With two busy days behind me I'm happy to be back with you. I've been working at home and in the community, where I gave the speech on International Women's Day, worked on a grant submission, talked to a lot of people and farwelled a good friend who will soon be working in the city. Bye Fiona! My knitting kept me calm and centred even on the busiest day. I love taking my knitting with me and often knit up a quick few rows, then get back to work, calmer and better able to concentrate.
Are you a knitter? It's such a wonderful craft. Not only does it have that ability to calm and sooth frazzled nerves on those busy days, it helps you produce fine garments and accessories for the whole family, or for gifts. The feel of the soft cotton or wool as it slides through your fingers and the reassuring repetitive motion of the needles working the yarn, feels like, even on the worst day, a simple kind of meditation.
Recently I've been reading Elizabeth Zimmermann's wonderful book Knitting Without Tears. If you're new to knitting, or a keen knitter who wants to learn from the best, I recommend this book to you. It starts with Elizabeth explaining this and that, such as: '"Ply is a frequently misunderstood concept. It has nothing to do with the thickness of the yarn, except in a relative way, and everything to do with its construction. A ply is a strand of wool Two, three, four, or more strands are twisted together to make 2-ply, 3-ply, 4-ply, or many plied wool. Since the strands can be of any thickness, it is clear that the thickness of the wool does not depend on the number of plies but on the thickness of the individual ply." And she states something I'm just coming to understand myself: "A well-made sweater, knitted with good will and good wool, is beyond price; why try to save a dollar on the material?" I use to think it was a wise economy to buy the cheapest wool; I no longer believe that. The cheapest wool comes with its own invisible price attached. Fibres - even natural fibres like pure cotton and wool, are often processed with harsh chemicals you don't want on your skin. Paying a few dollars more for a better quality yarn will give you a better quality garment and peace of mind, knowing it's not tainted. Choosing your yarn is one of the delights of knitting. There are so many different types now, many of them are organic and they're as soft as a feather.
Elizabeth also writes about the choice of needles and stitches, the techniques of left and right handed knitting, increasing, decreasing, casting on, how to join wool, recover from mistakes and the all important topic of gauge. There are illustrations and patterns written in Elizabeth's distinctive narrative style. If you have problems reading normal knitting patterns, grab one of Elizabeth's books, because her patterns read like something is talking to you in plain English. There is even a section on how to wash your knitted garments.
I am knitting with all organic yarns for our babies, I'm using a book Sarndra gave me called "Cute and Easy Baby Knits - 25 adorable projects for 0 - 3 year olds." There are some delightful patterns in there, and true to the front cover, they're cute and easy. Both Sarndra and Sunny have picked out projects they like so my sister and I are hoping to give them what they want, plus extras. I won't be able to go ahead at full steam into my knitting yet - I still have some work to complete for the book and a few other things, but as I go along I'll take photos and show you what I'm doing.
If you've been wanting to take up some knitting needles and start clicking away but you're not sure of techniques, ply, how to choose yarn or needles or where to start, I believe there are four possible starting points, in no particular order:
- Go to the Down to Earth forum, introduce yourself and ask if someone will mentor you.
- Ask an elderly lady in your street if she'll show you how to knit.
- Find a copy of Knitting Without Tears.
- Look online at YouTube - search for "how to cast on", "how to knit" or "knitting" and you'll have a fine selection of instructions, that you can stop and start at will, that will show you the ins and outs of it.
What are you knitting right now? Do we have any male readers who are knitters?
Happy knitting everyone.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:A great community of knitters with patterns and many good ideas for projects - Ravelry.