Saturday, April 02, 2005

On Tension and Creativity

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was having problems with loose tension on the purl rows when knitting continental. I don't have the problem when I knit with the English method. Last weekend (it seems so long ago!) I figured it out.

I have an odd English knitting style in that I transfer the right needle to the left hand, throw the working yarn with the right, transfer the right needle back to the right hand and knit (or purl) the stitch. This transferring makes the to-be-worked stitch on the left needle be close to the just-worked stitch on the right needle. As a result, the working yarn length is relatively short.

When I knit continental, I don't transfer the right needle from one hand to the other, allowing me to knit marginally faster (but I'm still the world's slowest knitter). However, I noticed that the tension on a gauge swatch for my next pair of socks was off...purl rows were looser. So, I analyzed the knit stitch (working yarn length is short)and the purl stitch (working yarn length is long). Aha! By knitting closer to the points and making sure that the to-be-worked stitch on the left needle is close to the just-worked stitch on the right needle, the tension of the knit and purl stitches are more even.

This revelation excites me. I'm getting better at analyzing and understanding the technical aspects of knitting and this is a very good thing. I now have to let go of the fear that all of the stitches are going to jump off the needles when knitting close to the points. I'm also finding that it's a lot easier to control the purl tension when knitting flat than when knitting in the round, especially on size 1.5 DPNs.

I cast on a new sock this morning. This is the Top Down sock pattern from Y2Knit. I started working on this pattern a couple of years ago, but couldn't get my head around short rows (I don't recommend learning to knit socks as the second project). And, I couldn't seem to get the sizing right; the cuff seemed too tight and I couldn't get it over my heel. I found a reference for sizing socks on the Interweave Knits web site and realized that I should be knitting the large size. My feet are sort of wide, but short. We'll see how well the large size works.

I did finish the first pair of socks. While they aren't perfect, they'll suffice. Here they are, in all their glory:

And the beginning of the new socks:

So what about creativity? For a large part of my life, I've done some kind of handwork. Crewelwork, cross-stitch, ribbon embroidery, spinning, weaving, crochet, knitting, quilting (wow, that's a wide variety). And people always say "Oh, you are so creative!" But, truth to tell, I don't feel creative. True, I'm making things. But I'm making things that other people have designed. And to me, that's not being truly creative. If I was really creative, I'd design it myself and make it myself. I suspect that I'm being too hard on myself. I don't have the experience to create my own designs...yet. As I learn more about gauge, stitches, patterns, etc., I'll get to that point. And don't forget the math. I'm going to have to get over my fear of math before I can design something that will fit a normal human. However, fear of math is easier to overcome than fear of spiders.

All this knitting and ruminating, not to mention the dreary day, has Jez snoozing.

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