Saturday, February 25, 2006

Knitting Attitude

Sometimes people say they wish they could knit like me. I say they can. First they have to believe they can! I believed for years that I could not handknit a sweater, even tho I had HKnitted since I was 7. Then two years ago I did my first, my own design. I then knit another which was better, then another, and another till I then knit my own design Aran and I am doing more. What changed? My attitude! I believed I could.

I have machine knitted for 25 years. I get better all the time. Most of the improvement has come in the last 3 years. Why? My attitude changed! I began to feel I could do better and I wanted to do better. I was prepared to make mistakes. I was prepared to put the effort into it. I also vowed to only make what I like. I will NOT knit commissions, generally, tho if it is a repeat of something I designed, I will. I already know I like it!

Practice makes perfect. Always use a good yarn. Always. If you bugger it up, you'll do better next time. There is no point working hard and making no mistakes if the finished garment is one you hate. So start with a good yarn.

MAKE A SWATCH. Yes. ALWAYS MAKE A SWATCH. Do to the swatch what you are going to do with the final garment. Wash it and leave it to dry. Take your measurements after it has dried.
Most of the work, for machine knits, is in the finishing. How you attach the collar and how you sew it up. DO NOT SKIMP ON FINISHING. An otherwise excellent garment will be rendered amateur and poor because you didn't take the time to finish it well. Many garments will take longer to finish than to knit.

Making a swatch, washing and drying and finishing all apply to hand knitting also. Hand knitting will take longer to knit than to finish!

Read as much as you can on techniques and finishing. If you can, see someone proficient working. Once you are more confident, start working on you own designs, work out the shape yourself, the sts and rows you'll need etc. No designing is not hard! You CAN do it.

Keep your work simple. Get really good at making simple but classic garments. Once you have achieved this, then perhaps, you can move on to the more complicated work, if it is your desire.
Learn to work with colour, choosing the colours that complement. Learn about texture. What really turns you on? Colour? Texture? Both? Play with your yarn. Experiment. Try things out. Knit LOADS of swatches. Don't be tied by what you read, or another's opinion. Experiment. Put colours together that YOU think match. If YOU like, that is all that counts. ONLY KNIT WHAT YOU LIKE!!! This is so important. Knit to please yourself, not anyone else. Not your partner, not your children, not your friends or other knittters. Only please yourself.



jay lassiter said...

a month ago i ruptured my achilles tendon playing tennis. during my recovery my friend and lesbian gal-pal andrea tought me to knit. so far all i make is big squares, but practice makes perfect and i am getting faster and faster at least.
maybe one day i'll be proficient enough to knit myself a ranch house?
p.s. I hate george bush

Anonymous said...

Great advice! Thank you for sharing. I admire your work AND your attitude.

Holly @Home said...

Perfect comment..we were in "East" yesterday and for the fifth time I had on my favourite capelet ( purples ) and the young woman serving( about 25) asked where I got it and could she touch it ( yes Jesus it does get to be a pain but if we will wear groovy stuff).Anyhow Mum was pointed at and the woman collapsed at the sight ( pretty awful I know) of her "Fandango" coat ..she wanted to touch that too .Mum spent twenty minutes asking if she had ever knitted "yes" then "what?" "a scarf" .."then you can make this cos it is only 186 stitches on circs back and forth ..decrease after 7inches every 30 sts etc .....look of pain "Do you sell them ?" .Mum explained the yarn cost £30.00s and the labour would be about £60.00s ( two days plus) .This shop has coats at £200s mind you .She looked sad but Mum is going to write it all out for her and yet I am betting she won't do it you really have to want to .

Anonymous said...

These comments are some of the most positive that I have read.

I believe that you have made it very clear and very easy for one to see what it takes to become proficient in any craft be it knitting, crocheting, sewing, etc.

Thanks for a very well written lesson.

Joan in Longwood, Fl.

Annie said...

Great advice, all, Colin. I agree especially with the "knit what you like" part, after you conquer the technical stuff of course.

MargaretMcCall said...

Colin, I have been reading your blogs and I am amazed that you are still here and functioning!! Most people would be gibbering idiots by now. Your knitting is stunning and I agree that practise makes perfect and that the finishing is most important.
Margaret in New Zealand

Anonymous said...

I've never read any better advice than this one, Colin.

True, true, true!

Anonymous said...

Colin, your work is as beautiful as awlasy, and I agree with your
comments that it takes as long, if not longer, to finish a garment than
knit it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you have written Colin - particularly about
only knitting what you like. As Helene says, it can be applied to
anything. I used to force myself to finish books I wasn't enjoying,
stay to the end of plays I didn't like etc etc, but have now realised
life is too short!

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice. I used to knit 20 years or so ago but wasn't aware of all the finishing techniques. It is amazing how much difference they make.

I also agree about knitting what you want rather than what you think you should.

Anonymous said...

Your comments are excellent, Colin. I couldn't have said it better myself. Dodie Reed on the central Oregon Coast USA

Anonymous said...

I have always admire your work and never had the nerve to say so. I read your advice and I can certainly apply it to anything I want to do wheter its knitting or not.


Stacey said...

Hi colin -I was just wondering how you got on at the tribunal. I have fibro and ME and have been dragged through the benefits system. I had a tribunal last week to get middle rate care and won. If I can be of any assistance give me a shout

Anonymous said...

You have a beautiful way with words. I have been a hand knitter for many years and have recently purchased a machine. I am a perfectionist and this makes learning something new much harder. Your advice comes at a great time!! I stopped hand knitting for other people about 3 years ago. My children are grown up and have always had these things and don't seem to understand the time put into them. So I am now knitting for myself and loving it. I plan to print your advice and hang it by my machine. Thank for sharing. PS your sweaters are an inspiration!I hope to post something in the coming year. Jean in the frozen tundra.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. The sweaters are beautiful. The rest of your blog is??
Interesting. I worked with people who worked on Phych. ward. Most of them
were loving and caring, but human, too much so. I am glad your angel found
Your writing, like your knitting, is top notch. I feel your life would be a
great book. I glory in your road trips, if indeed, they are real. If they
are not, I still glory in them!
I am an armchair traveler, although I have actually traveled a bit, too.
My children, oldest fifty seven, youngest fourty six, are frightened for me
to drive alone, and nagged me into selling my motor home, the toys of my
life, third to my knitting machines which are no. 1 and a canoe which was
no. 2. I did some hairbrained (southern for crazy) things in that canoe.

I am a woman, seventy eight years old. Your blog and the things you wrote
give me courage to live the rest of my life giving and getting all I can
from it. People who have had you for a friend have been fortunate. Thank
you again. I feel fortunate that I share an interest with you.
Jean McCain

Anonymous said...

Hi Colin
I just wanted to say I love the way you expressed this. You are SO
right! I see that with myself as well only I could never express it
as eloquently as you have. A pleasure to read.
I read a few of your other posts and I have to say you have really
had a hard time of it. Good for you sticking with it. I have
fibromyalgia so battle with that and you definitely have more than
just fibro. I'm glad they at least found out what is going on with
your CNS. Hope they can do something for you now.
The piece about the psychiatric ward brought a lot back for me as
well. I was hospitalized for 3 months about 23 years ago and though
it wasn't near as horrible as what you wrote, it brings it back, you
know? It's been a long road back for me as well so I can
understand some of your struggle. Keep with it. It keeps getting
better. It is slow, but better.
Oh, I love the aran sweater you designed. My daughter wants me to
design one for her and yours just struck me as very appealing and
eye catching. You do have an eye for design and color.
Take care and "see" you on the list.

Anonymous said...

Hi Colin

Your reminder comes at a very opportune time -- I was just getting sad and blue about this knitting of mine. Not getting anywhere, try as I might. And the little engine kept saying "I think I can, I think I can..." But this little engine has no one behind her, no one to give her any steam and say "sure you can, sure you can"; and she tends to give up on things, because she gets blue about it all. And then I saw your comments. Of course, I said. Why not for ME? Thanks. An inspiration in the knit of time.

Anonymous said...

RIGHT!!! RIGHT!!! RIGHT!!!!!!! I couldn't agree with you more. And it is something that I only realized just recently. I knit because I LOVE TO KNIT. I buy expenseive yarn because it is the yarn I want to knit with. None of anybody business! Why should I knit with cheap yarn? Why shouldn't I LOVE and wear what I knit?

At the end of last year my question to myself was "Why can't I learn to knit Modular, in Strips, or from the top down?" The answers are all in your post. And damn it, I just took 3 classes to learn Modular Knitting and I learned how to do it and I LOVE IT, it's fun and challenging to figure it out! The third of the three classes is in 3 parts and we actually knit a modular tee shirt! And yes, I bought all NEW yarn for it. No stash raiding. Why .. because I deserved it.

Now I will get off my soap box and go knit a few more boxes on my tee shirt!

So. California