Learning to Knit

red scarfI mentioned to my husband once while passing the yarn aisle at a craft store that I had never knitted before. It was more of a wistful sigh than a real wish. At that time I was balancing working at home and taking care of a two-year-old. I had no time to pick up a new hobby.

Christmas 2006, my husband got me knitting books, various sizes of knitting needles and some yarn. I was so excited! As soon as the holiday season was over, I got to work learning how to knit.

I was horrible. My swatches looked like a wet hamster. My sweet man and my toddler rescued these unfortunate creations from the trash and wrapped them around naked troll dolls. When I finally got the hang of it, I finished my first knitted piece – a red scarf for the most amazing man in my life.

I have since learned how to purl, and how to mix knit and purl together to create ribbed, stockinette and every other combination the two could make. It’s been a great year. Here are some of the items I made:

pompom hatPompom Hat

Most commercially available yarns have an easy to follow pattern inside the label. This chunky acrylic yarn had a pattern for a pompom hat. I knitted it with straight needles and sewed the seam together all in one night.

It was really rewarding to have a finished project after just a couple of hours. This was my second knitting project, after the red scarf, and it gave me a chance to practice knit and purl. I also got a lot of compliments from grannies everywhere we went.

Pompom hats rock!

space invaders tank top and hatSpace Invaders hat and tank top

The tank top is from the Mud Flap Girl Tank Top pattern on Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation, page 132, except I replaced the Mud Flap Girl design with the Space Invaders design.

I used Lion Brand 100% cotton yarn (black) and Lily Sugar ‘n Cream 100% cotton yarn (green) instead of the recommended wool/cotton blend. My swatch calculations were off, so the tank top actually fits too loose on me. I’m not too happy with my ratty crochet edging either, but I learned a lot and had fun, which is all that matters anyway.

The hat, I just made up as I went along, using the same Space Invaders design and the same 100% cotton yarn. I used straight needles and sewed the seams together.

orange and green knit bikiniOrange and green bikini

I made a few tiny modifications to the bikini pattern in Stitch ‘n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook, page 224. The yarn the pattern recommends, Classic Elite Star, a 99% cotton and 1% lycra blend, is a discontinued line, so I could only get one skein each of orange and green from Ebay.

I made the neck straps thicker at 3 stitches, instead of the crocheted chain stitch the pattern called for.

I wore this bikini swimming all summer and it was great! Unlike nylon or polyester bikinis, this pair absorbed water more, so drying it on a clothesline took slightly longer than drying a synthetic fabric, but not by much. It was definitely dry after hanging it overnight.

Malaya in black hat with multi-color fuzz

Black hat with multi-color fuzz

Shortly after we came to Maine for the summer, I made this hat out of the Lion Brand Mystery yarn, Onyx Prism, which is acrylic and wool in black with multi-color fuzzies randomly interspersed. I did the whole hat in garter stitch, straight needles then sewed the seam. This hat is a lot of fun, almost like a granny hat.

hamoock pillowHammock Pillow

Jay wanted a pillow to take with him when he relaxes on the hammock outdoors, so I made him this technicolor hammock pillow with chunky yarn left over from making the pompom hat earlier in the year. Malaya helped me stuff it, and immediately after, wanted a pillow of her own.

hoppy hoppy the hairy pillow petHoppy Hoppy

This is just a basic rectangular pillow knitted in Lion Brand Fancy Fur, Stormy Sea, a hairy polyester yarn. After I finished sewing the seams, Malaya helped (over)stuff the pillow and named it “Hoppy Hoppy,” the weasel.

I love that I can make something as simple and clunky as this hairy pillow and she can turn it into a fantastic creature just by the sheer strength of her imagination. She pets it, hugs it, talks to it and takes it places. It has become her all-time favorite furry pet and I couldn’t be happier!

space invaders arm warmersSpace Invaders Arm Warmers

More use for my stash of 100% cotton yarn and the same Space Invaders design pattern from my tank top and hat above.

I learned how to use double pointed needles on this project. It looks complicated, but once I got one row deep, it all went like clockwork. It’s simple enough to make without a pattern.

These arm warmers look awesome on her, too. They make her look like a little videogame geek. I love it!

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