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O'ahu born and Rockville bred, both Maryland and Hawai'i are home. Middle-aged knitter (believe me, my 40 is NOT the new 20) seeking the courage to live consciously, each and every moment. Now if I could just remember where I put my keys...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chptr 65: In Which We Moan About Not Being Perfect (yet)

My knitting life this past week has been focused on TENSION.  Argh.

Tension, for my non-knitting friends, is how tightly or loosely the thread that is creating a stitch is.

Ideally, a knitter wants to have EVEN tension all the time - this way all the stitches look alike.  The stitches in a row all are the same size, and the stitches above and below any particular stitch are the same size.

When I first got into knitting, I was attracted to yarns with BRIGHT colors, and yarns with uneven texture.  The patterns I choose really showed off the yarn - they were simple patterns because the yarn's colors and textures were the main attraction.
Uneven yarn = uneven stitches, but with this yarn - who cares?

This is great fun - knitting with big crazy yarn, making splashy items.  It's like being 3 and learning to hold fat, bright chalk and making happy designs on the sidewalk - turning four and using more colors, making a first rainbow, figuring out how to make the forms you're drawing and the colors work together -  everyone walking by oohs and aahs 'cuz your pictures are bright and vaguely recognizable, and especially 'cuz you yourself are so durn proud of your creations.

I'm at the point now where I want to start knitting a bit more quietly in color and texture, but this means attention to my techniques.   Also, I'm starting to knit for other people and I want what I sell to be as perfectly crafted as possible.

Making my basics beautiful (*sigh*).  Back to what Ma always said:  Practice, practice, practice.

I'm working on two projects right now that are kicking my ass - both showcase stocking stitch (this is when you do what looks like the simplest kind of knitting, just plain old stitches back and forth).  They are very different: one is a sweater in a mid-weight yarn, and one is a lacy shawl.

Damn that stocking stitch.  It looks so easy.  Here is a sample of stocking stitch knit by my paternal grandmother (never allowed to call her "Grandma," she wanted us to call her "Pal"). See how even her stitches are?  Each stitch so close in size to the ones above it and the ones beside it and below it.    
As a contrast, here is my current skill level at this, with a picture taken from the sweater I am knitting in Noro Taiyo (yes, this is Meredith's still unfinished Christmas present).:  Do you see how my stitches are the same size as the ones next to them but not to the ones above and below them? It almost causes the fabric to ripple - and I want the lines that are seen in this sweater to come from the colors of the yarn and not the size of my stitches. 

This is also an issue with the lace shawl I'm knitting as an antidote to all the Christmas projects that kept me busy for a couple months with yarn that was so much bigger and fatter than my beloved lace-weights.  I'm hoping to enter the shawl I'm knitting now into local competitions, so I'm trying to make each lacy detail as perfect as possible.  And the lace weight REALLY calls out my uneven tension on stocking stitch.
I'm trying different things to make my stitches more even.  I'll have to work on that and give you an update in the coming weeks as to how this is being solved.  My favorite resource online has been TECHknitting(tm)'s two blog postings:  one here, and the other here.  (The third part of her series on uneven knitting is here.)

Thank goodness for Ravelry and other knitting bloggers - and youtube.  I haven't yet explored what's out there on video, 'cuz I'm hoping that some attention and tricks from TECHknitter will get me evened out.

How's your NY going?  What is challenging you?  Would love to hear.

Enjoy your day, friends, and peace, and love, and happiness.


  1. Don't be down, its amazing what blocking can put right!

  2. Deep breath. Because stressing about it will just make the situation worse.

    And like CraftyCripple said, blocking might help.