I guess I knit things now

I made a thing. After twenty years of crocheting, my first knitting project is complete. I honestly don’t know how I feel about it… but I learned some things (including how to fix at least some of my mistakes) and ended up with an actual finished project, so that’s something.

Anyway, this is a pair of fingerless gloves, made with some leftover Mary Maxim Starlette Sparkle yarn from when I made our tree skirt. It was a pretty good yarn for a first project: not too splitty, not fuzzy, and a cheap acrylic to keep the stakes nice and low. The gold tinsel-y strands did give me occasional trouble when they didn’t want to stay with the rest of the yarn, but on the whole it was manageable.

The gloves were each knit as a panel, and then folded and seamed together. In the photo above, the first one I made is on the left and the second is on the right; I can definitely see some improvement between them even though I accidentally added a row or two to the second one. Counting is hard, guys. (It still ended up slightly smaller as my tension evened out a bit.)

This project taught me the long-tail cast-on, knitting and purling, garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing, binding off, and three different techniques for seaming. Binding off, by the way, makes me feel like a wizard. It also taught me that 36 live stitches is a whole other thing compared to crochet’s one and it’s frustratingly easy to lose stitches off your needles. Errors on my part meant I also learned how to decrease after accidentally increasing, tink (knit backwards to go back in a row), pick up a dropped stitch from a few rows up, and get all of the stitches back on my needles after having to rip out several rows (nightmare). Phew.

Did I enjoy it? Yes and no. I hit a lot of the frustrating phases of learning a new skill, when you can follow instructions but don’t yet understand the “why” behind them, or when you know you’re making mistakes but don’t necessarily know how to fix or avoid them. Crochet is very relaxing to me; knitting definitely is not. I can see that it likely will be some day, if I’m willing to put in the work now. To be honest, I’m still deciding whether I want to do that, at least at this particular phase of my life. (But also to be honest, I daydreamed up an easy scarf pattern and got out some yarn to try it with, so clearly my brain is engaged with knitting even if my feelings aren’t.) I need to keep reminding myself that I’ve been crocheting for two decades and knitting for, like, six hours, so of course it’s going to be a very different experience. And that’s ok.

And if knitting doesn’t work out, well, I guess there’s always hand modeling.

Beginner again

When I was about nine or ten years old, I learned to knit. A lady from our church came over one afternoon, and while I don’t remember if it was the point of the visit or just sort of happened, she taught me the garter stitch with a pair of straight needles and some bright yellow yarn. I worked on my little swatch and got it an inch or two long. That week I took it to school to knit during recess, and even at a track meet, slowly but diligently working my needles.

At some point one of my friends pointed out that my knitting didn’t seem to be getting any bigger. She was right! What could have happened? As it turns out, I had forgotten the crucial “yarn over” part of the stitch, and so all I was doing was passing my little swatch back and forth, back and forth between the needles. Without noticing. For days. So I put the yarn and needles away, and that was that.

Some years later my mom taught me to crochet, which went much better, and I largely forgot about ever wanting or learning to knit. I’ve been crocheting for twenty years, and while I’ve made occasional half-hearted stabs at knitting over the years — just because it seems like something I should be able to do — it never really clicked. I’ve made some lumpy swatches, most of which rapidly increased in width for reasons that were unfathomable to me. Ugh, knitting. Whatever. One hook good, two sticks bad, moving on.

Except here’s the thing. I want to make socks. And crocheted socks? Crocheted socks are awful. If you want to make good socks, socks you’d actually want to wear… well, you have to learn how to knit and that’s all there is to it. And so here I am, starting over once more. Somewhat to my surprise, I’m really enjoying it. I’m definitely making mistakes! There’s a mini-row of garter stitch in my stockinette section from when I spaced out and started knitting instead of purling. And I dropped a stitch and didn’t notice for four rows, then had to figure out how to get it back up where it needed to be. But overall, it’s making sense. How fun is that?

^ This up here is how I’m learning. I signed up for a premium Craftsy membership (PSA: never pay full price; there is almost always a facebook ad running that will give you a year for like $2) and enrolled in Susan B. Anderson’s wee baby beginner course. Now, to be honest, Craftsy is a bit of a hot mess. You can’t save courses as favourites if you’re using the desktop site, you can’t download materials if you’re using the app, your accounts don’t sync across platforms, and their search function leaves a lot to be desired. But this course is fantastic. Susan’s explanations are so clear, and I love that we jump right in and learn the stitches by making projects: first a pair of fingerless mitts, then a chunky cowl, then a striped hat with colour changes.

Am I ready for socks? No, not by a long shot. But you know, I think I’m going to be ready. And if you’ll excuse me, I have some knitting to do.