Now that I am pretending to be a knitting expert I feel the need to reflect a little on my actual achievements in this area. While gathering proof of how well-versed I am in needle language , a couple of unfinished projects tumbled out of the closet. Here they are, together with the excuses for why they were never finished.
Baby Sweater in Screaming Colours
The first picture shows the front part of a baby sweater for my now 20-year-old son which I started knitting in 1990-something. By the time I got ready for the back part he had already outgrown the front part. So I decided to turn it into a sleeve instead and started a larger front part. Then the same thing happened again, he outgrew it.. Front and back are finished, but one sleeve is lacking and I ran out of yarn. Can’t get the same cotton anymore and won’t get babies anymore either, so I think I will become an unraveler for this one.
Cabled Tweed Pullover
Similar story, but some seven years later. Did not finish this on time and then all of a sudden my son was taller than me. I took it up again now, because I still like it. I just need to find a new beneficiary. The yarn got attacked by moths in the meantime but after vacuuming it, most of it is still intact. It is a very cheap yarn from Zeeman that I bought at the incredibly low price of 2.99 guilders (€ 1.35) for 100 grs. It is 25 % wool, 7 % viscose and the rest synthetic fibre, which was helpful for surviving the moths. In the 90-s there were hardly any yarn shops left in Amsterdam and all those great hand-dyed, fully natural yarns had not even made it into existence, so the Zeeman deal wasn’t so bad at the time.
Loose Ended Roses
This one is finished, that is, the knitting is finished. The reason why I still don’t get to wear this can be seen in the picture on the right: I still need to weave in hundreds of loose ends. And the yarn is so black, the light in my house so dim. What if I took it with me on my holiday to a sunny country? It will become such a sweaty job! The yarn is unfortunately totally synthetic, for the reasons mentioned above, but also because I couldn’t afford expensive yarns a few decades ago.
Black Seed Stitch & Cables
This sweater actually got completed, it is even a little worn. I bought the cotton yarn while travelling in Guatemala and in need of something warmer than the clothes I brought (and reluctant to wear the indigenous garments and look like a hippy). The black never really was black enough. I thought I would wear it again if I added a skirt to it as I had plenty of yarn left. Look at the size of that skirt, what was I thinking? The skirt has to go. Maybe I’ll use the yarn for a summer camisole.
The book I referred to earlier – Useful handicraft – arrived in the mail and so did the scanner. Now I am able to show some of the stuff I have been taught as a little girl. The 10th edition copy I got is from 1965 and the year I learned knitting must have been 1968. The book only addresses girls, and the teacher was obviously female as well. While we were doing needlework, the boys were taught how to play chess!
There was no such thing as You Tube in those days, so this is how the teacher was supposed to teach us:
We will start now with learning how to cast on. The teacher has two thick wooden needles and very thick wool. Each girl has a ball of cotton plus two needles. For the time being we don’t need needles, as the children first need to properly master how to wrap the thread around their fingers. The teacher first demonstrates a few times and then lets the girls go along as follows:
Measure a length of yarn and hold this point between thumb and index finger of the right hand.
Put he index finger of the left hand under the thread, which is on the side of the ball of yarn, put middle finger and ring finger on top and the pink under again.
The thread that we are still holding in our right hand, should be wrapped around our thumb and then we place it between ring finger and pink, over the pink. We keep our hand slightly bent, the loops on thumb and index finger over the first phalanx, thumb and index finger almost together.
Are you still there? No wonder so many of the girls developed a dislike of knitting. The projects we embarked on weren’t all that exciting either. In my memory my first product was an egg warmer – a little hat to keep you egg warm !!
The book’s first project is this must-have needle booklet:
And here below the notorious doll’s dress. I asked my teacher if I was allowed to adjust the measurements as this one wouldn’t fit any of my dolls: not the Barbie nor the baby doll. But she wouldn’t hear of it. So it got buried in my little suitcase with useless projects.
The YouTube way
For an easier way to learn knitting -besides following a course or workshop – here are a few really easy-to-follow instruction videos by Twirre, owner of crafts storeHandmade Heavenin Amsterdam-East. It is all in Dutch but the images are self-explanatory.
And here are the links to the next three classes. Besides binding off these are all the basic techniques you need, everything else is just different combinations of these four.
Today I got distracted when searching for the type of cotton yarn they gave to us in school back when I was first learning. I was wondering if there are still stores that sell yarn that is not very cool, 100 % natural, utterly beautiful but extremely expensive?
Yes, there are. I found a beautiful small shop, family owned since 1891 – 122 years. They have a webshop, where they are selling Durable cotton in every imaginable colour at € 2.60 for 50 grams only !