#3. Learning by Mistake – Yarn

IMG_20170104_1401259_rewindI confess.  I learn by mistake.  I am terrible at investigating ahead.  I am more of a “try it” learner.  This approach is okay when the cost of “trying it” are small.  I don’t recommend this approach for investing.

For my first knitting project taught at a fine yarn shop, Hanks, I was directed to an appropriate and good quality yarn for my first scarf.  It was an alpaca yarn.  Very soft to knit with.  But even so I have to admit, a little weak on body so that the scarf wants to curl instead of laying flat.

My third knitting project was still the same scarf pattern but now I tried a different yarn, a silk yarn from Hobby Lobby.  The feel is terrific but this one curls even worse than the alpaca yarn.  The silk yarn did have a tendency to split easier than the alpaca but was still fine for this beginner knitter.

My fourth project was again the same scarf pattern but a third yarn, a cotton and linen, from a fine yarn shop, Silk Road Textiles.  This yarn probably had the best body. It too splits easier than the alpaca but is still a great yarn.  This yarn was multiple shades of grey which made a beautiful pattern as I knitted.  I fell in love with variegated yarn!!

Then I discovered the beautiful Dashing Mouse yarns (pictured) at Silk Road Textiles.  It is somewhat variegated and a thin yarn.  I love the way it feels while knitting and the weight of the finished scarf.  But since it is a thinner yarn, that means more stitches to make the same width scarf.  So projects take a lot longer with the lace or fingering yarn.

Finally this summer I used Fixation which is a spandex cotton yarn.  Thinner than worsted but thicker than fingering, this yarn is colorful for making socks.  I’m actually on my first pair of socks so I can’t yet comment on the feel of the socks.  I think in the future I’ll stick to the thinner sock yarns.  They make soft socks even though they take longer because of all the stitches needed.

I am becoming a “yarn snob”.  “Good” yarn does make knitting more enjoyable.  We use cheap acrylic yarn for our church prayer shawls.  This is in part because people may find animal fibers like wool or alpaca itchy.  Also nonacrylic yarns have to be hand washed.  Most people would machine wash the shawl and thus ruin it after the first washing.

So I find myself buying yarn at the expensive local yarn shop.  In have already broken my rule of not buying yarn unless I have a specific project in mind so that I can take advantage of their few “sales”, i.e. 10% off.  I haven’t bought yarn online yet but may have to consider that if I can find less expensive yarn.  My local yarn shop had beautiful yarn for a sweater I’ll be making come January, but I didn’t want to spend $125!!!  Fortunately the sales lady recommended another yarn at half the price. But I would like to find that kind of yarn, tweed, at a lower price.

I still have lots to learn about yarn and the best places to buy it.  That’s part of the fun and adventure.



#1 – Getting Started

I’m writing this blog to share my experiences about learning to knit.  I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it!!  I will be sharing what I’m learning as I knit new things as well as what I find helpful when knitting.  I can appreciate this is likely more of a diary than a blog as I’m not really expecting anyone to read it but me.

I started knitting in September of last year (9/16).  I retired four years before but had been working part-time at my former job.  Now I was fully retired and wanted to learn something new.  Knitting seemed like a useful new hobby.  My daughter likes to wear scarves and so do I.  Also my church has a prayer shawl ministry that I thought would be fun to join.

So I Googled knitting lessons and found a well recommended offering at a yarn shop (unfortunately on the opposite side of town so a 30 minute commute).  The three week format was recommended because it allows students to have opportunities to make mistakes, get repetition, and have questions answered.  I’ve been knitting now ever since!!  I’ve learned to make scarves, shawls, and socks.  I’m still taking classes, fortunately at a much closer yarn shop, Silk Road Textiles.  I’ve learned what I like, good yarn, fingering/lace weight, and what works for me when knitting, generous use of markers when knitting shawls, yarn bags from Michael’s, etc.

My first project was a basic ribbed scarf.  After making four of the same pattern, I was bored and sought out lessons to learn more stitches.  I’m now proficient at yarnovers and ssk.  By spring I moved to a shawl.  Lesson learned; using fingering weight yarn means LOTS of stitches!  I love the light weight and drape of the shawl, but it certainly took a lot of time!!  I made a second one with worsted weight yarn which took much less time.

This summer I had my first sock class.  I learned to use double pointed needles.  This fall I took another sock class to learn the magic loop technique.  I definitely prefer the magic loop.  Now I find myself with three different socks started that I’m looking forward to working on while enjoying a week in the Caribbean.  In January I start my first sweater.

I look forward to sharing my journey as I become a better knitter.  Please feel free to share any tips you’ve picked up to make knitting easier or more enjoyable.



#2. Actually, Second Blog – Needles

IMG_20170919_2038464_rewindStill trying to learn how to make posts in the Word Press Blog.

I like that I’m still learning a year plus into knitting.  I’m learning what kind of needles I like, Knitters Pride Dreamz, and circular.  My first project used traditional bamboo needles.  These are good for beginners as the yarn tends to hang on to the needles.  But I’ve quickly learned that a smoother finish helps make knitting faster as the stitches slide off the needle easier.  I love the pretty wood with Knitters Pride Dreamz needles and different colors for different sizes.  I’m hoping for a set for Christmas.

My first sock class used the traditional double pointed needles.  But the second class I took used the “magic loop” technique.  I greatly prefer using the same circular needles for socks that I can use for all my other projects rather than having to have sets of double pointed for socks.  Plus circular just better fits my “logic” as I work through the sock versus juggling 3-4 needles as I knit in the round.

I originally bought bamboo circular needles with different length cords as they were very cheap.  This was probably an inexpensive way to learn these needles are terrible but I learned about cord length.  The plastic tubes used as cord wear out quickly and break.  This is no fun in the middle of knitting something.  So I’ve learned that I really like tips and then having multiple cord lengths that can be attached for a smooth transition.

Unfortunately the very small needles, US 1-2, are too small to be able to use detachable cords.  I have to buy these needles already with cords attached separate from my set of tips and detachable cord set.  I have learned that I prefer the lace or fingering weight yarns over the worsted weight yarns. This means using the smaller needles and LOTS of stitches and rows to make something.

I’m sure there will be more to learn about needles, but this is what I’ve learned after the first year.  Don’t invest in a bunch of traditional bamboo needles in different sizes until you are sure that traditional is the type of needle you prefer.  For me it’s polished wood tips and circular needles.cropped-img_20170919_2038464_rewind