitters, on balance, probably get more enjoyment from knitting than project knitters.

In an interview on the VeryPink Knits podcast, he says, “Process people spend time enjoying the moments. It’s the problem-solving and the time spent that creates the enjoyment.”

For project knitters, on the other hand, “the highs are higher, the lows are lower, and probably overall it’s hard to be as satisfied on any given day to work on something.”

As a process knitter, it’s true that I get most enjoyment out of actually doing the knitting and getting it right. It’s a puzzle to figure out, a mystery to discover, and when I get a good pattern, it’s good fun.

How to Choose Patterns for Process Knitting

Now that’s not to say that I don’t sometimes find knitting a project a bit of a slog. If I’m not motivated by the pattern, if it’s boring or too repetitive, I’ll get into a slump.

In order to avoid such a slump, I pick challenging patterns. I look for new construction of a sweater, or new stitches or techniques so that I can learn something new.

I’m currently working on Carol Sunday’s Mia Francesca, a heavily cabled number with an interesting new construction I’ve never encountered before. It’s fascinating, and I’m enjoying it immensely. It will probably be finished, however, just in time for warm spring weather.

Finally Knitting for Me

Though I’m not a project knitter, I do want to make more items for myself that I’ll be able to enjoy. Since 2016 was the year of knitting for others, 2017 is the year of knitting for me. First this cardigan, and next up will be a new shawl to enjoy.

Dr Markman also notes that knitting is a great brain training activity for three good reasons. First, the fine motor control needed to knit engages your brain in a valuable way. Second, it requires problem solving, since you often have to figure out instructions or new techniques. That requires thought, which is always brain-healthy.

Finally, the social side of knitting is also beneficial. If you get stuck, or you need help, you can call up your knitting friends or go to a knitting circle, which is also good for the brain.

So if you’re in the Munich area and you’re looking for an English-speaking knitting circle, check out my new Stitch n’ Bitch on Meetup.com!

 

Image credit: Edel Rodriguez (source from Google Images).

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Swatch-knitting-gauge

My First Knitted Sweater

SUCCESS!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have done it. I have knitted my first handmade sweater. (I’m not counting the little sweater I made for my nephew for Christmas–that one was tiny.)

It started with a swatch

I got the pattern for the Alpenglühen cardigan on Ravelry. It was recommended to me by a friend for a first sweater, as she said the pattern was excellent and easy to follow. It really is! If you’re looking for a pattern for your first sweater, try this one.

Swatch-knitting-gauge
10cm x 10cm swatch

Since this was my first try at a garment, I decided to go by the book and make a swatch. It turns out my gauge was perfect.

The yarn is Studio Donegal’s Soft Donegal. It’s 100% merino wool with a tweedy, multi-colored flecked texture. My parents bought it for me in Dublin, Ireland last year and gave it to me as a Christmas present. It’s a gorgeous color, soft, and even the jersey knit gives a nice stretchy result. I love it.

Confounded By Cables

Though I’d done cables before, this was my first big cabled piece, and darn it if I didn’t make a mistake in one of my cables only to realize it 10 rows later. The horror!

What to do?! Rip out 10 rows of work? Ignore it and pretend it’s not there only to have it haunt my dreams? No. A solution had to be found.

Enter social media. The Knitting Lodge community on Google+ is a great resource where lots of experienced knitters hang out. I posted a cry for help there, and also contacted Staci Perry of VeryPink Knits on Google+. She kindly sent me her video for correcting a stitch.

After studying the blog posts provided by the Google+ knitters and Staci’s video, I was ready to pull off the most complicated knitting technique I have done to date.How to fix a cable mistake in knitting

Holding the stitches on either side of the three offending stitches on my needles, I proceeded to drop down to where I had forgotten to cable. Then, using a crochet hook and a knitting needle, I worked my way back up using Staci’s technique.

My Chico will tell you that I held my breath for about 15 minutes while doing this. Afterwards, when I had successfully accomplished my mission, I felt like the KNITTING QUEEN OF THE WORLD! Lots of high-fives ensued.

Jersey Stitch is Boring

The back of the sweater is nicely fitted. However, it requires what seems like MILES of jersey stitch.

It’s hard not to pull out your measuring tape every few rows to check how you’re doing. The best advice I can give is to try to get through this part of the process as quickly as possible.

Back of sweater
The back is wonderfully fitted!

Gaps in the Sleeves

I had some issues with the wrap & turn required for creating the shoulder cap of the sleeve. The wrap used to create the short rows caused a gap along the seam where I picked up from the main body to knit the sleeves.

I was unable to find a solution for the problem. I tried several techniques, including the Japanese short row technique, but none worked any better.

My final solution was, when I was putting the finishing touches on, to just sew through the seam inside out.

Pick Your Buttons Carefully

ButtonsOn a sweater like this, the buttons really bring it all together and give the final finishing touch. I wanted to splurge, so I visited Rix Rax here in Montreal.

The selection of buttons is vast, but expect terrible service with a healthy dose of bad attitude to go with it.

Finally Done

It took me about a month and a half to finish this sweater. And when I finally blocked it out and sewed on the buttons, I could not wait to wear it.

And wear it I did. I wore it to work twice in one week. My colleagues humored me by complimenting me every few minutes. Whenever I wear it outdoors, I can’t help but expect strangers to stop me on the street and say, “What a nice sweater!” I am inevitably disappointed when no one in the grocery store takes notice.

Finished alpine glow sweater

But… I MADE IT MYSELF!!

 

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Finished Lava Flow Cowl

Lessons From The Lava Flow Cowl

It’s time to add another project to the “Done” list! This lava flow cowl, knitted for a special someone, is my latest finished knitting project, and my first foray into the world of cable knitting!

The pattern is a free download, available here on Ravelry. I learned a few lessons from this project, which I will elucidate for you here.

Lesson 1: The Provisional Cast-On

The provisional cast-on is a technique whereby you pick up and knit your first row from a crocheted chain. The idea is that later, you can unzip the crocheted chain and put live stitches back on your hook in order to do a graft (more on that later).

Lava Flow Cowl in Progress
Provisional cast-on and stitch counter are both visible here.

Picking up and knitting from a crocheted chain might sound very simple to those who know how to both crochet and knit, but there is one little trick to keep in mind: The stitches must be picked up from the back of the chain.

As Staci from VeryPink Knits explains in this video about doing a provisional cast-on, the knit stitches should be picked up from what she calls the “hyphens” on the back of the crocheted chain.

Of course, I hadn’t watched that video when I did my provisional cast-on. So “unzipping” my chain was more of a nightmare than anything. Oh well, you live and learn!

Lesson 2: Stitch Counters Are a Blessing (When You Remember to Use Them)

This pattern calls for repetitions of 21 rows of rib stitch knitting. As you can imagine, it’s easy to lose count if you’re not paying attention, and I’m still learning to count rows in knitting. So I got myself a handy-dandy stitch counter, which lives on your cable (or whatever you’re using to knit).

But of course, the trick of using the stitch counter is to actually update it at the end of each row. A tool is only as effective as its user makes it.

Lesson 3: Read Reviews of Yarn on Ravelry Before Purchasing

I picked the yarn for its softness and its color. It’s Diamond Luxury Fine Merino Superwash DK in a vibrant purple, and squeezing it in the yarn store was such a pleasure.

Sadly, though, part-way through the project I noticed that it was starting to pill! That’s when I went on Ravelry and read the reviews of the yarn. To my dismay, I learned two things: The yarn pills terribly and it loses its shape when washed and must be thrown in the dryer for a bit in order to reshape it.

Lava Flow Cowl Work in Progress
Already starting to pill…

Bummer! I was too far into the project to back out now, so despite the pilling, I kept going…

Lesson 4: Practice A New Technique First

While my mess-up with the provisional cast-on was annoying, it wasn’t too detrimental to the outcome of the cowl. What was a big mistake was my neglecting to practice the grafting technique ahead of time.

Failed Grafting
It’s not really supposed to look like this…

Grafting, or the kitchener stitch, is when you take two sets of “live” stitches (meaning they’re still on your needles) and graft them together with some yarn and a sewing needle, so that there is no seam.

Once again, I referred to YouTube and VeryPink Knits for some help. Her video about grafting in rib stitch is excellent, as are the written instructions in the video description.

But foolishly, instead of practicing a grafting on a couple of swatches of yarn like Staci does here, I decided to go ahead and do it directly on my work. As you can see from the photo above, it didn’t work out so well.

Despite All That, I’m Proud of My Lava Flow Cowl.

Despite all the mistakes made along the way, the final result turned out quite pretty:

Finished Lava Flow Cowl
Done!

The recipient, my colleague and friend Marjorie, is delighted with it. She says it keeps her nice and warm without itching, and the grafting is pretty well hidden when she wears it. So far, the pilling has not proved to be as much of a problem as I feared.

I didn’t mention the cables! They were actually super easy to knit, but the key is to keep your stitch loose. I’m still working on that as a relative newbie.

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