a girl and her boy

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First Day of My (New) Knitting Life.

Michele changed my life. I walked into Fiberphilia with my lacy shrug in tow hoping to make progress on it after months of struggling with this project. I ripped out the previous work, untangled the mess of bamboo spaghetti, wound it up, and proceeded to knit the three inches of 1×1 ribbing. I get to the part where I am supposed to increase from 45 to 55 stitches in the last row of ribbing and I ask Michelle for suggestions on how to do this. “Knit the front and the back of a stitch,” she said. She suggested other methods as well, but said this would be the best for this particular project. I went back to the knitting room to work on it while she rang up the customer at the counter and then she joined me in the knitting room. She took one look at my project and said, “you’re twisting your stitches.” This, my friends, is the moment my knitting life changed.

You see, my grandmother taught me to knit when I was six years old in Byron, Maine. I’ve been doing nothing but acrylic garter stitch monstrosities up until six years ago when I finally taught myself, using the power of the internet, the purl stitch. Come to find out I taught myself the purl stitch incorrectly.

Instead of going down into the stitch and laying the yarn over the top to carry through, I come around the bottom of the needle and wrap it. I’ve been twisting my purls all these years. My life is changed! I pulled out some spare needles and spare wool and knit six rows in proper purl and it looked like nothing I’ve ever seen before coming off my needles. It was simply beautiful.

My transformation didn’t end there. I also decided that today would be the day I learn to carry the strand properly. All these years I carried it in my right hand pinched under my pinky and I’d pick it up with my forefinger and thumb when I wanted to move it over a stitch. I’d drop it and pick it up between each stitch; definitely not the most economical motion. Bravely, I learned how to not only knit, but purl, using the continental method of holding the yarn. I spent an hour at Fiberphilia practicing the continental method of holding the yarn and purling correctly. I felt like I was learning how to knit for the very first time. And my friends, I was.

I am a brand new knitter! Today is the first day of the rest of my knitting life!


6 responses to “First Day of My (New) Knitting Life.

  1. Cassia February 9, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Cool. Nice that you are trying you’re best to learn the right way to knit.

  2. Claudia Volkman February 10, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Wow! You have inspired me! I learned the English way to knit as a child, but have taught myself the Continental way – at least as far as the knit stitch goes. I have not been able to get the hang of purling Continental – but I’m going to give it another go!

  3. Jen February 10, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Thank you, Cassia and Claudia. This new phase of knitting life sure is tough, but it’ll be worth it in the end. For the first time since I was six years old, I put down the needles in frustration over these simple stitches. It reminded me of how beginning knitters feel. It’s going to take a while to get my muscle memory to override the old memory. Whenever I pick up the needles now, I want to pick it up and begin again in the old way.

    Claudia, if you need some support in purling Continental, go to knittinghelp.com. They have videos that clearly show the stitch process. I had to use them when I got home from Fiberphilia yesterday as I needed another visual reminder of how to create the stitch.

  4. Sue February 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    I also knit Continental. However, I hate, hate, hate (!) purling Continental! ::grin:: I hate it to the point that I’ve been making an effort to either only knit garter stitch, or translate flat designs to knitting in the round designs so I can knit only. ::grin::

    Two weeks ago, I discovered Norwegian purling. It’s a *slightly* more complicated maneuver then regular purling, yet easier, too. (I know, that doesn’t make any sense. But it’s true.) Instructions and a video for doing Norwegian purling are available on knittinghelp.com, and there are videos at youtube.com, also. However, the clearest (for me, anyway) is available from this page:

    Suddenly, I don’t mind stockinette stitch! ::grin::

    Anyway, give it a try. But be sure to practice on a toss away or gauge swatch pice, as the purl is *very* easy to do way too loose. Practice pulling it tight as you go, and watch how much faster and easier your knitting gets.

  5. Sue February 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Darn it, there was a URL in there! Let me try it again. If it doesn’t work, feel free to delete the whole thing. ::sigh::

    However, the clearest (for me, anyway) is available from this page:


  6. Mellowbeing February 11, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Thats fantastic! From what I’ve heard, continental is the more efficient method so you’re off to a good start 🙂

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