|1: Choosing Patterns,
Yarns & Size (cont.)
Some patterns are rated from “beginner” to
“experienced” knitter, or “easy” to “difficult”. Occasionally, a
system of stars might be used. This can be a help, but your ability
to concentrate is more of an indication of the standard of knitting
that you should attempt. Patterns suggested for “experienced”
knitters are not difficult, they just require a lot of counting,
care and dedication. Even a first-time knitter can knit any well
explained pattern. Maybe we should grade pattern writers instead of
the knitters. However, if your mind is occupied with other things or
you are knitting to relax, knit a scarf!
The prickle test
Handle a ball of yarn to see if you like the
way it feels. Hold it against your neck or the inside of your wrist
to judge whether it feels comfortable and doesn’t prickle or
irritate. I often wonder if yarn manufacturers remember that
eventually their product will be used to make something that a
person will wear. Some yarns are so rough that they feel and act
like sandpaper or barbed wire. Doesn’t anyone test them before they
are offered for sale? If I am doubtful, I test the yarn by wearing a
little sample against my skin for a few hours. Don’t rely on the
idea that washing the finished garment or pressing it, or having it
professionally cleaned will fix the problem. Try another yarn.
There is no problem in substituting a different yarn to the one
suggested in a pattern, as long as the tension specified can be
achieved with the yarn you choose (see
The sniff test
Some yarns have an unpleasant odour. This can often be impossible to
remove, and in fact, can even intensify as the garment warms up when
being worn. If you really want to use that particular yarn, buy a
ball, knit a large square, and then wash it in cold water with your
favourite detergent to judge whether you can get rid of the smell.
Should I use this yarn?
Shaggy yarns with loops and bumps and lots of hair can be a problem
to knit. The stitches can be difficult to see, and counting rows is
Knitting has become so popular that new
knitters have popped up everywhere. The first attempt is usually a
scarf knitted in a fantasy yarn. The idea is simple: just cast on so
many stitches and work the required length. The problem that shows
up, however, is when the scarf becomes a triangle as stitches are
dropped and the knitter is too inexperienced to find them and fix
the problem. I was at a child’s birthday party recently and a friend
produced her first knitting project from her handbag. It was a
scarf, started with forty stitches and, after a few inches, now
twenty nine stitches. I unpicked most of the scarf surrounded by
other friends clutching their triangles. I suggested counting the
stitches as you knit, at least on every fourth row, but I don’t
think any of them will remember to do that. I left early.
Compounding the problem is the fact that
these wonderful fantasy yarns are usually knitted on huge needles.
Especially for a beginner, this is tantamount to learning to knit
with two telegraph poles! But maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. If
they haven’t lost their enthusiasm after coping with all that, they
will be able to knit with anything!
The difficulty with elaborately textured
yarns is that the needle can catch in the loops and knitting with
them will require a lot of patience. You eventually develop a way of
coping with this problem by twisting the needle or holding the yarn
at a different angle. Sometimes, the yarn can snag on rough skin on
your hands, rings, bracelets and buttons, but just persevere.
Complicated yarns are wonderfully interesting, the colours are so
beautiful and textures are fascinating. At the worst, the knitting
will just take more time.
One thing to check is that the lumps and
bumps that make the texture are firmly anchored into the yarn and
won’t float off as you knit or when the garment is worn. I recently
bought a spectacular yarn, large lumps of red, fuchsia, shocking
pink and magenta wound in to a thin black thread at even distances.
I made a scarf on huge needles, the coloured balls falling into
place on every stitch. I only found out by wearing this scarf that
the coloured balls shed masses of fibres all over my clothes.
Beautiful but trouble!
I brushed it savagely, I still brush it
savagely, and it sheds and sheds and sheds. I’m sure I will
eventually have a black mesh scarf with no colours at all. Now I
avoid wearing it over a contrasting colour and take a brush with me
whenever I wear it.
chapter page: 1 | 2 |
3 | 4 |
5 | 6