Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Other People's UFOs

I've been corresponding off and on with Jules' Mom for a while now, and she has talked about her attempt to learn how to knit.

Not long after Jules went home, she called me to ask for my address. She was sending me a package. I thanked her, but she said she wasn't sure if I wanted it. It was an abandoned UFO.

We talked a little bit about the UFO she was sending. I asked if she wanted me to show her how to finish it. She cut me off and said no right away. "I'm sick of looking at it," she said. It was obvious that she had "fallen out of love" with the project, and it was time to let it go. This is a lesson a lot of experienced knitters need to learn.

After her description, I wasn't sure what she was sending me. But as I had expected, it was a pretty typical beginner's scarf, consisting of two very different types of yarn, with a snag in it. It was obvious that at one point she knew how to knit, because she had gotten pretty far.

I think David Letterman should do a new segment, called "What's the deal with new knitters and huge scarves." Beginners always knit the biggest scarves. I think beginners feel like making them too small is "cheating," or maybe they don't realize when they cast on just how wide it will be once they start knitting. There is nothing wrong with a big scarf, except that beginner knitters often lose steam and give up. This is a good example of that. This project had been floating around for three or four years before it arrived in my mailbox. This article from Knitty addresses the problems with ginormous scarves and alternatives for first projects.

My first project was the exact opposite. My Mom helped me, but I did a lot of projects from, The Workshop Book of Knitting by Ursula von Wartburg, a book that's been long out of print. The first project was a bookmark. I cast on five or six stitches, knit a few rows and cast off, making a square that was about one inch by one inch. I attached a long tail of yarn. The tail goes in the book, and the actually knitting sticks out.

This example is extreme, but the main idea is to keep it small.

And after I undid the snag, I could see the effects of letting the scarf languish. It looked like at one point she started knitting backwards. I bet she let it sit so long, she forgot her technique and starting going the other way. I could also tell that she had dropped some stitches along the way (probably while it was sitting in her bag), and she continued without picking them up.

Other than that, it looked pretty good. The stitches were twisted, but they were twisted consistently, meaning this would be easy to fix.

It's obvious she had the skills at some point. We need to get her knitting again. (I sent her a Learn to Knit Kit from Peace Fleece.) We need to help her find a technique that she'll be comfortable with. Jules' Mom said she struggled because she is left-handed.

I lurked in some Ravelry forums and found two schools of thought on left handed knitting. On one hand, some people say left handers should just knit like right handers. It involves two hands anyway, and while it might be more awkward for left handers, it's still awkward for everyone when they start.

The other school of thought involves doing everything backwards (or is it a mirror image?) This method involves knitting stitches off the right needle onto the left needle. There is a DVD available on this method at the Left Out Knitter and a video of the technique here.

It seems the main disadvantage of knitting left-handed is that you will have to
"translate" any new technique learn so it can be knit left-handed. As bad as I am with spatial relations, this seems near impossible to me.

I welcome advice from any left handed knitters out there. Should Jules' Mom knit like the right handers, or knit everything backwards? Would knitting continental help?

As for the project itself, at one point this was intended as a blanket for her dear-departed cat. I think I may square this up and donate it to an animal shelter so it can comfort another animal.

1 comment:

knittygirl said...

Knit like a right hander! I do!:-)