Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Learning to purl

I had plenty to keep me occupied over the weekend, but I wanted to learn to purl so I could move onto my next project. I looked at this video and that video and these step-by-step instructions and those step-by-step instructions. None of them made very much sense, but I attempted to duplicate what I saw. Using practice yarn and bamboo needles, I made some awkward motions that I thought followed the instructions.

Try as I might, I didn't understand. Learning to do a three-dimensional activity from drawings and videos wasn't cutting it. The Week of Perpetual Screenings--just seven, not the nine I claimed in the last entry's comments--brought a film on Monday morning. Afterward I asked Kristin to give me a quick primer in purling.

I knew where the right needle went but was uncertain about everything after that. She took me through the steps. With her showing me, purling clicked in a way that the websites didn't make clear. I purled a few stitches to make sure I had it down. When I got home I purled a couple rows so I would remember the technique.

Seeing me purl is not a pretty picture, but I understand how to do it now. Whether it's eagerness, impatience, or both, I dispensed with the practice yarn and readied work on my next project. I'm using navy Lion Brand Cashmere Blend yarn and following the basketweave scarf pattern that is printed on the label. (You must be registered on the Lion Brand site to view the patterns, but I expect most of you already are.)

Kristin's primary tip was to take it slow as I try my first mix of knit stitches and purl stitches. Since I had to figure out yarn placement every four stitches, I had no problem going slow. I should remind myself that I wasn't very fast when I began knitting, but my speed has increased with time and experience.

Five rows make a repeat in the pattern. I did three repeats. The purl stitches became a little less of an ordeal with each successive row. The cast-on stitches have curled a little, sort of like a rounded wave rather than a straight line, but some of the websites I've skimmed make it sound as though this is normal.

It's possible that what I've done so far is good for practice but not good enough for a scarf to give someone. I'll have Kristin examine my work and see what she thinks. I'm OK with frogging it all and starting over. I don't have that much done, and if it makes for a better FO, then what's the harm?

I am relieved to have figured out how to purl. I'm not entirely comfortable doing it, but it's coming faster than learning the knit stitch.

How lucky am I to know someone who can teach me? As I sifted through sites looking for purling instructions, I came across a message board where beginning knitters were asking for help. Many of them are learning from books and getting assistance from more experienced people posting on those boards. As this latest lesson taught me, having someone who can show me what to do and see what I'm doing is a blessing.

Next...knitting the basketweave scarf.


At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once you can purl, you can pretty much do anything knitting wise. Congratulations. I was shown the basics as a kid and have been self-teaching since then. Latest achievement has been socks, you are indeed lucky to have someone to show you the ropes, or the yarn...

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

good job on the quick learning w/ the purl stitch...like ruth said, once u learn that, a whole world of knitting possibilities is opened up!

ps - i'm also making a basketweave scarf right now as an xmas gift for my husband's uncle who i have in our exchange this year. i can't blog about it because we keep it a secret who we have and my sis in law reads my blog. anyway, he's asked for a st patty's day scarf to wear when he marches in the parade w/ his fellow-firemen for the past 2 yrs, so i'm making a green, cream and orange basketweave scarf (pattern "mom's sophisticated scarf" is from one of the stitch n bitch books - highly recommended book, by the way). anyway, not sure any man can pull this scarf off, but uncle scott definitely can :)

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

sry for the long comment...guess i've been dying to blog about this project and here i was able to do it secretly ;) how appropriate on ur blog entitled "knitting confidential" lol

At 10:07 PM, Blogger the secret knitter said...

I'm finding that the secret part has its advantages, and I can definitely understand wanting to share, like you have with your gift exchange scarf secret. (And no need to apologize for long comments. Look at how long my posts tend to be.)

If your uncle lives in Cleveland, he'll get good use out of it. The first day I attended this year's film fest coincided with St. Patrick's Day. I couldn't believe how many people were packed into Tower City Center after the parade.

I've pretty much worked through my initial reasons for not using my name (wanting to keep the surprise secret from friends and family and, let's face it, insecurity). Still, I like the protection the secret identity gives me from students or some other people stumbling upon it.

The regular readers (or anyone so inclined to poke around here a little) are more than welcome to know who I am. In fact, I encourage it.


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