I've been hanging out more on twitter lately (twitter.com/knitluck) and meeting some amazing knitting folks. One person I met, Rohn Strong of (@strongandstone) posed this question about knitting pattern design:
Do you think by walking knitters step by step and hand holding in patterns is generating a generation of very dependent knitters?
I had a very strong reaction to this question for a few reasons. After my recent baby sweater debacle based on a poor knitting pattern design that kept me from knitting for a week I have developed some strong opinions on knitting pattern design from the standpoint of a knitter and consumer. I am not a knitting pattern designer. I've dabbled in it, but decided that I'd leave it for the professionals. That said, after knitting many knitting patterns in the last ten years I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two about knitting pattern design as it concerns the end user, the knitter.
The other reason I had such a strong reaction is that I get upset about some attitudes towards beginner knitters. I've witnessed oneupsmanship, snobbery and downright arrogance when dealing with less experienced knitters and it makes me very disappointed in knitting as a hobby. I've seen this in yarn shops by yarn shop owners, I've experienced it in abundance at online knitting forums and it horrifies me that there are many cruel and unempathetic knitters out there who seem practically threatened by the notion that there are other ways to knit things, or that people might need help learning to knit.
I consider the attitude that providing specific instructions in knitting patterns creates "dependent knitters" to be at best arrogant and at worst rude. It suggests that knitters should be able to read a knitting designer's mind when knitting a pattern and already know the right cast on or bind off in any situation. Knitting is a skill that takes years to master. There's a master's program from TKGA that takes years to complete. It is a folly to expect that any knitter beginning or not will know a knitting designer's intentions without explicit instructions.
There's always going to be knitters to need extra hand holding. These knitters sometimes require a lot of patience (especially from local yarn shop owners), but making a knitter guess at technique is not going to magically eliminate these folks from knitting -nor should they be excluded from our hobby. Instead perhaps we need better training for knitting pattern designers to be as specific as possible in their designs and for yarn shop owners in basic interpersonal skills and specific offerings for one-on-one knitting tutoring. I get it, working with needy knitters is time consuming and frustrating for yarn shop owners, especially if said person didn't buy the yarn at the store, but we are all ambassadors to knitting as a hobby and we all need to ask ourselves whether we're doing our best to be inclusive.
One thing that really gets my goat is when knitting pattern designers don't specify which cast-on they used, or bind off. There are many ways to do both and if I had to spend hours researching which one would create the result I see in the photo, then that's time that I'm not knitting and the faster I'm able to knit a knitting pattern, the faster I will be able to purchase another pattern and more yarn. It benefits designers, yarn companies and knitters as a whole to have comprehensive knitting patterns that educate the knitter on different techniques and even offers alternatives to the techniques listed. Maybe these are things that can be added as errata or notes in Ravelry. I understand that knitting pattern design is time-intensive and time sensitive. Sometimes it's hard to get all the things in there and specific technique description is very detail oriented work for endeavors that are already heavy with specifics.
That said, with the proliferation of new knitting pattern designs and designers in the last decade patterns are getting better and better and there's more tech support and contact between knitters and knitting pattern designers. It's not too difficult to contact your knitting pattern designer with a question, but it saves designers the time of having to answer those questions by putting those details in the pattern to begin with. That doesn't account for the goofballs (like myself) who get so excited about a given knitting pattern that they don't read it all the way through before casting on (derp), but that's no fault of the designer anyway.
Happy knitting all! I look forward to reading responses to this article.
Fall is almost upon us and thus time to get your knitting on. For some knitters collecting great knitting books is as important as having a good yarn stash and there is no shortage of excellent new knitting books out for 2014. Whether you're always looking for better explanations of knitting technique or catching on to the new knitting craze (I think it's another year for kooky animal hats) we share with you some of the new knitting books for 2014.
If you're a longtime knitter, I know you're thinking to yourself "self, why do I need yet another knitting stitch dictionary?" here's the thing: this stitch dictionary does more than just offer photographs of long cherished stitch patterns (and a few new ones) -it explains details about swatching, garments with which you can actually use the stitch patterns AND instructions both written out AND charted. This is a great stitch dictionary for the knitter who just wants to have one in their library -and for the beginning knitter who is just learning about stitch patterns and swatching.
The Spinner's Book of Fleece by Beth Smith and Deborah Robson
If you really want to know about yarn, the construction and materials used and how they work in a knitted garment it's good to understand yarn from a spinner's perspective even if you have no desire ever to spin your own yarn. Understanding fibers and their construction will give you a better idea how a yarn will behave in a certain pattern, whether it will hold up well or give out. Learn more about wool fleeces and you'll become more acquainted with different sheep fleece types and which ones will work best for your next knitting project.
Botanical Knits 2 by Alana Dakos
If you know Never Not Knitting, then you know that these designers are able to make absolutely exquisite knitting patterns inspired by nature and biology and Botanical Knits 2 is no exception. While you're at it, get the other Never Not Knitting books. You'll want to knit all the things. So many beautiful shawls and hats that will be appreciated for years to come.
The Knowledgeable Knitter by Margaret Radcliffe
It's easy to forget being a beginning knitter and not knowing the intricate secrets of knitting the produce longer lasting wearable garments. The Knowledgeable Knitter is a great foundation for the new knitter and reminder for the experienced knitter of what to do when your knitting goes wrong. The knitter behind the Knittin Answer Book takes your knitting expertise to the next level so that you can be your knit-night's know-it-all.
Dutch Traditional Ganseys by Stella Ruhe
If you're a knitter AND a history buff then you have to check out the book of Dutch Traditional Ganseys. Writer Stella Ruhe has done extensive research to bring you more than sixty knitting patterns and the stories that go along with them. Whether your honey is a fisherman or not any knitter will appreciate the history and craftsmanship behind these functional works of art made by townswomen in the Netherlands.
Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin
Knitters know Laura Nelkin for her exquisite knitted jewelry kits and they will be wowed by her new book of knitted accessories. This is the book to get if you're looking to make a ton of knitted holiday gifts this year. You will find quite a few little treasures to delight the ones your love. Fun techniques and simple lines will keep your knitting fun and will show your friends and family how much you really care.
Knitting Wizardry by Amy Clarke Moore
If you are still hung up on Harry Potter then you need to check out Knitting Wizardry. Even if you're not a huge Potter fan there are many magical knitting patterns to choose from, especially if you're looking for men's pullovers with lots of stitch work, majestic knitted mits or other accessories to complete your Renaissance Faire costume. Truly gorgeous work here.
Woodland Knits by Stephanie Dosen
OK, so this isn't new for 2014, but it's still a lot of fun and now is the perfect time to knit projects from this glorious book of unique knitting patterns.
New Vintage Lace by Andrea Jurgrau
It's been a while since we've seen an epic book of lace knitting and this one is a perfect addition to your knitting book library -especially if you're a lace knitting nerd with design aspirations. Take your knitting lace nerdery to the next level with these beautiful tidbits based on vintage lace knitting patterns.
Which new knitting book has caught your eye?
I'm fighting a cold hence the lateness with which I present my entry for this week's year of projects. I've steamed ahead on the Beachy Raglan, finishing one sleeve and getting a very good start on the second. This pullover will by done by the end of the week (with any luck)
Here's the pics:
I'm hoping that I might even finish it in time for Finished Object Wednesday! Let's give that a whirl, huh?
The fit on this project was excellent and I only had 6 skeins of yarn to work with. I could use one extra skein to lengthen the bottom, but we'll see how it looks once both sleeves are done.
Here's my progress for the year!
Mitered Block Blanket (100% done.)
Hannah Hat #2 100% done
Christmas Socks #2 (100% done)
Pepperberry Knits Hat (100% done)
Holden Shawlette (100% done)
Christmas Socks #1 (100% done)
Dahlia Cardigan (100% done)
Luxuria Air Marle Beret (done)
What's new with your knitting?
Sometimes I hear that some people find knitting to be a turn off in a potential partner. I know that on a surface level some people still think that knitting is dorky or for grandmas. Knitters of course know that to be WRONG, but maybe it's time to do a little edumacation for everyone else as to why knitters make great partners.
If a knitter likes you at all he or she may knit you things. You'll end up with hats, fingerless gloves and sweaters, but beware: if you do not show appropriate appreciation for said knitted items knitters will stop knitting things for you. That's considered the nice way to be offended at the lack of appreciation. They'll just start knitting things for other people so do yourself a favor and be extremely grateful for anything and everything a knitter makes for you -whether or not you're dating them.
Yes, if you date a knitter they will probably have a large yarn stash. You might have to move into a place with an extra bedroom to accomodate all of the yarn. If you don't have a lot of space you might start finding yarn in strange place such as the freezer, under the bed, in the linen closet. Let's be honest anywhere that there is empty space will become filled with knitting projects, yarn, knitting needles, bags and notions. While you might have difficulty finding bath towels among all of the yarn your heating bills in the winter might just go down a tic or two.
Many knitters have had this moment happen to them: it's the weekend. Your boyfriend or girlfriend says something like "why don't we go do something" and internally we gasp because truly we just want to sit around and knit. Perhaps I'm knitting a sweater and I'm just about finished with the sleeves and all I want to do is seam them to the sweater and block it, preferably while watching a Dr. Who marathon (or Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars -insert your favorite tv binge-a-thon here). Knitters gotta knit and they're more than happy to knit while you play endless video games.
Studies have been done and they show that knitting combats stress.
IF you have a knitter in your life it's really easy to get them gifts. Anything knitting related will be very happily accepted. Especially is it's yarn made out of cashmere. Or interchangeable knitting needle sets. Or a new knitting bag.
Some knitters will be too busy knitting on a car trip to be a back seat driver (downside, they might not make very good navigators). There is a greater truth to this. Some knitters, especially the most obsessed and passionate ones find knitting to be more than a hobby, but something that gives them an identity. These kinds of knitters have a self-sustaining passion, an interest that makes them more secure in themselves in our humble non-study-proven opinion.
If you are lucky and I mean super lucky, like you take super extra good care of the knitter in your life they might do something really special for you. They might knit you a pair of socks. I know it sounds a lot sexier than it is, but once you wear a pair of handknitted socks that comform perfectly to your foot without a hint of itchyness you will become a handknit sock convert and request a whole wardrobe of handknitted socks.
See the same for video games. Some baseball teams even have knitting nights once a season.
Sure there are some downsides. You might have to wait until your partner finishes knitting a row before you can have a conversation or make dinner. Do yourself a favor and don't interrupt when your knitting partner is counting stitches, but these downsides pale in comparison to the benefits of loving a knitter.
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Something about the end of summer gets me to thinking about fall knitting and one thing I want to knit for fall 2014 is a gnome! We've been getting a lot of gnome action around our house especially since both of my boys like watching Gravity Falls and the 7D on Disney XD. Both shows have gnomes, some nice and some not-so-nice and I thought it would be fun to knit a few "magic" gnomes to hide around the house and maybe make a new tradition for the holidays. (photo at left, Gnome Mittens by Spilly Jane)
Oddly enough I'm not the only one interesting in gnomes for knitting as there are a ton of knitting patterns to make your own gnomes. So many in fact that they could be sub-categories of gnome knitting. You can knit gnome hats, felted, gnome shoes. Heck. You can even knit a sweater for your garden gnome. Yeah I know, right?
Gnome dolls make adorable gifts for little babies and small children, especially around the holidays. They usually stand out against the more frequently knitted animals and have a greater chance of becoming the favorite stuffie in a kid's collection.
Gnora the Gnome: Red Heart brings you a free gnome doll knitting pattern and with their yarns you know that doll will last a lifetime. It's a sweet little girl gnome complete with a tiny gnomish dirndl.
Susan B. Anderson has knitted a gnome from Alan Dart's Collection of Knitted Toys. This one even has a fun-fur beard, which is a great way to get rid of some of that fun fur you might have hiding in your stash.
You can knit a million different kinds of hats, but there's something whimsical and fun about knitting a gnome-inspired hat. It's a little silly and a lot of fun to wear and depending on how long your regional winter is would be just the trick to brighten up those cold days.
Little Home Blessings has the scrappyg gnome hats -perfect for some single skein stashbusting.
Little Home Blessings has a second hat that might appeal more to the big kids, but comes in sizes from newborn to adult.
The Ironic Gnome Hat is the hipster of all gnome hats. Make one for your kid going to college.
Gnome shoes will always be much cooler than Hobbit Feet. And cuter too.
Check out the little gnome shoes by Pamela Wynne. They curve up at the tips and would be the cutest addition to a knitted baby layette.
My All-time favorite knitting book Weekend Knitting has a pair of "elf shoes" that would also make great gnome shoes. These ones have little frizzies at the top.
Spilly Jane Knits has long made some of the most amazing colorwork knitting patterns and her gnome mitten kits offered through Knit Picks are no exception. You can also just buy her pattern direct here.
Gnome Knitting Books
When you think of gnomes you also think of beards and you can turn your best friend, partner or spouse into your own silly gnome with a handknitted beard. They can also keep your face warm when you're scraping ice off your windshield. Check them out here. (This gets me to thinking that I need to do a whole round up on knitted beard patterns -stay tuned!)
There's something about the Waldorf educational method that celebrates the knitting of gnomes so it's unsurprising that there's a whole raft of Waldorf inspired gnome kits. Weir Crafts has a ton of these gnome knitting kits in their awesome online craft shop.
Also see the Gnome Hat above for more Waldorf knitting.
You can even knit a sweater for a garden gnome. Over at BitstoBuy they have a free knitting pattern so that you can put a sweater on your garden gnome. You know, in case he or she gets cold. Not a bad idea to add a little color in those sad long winter months.
CraftyCrafty.tv featured these little tiny "Norwegian" cork gnomes (so cute!)
That should be enough gnome knitting to keep any fans of gnomes occupied for quite some time. Do you like to knit gnomes? Is your favorite gnome knitting project missing? Let me know in the comments!