#knitterintraining : Knitting is a metaphor for life

Hey all!

Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to learn the skill of knitting.  Let me tell you, it was not easy.  Knitting and me were not exactly the best of friends.  The reasons for this are many:

  • I seldom read instructions (Knitting typically requires the use of patterns, and I am guilty of not even learning how to read those).
  • I can’t focus for long periods of time. (The second I lost focus, I would accidentally drop a stitch, and it became a constant game of picking up my dropped stitch.)
  • I like to start over when I make a mistake. (Knitting was particularly challenging in this regard, as many mistakes were made).
  • I rarely have a lot of time on my hands. (Knitting is time consuming, even more so than I thought at the beginning).

However, despite these struggles, I am incredibly grateful that I took up knitting, and even managed to knit my own infinity scarf (without following any particular pattern of course.) The trials were gruesome, and perhaps my own stubborn attitude added considerably to the difficulty level, but nonetheless, I found a way to power through and come out with a final product I am happy about.

(Me, happily wearing my finished product).

Skills I learned (Pertaining to knitting)

Over the course of this project, I tried to learn something new for every post.  I was actually more or less successful in that endeavour.

  • How to make a slip knot : this is perhaps the most important thing to learn, because without it, you can’t start knitting.  It’s the very first stitch of any project! (My mother later told me I could just use a simple knot, but I decided to do things like the videos told me!)
  • How to cast on: (You will find that a lot of my skills were learned from one video).  This was by far the most frustrating part of my experience.  I spent longer learning how to cast on than I did on any single paper in University.  It was nearly the end of my knitting journey, but I persevered.  (In addition to the video, I had a lot of help learning this part from my sister and mother)
  • The knit stitch:  This was another frustrating part of my journey.  When I first started, I somehow picked up extra stitches, and randomly dropped stitches.  My first few hours, I had very little to show for, but I knew I was improving. (The picture on the left is what I had to show for my first few hours.  The picture on the right is after I got the hang of it.)
  • What to do when you run out of yarn: Contrary to popular belief, or at least my original belief, running out of yarn is not a reason to go into a state of full on panic.  As the video shows, there are easy ways to join a new ball of yarn to your project.  However, they leave pesky tails hanging out of your scarf, as can be seen in the following picture.
  • How to bind off: Although I had a video to learn how to bind off, my sister happened to be visiting, and I found it much easier to ask her how to finish my project.  Luckily, I got this on my first shot, and didn’t have the same frustrations as every other step.
  • How to weave in loose ends: Once again, I chose to take advantage of my sister being around to learn how to weave in my tails.  However, I figured including the video would allow anyone else hoping to learn how to knit. (See my blog post on my final steps here)
  • How to link both ends of my scarf:  Admittedly, I did not use a video at all for this.  My sister simply told me it was the same as weaving in the tails from when I added yarn, and away I went.  The picture is when I have almost completely finished attaching both ends.

Now, although I feel like I have come a long way, there are still two skills I would like to learn:

  • How to purl: Although it was in the video, I chose to not learn a second stitch during this project because I really wanted to achieve mastery over one stitch before learning a second.
  • How to read patterns: As I do plan on knitting in the future, it would be crazy not to learn how to read a pattern.  Even if I am not a big fan of instructions.  Patterns seem to be important, and my decision not to learn how to read them may very well have made my journey that much longer.

Other things I’ve learned:

  1. Knitting is for everyone: I learned that knitting isn’t reserved for older ladies.  It can be a fun experience for kids, and it is extremely exciting to finish your first project.  I guess you can’t believe everything you see on T.V.
  2. You will make mistakes: At first, my mistakes were limiting.  Every mistake I made, I felt I had to start over.  And so I did.  It was only after a few hours that I decided to keep going when I made a mistake.  That is when I really started to see progress.
  3. Knitting requires some focus: When I picked up knitting, I thought I would be able to do it absent-mindedly, sort of like when I use a fidget toy.  Turns out, I could, if I was okay with making a lot of mistakes.  Which, I wasn’t.
  4. Patience is a necessity: I am not always a patient person, especially when it comes to myself.  I always get over-excited, and try to rush things, and knitting is not something you can rush easily.
  5. Time:  Knitting requires time.  I always thought I could come away with an amazing final product with very little time invested into knitting.  I was wrong.  This simple scarf I made required more hours than any other project I have attempted in University.  It took time, patience, and perseverance.
  6. Following a pattern might make life easier: Although I willingly chose not to follow a pattern, I have a feeling that if I did, my scarf would have turned out much better.  Or at least, I may have learned more about knitting than I actually did.
  7. I am a very hands-on learner: Although I used videos for most of this project, I found out that I learn a lot better when someone is right in front of me, showing and explaining the steps.  Then, I have to attempt it by myself.  Videos are a great way to learn, but for me, they were far from optimal.And perhaps the most realization I had from knitting:
  8. Knitting is a metaphor for life.  Every single stitch represents a different moment, a different decision, a different day.  Most stitches happen as expected: They are easy, and they look as they supposed to.  However, sometimes, you will make mistakes.  It might be dropping a stitch, or picking up an extra stitch.  Those feel horrible and might be preventable.  But ultimately, they can be fixed.  In the end product, you can hardly tell where I made such mistakes.  Finally, some things are out of your control.  Sometimes, the yarn has a tight knot in it, or it will split.  At the time, it feels bad, and it seems like it’s the end of the road.  However, there are ways around it.  There are a few times, when making my scarf, such a thing occurred.  Not going to lie: I was ready to give up.  I thought it was the end of the world.  Instead, I decided to keep on going.  To find a fix, and keep knitting.   Now, looking at my scarf, you can hardly see where these things occurred.  It’s just like life.  Sometimes, you will make mistakes, and other times, things will happen to you that are out of your control.  They aren’t the end of the world, and looking back, they make up a rather small blemish on the entirety of your life.  These small blemishes aren’t worth ending and starting anew.  Actually, they are more a mark of perseverance.  When things got tough, you kept going, knowing that in the end, something much better awaited.

Knitting gave me a lot of time to look deep inside myself, and discover something that has been missing all along.  Knitting taught me that in life, accidents will happen.  Sometimes, you can fix them, others you can’t.  But the most important thing is to keep going.  To not give up, and realize that no matter how big a mistake may seem at that time, it is small in the grand scheme of things.

So, you want to be a knitter too?

Over this experience, I have explored a number of sources, despite only really using two resources for my project:

  1. YouTube:  YouTube is amazing for learning anything.  There is a how-to video for every skill under the Sun, and knitting is no exception.  For this project, I relied primarily on one video from Hobby Lobby on YouTube.  However, that particular channel has a number of different videos pertaining to knitting, and other hobbies that I may check out in the future.
  2. A real, live knitter:  The greatest resource I had was having someone near me who knows how to knit.  Whenever I was stuck to the point of frustration, I was able to have someone explain/show me how to proceed.  I highly suggest finding someone who knows how to knit before embarking on this journey.  But, if you can’t, other resources work too!
  3. Ravelry and LoveKnitting :   These are two sites I was planning on using, but didn’t due to opting not to use a pattern.  For my next project in knitting, I will likely find a pattern off of one of these sites, as they have plenty of different options to choose from.
  4. The LoveKnitting App: This app has both Ravelry and LoveKnitting included.  It is designed for you to keep patterns on your Smartphone.  These patterns are found on the aforementioned websites.  It is a nifty little app, that makes finding the pattern you’ve been working with a cinch.

This is the end of my knitting learning project.  When I first started out on this journey, I never would have dreamed of getting as far as I did.  The first weeks were frustrating, and the mistakes were multiple.  I learned so much, both about knitting, and about myself as a person/learner.  I hope this project inspires others to take up knitting, or at least give it a shot.  Nothing is more satisfying then completing your first project, even if it is riddled with errors.

Good luck!

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#knitterintraining : Knitter’s Eve

Hey everyone!

I have been hard at work on my scarf, and although it is just about done, I’ve decided to give one final update on the unfinished version of the scarf.

As I was working on my scarf, I ran out of yarn.  This meant, I had to go out and get more (which is a big part of the reason this post is delayed as long as it was, as I just didn’t have time to make it to Michael’s, which is 50 minutes away.)

However, I finally did get more yarn, but I was faced with a new challenge.

Although it is a little hard to see, I managed to keep going.  In the top of this picture, you can see two ends coming out of my scarf.  This is the spot that I had to join the new ball of yarn.  To do this, I had to learn.  To do so, I followed the instructions on this YouTube video.

Luckily for me, it took no time at all, and I was able to continue knitting to my heart’s content.

After countless more hours, (I am finding that knitting is far more time consuming than I originally thought), I finally had something that resembled a finished product.

The scarf was almost four feet long, and I decided it was long enough.  (For this first project, I decided not to use a pattern.) . To think, it joiwas going to be a practice pot holder before the real deal, and I just kept going.

One problem, as you may see they are still there from earlier, are the ends that were out from when I joined the new ball of yarn.  To fix this, I went to an expert.  Or rather, my older sister, who has been knitting for quite a few years.  She taught me how to weave my ends in.  To do so, I needed a special needle, shown below.

These embroidering needles are like sewing needles, but are bigger in order to hold yarn.  Now, having the needles was only half the battle.  Next came weaving the ends into my scarf.  This proved to be a little trickier for me, as the yarn I was using tended to split apart a lot.  Nevertheless, I found a way.  I was able to weave in both ends, and it’s as if they were never there.  (Weaving involves taking the loose ends, and weaving them into adjacent stitches using the embroidering needle).

Finally, as my scarf was so lengthy, I opted to make an infinity scarf.  Using the needles I used to weave in the loose ends, I was also able to tie both ends of my scarf together. (Picture below).  It wasn’t as bad as I had already gotten some practice, but it was still a challenge for me to find the right stitches.

I am happy to say that I have finally finished my first project in the world of knitting.  Stay tuned tomorrow as I will explain my struggles, what I have learned, but most importantly to see my finished product!

#knitterintraining : Progress

Hey all!
Over the last few days, I have been doing a lot of work to improve my stitches.  In my last post, I was making a lot of mistakes.  Sometimes, I would pick up an extra stitch, and others I would lose a stitch.  At one point, I somehow lost 3 stitches in one row – I am not entirely sure how I managed that, but I definitely felt a need for improvement.

Alas! Improve is what I did.  Although my stitches are from perfect, progress is being made, and it’s been an exciting process.  The picture below shows my most recent work.

 

As you can see, I have decided to keep going despite making mistakes.  What I have found is I am becoming far more consistent with my stitches, and my persistence is paying off.  I do not have to constantly start over, which is what I did for my last post.  However, there are still some instances where I make mistakes, and it is hard not to get down on myself.  For instance, on the work in the bottom part of the picture, there is a hole which can’t be seen.  This hole was because somehow, I missed a stitch.  Ultimately, I suppose that is the point of learning something new.  It reminds me of a saying, which went something along the lines of : you will always fail more than you succeed.  But, the more you fail, the greater the success will be.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the exact quote, and the above is a rough paraphrase, but I am beginning to experience what it means.  In the first stitches of my knitting journey, I was extremely frustrated.  It made no sense to me, and it was frustration after frustration.  Now, as I move forward, I am finding I am improving, and my success, although fewer than my failures, are all that much sweeter.

In the next few days, I intend on knitting a scarf.  This will be my final project in the realm of knitting for now.  I am not sure how it will turn out, however I look forward to the challenge of learning to fix my mistakes, and making sure my stitches are more consistent.

(As a reminder, this is the video I have been following to learn how to knit)

#knitterintraining: One Stitch at a Time

Hey all!

After a rocky Summer, and Autumn, I have finally been able to work on my learning project for EDTC 300.  It was an interesting time over the last few days to say the least, as I have not been able to pick up knitting needles since my last post at the end of May found here. At that time, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with the steps I found to learn knitting.  The videos were not clear, or rather I was not processing the information very well.  Well, since then, I have taken both a new approach to life, and towards knitting.  In many aspects, I believe that continuous practice is the key to getting better at something.  With knitting, it was no different.  So, over the last few days, I have been using this video to learn a few simple stitches.  For this project, I have decided to focus mainly on the knit stitch.  (5:34).

Now, I have to say I was lucky because I still remembered how to cast-on.  I was fortunate enough to be able to simply pick up my knitting supplies, and get my first row cast-on rather quickly.  However, like with casting on, these first stitches were anything but easy.  It took me a few hours, and this picture is a pretty good visual of how that went.  Each piece of yarn represents some a few attempts at the knit stitch.  The more I tried it with the same bit of yarn, the harder the yarn got to work, and I had to cut it off.  The stuff at the bottom of the picture represents my first attempts.  Some, I got far before making a mistake that made me start over, and others, I only made a few stitches before I managed to mess up the yarn.  However, I was making more progress every time, and the stuff at the top of this picture shows my most recent attempts.  Instead of undoing all of my stitches after I made a mistake, I decided to leave them intact to show myself how far I could get before making a mistake.  I was making good progress here already, and was getting excited every single time I made a good stitch.  This first go at real knitting has me decided that I want to make a scarf by the end of this project!  I am sure I will succeed if I just remember to take it one stitch at a time!

#knitterintraining : THE FRUSTRATION

Hi all!
This post is a little delayed, with good reason.  Over the last week, I have been working towards learning to knit.  The first step for this, from what the Internet told me, is learning how to cast on.  This has become the bane of existence, and almost caused me to give up, and start a new learning project.  However, given that the semester was already half over, I needed to persevere.  And so I did.  And I learned quite a bit about myself as a learner in the process.

For this project, as some of you may recall, I decided I would be relying a lot on YouTube videos.  The channel I decided to use primarily, found here, I struggled with.  Not because it wasn’t good, but because of who I am as a learner.  It turns out, I am not good at following video instructions.  I tried with multiple different videos, and none of them were able to show me to how to cast on.  For nearly 5 hours, off and on throughout the week, I was frustrated, unable to figure out the hand movements they were doing, and how to actually cast on.  Finally, I remembered a tool on YouTube that might just help me.

In the settings, in the wonderful picture I have cropped, there is an option to slow the video down.  I knew about this option, but in my frustrations, it completely slipped my mind.  So, wanting to make this thing work, I went back to the first channel, and slowed the intro video down to 50%.  That made it a lot easier to see the hand movements, and mimic them.  After I understood, I spent the next hour casting on, and taking it apart, repeating this skill until I felt like I mastered it.  Or  I could do it with my eyes closed.  And finally, it worked!  Here is a picture of my latest round of casting on, that will likely turn into my first major project!

As for my first project, I have decided on one of two things.  A pot holder, because it’s simple.  Or an infinity scarf, because they are incredibly comfortable and make good gifts.  I am leaning towards the latter, but I would like to know what you think!  Comment!

#knitterintraining : The first steps

Hello everyone!

This week, I have taken the first baby steps in my journey to learning how to knit.  Unfortunately, my hectic schedule, which involved a few trips up to Saskatoon, did not permit me to find time to actually sit down and start knitting.  However, I did manage to pick up some knitting needles, yarn, and start looking for resources that might be useful on my journey.

First things first, I learned that there are a variety of different knitting needles.  Not all knitting needles are one size.  Some are smaller to deal with smaller yarn, and some are bigger for thicker yarn.  This is already something new to me, as I thought the only difference in knitting needles was the material they were made out of.  I had a lot to learn.

For the sake of my first needles and yarn,  I went for what I would call a medium thickness yarn, which called for size 18 needles, which is all shown in the picture.  This yarn was suggested by a friend of mine, Kealey, who learned how to knit last year and said the yarn was easy to work with for beginners.  Supposedly, the smaller yarn can be difficult to work with because it’s harder to pick up with the needles, and the bigger yarn can fall apart on you if you aren’t careful.  This is all stuff that is new to me, and it’s been exciting to learn so far.

Finally, let’s talk about resources.  My first thought when I decided to learn to knit was YouTube.  I mean, the amount of DIY projects on YouTube is crazy.  You could learn how to build a functioning car on there if you wanted.  So far, I found one channel that I don’t mind, and that shows promise.  I plan on using this channel, and perhaps adding other channels to my repertoire as time goes on, in order to get the most information possible to learn.  Additionally, on my first post, my classmate, Andrea, suggested a website, that I also plan on incorporating into my learning.  In my opinion, these two resources will provide a strong basis to start knitting, and learning the basics of casting off, and perhaps even making my first item (likely a potholder).

Thanks for reading!  Hope you all have a great week!

#knitterintraining

Hey all!

As those who follow me on twitter may already know, for my learning project I have chosen to learn how to knit.  Now, my choice to knit is coming from a few different places.  First of all, it is something I have never done before.  When I was younger, my grandma taught me how to crochet, but all I ever managed to make was a small ‘necklace’ of white yarn.  I wore that necklace everywhere, until it broke.  Aside from that, I have never worked with anything even remotely similar to knitting.  Second of all, it is what one of my close friends, Kealey, did for her learning project, and she highly recommended it to me.  I can definitely see the benefits from knitting, especially as a teacher.  It can be a valuable tool for self-care and relaxation after a stressful, something essential for all teachers.  Third of all, one day, I was sitting in a tire shop getting an oil change.  While sitting there, there was a lady who was knitting mitts and a toque.  She was telling another lady that she knits entirely for fun, but every year, when Winter hits, she donates a bunch of mitt and toque sets to Salvation Army.  I thought this was a really powerful approach to a hobby.  She was able to turn it into a way to give back, which is something that is appealing to me.  Finally, I wanted to do something I use in the classroom someday.  Knitting can be an interesting tool to show students allowing them to use it in their representations for projects.

My process is simple.  I know nothing about knitting.  Therefore, I have decided to take more of a linear approach to learning.  That means, starting with simple stitches and creations.  Perhaps a potholder to start.  And as needed, I will learn more stitches and patterns in order to expand my arsenal.  To do this, I will employ two primary resources.  Firstly, the Internet.  There are how-to videos for everything on YouTube, whether it is ‘how to pet a cat’ to ‘learning how to knit’.  It will likely be my most valuable resource.  Additionally, the Internet has a variety of helpful websites that I will look into using.  If/when I find a channel on YouTube I like, or a website I like, I will share it with the class!

My other main resource will be my friends and family.  As mentioned earlier, one of my friends already learned how to knit in the context of this course.  In addition to her, my mother and sister are both capable knitters.  I have plenty of people in my life to ask questions to if YouTube just isn’t cutting it for me.

All in all, I am absolutely stoked to learn how to knit.  I think it’ll push me out of my comfort zone, but will allow me to pick up a valuable skill in the process.