Friday, January 11, 2008

Not the knitting genius

I have a small local reputation as a person who knows a fair amount about knitting. This is mostly because a couple of other people I know, more skillful than I, aren't running around acting as knitting missionaries. They just sit quietly and turn out their impressive Norwegian sweaters and Arans. Me, I talk it up. "Sure you can knit socks - let me show you." "Dropped stitch? -No problem, here's what you do." It impresses the uninitiated, and I build a rep.

But I sort of met my match on Wednesday. L. was working her shift down at the River Valley Trading Co., and since things were slow decided to work on a shawl pattern for her spinning group's annual challenge. But she was perplexed by the directions for the cast on and gave me a holler and I went down, confident I could help her out.

The directions were something like "make a slip loop and work into it as if to knit, then as if to purl until you have 9 sts". Mind you, this was on a pattern that had been sold as relatively easy; and in fact the directions for the rest of the project were spelled out clearly and in detail, and were indeed quite simple. But the cast on directions were a bit opaque to an advanced beginner.

I, however, did know this cast on, at least in the sense that I recognized right away what the designer was after. This was familiar to me, not just vague gobbelty gook. It's a classic way to start a shawl worked outward from the center. I could remember reading the directions. I could almost visualize an illustration that's in one of my books (which book?). I clearly understood why the designer had chosen this cast on (to be able to go back and snug up those initial stitches.) The only problem was, I couldn't exactly do it. Oh, as I dropped my purse and plunked down in the chair, I thought I could. When I actually picked up yarn and needles, I couldn't. The really frustrating thing was that I almost had it. Nine stitches on a loop - no problem. Getting the loop to pull up snug - no way. Repeat with same results - several times.

So I finally did the sensible thing. Went home. Googled. Found Eunny Jang's deservedly renowned lace tutorial (now that woman is a knitting genius). Located the cast on I knew enough about to at least recognize - it's down near the bottom of this page. E-mailed the link to L. (And saw right away that my problem had been caused by working onto a slip knot, instead of just a loop of yarn. Doh!)

If I can't really be the walking knitting encyclopedia, maybe I'll settle for knitting reference librarian...


Christine said...


I would have done the same thing you did, because for the life of me, I can't figure out how a "slip loop" is different that a "slip knot". And I don't think that not knowing a fairly esoteric term makes you any less an expert or guru. You're still an awesome knitter, no matter what!

YarnThrower said...

Sounds like L did go to the right place to get her information!!

I took your advice regarding the yardage for the Hanami by looking around on Ravelry. Then I hit myself on the forehead wondering why I didn't think of that... Thank you!

Have a great weekend!

Leslie said...

Intellectually I'm a much better knitter because of all the internet surfing / reading / researching I do. My output isn't anything to drop dead over quantity-wise but my quality has much improved! Then there's the 4-foot-plus row of books not to count the magazines stack 12" high... In short, Cindy, what I'm saying is that knowing where to look is as important as knowing how to do it!

Cindy G said...

Thanks all. I wasn't so much dismayed as bemused by the situation :) Books and the internet are indeed the knitter's friend.