Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Apologies

Societal "norms" is downright UNFAIR! Based on society's view of what normal is and the behaviors that must encompass males and females, we have destroyed individual creativity. I have to extend an apology to male knitters because they have been the butt of constant jokes about their sexual orientation for their interest in knitting. I thought I should raise this issue because I have yet to see a male knitter in person and before I began knitting, I never thought men knit; it's a female thing. Little did I know my perception of knitting and who should knit were based on contemporary society's normalities.
Historically speaking, knitting was actually popular in Europe as a guild that was dominated by men. According to Knit Be Nimble the guild ended, unfortunately, with the invention of machinery and men moving over to the sector of industry. In America, however, knitting has always been a woman's craft. I recently read Anne L. Macdonald's No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, which enlightened me on how knitting became so important in American history but also outlined why women took over the craft. To briefly summarize, the mood of knitting being associated mainly with women in America stemmed from the European settlers  and the roles they had established for men and women. Women were the housewives that cared for her family and the upkeep of the house while men were the breadwinners. Schooling became separated into the boys engaging in academics and the girls learning the crafts. Knitting gradually became a woman's pastime.
From this history, I believe lies the problem of gender specificity in the knitting world. However, I do not feel it has to continue to be this way. Men should be able to enjoy the soothing powers of knitting without society's boundaries of activities that are considered manly or wimpy. The men who are knitters and open about their love for knitting, hats off to you because you're expressing yourselves despite the labels society has put on you. Again, I apologize for society's close-mindedness. I encourage more male knitters to not be afraid to knit your WIPs in public; it is not something you should be ashamed of!

[To my knitting men: Knit to your heart's content]

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Have I been working hard or hardly working, hmm? A week has past and my first project, the beginner's reversible scarf, is underway. I have been addicted to completing a stitch or a row whenever I have a moment to spare, which includes me carrying my WIP (work in progress) EVERYWHERE I go. So far, it has been a great experience. I am finding my rhythm and seeing my yarn blossom into the scarf that is better than I had in mind. I just wanted to update you all on my progress by providing a few pictures.
I am especially excited about this scarf because surprisingly my shaded dusk ombre yarn creates a pattern of light and dark blues as shown in the images. I will definitely continue with the updates of my discoveries. And keep in mind, the finishing product is only half the accomplishment, learning from the journey is the true triumph. Stay encouraged!
[Excitement in the adventure!]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The [Official] Beginning to an Obsession

My housekeeping has been completed! It's time to start my very first knitting project. I have had a lot of practice with the garter stitch, so to switch it up; I wanted to use a pattern that incorporated both the knit stitch and the purl stitch together. So, as my first project...drum roll please...I will be doing the BEGINNER'S REVERSIBLE SCARFRavelry offered this free pattern that I found and thought it would be a great piece to start on since the winter is approaching. Scarves and dishcloths are among the most common beginner projects, but choose whatever project floats your boat and that you can handle with the knitting knowledge that you have.

I am using size US 10 (6mm) needles 14 inches in length and the yarn that I am using Red Heart Super Saver Multis (ombres) Shaded Dusk. I modified this project by using worsted weight yarn and I will use the long tail cast-on but there are others you may use. This pattern calls for 28 cast-on stitches and each row is repetition of knitting two purling one.
I apologize for how dark the yarn is but I fell in love with it when I saw it. The "V" that you are seeing in the pattern is the knit stitch and in between them are the ribbing created by the purl stitch. I am working on the tension of my yarn and understanding the gauge which will help in making sure the garment fits and is precise. Since I am making scarf, the gauge is not necessary and I am not too worried about my tension. I am hoping that as I work through this project, the tension will become natural.

This is how far I have gotten since I have started this project but being that I am making a scarf, I have a LONG way to go. Bear with me as I continue with my project and I will keep you all updated. Stay Encouraged!

[Loving Every Moment! Just Keep Knitting.]

Ready to Begin

The moment of realization has come. Today has marked one month and a week since I have started my knitting journey. In the past month I have learned the slip knot, cast on, knit stitch, and purl stitch while sharing with you guys all of my ups and downs. With all the practice that I have done since I have started, I thought I had a good gist of all that knitting entails, but it never fails, there is a lot more information out there to learn and make sense of.  

Image A (Front)
In this image, I started out practicing the purl stitch continuously and then I switched over to the knit stitch. Posting my questions to the knitting community, I found out that focusing on one technique, either knit or purl stitch, for every row is called a garter stitch. And the garter stitch can, in fact, be a pattern for a project and is recommended as the first project for beginners.

Image A (Back)

The garter stitch is also the reason why the stitches are parallel to the needle. Watching videos and looking at pictures, I realized that their rows were perpendicular to the needle and I questioned if I was doing something wrong. Fortunately, it is a normal stitching. And I want to point out in Image A (front), the transition from the purl stitch to the knit stitch produces a stockinette stitch (I had no idea). The stockinette stitch can be used as a pattern in which you repeat one row of knits and one row of purls in a project. It's a lot to digest but do not fret, if you're a visual learner like myself, this video will provide some clarification. 

Image B (front)

From a forum in Knitting Help, I read a thread called Knitting the Knits and Purling the Purls. Confusion at its max! But a fellow knitter explained that when you knit a row, the back of it is a purl stitch (and vice versa), when you flip the work (to start another row) you are now seeing a purl row. For the next row you would then have to purl stitch. It sounds complicated but in actuality, it is not. Identifying the knit and purl stitches will help you know what stitches to knit and which ones to purl.

Image B (Back)

I tried knitting the knits and purling the purls by alternating between knit stitching and purling in each row. As you can see from Image B, it did not work as well as I thought it would. There seems to be more stitches on one end of the row than the other but I won't give up and for my beginners, you don't either. I am learning as I go and I am itching to work on my first project. Soo, I think I know the basics enough to move to the next step of my journey and attempt my first project. Stay tuned, stay encouraged, and continue knitting!

[Keep Moving Forward!]

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm Purling It!

The guilt is killing me and I must share the secret of my shame. I have been neglecting my darling babes, knitting and this blog, of course. I was losing sight of my focus a bit in the past couple of weeks but fear not, I have a few updates on my progress.

I have started purling everyone with the help of Knitting Help's video the purl stitch. The purl stitch is the knitting technique that is the reverse of the knit stitch and I surprisingly caught on to it very quickly. It seemed a bit easier than the knit stitch for me except that my needle would constantly slip before I could get the stitch on the opposite needle. With more practice throughout the weekend, I was able to find my rhythm not only with the purl stitch but also with the knit stitch.

This is not yet a real project but a practice of the basic knitting techniques in which I started off with twenty cast-ons. I decided to begin with the knit stitch here to find my rhythm before I began my purl stitch. I do not know why my knit stitches have not been able to come out a little bit neater. There are a few places that I missed a couple of stitches which I think is due to not paying close enough attention and the constant unraveling of my yarn. But it's nothing to it, just a little more practice.

I then switched to the purl stitch after several rows of knit stitching. This was my very first time attempting the purl stitch and I am still not quite sure yet why there was a large gap between the stitches. This image shows my knit stitches and then the first two rows of my purl stitch.

At this point into the purl stitch, I stopped because I added a stitch while purling. The one thing to be aware of is actually getting into the stitch properly. Because the purl stitch involves the working yarn being in the front of the needles instead of the back (like in the knit stitch), there is a chance of stitching into the previous row and getting confused with the stitches.

So, when in doubt, I just started over with the same twenty cast-ons. This time, however, I did not begin with the knit stitch and went right into the purl stitches. I have to say that I, personally, was impressed and proud with the outcome of my first attempts purl stitching.

This last image just shows my continuation of the purl stitch. It looks pretty neat and even, and I focused more with my rhythm rather than getting it perfect. I don't know if it makes a difference, but I realized that my stitches are parallel to the needle and some videos I have seen shows the stitches perpendicular.  Also, knowing what stitch to use for certain projects would help propel me into the next phase of my adventure, starting my first project! I'm hoping I will clear up these inquiries and continue to update you all.
Stay encouraged! 

[We, ourselves, are works in progress. Keep knitting.]

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mentally Soothing vs. Physically Painful

What if someone told you that the very thing you LOVE will also be the very thing that threatens your livelihood? The moment we get our hands on a pair of needles and a skein of yarn, a knitter is totally engulfed in the current project and under a state of relaxation. Nothing else can penetrate our thoughts. But in the back of my mind, I can't help but think about how often arthritis is associated with knitting. A little light was shed on this by the article Knitting Health-How to Keep on Knittin' and Feel Great on the Blue Castle Fiber Arts webpage.

The article highlights that 'knititation', a combination of knitting and meditation, relieves stress and provides a sense of calm for knitters. The reason for the peaceful state of knitting is due to the repeating motions of the craft that is also found in the same brain wave forms of meditation.

But the reading also mentions that knitting is NOT the cause of arthritis or joint pain. Whew. You can pick up your needles off the floor now. Although it is not the actual cause, which happens to be diet, knitting adds to these conditions when a great amount of time is spent. The article gives the following tips for knitters with conditions such as arthritis:

          "1. Don't overdo knitting if you are in a lot of joint pain but don't
           stop altogether either. Many knitters find that doing some knitting
           actually improves flexibility and mobility of the joints. Also take
           breaks to stretch your fingers.

           2. Try different types of needles. Generally materials with a bit of

           flexibility are better such as wood, bamboo and casein but not metal."
In fact,  Dr. Hibberd from NewsMax Health supports the claims made by the article. He suggests that knitting prevents the advancement of arthritis with a few modifications.

           "...some tips that have been suggested are to try alternatives to metal 
           needles, such as birch or bamboo needles, which are lightweight and
           warmer to the touch. Try sticking to knitting with wool or wool blends,
           as wool is elastic and more forgiving than cotton and other fibers, which
           makes them easier to manipulate. Also try knitting flat on a circular needle.
           Even if you do not need to make a tube, the circular shape allows the
           weight of the sweater to fall in your lap, not off your wrist. Do not knit
           continuously, and take frequent breaks."

I thought I would share this piece of information because it is better to be aware of possible complications that may arise from what we spend hours upon hours doing. This post is not just for knitters who may have these conditions but it extends to all ages and spectrums in the knitting world. I, a new knitter, experienced a bit of stiffness when I first started knitting but I figured it was because of my tight hold. Now I realize a looser grip and a break here and there wouldn't hurt.

Awareness is greater than being clueless. Fortunately, it is possible for knitters to enjoy the wonderful amenities of the mentally soothing abilities of knitting without having to bear physical pain. So, don't be afraid, pick up your WIPs and continue while keeping in mind the previous tips.

[The best of both worlds is possible. Happy Knitting!]

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Oh Dear!

One week, seven days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds and what do I have to show for it? A mentally stressed, physically tired, with no relaxation college student. Typical, right? As the week flashed by, I find myself asking: Where exactly has time been flying? The days have been running into each other and time seems to be slipping through my grasps. The worst part of it all is that I haven't been able to enjoy doing what I WANT to do, knit. So, here is where the fight against time begins.

I have decided to be more proactive about MAKING time for knitting and finally finish my housekeeping so that I can begin a project. In my progress, I have only reached as far as the knit stitch. And boy, have I been working hard on getting it right. But from the advice of my fellow knitters in the knitting community, as a beginner, I should focus more on my rhythm rather than the outcome. In order to develop a secure rhythm, there obviously has to be some level of consistency and time well spent.

For my beginners, we need to loosen up, not only with our stitches but the learning aspect as well. A veteran knitter recently explained to me that as new knitters, we tend to knit tightly so that we get the stitches we see in the pictures (exactly what I thought), but those stitches happen after the project is washed and not while you knit. Fair enough. In the end, it all comes down to less perfection and more rhythm and allowing time for practice.

Most importantly, knitting should be RELAXING and FUN! I'm also speaking to myself when I say this, do not let the frustrations (and they will come) beat us out of the excitement of such a beautiful craft. Take every woe in stride, and continue with positivity in mind.

Perhaps making goals of what you would like to accomplish and seeing what you need to work on may be beneficial for progress. Goals seem to put things into perspective for me and hopefully it will help me counteract the fleeting of time. So, my goals this week is to spend an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of two hours a day practicing the knit stitch and starting on the purl stitch. Ultimately, finding my rhythm and overcoming time like a champ.

[Stay Encouraged. And find your Rhythm]

Monday, October 1, 2012

Knitting Solace

Hello there! On another one of my random internet searches, I came across an interesting subjective view of the art of knitting. In the article, the author, Kat Welsh, states that knitting provides an escape from worries. The reason for this ease is described by the ability for the knitter to concentrate on the task at hand and alter the yarn to create a piece of cloth that is useful and meaningful in its own right. As Welsh implies, knitting is a metaphorical example for the way people are to approach life and can be used as a process of healing. Ultimately, the article points out that knitting provide an overall positive solace conducive to transforming one's outlook on happiness, expression and discovering "self-actualization." 

I wholeheartedly endorse Welsh's reference to knitting as a release. One of the first things that I heard about knitting was the relaxing nature of the craft and I can attest to this fact. Even as a new knitter, once I pick up those aqua blue needles, my only focus becomes the working of my hands to produce my knit stitches (so far). A sense of calm envelopes my atmosphere, and once the rhythm is picked up, my mind drifts to other thoughts. At that moment, my previous angst over anything is practically nonexistent and I can peacefully think of solutions. Knitting truly places me in a more positive mood than I was in before.

Although I agree with Welsh that knitting provides a "lasting effect", I do not think that knitting is the only hobby that can have such effect. Whatever allows someone to have peace can create that lasting impression. So, for my readers, I challenge you to spend some time doing what gives you relief from life's problems and see the change in your demeanor.  

[Keep knitting. Think Positive. Stay Encouraged]