Since I swore I would not discuss knitting here on Anger Burger, let’s discuss what I’ve been knitting lately.
I should defend myself, weakly, by saying that I’ve given the dog a massive dose of prescription sedative since she, like most dogs, hears a single firecracker and immediately thinks HOLY SHIT IT IS THE MOTHERFUCKING APOCALYPSE RUN FROM ROOM TO ROOM AND DROOL ALL OVER YOURSELF. But! Before you think that the sedative means that she is now blissfully unaware, you are wrong! Because she is 100% committed to being an asshole, after a dose of sedative that should drop an animal twice her size, she remains panicked and slobbery, and emits a high keening noise not unlike a fluorescent bulb.
Anyway, I don’t have any food to write about. I want you to know that I do not talk about the knitting for a pretty straightforward reason: it’s not easy to just drop into a knitting conversation, because there is such a drastic spectrum of skill levels. And I really don’t know what I’m doing. I wing it a lot, I make a lot of mistakes, and I do terrible math that results in things that I have to completely tear out. I choose the wrong yarn. I wash things wrong. But I have some successes, and I will tell you about them.
First and most important piece of knitting advice: join the free knitting social/networking/data site Ravelry. It is the single-most utilized knitting tool I use. People obsessively document their projects, which means that you can cross-reference literally almost anything and see, for example, what brand of yarn everyone else prefers to knit that project with (and then learn details about that yarn, such as what it commonly retails for, the yardage, etc.) and then click on individual projects. I swear, I would not be as voracious a knitter as I am without Ravelry. Before I start a project I see what everyone else seems to think about it; I’ve decided not to knit things due to overwhelming complaints of a bad pattern.
My friend Amani asked me about this photo:
She asked, did I knit that sweater? I did. It is a popular free pattern called Aidez, and it is my favorite house sweater. CAVEAT: it is my favorite house sweater because I sort of don’t care if I fuck it up. I chose the wrong yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky, curse you!) and it pills like a mother. I swear I’m picking off mouse-sized wads of yarn fuzz from the underarms every single day. I don’t understand how there can still be a sweater left, frankly. And the color, “Porcini”, looks alright in this photo, but in person is a very flat, very off shade of putty that really looks grim. I’d have named the color “Dead Oatmeal Barf”.
I made some changes to the pattern because why would I just do something normally. I don’t feel like listing them or anything. See? This is why I don’t talk about knitting. But I will say that the sweater is looong and I shortened it by an inch and wish I’d shortened it by several more. And I knit it in the round instead of in pieces. The pattern also commits my biggest pet peeve: it instructs you to simply “reverse the stitches” for the opposite side, rather than writing them out. C’mon! It just means that I have to write them out in the pattern margins. Is it really saving that much time for the pattern’s author to not do it herself? Foop.
I knit this hat for a friend’s daughter, the Berry Cute Hat and WTF WHY IS IT SO CUTE?! At $6.50 the pattern cost way more than I would normally pay for a pattern this basic, but it’s just so goddamn cute.
I used Cascade 220 Superwash wool, which is a little expensive, but the word “superwash” means that it is machine washable. Which, if you are knitting for a child, is basically rule #1. And it comes in a bazillion colors. And it feels good to knit.
The zig-zaggy fringe on mine won’t stand upright like the pattern shows it will, but I sort of like the disheveled berry look.
The most successful sweater of recent years has been the Beatnik:
In addition to being a free pattern, it is one of the most effortlessly best-fitting sweaters I’ve ever made. If you feel the urge to tackle a cable-knit sweater of moderate challenge, this is it. It’s really not that hard, I swear. Also, I followed this knit-a-long tutorial for knitting it in the round, which is a little more work up front but makes for a much better sweater later. Another sweater that I expect I will make several of, in several colors, so that I can basically always be wearing it.
I’ve knit this scarf probably half a dozen times:
It’s the “Waves of Grain” scarf, yet another free pattern, and a tricky but worthwhile venture into lace knitting. In fact, it was the first lace I knit, and I went on to love it and knit many other lace things. If you have been burned in the past by knitting clothing that doesn’t fit, I suggest trying to knit a complicated scarf like this one. One size fits all. And also: it doesn’t have to be knit on fine yarn and tiny needles, you can try it on a slightly larger yarn and corresponding needles first. It’ll make a huge scarf, but at least it will help you get the hang of it. My example up there was also my first attempt at beading a knit piece, and that was a pain in the ass like you wouldn’t believe. But: pretty! Maybe don’t try it your first foray into lace knitting, you will hate God and man and all things living.
And that is that. Right at this moment I have a project I just finished for Mike the Viking drying and waiting to have buttons sewn onto it, and when it is done I will show it to you. I call it the Hobbit Vest, because the green tweed I used has given the whole thing a rather Tolkien-y air. You should know that I knit an entire front panel of it that I then tore out and re-did after realizing that it was too big.
Which leads me to my last piece of advice: if you are not patient, do not bother with knitting. You will make mistakes for which the only solution is to obliterate your work so far and then start again. This often means losing hours, if not tens of hours, of work time. You will never hear me say this again about anything, but with knitting, for me at least, it is not the finished product I am looking for. It is the construction of it. Please don’t make me paraphrase it into a lesson about destinations and journeys. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fucking frustrating. But there is a kind of zen place I go to of pleasant tactile textures and beautiful heathered colors. There is order from chaos. It is not at all unlike cooking, now that I think about it. Of course I can go buy a sweater or a pie, and it will be cheaper than the one I had to make myself. But look at that thing! I have serious post-apocalypse tribal cred! You want socks after the department stores have all burned? I’m your girl. I am fucking useful.