Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Two Needles... of the Non-Medical Variety

The photograph is evidence of what I've been doing lately to keep myself occupied, instead of regularly scribbling on the blog. I had been wondering whether I would be able to remember how to knit - even how to cast on the stitches with which to knit! In my younger years I used to knit a lot, sewed too, and embroidered. I left it all behind with the coming of a home computer, back in England. This, of course, opened the door to the internet tempting me with lots of different things to do.

A week or two ago I found a free knitting pattern on the internet for the scarf you see around my neck in the photo. I bought the recommended yarn and knitting needles online.

I had first learned how to knit in junior school, back in Hull, England - at around 6 or 7 years old. We were taught how to knit a cover for a wooden coat hanger. My Mum kept my rather clumsy cherry red effort in use, in her wardrobe, during the rest of her life. Mum was an expert Fair Isle knitter - something she had done in the evenings and nights during the long war years - so many fearful hours in Hull, waiting for the Air Raid siren; waiting more eagerly for the "All Clear!" Eventually Mum was able to add a little finesse to my basic, clunky, knitting ability. I never did reach her level of skill and patience to knit the beautiful intricate patterns of Fair Isle such as she produced. I loved wearing the oft-admired sweaters she knitted for me.

It turns out that knitting, basic knitting at least, is bit like riding a bike - one of those things you never forget how to do. With yarn and needles to hand I cast on X number of stitches with never a thought of "Now - how do I do this?"

The pattern of the scarf in the photo, said to be easy enough for beginners, was called "English Rib", though I've seen similar patterns elsewhere under different names. Hardest thing to remember, for me, was "am I on Row One or Row Two?" (of the simple 2-row pattern). After a couple of errors I got the hang of it. The scarf was finished rather quickly, thanks to thick yarn and fat needles.

I've just begun the piece of knitting I'm holding in the photograph. It is going to develop (I hope) into slippers, from a pattern available, free, in numerous places on the internet. The basic pattern is said to be "decades old", and very easy to do as the slippers are knitted flat. Pattern suggests using two strands at once of a certain type of yarn, something likely to slow me down, along with the choice of slimmer needles, but will produce more sturdy slippers. We shall see. Perhaps there'll be a photo later on, as evenings grow cooler at last, attesting to the viability of flat-knit wool-warm slippers.

A few knit-wise words from other ladies:

“Advice for New Knitters - When choosing a pattern, look for ones that have words such as "simple", "basic", and "easy". If you see the words "intriguing", "challenging", or "intricate", look elsewhere. If you happen across a pattern that says "heirloom", slowly put down the pattern and back away. "Heirloom" is knitting code for "This pattern is so difficult that you would consider death a relief".”
― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
― Elizabeth Zimmerman.

“She was passionate about knitting because it allowed her to reach a state of peacefulness, and she loved to embroider because it let her express her creativity. Both activities were liberating. They allowed her to exist outside of time.”
― Laura Esquivel, Pierced by the Sun.


Anonymous said...

Just saw this and may be of help for you

Your gorgeous scarf perfectly timed for old man winter knocking on our doors. So good to see your photo (you look so healthy and well!) and it's always good to keep those idle hands occupied, lest you take up gourmet cooking or dust bunny hunting in your spare time.

LB said...

Good for you, Twilight. For as long as I'm able, I've found doing something creative helps provide balance in my life. Your scarf is lovely.

When I read the title of your post, at first I thought maybe you'd received acupuncture. But no, different kind of needles!

I agree with Anonymous. In spite of your ongoing challenges, you look good. Maybe it's the knitting.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Thank you for the link. I've never tried using circular needles, but the linked advice will be bookmarked for a future knitting adventure. I bought a knitting magazine in the supermarket today with several patterns included - all are a bit out of my league at present. Instructions for the fancy patterns used in the magazine's garments are set out in grid fashion - something which would take more than a bit of getting used to - YIKES!! I imagine that my trying any of those would end up with me hiding my knitting needles and hunting for dust bunnies instead! ;-)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Hey there! Nice to see you. Thanks - the scarf is lovely and soft to the touch - maybe a throw knitted from same yarn will be a future easy project. There's such a wide choice of yarns available now compared with what was on offer during my earlier days of knitting - back then there was just a choice of 2-ply, 3-ply or double knitting wools. A little later on I think the original Aran wool appeared in stores as another choice.

Thanks to you, and to Anonymous, for saying that I look okay still. Considering everything that has happened and except for the pain-when-walking issue, I do feel okay in general, and am very thankful for that.

anyjazz said...

Your creative side is something to behold. And you always look good to me

Wisewebwoman said...

Well, bonus!

Your lovely card was in my mailbox on my return and behind my back while I was away you became a fellow knitter! Oh joy!!

Knitting has saved my sanity on more than one occasion and I was so glad I brought my cowl to knit while away. Yes, circular needles, handspun yarn, pic to follow when complete as it is 400 stitches on small needle.

Great job on the scarf BTW, what a wonderful first attempt!!


Twilight said...

anyjazz ~ LOL! You mean when I create chaos? Now that takes practice - you're quite an expert yourself in that regard. (Wink) Awww - what a sweet compliment - ta very much luv! :)

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Oh - you're back WWW! Good! I'm glad to know snaily mail did reach you, way out East.

Yes, you have tempted me to start knitting again, after so many years of abandoning wool and needles for internet, astrology and blogging. I'm grateful. I've really enjoyed the change, and have been amazed how the time rushes past as needles clicked on along with the clock.

I look forward to seeing a pic of your cowl in due course. Oh my! 400 stitches WWW! I'd never be able to manage that number. I'll find a pattern for something smaller and very simple, then get me circular needles and have a go.

Thank you for the compliment on the scarf - I enjoyed knitting that, but not so much the slippers I've started. I finished one slipper this afternoon. Result isn't bad, but knitting it became a tad uncomfortable. Double strands of yarn on slim, shiny, needles caused a few swear words to pass my lips. Left forefinger tip became sore from pushing needle through the tight double-yarn stitches, needed to produce firm, sturdy fabric. I will not use double strands of yarn again after this, but I guess ought to knit the other slipper - once my finger has grown a corn over the sore part, to protect it. :)