Monday, July 17, 2006

Confessions of a Rookie

I consider myself the rookie of this fabulous group of women. I know Jean claims she is, but trust me, I have a feeling she seriously knows so much more than I do. So yes, I am a rookie. A rookie with 30+ years experience.

That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? I can hear the cries now. NOT! But it's true. I promise. I did learn to knit - sort of - I just never applied the same discipline to honing my knitting craft as I have to my craft of writing.

Like most of us enchanted with yarns (the string kind, in addition to the story kind, which I also weave) I learned to crochet when I just a kid. My mom wasn't much of a needle crafter, but she did teach me how to embroider. Our neighbor lady was big into needle crafts, and since I spent a great deal of time at her house, the summer before I entered junior high school, she taught me to crochet. I still remember my first project. A purse. It was navy blue. She even helped me line it so my lipstick and pens wouldn't fall out. I carried that purse to school my first year of junior high. I even made a gym bag to cart my gym clothes home every Friday for laundering that my mom has still packed away somewhere.

For years I crocheted. That was it pretty much the extent of my yarn work. When the babies started arriving, I crocheted blankets and cute little sweater sets for my infant sons. I even made afghans for Christmas gifts for family members. When my friends started having babies, I finally lucked out and was able to make the most adorable crocheted dresses for their little girls. But I was so often discouraged when looking for new patterns, because all the really cool ones were always of the knitted variety. Until one day I became so discourage, I picked up a "learn to knit" booklet.

Ah, I was hooked. Or should that be needled?

I started out with simple knit projects. I was a newbie in this new genre of yarn crafts, after all. I made sweaters for my then toddler sons. After completing three sweaters in the same pattern, I grew bored and wanted something more challenging, so found the courage to take on a much larger project -- a sweater for my husband.

The stitch for this project was still a relatively simple one. No fancy stitches, no cables, just a alternating of so many stitches of pearl and knit so it looked like a checkerboard, sans the second color on #10 needles. I did finish the project, but it was my last knitting project or many years. The sweater turned out way too large, and if you knew my husband you'd know what a joke that is because he's not a little guy by any stretch of the wool. This thing could've fit Andre the Giant it was so huge.

Humilated, I put away my knitting needles and went back to what I knew best -- crocheting, cross-stitch and needlepoint. But the urge to knit never did go away. Every so often, I'd get the itch for a pair of needles in my hand. And all the best patterns still seem to come in knit rather than crochet.

I'm giving the knitting world another try now, thanks to the encouragment of my Romancing the Yarn pals. And yes, even after 30 years, I still consider myself a knitting rookie. I just found a cute blanket pattern online I'd like to try, but there's a stitch I know nothing about. PSSO. Huh? And I know my mom would love one of those prayer shawls. I even found an idiot proof pattern. But what, pray tell, does PSSO mean?

So in true rookie fashion, I've decided to apply the KISS method to my knitting - Keep It Simple Stupid. I'm making scarves for my grandbabies -- we've accumulated eight of them -- and currently on my needles is a brilliantly colored scarf done in a very simple seed stitch. With the Lion Jiffy Thick & Quick yarn, I'm confident I can even make my eight scarves by my self-imposed Christmas deadline. Unless I decide to try something a little fancier, then it could end up being next Christmas. I'm not a fast knitter.

All this scarf takes is two skeins of Lion's Jiffy Thick & Quick and a pair of 17" needles. Cast on 10 stitches, then knit one, purl one (for 11 stitches total), turn, knit one purl one across. Turn and do the same until the scarf reaches 60". Now, isn't that simple? Even a rookie like me should be able to handle this one.

Oh, and if someone could please explain PSSO in idiot proof language, I'd be forever grateful. In fact, I'll give away one of my most recent releases. Just post your instructions in the comments section, let me know you'd like to be a part of the random drawing, and by noon tomorrow, check back and see if you're the winner!


Blogger The Purloined Letter said...

PSSO stands for Pass Slipped Stitch Over, and really means Slip one, knit one, then bring the slipped one over the knitted one in order to effect a decrease.

Slip one stitch as if to knit--that is, insert your needle just as if you were going to knit the stitch, but do not wrap the yarn around. Transfer it completely to the other needle.

Knit the next stitch.

Just as you do when you bind off, insert your left needle into the slipped stitch and lift it over the knitted stitch.

Good luck! I'm sure you can get instructions with pictures on the web.

8:11 AM  

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