A CHAT ABOUT KNITTING
The path of a beginner with wool and knitting needles is often very bumpy. First there is learning to manipulate needles and to throw the wool whilst still holding the right-hand needle in position. Then there is the trouble with wool forward to purl, and wool off the needle again to knit plain.
Every beginner knows the tragedy of forgetting to slip the wool back to its proper place, which means not only an an extra stitch on the needles, but an obtrusive hole as well. Even with plain knitting a beginner usually garners in a few extra stitches quite unconsciously, and she awakens suddenly to the fact that the outer edge is assuming a crosswise appearance, instead of being perfectly straight.
Anyhow, these are difficulties to be overcome by practice very soon, too, by some people, who go ahead so quickly as to be able to follow intricate patterns and produce exquisite articles in the finest silk, cotton, or wool.
I know an old lady who is nearing her 90th year, and she still knits most beautifully the finest thread and needle as fine as darning needle. Her knitting is practically unsurpassable. On my remarking to her about the wonder of keeping all the different slipping and making and passing of stitches demanded in some of the doyleys and lace she knits, which mean such a variety of rows, she laughingly told me how she manages to avoid confusion in rows.
She has made a number of little books from strips of paper, and on each leaf is written a single row (numbered) of all her patterns. When knitting she simply turns a leaf for every change, and, moreover, interruptions are a matter of no importance; she merely turns down the leaf, and knows exactly where she left off.
We all know how bewildering are some of the detailed directions in both knitting and crochet patterns. And possibly the excellent plan adopted by this old lady would prove valuable to many workers. No matter how well one knows at intricate pattern – or thinks she does it is practically impossible to remember it without a pattern. And yet the directions may be made quite intelligible by abbreviating them in rows. The writing to be done whilst the pattern is being worked. This sounds like something of a task, but even so, in reality the system is labour-saving for the future.
Casting on, and casting off often decides for or against the finish of jumpers, socks. etc. To have the edge too loose or too tight, is a fault – the tension should be exactly the same as the work in the article. When casting on with two needles the average knitter somehow manages to have the stitches so loose that the first and second rows are unsightly, because of slackness. Knowing this, such a knitter is well advised to cast on with needles a size smaller than those to be used throughout the work. And in casting off the trouble often is to knit too tightly – therefore, the plan is to use large needles for the casting off. Another point to bear in mind is, be sure to cast off on the wrong side to avoid the chain-stitch effect on the right side.
It is also desirable that wool should retain its elasticity. Remember this when winding. Avoid making a tight ball. Always keep fingers of the left hand on the ball when winding — roll the wool loosely over them for a few turns, then change the position of the fingers. This method will result in a soft ball that puts no strain on the wool.
A good way to wind wool so that you will have a ‘still ball’ is to arrange to have the end coming from the centre of the ball. Proceed this way:- Wind a few strands around your four fingers, slip off the strands and hold in the hand, and commence winding the wool around one end of the strands, leaving the top to stand out in a bunch. Wind loosely as described for the other ball, and tuck the end under one of the outer strands. Now pull the loops in the centre right. You will have a yard or two of wool and you will find the wool will continue to come freely from the centre of the ball.