Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Learning to Read
When I first started attending our Stick With Chicks group at work I was strictly a crocheter. I found a very inspiring Cable Sweater pattern that I was determined to knit for my sister so I bought lots of yarn, tools, books and needles. I bought the sweater workshop by Jacqueline Fee and started working on the Sampler. I ripped it out about four times, because I could not (yet) read the stitches. I could not figure out what I had done incorrectly when I would have too many or too few stitches on the needle. There was an experienced knitter in our group, Heidi and she has been knitting since she was very young. One day someone brought in a hand knit aran/gansey sweater that they had no pattern for. Heidi PHOTOCOPIED the actual garment and wrote up the stitch pattern and cable charts. I realized immediately that one of the most important skills I needed to learn if I was to become a KNITTER was how to read. Crochet stitches also need to be read, but they are generally larger and easier to discern. However, it is a skill that must be learned by crocheters as well. I have been crocheting for 34 years so reading crochet stitches is second nature, and I am not even sure when I acquired the skill. I had to consciously stop and read my knitting at various stages while knitting the sampler to learn what the stitches looked like when done correctly and incorrectly. For example, I was picking up my stitches backwards and knitting into the back of them on the next row. Not a problem, but an unecessary step once I learned to wrap the yarn in the correct direction when picking the stitch up. I had to learn that a yarn over sits on the needle at a slant and has no bump or vee to it. I can now tell the difference between a K2tog and an SSK by the way the two knitted stitches lean in the row. I have about a hundred knitting books and I know that this information is written there and probably nicely photographed and illustrated. But I learned to read my knitting on the needles instead of in a book and I now consider myself a KNITTER. Learning to read is one of the best gifts you can give yourself as a knitter or crocheter.