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Miss Pascal’s Crafting History: A New Chapter

November 30, 2011

I only recently learned how to knit.  Actually, let me rephrase that…I only recently learned how to knit the RIGHT WAY.  I learned how to knit for the first time sometime in high school–my girlfriends and I all made each other variations on the same striped scarf (a Where’s Waldo kind of thing) and I made a scarf for my high school boyfriend.  Since I was the only left-hander in the group, I had to learn by observing my friends and then switching everything they did upside-down and backwards.  Left-handed diagrams or picures in books were hard to come by and difficult to understand in conjunction with written explanations.  I read about purling and learned how to recognize a few basic stitches (stockinette and seed stitch, mainly), and although I could create scarves, the whole process seemed really foreign to me.  The only project that I’d knitted up until recently that I was really proud of was a scarf I made for my college boyfriend, which I hope he still has)–a soft brown seed-stitch number (notice a pattern?  I like making men things, and consequently Dad is going to have to stop reading around Christmastime).  Anyway, although there was a set of knitting needles lying in a drawer in my sewing room, I pretty much felt that knitting as a concept was beyond me (much like Krypton and sewing patterns, har har).

Enter Chloe, one of my closest confidantes and co-owner of Knitting Central, an online knitting shop (http://knittingcentral.com/).  She creates beautiful work and duing our “crafting dates” is usually working on a new pattern or something really exciting and, to me, mystical.  During one crafting date recently, while I was working on our Halloween costumes, I told her I knew how to knit but was always wondering if I was doing it correctly.  Chloe, who has also taught plenty of kniting classes, waited patiently as I showed her my pitiful excuse for a cast-on (she showed me the long-tail cast on in a much more efficient way) and basic stitches.  It turned out that my self-taught technique wasn’t inherently flawed–I knew both the basic purl and knit stitch–but I was knitting upside-down (holding the needle with the work in the wrong hand) and using inefficient hand movements to slow down my work.  Chloe definitely turned on her “teacher voice” and taught me how to knit RIGHT!  After about 20 minutes and a bunch of yarnovers (when you forget to bring the yarn to the front/back when you switch from knit to purl or vice versa), my head hurt but I had retrained myself the right way.  I was stoked and was ready to start some projects!

SPOILER ALERT:  If your name is Liz or Jane and you are related to Miss Pascal, stop reading.  🙂

My first project was a set of chunky arm warmers for my sister Liz–I knitted flat pieces and then sewed the edges together, leaving a gap in the seam for the thumb to go through.  It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but the arm warmers are a rich plum color!

 

My next project was my first foray into knitting in the round.  Using a stockinette stitch (just knitting) all around, I made a super-soft cowl for my dad’s girlfriend, Jane.  It’s basically a neckwarmer–a circular scarf–that drapes a little bit:

I was sick with a cold a few weekends ago and decided to try following a pattern to make my first hat.  I found the pattern on ravelry.com–a Facebook of sorts for knitters.  All you have to do is sign up for a free account, and you can search thousands of patterns using very specified criteria (like needle size, yarn weight, and the exact kind of garment). Thor was the intended recipient, and I wanted to make a simple watch cap to match his new winter coat.  My first attempt was a lumpy rendering of the pattern–it was too big, the decrease stitches at the top didn’t quite match, and the ribbing at the bottom was too long.  Thor tried it on and it definitely didn’t “fit” him (not just the size–it didn’t look good).  Over the past few days, I tried again, edited the pattern, and now it fits him perfectly!  Not to mention that it was a cinch to make!  He was sitting beside me as I knitted most of it, so he is fully aware that this is the first of his Hanukkah gifts, but it was worth spoiling the surprise to know that it is just his size and style.

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