What Do You Like to Knit? Simple to OMG!

comments (0) June 29th, 2008     

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Tina_Hilton Tina Hilton, contributor
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My secondhand knit sweater has always been my favorite. This Rowan
tweed was a bit beyond my skill level, but I hung in there and it was
well worth it.
Here is a picture of my first handknit sweater. Thankfully, since the
moths started to eat it I no longer feel obligated to wear it.
This is my nightmare project from an ’80s pattern by Anny Blatt. I
don’t blame her though; with the advent of disco we all did some crazy
things, like trying to make this sweater.
Here is the dizzying Anny Blatt chart I tried to follow. I don’t know if it was this crazy pattern or the unusual choice of
yarns, but I do know that this project has been in knitting purgatory
for at least 18 years!
I love the bold color combinations in this scarf. It is especially
pleasing to knit, as it is actually much easier to make than it looks.
My secondhand knit sweater has always been my favorite. This Rowan
tweed was a bit beyond my skill level, but I hung in there and it was
well worth it.

My secondhand knit sweater has always been my favorite. This Rowan tweed was a bit beyond my skill level, but I hung in there and it was well worth it.

Photo: Tina Hilton

Some of you knit to relax and wouldn’t dream of taxing yourself with color knitting, cables, socks, or anything that requires deciphering a chart. Easy shapes knit in stockinette or garter stitch to accompany your television viewing is the knitting style for many. Look at the popularity of Sally Melville’s The Knitting Experience series, particularly Book 1: The Knit Stitch. She has taken the humble knit stitch and basic techniques and created a cult of exciting, classic designs well suited to the no-fuss knitter. I have her Einstein Coat currently in progress and whip it out when I need some uncomplicated, meditative knitting.

Most habitual knitters I know are not generally satisfied with the repetitive, simple stuff. No, they often gravitate to the elaborate cables, tricky socks, color charts, and fancy embellishments. What is the next technique that can be conquered? These knitters approach advanced projects as a beautiful puzzle to solve, not strictly intellectual but tactile and visually stimulating. The bonus is a tangible outcome of their mental labors.

When I learned to knit back in the mid-'80s, a new student would begin with an actual sweater—none of this easy-peasy scarf stuff. You dove right in headfirst with your instructor by your side. My first sweater was a crew-neck pullover. I learned to set in sleeves and seaming. It was an exercise in poor color choice and design from the get-go, and although I did wear it fairly often because I made it, I don't any longer.

My second sweater was a Rowan tweed cross cardigan following a chart. It was a challenge, but I didn’t know any better. It has been a perennial favorite season after season. Following a charted pattern? No problem! Cross stitch was a hobby I enjoyed, so I figured how difficult could it be? The project that burned me out on knitting from charts was a crazy, multiyarn, '80s disco disaster by the renowned designer brand Anny Blatt. But like all great learning experiences, that sweater-making challenge really changed my way of knitting.

In recent years, I have found a comfortable balance between the simple and the sublime. I found peace with straightforward projects and satisfaction with the intricate. Kathryn Alexander's Color On Color scarf in the book Scarf Style by Pam Allen is a particular favorite that rewards the drive to experience new techniques with simple knitting. At first glance, it appears an intimidating project, but it really just consists of simple stripes, picking up stitches, I-cord, and a mix of garter and stockinette stitches. The section I found most intriguing was on Fair Isle. This was my introduction to this method, which I plan to practice more in the near future.

Whatever inspires you and provides you with knitting nirvana, be it easy or complex, bask in the glory that you are creating a thing of beauty.

posted in: anny blatt, rowan, sally melville

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