Monday, May 07, 2007

My Knitting History

Knit Picks Podcast by Kelley Petkun. I listened to Episode 1 of the Knit Picks Podcast last night. It was very pleasant and interesting, Kelley’s story about how she learned to spin and knit made me think about how I got to this point in my needle crafting. I completely agree with Kelley about the best books for your stash. The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee was the very first book I bought. I ripped out my sweater sampler three times before working all of the way through it. I did not know how to recognize or correct mistakes at the time. I knitted a Red and Grey Scarf in High School to go with my Letter Girl Uniform, but I was a crocheter. I never knit anything else until I joined the Chick With Sticks group at work. I was in the minority, the group was primarily knitters. We had one quilter and one embroiderer/beader. There were two of us crocheters. I was completing about a project per week and did not see any reason to change to knitting, considering my companions were still all working on the same sweaters they started months ago, using scratchy smelly WOOL no less. But then during one of my shopping sprees on Patternworks I saw a Traveling Cable Sweater that I was determined to make for my Sister. So I bought The Sweater Workshop and started teaching myself to knit. When I got to two color knitting I was hooked. I loved the way stockinette, ribbing and cables looked. I could knit initials, and was going to put in a sweatshirt pocket. Very Cool. I bought a bag of Karabella Aurora 8 yarn in Khaki and made my Sis the sweater that had inspired me.

Well, I have always been a visual learner and a computer nerd so I started looking for computer programs, videos and DVDs for knitting. I already had Coats Crochet Made Easy Interactive CD-ROM, so I searched for and bought Coats Knitting Made Easy Interactive CD-ROM from Herrschners and Mary Maxim. But I was surprised that by the time I bought that CD I was past that level in my skills; after having completed my J. Fee Sweater Sampler.

I kept hearing about another knitting Guru that was required reading for new knitters, Elizabeth Zimmermann. I ordered Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes. Luckily someone in my CWS group told me about ordering yarn and needles from Knit Picks. Knit Picks had all of the Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen’s materials. I ordered EVERYTHING. The Schoolhouse Video Series: Knitting Around Parts 1-3; and Knitting Workshop Parts 1: A Hat; Part 2: Two Sweaters; and Part 3: Master Classes. All of her books, The Knitters Almanac; The Opinionated Knitter; Knitting Workshop and Knitting Around.

I also did WWW searches and found other videos, CD-ROMs and DVDs. They all offer great information and different perspectives and techniques.

Delta Productions Knitting From Start to Finish*ing and Crochet From Start to Finish*ing by Bev Dillon
This series is a bit dated but all of the basic techniques of knitting and crochet are well covered. I knit my first booties and shawl from the project books included in the video package. This was my very first video purchase from Amazon. I found much more on the internet and through Knit Picks.

Fresh Baked Goods Learn to Knit!! with Laura Jean
This was highly recommended on Amazon. It was casual and fun and she really planted the seed of creating my own sweaters using basic measurements. A reinforcement of the Fee and Zimmermann ideology.

American Knitter Series Learn to Knit by Tracie Wunderlich
Her nails really bothered me, but I got through the DVDs and made a beautiful black and white reversible cable scarf.

The Knitting Pretty Method Volumes l: Basic Knitting; Volume ll: Intermediate Knitting; and Volume lll: Working With Color with Jill Moray
I never mastered the Knitting Pretty Method, but I did learn some very useful techniques.

Good Housekeeping Needlecraft Series Knitting Crochet Quilting Basics and Advanced Methods
I learned a lot about tools, measurements, gauge and finishing from this series.

I bought more tools at this point, needles from eBay and the Royal Ball Winder. I heard about the sweater machine and used a JoAnns discount coupon and bought the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine and video Making Your First Sweater with Cari Clement. I really liked the fabric the machine produced but I could only set the machine up in my office on my computer desk, which is in the guest room. I eventually had to box it back up so company and myself would not scratch ourselves on the needles while using the guest room. I have not put it back up yet.

I started collecting Knitting and Crochet magazine subscriptions and I joined the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and The Knitting Guild of America (TKGA). I attended the conferences in Oakland, California and took lots of classes. The market place offered so many other resources that I was fairly overwhelmed. The best purchases I made at my first conference were a handmade wooden Swift from one of the Canadian vendors and my Socks DVD.

I had been wanting to learn to knit socks forever. I stopped by The Knitting Korner booth and bought Socks on Two Circular Needles by Nenah Gelati. I have been knitting socks ever since. I have also purchased her How to Knit a Sweater From the Neck Down DVD. I have not made the sweater, but I have watched the DVD.

I saw an ad about The Art of Knitting by TriCoast Studios. That is a jam packed DVD and I have used it many times. I even like some of the music provided. The first DVD I bought from their website, the second DVD I bought at my third conference. The second volume, The Art of Knitting and Crochet's coverage of crochet techniques is a great addition.

The conference was also another opportunity to take classes from many of the writers and designers I had been reading and studying. Also, to pass lunch items to Lily Chin, who sat next to me at lunch the last day. She is the tiniest little thing and could not reach anything in the middle of the table. I digress. . .

I had read articles and seen the amazing work of Carol Ventura for a couple of years. I took her Tapestry Crochet class and was able to purchase her very hard to acquire video Tapestry Crochet. I had both her books on the subject, but again being a visual learner I wanted the video as well. I had previously checked it out from the CGOA Library, but of course I had to return it.

My other favorite visual resource is craft shows. I watch Shay Pendray Needlearts Studio on the local public television station. I bought her DPTV Media Needle Arts featuring Shay Pendray DVD. It touches on Knitting, Cross-Stitching and Crocheting.

One or more of the above resources eventually led me to the website for I first bought The Sweater Wizard 3.0: Sweater Charting Software for the Hand Knitter, then I added Knitting Math Wizard: Knitting Calculation Without Trepidation and the demo version of The Sock Wizard to my collection.
Other CD-ROMs in my collection include Montat Publishing Top-Down Raglan Calculator: any yarn, any gauge, any size; and Color in the Round Knitting 2-Handed Fair Isle. I was obsessed with Alice Starmore for a fair amount of time and I checked her video out of the CGOA Library as well. I completed some small fair isle projects, but the sweater I designed has not made it onto the needles yet.

By this time in my knitting career, of almost two years, a whole slew of new CD-ROMs and DVDs became available. When I first started my search there were only the vintage Video Cassettes available. Now everyone is producing DVDs. Nenah Gelati The Knitting Korner has about a dozen DVDs available now. TriCoast Studios and Leisure Arts has an in Motion series now and you can even get website CDs.

I have the Stitch Along With Leisure Arts Crochet Fashions in Motion and Knit Fashions in Motion DVDS. Very excellent production and presentation. I would kill for the yarn stash in the studio workroom!!!

I don’t know what I would do without my Knitting Complete Web Site CD by Amy Finlay. I love the baby socks pattern, too cute. I have used her videos to learn and better understand some of the lace stitches, increases and decreases in the more complicated patterns I have knit. A Great Resource!!

Last but not least is the knitting software that synchronizes with my PDA. There is nothing worse than forgetting your current pattern(s) at home. It is so nice to have them in my PDA with photos and everything. I also like having my yarn and needle inventory on my PDA when I visit yarn stores. If you like handheld gadgets I recommend eKnit-Kards Desktop Powerful Software for Knitters from Nancy’s Knit Knacks.

Well that covers the journey to this point in time. I have been knitting for three years this month. Happy Knitaversary to Me! Now ** back to my knitting, after all that is the whole point of this experience :D


Anonymous said...

Thank you an absolute ton! I'm really a novice knitter (I can cast on, knit, and cast off, but can't purl, which naturally limits me) and this post is really a resource! I bookmarked it.

Bev Love said...

I wish you had left your name because I am very touched by your comment. Good luck with your knitting, I did not know how to Purl either when I made that scarf back in high school :) IF you want to ever contact me for help with a project or support when you get frustrated just e-mail me.

Babs said...

I was anon, and I didn't sign in because I had a wordpress account, not a blogger one, which I just set up. Hopefully posting pictures on blogger will be easier than on wordpress, which makes everything enormous. Cheers, and thanks again.

Babs said...

BTW, my wordpress blog is

Someone on blogger already had that name, so I settled for here.

Bev Love said...

Loved your book reviews. I have that Fair Isle book, I also own one of the Alice Starmore Fair Isle books, but of course I did not pay any where near $1,000. I was lucky enough to be in a knitting group with a woman who had taken knitting classes with both Kaffe Fassett and Alice Starmore and owned signed copies of their books. I hope you get on Ravelry soon, I know you will enjoy it. Please join the Harry Potter groups when you get on. My username on Ravelry is paletpc, add me to your friends and I will add you to mine. Casey swears it will only be another month or two before they are out of beta and everyone will be able to get on.