Not just a scarf

When I approach a customer who’s browsing and ask them what they like to knit, they often say, almost, guiltily, “Oh, I’m not really a knitter, I only knit scarves.” Wait a minute! What’s wrong with scarves? That’s like someone saying, “I’m not really a baker, I only bake bread.” Like bread, a scarf is a perfect little project with endless opportunities for learning and discovery. You can spend your entire life knitting only scarves and develop more technical skill than someone who knits the same sweater over and over again. It’s up to you and what you make of it. As a new knitter, it was probably a scarf that taught you about how stockinette stitch rolls and garter stitch doesn’t. It was probably a scarf that taught you how bad a too tight cast on or bind off is, and it was probably in a scarf that you first learned how to join a new skein of yarn. But when you’ve past those early lessons, is there nothing more you can learn from a scarf” Of course not! You can learn cables, lace, and intricate stitch patterns. You can learn Fair Isle and intarsia. And you can see so clearly the subtleties of matching increases and decreases. If you’ve knit Norah Gaughan’s Eastscarf then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Our Thursday Afternoon Scarf Club is a great way to jump in.  We make our way through several key scarf patterns as a means of building new skills, refining our techniques, and increasing our accessory wardrobe! Sound like fun? It will be fantastic! Working through a book many of you already have, Scarf Style, we’ll tackle cables, bobbles, colorwork, and entrelac. Each scarf will begin with a class on the basic technique, then we’ll jump in and work the project together. If you’re already comfortable with the technique being used in that scarf, then just come get some yarn and join us. Every Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. both shops.  Join us!

My First Sweater Class

Knitting your first sweater, or even your second or third sweater, can be a daunting proposition. I remember learning to knit, and frankly, I spent a lot of time and a good bit of money learning the hard way.  The fundamentals of knitting a sweater from a pattern are not rocket science, but there are techniques you simply won’t know and pattern language you may not understand. Our First Sweater class takes the mystery out of the process and helps you develop the knowledge and confidence to knit your first and many more sweaters perfectly every time.

If you’ve been knitting for a while and have been unhappy with the outcome of your sweaters, you will certainly benefit from this class–perhaps even more so than first-time sweater knitters because you’ll be better able to recognize what a difference a small change in technique can make. In addition to the basics, which you probably already know, there are lots of tricks and tips that will make your sweater look and fit better and most importantly be much easier to put together.

Speaking of putting together, out First Sweater class also takes you through the finishing process. Good finishing is essential to a beautiful garment. I have seen sweaters knitted perfectly in beautiful yarn with intricate designs but absolutely ruined by poor finishing. What a shame, because finishing is not hard, once you know how to do it. Throughout this class you will learn how good finishing begins with the knitting and what techniques make it happen. As you put your sweater together, you will learn how to make an invisible seam, how to pick up stitches neatly and evenly, and how to set in a sleeve.

Your sweater will be a triumph you’ll wear proudly and say, “Why yes, I did make this.”

Sign up for the newsletter to see when our next First Sweater class will be offered.

Be good to yourself

The holiday season is busy and often stressful.  I feel it coming on sometime in October.  The feeling starts when they first put out Halloween decorations and lasts until the last Christmas decoration is put away. I mentioned it briefly in last week’s newsletter when I talked about being good to yourself this holiday season.  First, it helps me to dedicate some time to exercise. As Amy’s button says, “If knitting were aerobic, you could bounce a quarter on my abs!”  True, true.  But alas, knitting is not aerobic, (unless you count ripping out 20 rows in fury and hurling your yarn across the room), but a quick walk down to the mailbox and back is.  Down to the mailbox could be quite a hike if you’re Robinette.  I’m trying to get to some classes at the gym where I won’t be able to quit as soon as I get a little bit tired – the peer pressure ensures that I’ll be there for at least an hour.  The funny thing is that no matter what my mood is before the workout, I’m always much happier and have a more positive outlook afterwards. 

The second way to be good to yourself is to find a calm space every day.  A few years ago, we all heard that knitting is the new yoga.  Personally I think that they missed a step in that comment.  What they might have meant is that for an accomplished practitioner, yoga is very meditative.  Knitting is also very meditative.  Now something really complicated thing that frustrates you or taxes your brain may not be very calming – probably just the opposite.  I’m talking about the really chill kind of knitting that you can do without thinking at all – a brainless project.  Brainless means different things to different knitters, but I’m talking about something to which you don’t really have to pay attention.  Straight garter stitch or stockinette – ribbing or seed with very easy or very minimal shaping.  The point is that you want to clear your mind wander while you knit – that’s where the calm comes in.  You can use the knitting almost as a meditative mantra.  Or you can just knit a bit each day and see if you don’t feel calmer.