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The Knitting Diaries: Learning to Pick

[I know the content of this post isn’t for everyone …. So, if you want you can use it as an Open Thread]

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a correspondence course in knitting — Basics, Basics, Basics.  I have a sort of caveman-crude way of knitting continental style, but I think that if I’m going to stick with knitting, I should learn how to do it right. I learned a lot just doing the homework — knitting 5 swatches according to instructions. And then answering questions about the assignment. And (for most of them) knitting the swatches again after researching the answers to the questions.

It was a lot of fun.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yesterday, I got my homework back with comments from the instructor (and a new assignment.) She had VERY kind things to say about my knitting.  But, she was concerned about the tension in my stockinette stitch.  Just from looking at my knitting (see the images in the slideshow) she could tell that I was knitting continental.  And that I needed help.

Apparently, people who knit continental have a lot of trouble with the purl stitch — they purl more loosely than they knit & that makes visible gutters between the rows on the purl side (that’s the side with the “bumps”.)  If you stop the slideshow on the bumpy side, you can see the gaps between the rows.

That’s the problem I’m trying to correct.

And it means, I’ve got to relearn how I’m holding the yarn.  I just don’t do it right.

Luckily, YouTube has everything: My instructor sent me the link to this video by CraftSanity.com with a great explanation and demonstration of knitting continental … or Learning to Pick:

I’m glad I didn’t put this off.  I feel like I’m starting back at the beginning.  But, for me that’s just back three months.  That’s not so bad!

42 Responses

  1. I’m going to drag my laptop (sans thermometer) down to the patio and do some dual patio blogging/knitting.

    Like learning to pick isn’t hard enough!

    • That’s an interesting video. katie. Thanks for sharing!
      I almost do it the way she demo’d, with the middle finger on the needle & yarn, except my yarn does go in front of my middle finger. I use my right needle to nudge the yarn to the front if I want to purl.
      I’m trying it the way she showed. Feels a bit weird right now, like my forefinger has to be more tense. I guess that’s juts getting used to it.

  2. I’d like to learn to knit someday. My mom did, and tried to teach me when I was younger, but I wasn’t interested then. Stupid me.

    I live in the wrong climate for my two fetishes – which are sweaters and boots. I’d own dozens of either if it was practical, because I love love love sweaters and boots! But we wear shorts in December here. I can wear my boots maybe 6 weeks out of the year. 😦

    • I know what you mean. I keep thinking I’d like to knit something for my grandkids but, they live in Florida. I don’t think they’d have any use for anything I could knit.

    • Oh!! A lot of people knit lace — shawls/shawlettes that aren’t heavy at all but ARE beautiful. Knitting doesn’t have to be heavy winter clothes.

  3. OTOH, cooler (relatively) weather here makes me want to cook! And bake!

    I just ordered a mini-bundt pan today, and want to make my really decadent chocolate Kahlua cake, but in the form of 6 little mini fluted rings.

    And I picked up some gorgeous butternut squash at the market today, which I plan to dice and roast tomorrow, with olive oil and thyme, then toss it with some walnuts and gorgonzola. Mmmmmmm.

  4. Watching the youtube, I can see where I probably could learn the picking technique she says is easier for people who crochet.

    Now, if I could just figure out how all the yarn got on the needle to begin with…!

  5. I do a five shell with a little tie so the shell fans out…maybe my shell is more like a fan, but it works for throws and blankies.

    Wow, the Bitter Knitters knitting cyber class…AWESOME! 🙂

  6. I just wrap the yarn around the left-hand index finger; how many times depends on how slippery the yarn is.

    You can snug up the tension as you seat the new stitch on the right needle, so the purls are the same tension as the knits.

    • I guess I’ve been WANTING to pick though. So when my instructor pointed me to this video and I could actually follow it …. I decided to make the jump.

      My instructor didn’t have a problem with my knitting. She just thought it could be a little more consistent if I used this technique.

  7. Katie–you are inspiring me to try this. I have done crochetting in the past but always wanted to learn to knit.

    Is there a particular youtube video that you found helpful for beginners who want to make a simple scarf??

    • me too. I can crochet but never learned to knit and Katie is inspiring!

      • Thank you both so much! I’m just really glad that people like to read about it. It’s REALLY great that you guys want to knit along with me.

        • I have some knitting needles hanging around here…

          My mom sends me books on crochet patterns all the time but she doesn’t know the difference between knitting and crochet so she sometimes sends me knitting books and she has also sent me all sorts of knitting needles.

          She even sent me the needles that are connected by a flexible tube to allow knitting around in circles rather than rows.

  8. ok–I’m crazy. Just saw the video you posted and it looks pretty helpful. Thanks.

    • 🙂 Thanks! Also, we can always talk about knitting on open threads during the week. If people have questions or whatever in between actual knitting diaries.

  9. what about a pattern for a (real simple) scarf?? Do you get those online or buy them at a shop??

    • There’s a site called Ravelry Once you signup there you can click on the “pattern” TAB at the top.

      And then you can select Scarves/beginner or whatever. They have a TON of free patterns. You can save them as PDFs & print them out.

      When You are on the page for a particular pattern, you can see in the right sidebar how many “projects” there are — that’s people who have done that pattern.

      A LOT of those people have posted photos of their stuff. And notes about knitting them.

      Also, there are Forums where people talk about just about every pattern/yarn whatever.

      It’s a great group. At any given time there are about 3,000 people logged into it.

  10. Wow–thanks. My daughter just told me that she will give me her needles and yarn because she doesn’t have time anymore. So–this is neat. Will check out that site.

  11. Another thing to think about is the direction of the twist you have in your yarn. Some yarn is spun in what is call S-twist and others in Z-twist. Many people feel that depending on the direction of twist, and the amount of twist in the yarn, can affect the final knitted item.

    S and Z Twist Demystified

    Beyond the knitting instructions: How important is yarn twist?

    It is just something else to think about. I would guess that your next foray into fiber arts would be spinning your own yarn, it is wonderful to knit with handspun yarn….

  12. I used to knit all the sweaters and socks for my wee ones, however, now they are adults I’ve gotten out of the practice. Learned to knit at my grannie’s and mom’s knees. I have a book that I recently gave away from the 1940’s with some really incredible patterns – ladies suits and some fabulous sweaters – all of which seem to be coming into vogue again. I have a picture of my mom in the suit that she knit and believe me, it was a piece of artwork. Funny how all the old arts are coming back into vogue. Very interesting thread. (I also crocheted and macramed – plus at one time, I did tie dye – takes me back to my youth). BTW, I had one friend that actually sold her knitted sweaters to an upscale boutique – she made a lot of money, not that it happens too often.

  13. Hand made is always better–maybe it’s just knowing someone took the time for you. I have some of my grandmother’s croched doilies and they are beautiful.

  14. I’m left-handed. I have never learned how to knit right, but I stll have fun. I pretty much make cotton dishcloths and that’s about it.

    I crochet, but was self-taught and don’t hold the hook right.. The Grandma-types in my childhood neighborhood were all right-handed and their crochet looked backwards to me so I couldn’t learn from them. I know I could speed up if I could hold the hook right, but I’m stuck in my ways now.

    We lefties struggle with these things. The crafting world is backwards….

  15. Lol, as a left hander, “cavewoman”continental was always more my style. I take your point about the evenness, KB.

    Lately I’ve been doing the tee shirt thing. Take a medium sized shirt and remove the bottom hem. Cut in a continuous spiral strip, approximately 1” wide around the body. Stretch the strip, and it will curl into a yarn. Each shirt that size will knit a pot holder. Six is about enough to make a small washable rug. I’m making one right now for the RV shower.

    Sock knitters rock!

  16. What a great idea. I’m always using old tee shirts for dust rags, but I have enough.

    • Yeah, It’s fun and easy. I’ve seen some of these yarns on Etsy dyed in various colors, where they appear to be a little thinner and so, could be used for other projects

  17. We have a knitting/needle point shop not far from where I live, but it’s kind of expensive. Some of their displays sweaters are awesome though.

    I’ll bet this does help arthritic hands–I take tumeric regularly for it, but moving the joints alot probably helps also.

  18. Someone I know knits this way. The yarn goes around her neck to keep the yarn out of the way.

  19. Love to knit! I prefer, however, the Continental method. It’s more efficient, IMO. Great video!

  20. When I was a kid, my mother crocheted all the time. She tried to teach me, but I wasleft handed and just couldn’t sit next to her and get it right. Whne I was in junior high girls had to take home economics. I already knew how to sew, so the teacher had a lady come in and teach me to crochet. Turned out I am really good at mirror images, so she sat across from me and I was able to mimic her. I have made dozens of afhans, etc. in the 40 yars since then.

    I majored in Art for the first couple of years in college, and I always drew mirror images. I didn’t notice it, but my professor did. I always thought it was because I didn’t want to drag my hand across the paper, so I always drew from right to left on the page, but I turned everything around.

    I also write upside down, so that might be it. I just look at everyting backwards. As a lot of people tell me all the time.

  21. I relax by knitting. I learned to knit and crochet from my gran- gave it up for many yrs, then learned to knit the continental way from my best friend’s Norwegian gram who was 90 at the time. Love that- have made numerous baby blankets, hats and socks. Sweaters, not so much- hard to keep up with the counting. Just signed up for Ravelry- hope to see you there.

  22. Katie, is there a way to get to your knitting posts after they fall off the TC front page? Like, do you have them linked or cross-posted somewhere?
    Just curious. Thanks!

  23. Thank you Katiebird for these videos…I have always knit the ‘throwing way’ but thanks to your videos, I can now knit the continental way. I love it!

    I’m a knitter but I ain’t bitter…

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