This year has gone by quickly for me. Even when I was working full-time, I managed to find time to knit and expand my knitting knowledge and skills. I’ve knitted several shawls, garments, and accessories and noticed a consistent theme of knitting a lace pattern in most of my projects. I wanted to close out this adventurous year by doing a recap on the new techniques and skills that I’ve learned in 2010.
Learning to Block:
I’ve learned the importance of blocking whether it’s a garment or accessory. Sometimes I would use the damp (spritz of water) method or hand wash the knitted project in baby shampoo. I invested in blocking mats from Knit Picks. Not just one set, but two sets. Some of my projects ended up being rather large. To get the shawls shaped correctly, I had to either hand wash (one extreme) or spray water on them and then stretch them out on my mats and pin them in place. I even went as far as purchasing lace blocking wires also from Knit Picks to block out a few of my shawl projects.
I was knitting the baby hats which I called strawberry and blueberry and got a chance to do a bit of stranded knitting with two colors. Given that it was only for a couple of rows and a simple project, it was enough to get my feet wet and learn how to carry lengths of yarn and a simple twist to prevent holes.
I knitted a lot of shawls this year. I wore them mostly at work in my cold office. I got a chance to use the Noro Taiyo yarn and now I know why everyone loves Noro for it’s distinctive colors that stripe perfectly. Even for a shawl. Incredible!
More Lace Pattern Knitting:
I mentioned that a consistent theme was knitting lace patterns in my projects. I can tell you I’m attracted to knitting projects that has a pattern whether it includes lace or cable. Plain stockinette stitch projects get dropped further down my priority list. It’s all about keeping my interest.
Knitting Garments in the Round:
I got a chance to do more knitting in the round. Mostly top down which I prefer.
I knitted a Reid top which was from the bottom up and I learned to integrate and knit the sleeves with the yoke. Not too hard to do.
Modifying a Garment:
I must have been in an experimentation phase over the Summer. I came across a Tahki Yarns Henley short-sleeve top pattern in one of their summer booklets. I was captivated by the chevron lace pattern, but I did not like the three-button neckline (Henley) nor the short sleeves. Also, the length of this top was too long for me. So, I modified the pattern. I shortened the length (removing some colored-block rows), re-wrote the neckline pattern to make it into a scoop, and basically omitted the sleeves. I guess the simple solution was to have looked for a sleeveless shell pattern, but I felt the challenge and answered it.
I knitted the same sleeveless top in the round that incorporated a chevron lace pattern (the same one under Modifying a Garment). I knitted this top using 3 colors. It was a great experience for me. Since I was using different colors, I ended up weaving in a lot of loose ends.
I-Cord Bind Off:
I probably wouldn’t have learned this technique if wasn’t for the 3-color sleeveless top I knitted. I had modified this pattern so much that I needed to use a simple finish in the armholes. That’s when learned this new BO technique. This produced a beautiful edging and not stretchy at all.
I got a chance to learn how to do short row shaping for a lace leaf top. Of course this short row shaping was used for shaping bust area. It’s an easy technique to learn and use in other patterns.
Experimenting with Various Yarns:
Since I have developed a nice stash (mostly in the last year), I was able to knit with different kinds of yarns: cotton, linen, silk, wool and synthetics. I also got a chance to knit with different brands of yarns like: Tahki Yarns, Rowan, Noro, Debbie Bliss, Berroco, Classic Elite, etc. I noticed from my purchases this year, I’ve added a lot more Berroco yarn (Vintage, Remix, and some others). It’s probably because it’s an affordable yarn. I’m sure texture, color, and softness was a criteria. I don’t buy yarn that causes me to itch.
Got a chance to get back into knitting with DPNs and knitted a lot of fingerless gloves. I had a good laugh at myself. It took me awhile to get comfortable with having 3 needles in the round and using the 4th to knit. I also learned a valuable technique of knitting a future hole (thumb area) with contrasting yarn and then put those contrasting loops back on the left needle and pick up the main colored yarn and continue knitting. I go back and pick up the stitches around the contrasting yarn and then remove the contrasting yarn. A nice hole appears and I can continue knitting in the round for the thumb.
This has become my TNT (tried ‘n true) project for mindless knitting in front of the TV. I’m sure there will be several family members who will be getting these gloves for next Christmas. Unless, I find another fun TNT project for mindless knitting.
I took my first knitting classes as a student. Normally, I’m the teacher. This was a welcomed switch for me. I needed to expand my knitting skills or fine tune my techniques. My first class was on buttonholes and button bands. I learned a lot of buttonhole techniques and not to be fearful.
My second class was on seaming. Basically, this reinforced what I’ve taught myself about seaming. One key point I learned is to seam with the same tension that I knitted. This was very noteworthy and so true.
My third and last class for this year was learning to knit Continental style. I’ve always wanted to learn and tried to teach myself but failed miserably. This class was an eye opener for me. I learned to first break down the steps for the knit stitch and then try to recreate the steps, but with the yarn in the left hand. Once I figured out how to hold the yarn correctly (or basically what felt good to me), I was able to start knitting the Continental way. I also learned to break down the purl stitch and learned to knit that stitch as well.
What a major breakthrough for me. I can say that I’ve mastered the Continental method. I can produce the knit and purl stitches and have created several samples of St st, ribbing, seed stitch, etc. I’ve also knitted up a 4”x4” swatch and got gauge. It’s nice to see that I can go from English to Continental and vice versa and still keep gauge.
I ended the year with knitting a watchman cap for my hubby using the Continental method. I can say I completed a true project.
I have found there are many benefits to learning this method. The first important benefit is knitting the ribbing (knit and purl). I’m knitting this more efficiently with less movement and increasing my knitting speed. My ribbing stitches look more consistent versus the English method. Another benefit for me which will be another stepping stone into learning another technique for next year is knitting with two colors.
Even though I knitted less projects this year than in 2009, I’ve managed to keep up my knitting skills and picked up a few new techniques along the way. More yarn was definitely purchased, but not in small quantities for small projects. I was thinking more of future sweaters, tunics, cardigans…larger projects. Can we say bags of yarn? And yes, storage continues to be a problem for me. My hubby is planning on building some shelves for me in our basement. That way I can organize and store my bins more efficiently. He’s aware that I have a yarn stash, but I’m not sure he knows how much I have.
I’m looking forward to 2011 with the anticipation of learning new knitting skills and techniques. I have lots of projects queued in Ravelry and lots of yarn to knit with. And still, lots to learn.