Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Secrets 7 and 8 of the Laidback Knitters

Our continuing series is nearing the end! I decided to share secrets seven and eight together because, for me, they really do go hand in hand.

Secret number 7

Value the partnership in knitting
between knitter and designer, and welcome the handclasp of two.

Chapter seven explores the partnerships in knitting. There is an implicit partnership between all knitting designers and all knitters. This partnership implies responsibilities on both sides. This means that to be a laidback knitter (enjoy what we are doing and create things we love), we have to respect certain rules and choose patterns that respect certain rules.
For the knitter - you know the drill: swatch, swatch, swatch! I am as guilty, or maybe guiltier, than everyone else. We just don't like to swatch. We want to dig in, get that project going, not waste time swatching! We only make that mistake once, putting hours into a project that turns into a disaster because we didn't respect the designer's gauge.
Pick a project for your skill level or be ready to stay calm if things get tricky!

For the designer - write clearly. Use the same terms and abbreviations throughout the project. Show us pictures, emphasis on the S. I am currently making a hat with my first bobbles. "I can cable, I can bobble I said to myself"! Obviously it's not going as well as I had hoped and the pattern I am using shows the hat from an angle so that we only see one bobble repeat. It would really help me to see the whole hat.

The moral:  As knitters, we have our part in success, but simply because a pattern is written down by someone, it doesn't mean that it is well written. Anyone know how to say Let the knitter beware! in Latin?

Secret number 8

Learn to soar patternless and feel the freedom!

Chapter eight is another chapter that really speaks to me. I have not been knitting that long, and I have tons of patterns, paper and digital. I actually learn a great deal about knitting from reading patterns, but I also have so many because I am always looking for that "perfect" pattern. I never imagined that I would make my own patterns, quite presumptuous don't you think? No, as it turns out, no!
My own private knitting classes!

Two years ago (again, late in life) I met (through the miracle of DVD) Elizabeth Zimmermann and her daughter Meg Swanson and they changed my knitting life! We should do a poll to see how many people have shared this experience. I'm sure the number is in the millions! Don't be embarrassed if you haven't heard of them. Just look them up. Better yet, watch their DVD's. Elizabeth Zimmermann was the most important figure in American knitting in the 20th century. She and her daughter Meg (one of my favorite scenes is the two of them knitting the same sweater together - amazing!) knit garments that I could never imagine knitting, and yet, they would both say, "of course you can!" 

My knitting "bibles"

Knitting isn't voodoo, it's logical. Take your time, make your calculations and knit! Elizabeth developed a percentage system, known as the EPS (Elizabeth's percentage system) which allows you to create any sweater for any body. Anyone can design a sweater with this simple system, really. Sweaters can become very complicated, lace, colors, patterns, etc. but what we need to know is how much to cast on, when and where to increase and decrease and that is what EPS tells you.

So, if you want to design your own sweaters patterns, start with the "Knitting Workshop". There are many more references, many listed in chapter eight, but you can go a long way with Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swanson before needing others!


Kanelstrand said...

Ah, the gauge... I hate it. I rarely make it. And I've had my share of disappointments because of that... It's interesting how I find all kinds of excuses and ways about not making a swatch... And it's funny how, when I end up with the wrong size I try to persuade that frogging and starting again will be so good - after all it's practice, right!

And now - my most favorite part - feel the freedom of patternless knitting! Right at the beginning of my knitting experience I started adjusting patterns - can you imagine how little knowledge I must have had and still I fought my way through it! I don't let any pattern restrict the flight of my imagination!

And bobbles - I still haven't tried my needles at them...

Laurie Fortier said...

It feels good to share our indiscretions, doesn't it Sonya?!

No pressure, SPD, that's what being laidback is all about!

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