Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mother-Daughter Knitting

The title of the post would lead you to believe that one of my beautiful, currently tiny daughters is knitting already, but no, not yet. I do all I can to spark their interest, by knitting them blankets, hats, mittens, sweaters, everything, and by letting them see me knit and crochet and explaining to them what mommy is doing and why. I have heard and read many times that knitting helps kids learn, particularly math. Then I saw a segment on Knit and Crochet Today (which I DVR because it airs at like 3:00 AM... LOVE that show!) about a professor named Dr. Linda Williams who was studying the beneficial effect that knitting and crocheting has on learning. It was a fascinating segment, from episode 244, "Teens Get Stitching." Here is a little info about it. I am not finding much more about it, so maybe she hasn't finished the study or published her findings yet, but as the mother of two very smart, creative, inquisitive children, I am very interested in her findings!

The title of this post didn't even come about because of that, that was just a bonus! The title came about because yesterday while designing and knitting a pair of mittens for my three-year-old, I had a fun moment of realization that I was using knowledge and techniques developed by a mother and a daughter, namely, Elizabeth Zimmerman and Meg Swansen, both of whom I look up to and have learned from immensely. First off, I am knitting the mittens in a stripe pattern in two-row stripes, in the round. Knitting stripes in the round results in an annoying "jog" at the beginning of color-change rounds, since knitting in the round is really knitting in a spiral. I have tried other methods of eliminating this jog, like slipping the first stitch in the second round after a color change. I didn't like that, though, because I found that the slipped stitch created a small hole and thought it didn't really look all that much better than just letting the jog be. Some additional Googling a few weeks ago led me to this far superior (in my ever so humble opinion) method, developed by Meg Swansen. In this method, you make your color change, finish that round, then at the beginning of the next round, you grab the first stitch of the last round in the previous color, put it onto the needle, and knit it together with the first stitch of this round. BRILLIANT! It looks beautiful and results in nice, firm, non-holey fabric. (BTW, the above link explains it way better than I am).

Later, I wasn't entirely sure where to put the thumb-hole and since my daughter was napping and (though it crossed my mind) trying the mitten on her while she was asleep surely would have woken her up, I decided "Screw it" and kept on knitting so I could try it on her later and make an "afterthought thumb," which was one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's brilliant ideas, from Knitter's Almanac. This is similar to EZ's thumb trick, of which I am also a huge fan, and which I will be using on the second mitten, now that I know where I'm putting the thumb. Since it requires cutting your finished handknitting (just one little stitch!), it is a bit scary and takes a little bit of knitterly balls. It is really no big deal, though, and is just as easy as the thumb trick, in my opinion.

This was the first time I'd ever cut my knitting. I have not yet ever made a steek, and the thought makes me absolutely shudder. I find the photos in the article on steeking in the link above hard to even look at! Someday, though, I'm sure I'll have to make one and I'll undoubtedly kvetch about it here!

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