Posts Tagged 'Scarf'

Knitting Without Patterns

So… you knit. It’s fun, right? It’s relaxing, it’s rewarding… and sometimes it’s frustrating.

When I first started knitting, I just knit a row, purl a row, knit a row, purl a row. It’s called the Stockinette Stitch, and it makes a smooth side (covered in V’s) and a bumpy side. It also curls up on the edges, so I had a lot of scarves that wanted to twist themselves into tubes. I liked them.

Red Baby Bibs in Two Different Styles

Red Baby Bibs in Two Different Styles

After getting a lot of practice with the basic stitches, making scarves and potholders and wash cloths, you’ll probably want to branch out into something new. You head to the yarn store, and start browsing their shelves for wonderful, beautiful, complex knitting patterns. This can be overwhelming and, in the end, discouraging. I propose an intermediate step, which will not only lessen your frustration level, but also make you a stronger knitter in the long run.

Instead of a pattern book, find yourself a Stitch Dictionary. There’s even a Field Guide to Knitting, which helps you identify stitches you find out in nature (I mean.. uh… all around you).

Now, instead of jumping into some complex project that you’re never going to finish, try your old standards: a washcloth, a scarf, a baby blanket, in different stitches that you find in your Stitch Dictionary. You’ll learn that a knit done in garter stitch is reversible and doesn’t curl up on the edges, but maybe you won’t like the way it looks (both sides are the “bumpy” side). Find another reversible stitch, and try it. Keep going until you find some that your really like. Mark the pages. Take notes. Practice increases and decreases. Practice casting on at the beginning and at the end of a row.

As you work through different stitch methods, you’ll learn the texture and behavior of each one. Later, when you go to make your first pair of arm/wrist warmers, you might run across a simple pattern that has a stretchy ribbing at the cuff. Not only will you understand why ribbing is used, you’ll be able to modify the pattern if you want to, knowing that you’ll have to substitute a different rib stitch instead of a non-elastic decorative stitch. If you want to make the item longer, you’ll know how to adapt the increases and decreases to fit your own arm.

Once you understand and have a feel for the different textures and behaviors of different knit stitches, you’ll be on your way designing your own knits!

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