It’s as easy as 1-2-3

In my experience in teaching and helping other knitters I have come to the realization that a) there is a learning curve to becoming a good teacher and b) we, as a society, should be throwing money at good teachers, wherever we find them (note: I didn’t say I was one but I am always open to having money thrown at me). In any case, I have learned that reading is as essential a skill to knitters as it is to every learner. One of the most common questions we get asked in the store is “Can you tell me where I am? I lost my place”. With a little effort you need never ask that question again (however, we still value your visits).

Now we all like to get wrapped up in reading through patterns, conquering charts, and measuring gauges and these are all important “reading” skills for advancing in knitting. But truly the most important skill is learning how to read the knitting itself. This can be as basic as knowing when you are looking at a knit or a purl stitch or as complex as knowing that you should be twisting a cable or whether or not there should be a yarn over.  It should become instinctual, so that when you pick your project up after a hiatus (and that hiatus can just be dinner or even a trip to the bathroom if you have as short a memory span as I do) you can look at your knitting and look at the chart or written directions you are using and know where you are. This will also help if you have a mistake, for example “Ooops, I should have a knit stitch over this purl stitch, let me read back across this row to see where I went wrong” or “I think I should be crossing a cable here so where is it?”

To take your reading to the next level, and this is especially true of cables and lacework, lay out your work and follow where your cables/yarn overs have occurred and when they will be coming up next. Simultaneously read the stitches you just did and the stitches you are about to do. You should also be aware of the rows below if you are in a more complicated pattern. It sounds like you need three pairs of eyes but really you don’t.

This all comes in time if you make the effort to learn as you go. Do not be a slave to just following the pattern blindly: READ what you are doing as you do it. Do a row and then stop and look at it, see where the stitches change up. If you are doing something in a pattern, stop every couple of inches to look at your work and figure out where you are without referring to your notes. I promise that eventually you will be doing this without even thinking about it.

Listen to Teacher and you’ll be graduating to the next level in no time.

Mind your own busy-ness

People tell us all the time that they are too busy to learn to knit. In fact it’s become almost a competitive sport, someone says   “I am so busy!” and you reply “Oh don’t I know it, I am absolutely CRAZED”. They reply “I didn’t even have time to go to the bathroom yesterday!” Then another person says “That’s why I’ve taken to wearing adult diapers, so I don’t have to stop to use the bathroom”. Another person chimes in “I haven’t gone to the bathroom or eaten in a week! My doctor says that my kidneys are shutting down but I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME”.

Really people?

I came across an article recently on this subject and the author said that he was taken up short when a person he had just complained to actually asked what he was busy with. And after the author had laid out his litany of kids’ birthday parties and sports events and family visits (on top of the usual job complaints) the listener responded “how lucky you are to have such a full life”.

I’m sure you’re thinking what the author of the article thought at the time: “what a jerk to take the wind out of my righteous busy sails!”. But as he thought more about it he realized that of course his friend was right. Most of the busy-ness was definitely first world issues and the rest was pretty much self-inflicted. Think about yourself. Do you really need to bake 500 cupcakes for the bake sale? Do you absolutely have to take that Pilates/ kick-boxing class? Does little Pookie have to be enrolled (i.e., chauffeured to)  karate/Greek lessons/ soccer camp/cooking class? Unfortunately, we gauge our value, our worthiness as adults by how busy we are. No one is busier! My time is the most valuable! Especially in America, if you’re not busy, you are a slacker.

I know that I, myself, often think as I am knitting, “I should be doing something else”. And I work for a yarn store so really, I have a “legitimate” reason to knit. But why does anyone have to legitimize it? Is it because it’s considered a hobby? Because it doesn’t go towards paying the rent? Isn’t there something to be said for sitting calmly and doing something creative, using our hands for something other than clicking away at a keyboard. There are so few opportunites out there to create something with our own two hands, to produce something real and tangible that I think we should grasp the opportunity whenever we can.

Life is short. Take time to knit.



It’s only snow people!

We in the knitting world love cold weather. Although we knit all year round we understand that there are many of you out there that are cold-weather driven. And that’s why we are thrilled when the weather turned chilly and many fingers out there start twitching.

But with the coming of tomorrow’s snow I am reminded of how easily panicked we are by any sort of inconvenience Mother Nature wants to throw at us. The media doesn’t help. I think there are now more weather people out on the street than there are regular pedestrians. All of them are making dire predictions as to the amount of snow (1’! 2’! 10’!), when it is arriving (“we’re not sure but it could be ANY MINUTE!”), the wind speeds (“10-20 mph but POTENTIALLY hurricane force!”) and the resulting wind chill factors ((-10 degrees! -40 degrees! Fingers will be falling off! Pets will become cryogenic experiments!”).

I guess we love to be in crisis mode. It helps to take our minds off what is happening in the Middle East, on Wall Street, within the Republican presidential race. But really, can anyone even remember when the last time was that you were trapped in your house for more than 24 hours? We live in a very established area of the U.S., we do not live in the Yukon. There is no reason to start acting like the Donner party, having family members draw straws to see who gets eaten first. There is no reason to load up on gallons of milk, as though all cow udders will be frozen for the foreseeable future. And bread? What family out there needs enough bread for 100 sandwiches? Eggs? Are all the wolves from the north going to slink down and raid all the chicken coops from here to Montana? And yet, the stores are all out of milk, bread and eggs. All I can say is that a lot of families are going to be eating a lot of french toast over the next week or so.

All this having been said, I personally would only panic if I didn’t have anything to knit. A snowstorm without knitting is, well, it’s just unnatural. That is why Mother Nature created sheep as well as snow. So go with the natural order of things: knit, drink cocoa (with a little Bailey’s perhaps), get a fire going in the fireplace and enjoy.

Running with sharp objects

Many of you who follow us on FB (and if you don’t, you should! Hint, hint…) or just come into the store on a regular basis know that I am a runner. More than that I run marathons. Running marathons is considered insanity by most of the population (the sane part). I get it. It’s not for everyone. But I’m thinking that maybe this proclivity for marathons goes beyond running, maybe it’s a genetic abnormality.

Take my disposition for knitting huge projects, like the Rowe sweater I just finished (or, as I like to refer to it, “the sweater that ate Manhattan”).image It followed the same seven phases that a marathon follows: anticipation, excitement, exhilaration, determination, exhaustion, pray for death and relief. Anticipation: I spotted the pattern on the Brooklyn Tweed website and obsessed about it for months. Excitement: I had the yarn! I had the needles! I was ready to go! Exhilaration: I’m off! This is going to be a cinch. Determination: Okay, this is not going to be a cinch but I can definitely do this. Exhaustion: How much more is there to this pattern?!? Pray for death: I. cannot. knit. one. more. stitch. Relief: OMG, it’s finished! I’m sewing it up! I’m a knitting Goddess!

And this is where, like the marathon and childbirth, you forget all the bad parts and just think about the end result and get ready to dive into another huge project. Because, you know, you’ve done it before and it wasn’t so bad. In fact is was good. No, it was great! It didn’t take any time at all! It starts slowly: for a while you only knit small projects. Then you start searching things up on Ravelry. Well, a wrap wouldn’t be such a big deal. A simple sweater. A simple sweater would be good. Use a beautiful yarn and let it make the statement. A few cables wouldn’t hurt. Wait! Look at that amazing sweater by Michele Wang (designer of Rowe). No, no cables for a while. Colorwork! That’s it! A nice yoke sweater. OMG, look at AMAZING all over fair isle tunic by Marie Wallin! SageIt has pockets! And that’s when you find yourself with 30 balls of wool in 9 different colors sitting in your basket, daring you to pick them up and make a start.

Oh well, I think I’ll just go for a run. After I cast on.

Miss me?

Just like Moriarty says to Holmes in the preview of the upcoming season of “Sherlock”…”Miss me?”.

Don’t even ask me where the time went, sucked into the vortex of some Einsteinian black hole I imagine. And here we are racing toward the holiday juggernaut. Some of you are in a frenzy of holiday knitting: a cowl for Boopsy, mittens for Junior, a scarf for Gramps. To which I say Bravo!  And bah humbug.

Because you see I am essentially a selfish knitter. I like to knit things for myself. Who, after all, would appreciate my handnits as much as I? On the other end of the spectrum is Beth, who I believe knits one out of every hundred or so projects (her monthly tally) for herself. Margaret has been known to give something off her neck to someone who admired it.  Danni is pretty even handed I believe- her mantra is “one for me, one, for someone else, one for me, one for someone else” and so on. Laura Ely whips out adorable knits for her grandkiddies in the blink of an eye usually while weaving a Nantucket basket or two. Laura Eckel knits for others AND helps others knit for others. That’s taking knitting generosity to a whole new level. Only Pam joins me in the selfish knitting corner, but at this time of year even she knits away for family.

That leaves me, the knitting Grinch, grumbling in the corner that all this holiday cheer is taking time away from my knitting. MY knitting for MYSELF. I think I became the knitting Grinch for three reasons: 1) no one ever really asks me for anything knitted, 2) when I do get the rare request it goes something like “Mom, do you think you could knit me one of those (indicating a fisherman’s sweater) for Christmas?” This was a real request and it was asked around Thanksgiving. Um, no. And 3) the last time I presented someone with something I knit, a cashmere wrap which I gave to my mother, I found it stuffed into the back of her drawer, and not, as I felt it should be, framed under glass with an armed guard standing watch over it.

I think, however, that maybe I should learn from Dr. Seuss:

Then the Julie-Grinch

thought of something she

hadn’t before.

What if her presents, she thought,

didn’t come from a store.

What if her handknits

really do mean

a little bit more…


Okay, next year. Maybe. I’ll think about it.