A Love Knit Up

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Pain of Needles

I started a new project today: a lace shawl. (Ok, I know that I've been starting a lot of projects lately, but many of mine are currently on hold due to lack of materials --- some things I ordered over the internet have not arrived yet.) The shawl is square, knitted from the center outwards. Now, I have nothing against this (I thought it would be interesting to try it) but I have discovered several things while starting the project.

First, the project starts on 4 double-pointed needles with 2 stitches per needle. Double pointed needles are a pain regardless of the pattern: you have points jutting at all angles in the project, making holding it problematic, and in addition the stitches between the needles stretch! The two solutions to this ( (1) make the first stitch on a needle really tight and (2) knit one stitch from the next needle when you finish one, so that the stretched stitches go around the knitting) are not really adequate. So I tend to try and use circulars as much as possible in my projects.

But with circular needles come their own problems. The first of these is kinks forming in the connection between the needles. This can be solved the hard way (soak the thread in warm water and stretch it out) or the easy way (buy Addi turbos, which have plastic which doesn't kink, and which also have the property that stitches sliding around the needles don't snag, as they do on cheaper needles); I prefer the easy way. However, with the current project there came a whole new problem: not having anything to hold on to.

Since the shawl is knitted from the inside out, and I shifted from double points to circulars as soon as I could, I ended up with a circular needle whose center was completely filled with a small circle of fabric. This meant that I could not loop my fingers around the needles that I was holding: the fabric was too tight. So I had to hold on to the knitting with just my fingertips, which made for a very painful experience. The lesson? Don't shift to circulars until there is enough fabric to be loose while on the needles.

Sometimes I wonder why I go through all this pain, and think fondly back to my garter-stitch scarf days...


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