Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nothing like a little peer pressure to convince someone to do something they're not quite sure they're ready for

Wood responded to my previous novel-of-an-em-mail and expressed some... um, shall we say "trepidation"... about the complexity of the sweater I suggested, but she was willing to try (as long as the sweater was sized for a 1-year-old). She also mentioned that she already knew how to cast on, make knit and purl stitches, and bind off. She'd been making 6" x 6" squares for a project at her daughter's school. I wrote the following:

"Ok, so I have news for you: if you're knitting 6x6 squares and you know how to cast on and bind off, you know how to knit. You are knitting. You are now a "Knitter". Despite the fact that you have no idea what you're doing, you are doing it. There's no turning back now.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can move on to the other "obstacles". For instance, the pattern reading. You have to approach patterns like you would a cooking recipe. You usually have a materials list (ingredients) and some initial instructions (like your knitting gauge) and then the body of the pattern (the step-by-step recipe). Reading it all in once shot - though it is a good idea to do - is scary. That's ok, let it be scary. (Ever made bread? The recipe scares the shit out of me, but it's really quite easy. I look at it this way: if uneducated and overworked housewives have been doing something in the dark of their earthen-floored kitchens by the light of whale blubber lanterns for thousands of years, chances are I can probably figure it out, too. 'Nuff said.)

Finally, the pattern is indeed for a baby. Joelle's pattern is available for newborns to 10 years. That should work. And check it out! I just found it online for free and posted by Joelle, so you don't have to spend $40 on a new book, when you don't even know if you'll like knitting. Take a look at it and let me know if you're game.

If you ARE game, we just have to find the right wool and needle combination to "get gauge". First, pick the size of sweater you want to knit and how much yardage of yarn you will need (the sizes 2-4 years and 4-6 years both use 570 yards, according to the pattern). You'll have to go to your local yarn store and find an appropriate yarn (look on the ball band and find a yarn that knits up to 21 stitches per 4" - and don't worry if you don't know what that means - we'll get to that). And always buy a bit more yarn than they call for in the pattern. And always always always always (seriously, always) make sure you're buying from the same dye lot - ask the shop keeper to show you where that's written, if you can't see it on the ball band. It may not be obvious, but dye lots can vary hugely (in colour AND in composition/texture).

We're going to have to knit up some test swatches before we actually get going, so let me know if/when you're ready. The "gauge" of the knitting (spacing of stitches) all depends on the size of needle you use, so start with the size the pattern calls for and we'll adjust if necessary before starting the actual sweater. You'll also need the stuff in the other attached pdf (I forgot to photograph the double-pointed needles - don't buy them until we're sure about needle size).

{ETA: Here's the pdf I sent her:}

I have most of what I need - I just have to go and pick some yarn at the mill (oh darn, I have to go buy yarn, woe is me, however will I cope with the horror?). Take a look at the pattern and let me know if/when you want to start. It's ok if you change your mind, by the way - I'm not out to pressure you. This should not be stressful. I would be horrified if that happened, so just say the word if you're feeling overwhelmed and want to work on something simpler, ok?"

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