Why did you want to learn to knit? How did you learn to knit? Who taught you?
It was a weird sort of preteen rebellion. My parents thought I sat around watching TV too much and they said I needed to be actively doing something at the same time in order to watch TV. I picked knitting to spite them because it was something you did while sitting around. I was a delightful kid.
I taught myself to knit from one of those kits you find at craft stores. It was pretty terrible. I ended up buying all new materials and Stitch’n’Bitch. That book helped me a lot more than that kit ever did.
What are you most proud of in your crafting life?
I wrote a sweater pattern that other people actually knit from and their projects came out looking like sweaters. On top of that, lots of people said it was well written. That still gives me that happy shiny feeling.
What was your most frustrating project?
Probably my Alice in Wonderland sweater. I knew that it was going to be graded by people who don’t knit and I had this looming deadline so I kept second guessing everything and then stressing out over not having enough time to redo everything a thousand times.
When you are creating/knitting/crafting, do you listen to music, a movie, or what?
MOVIES! I watch a lot of movies and a lot of TV shows.
And when you knit, is there a cup or plate of something yummy to nibble/sip on?
I don’t usually eat while I knit because I don’t want to get my knitting dirty. I almost always have some sort of caffeinated beverage around, though. I usually have a latte, a cup of Earl Grey with a splash of milk, or a Coke Zero.
How did you pick up sewing? I’m thinking about getting into sewing but I don’t know what to look for for a good sewing machine for a beginner that won’t limit me once I get better. Do you have any advice for me?
My mom sews. She sews a thousand times better than I do. When she sewed for me as a kid, she usually got me to help her out. She also let me use her sewing machine (a Bernina) all the time. I definitely hogged it when I was in High School. When I became a sewing machine hog, my mom went and found the same model on E-Bay and bought me my own. I’ve really only used that model so I can’t offer much sewing machine advice.
I’m actually pretty bad at sewing. I basically only make things out of circles and rectangles ever since I had a big fitting failure (I’m not sure why I went on and on about the collar when the thingplain old didn’t fit. Look at how the arm holes gapped!) a couple of years ago. I leave my sewing machine at my parents’ when I’m at school and I have very few sewing skills now. You can still do cool things with circles and rectangles, though. The skirt and bag below were made using just those basic shapes.
What are the things that you would now like to learn now that you are an accomplished knitter?
Well, I don’t know if I’d call myself and accomplished knitter yet. There’s still a lot of stuff that I don’t know, but I’d like to get my sewing up to the same level my knitting is at. I’d also like to learn how to embroider. I can’t think of anything specific off the top of my head that I’d like to learn how to do in knitting.
What’s your favorite stitch treasury?
I’ve only ever used the Barbara Walker ones and A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns is the only one I own myself, so I guess that one is my favorite by default. It’s full of good stuff. I tend to start to fiddle with the stitch patterns and modify them so one stitch treasury gives me a lot of options.
I’d love to know what you do when you begin a project…
I knit a swatch or seven. If I’m just swatching to see what a stitch pattern looks like, I tend to only BO and wash if I decide to use it. Otherwise I just frog my swatch and knit a new one with the same yarn. If I’m swatching to match my gauge, I always wash it. With certain yarns or stitch patterns, my gauge can change dramatically after my swatch has been washed and blocked so I never measure my gauge until after I do all of that work. It helps avoid having projects grow like crazy during their first wash. After that, if I’m not working from a pattern, I do a lot of math and come up with a vague outline of how I’m going to construct a project.
If you have any blocking tips, that would be great!
Knit your swatch bigger than you think you need to. I’ve never regretted knitting a swatch too big, but I’ve had to reknit swatches when they weren’t big enough and that is pretty annoying. After that, treat your swatch like you will treat your sweater. Give it a blocking before your measure your gauge. If you’re going to pin your FO, pin your swatch. If you’re just going to shape your FO with your hands and leave it flat to dry, shape your swatch with your hands and leave it flat to dry.
What do you find motivates you?
Enjoyment. I like to do things that I enjoy and I like to have things that I will enjoy. I’ll do stuff that I don’t like doing only if I know that in the end, it will be more enjoyable than it was unpleasant.
What would your advice be to a beginning knitter?
Try things. If whatever you try doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. It’s only knitting. You can take unravel your yarn and reuse it a million times, so don’t worry about messing things up. Just try something new. As I mentioned earlier, I taught myself to knit from books and the first set of instructions I got didn’t make a lot of sense to me so I went and tried some different ones. When I knit, I often knit the same piece multiple times until I get it looking the way I want it to. Don’t expect your knitting to look perfect from the get go. Don’t be afraid to try new things and search out other options in order to make your knitting look a little closer to your idea of perfection.