If you go to YouTube and type in “Cast on knitting” in the search bar, close to 1,000 results come up.  If you type in the same phrase on Ravelry, the kitting blog, nearly 350 results come up.  Casting on was by far the most difficult technique I learned. [Perhaps because it was the first technique I needed to learn for knitting.]  Regardless, I have since come to learn that there are many variations of the cast on technique.

Here are a few different ways to cast on:

I could never get used to casting on this way, I rather cast on with one needle. However, this is still a good technique to learn.

This is my favorite way to cast on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Iv03nRS8xU

This way took me a longtime to figure out.  I could never get the yarn to lay across my fingers the way it was supposed to.  Once I mastered it though, I never used another way to cast on again!

I’ve never been a fan of following patterns.  I was taught to knit by my grandmother and aunt, without help from any knitting books.  My aunt and grandmother are more free form knitters: they create their own patterns and just go with them.  So needless to say when my best friend [a non-knitter] bought me my first knitting book freshman year of high school, I was a bit wary.  I had skimmed knitting books before and wasn’t impressed. The wording seemed so complex and I couldn’t begin to decipher all the abbreviations [despite the glossaries located in each one].

But all that changed when I started reading “Stitch ‘n Bitch” by Debbie Stoller. “Stich ‘n Bitch” isn’t a traditional knitting book.  It explains knitting terms in plain English and provides easy explanations for intimidating techniques. “Stitch ‘n Bitch” became my knitting bible after that.  It helped me to branch out from scarves and into hats.  It even encouraged me to try lace.

Since my introduction to “Stitch ‘n Bitch,” I’ve been able to give other knitting books a chance.  “Stitch ‘n Bitch got me over my fear of patterns and helped me to realize just how awesome traditional knitting techniques can be.

A link to a summary of “Stitch ‘n Bitch”: http://www.knithappens.com/content/view/13/31/

Every knitter has a favorite pattern, a go to pattern that they know will always turn out just right.  A pattern that they know so well, they could recite it line by line.  There’s comfort in knowing what you’re going to get when you get to the end of a pattern.

My favorite pattern is the Basic Beret [http://knittips.wordpress.com/category/beret/]. I made it for the first time last winter and instantly fell in love.  It was a simple, mindless project I could do at work and it also looked really good.

This is a picture of the first beret I knitted.

Since then, I’ve made the basic beret quite a few times.  I’m working on one right now to use up yarn and to have something mindless to work on while I’m at work.  Unlike the lace scarf, the beret doesn’t frustrate me.  There are no risk involved.

Here is a picture of the Basic Beret that I am currently working on.

The beret in its beginning stages.

I need to branch out more with my projects.  There’s no problem having a go to pattern, until it becomes routine.  What if this beret is where I stop?  That I love it so much I will never try to knit another beret [like that awesome cabled one I have on my queue on Ravelry]? There is no problem in having “comfort” patterns, as long as you don’t get stuck knitting them.

I started my second lace project in May. Branching Out [made by Susan Lawrence and published in the Spring 2005 edition of Knitty, seemed like a good project to continue my education in lace.  My cousin, an avid knitter and spinner, suggested it on the basis that it would be easy to follow and improve my chart-reading skills.  After starting and restarting the scarf several times, I have yet to establish a rhythm with it. While the project only calls for 27 repetitions of ten rows, I find myself at a crossroads with it.  The issue, I have come to discover is not how to knit it, but where to knit it.

Before my foray into lace, I was a mindless knitter: I like to follow simple patterns and work on pieces that I don’t have to put much thought into.  I knit a lot at my job as a desk attendant in my dorm [I’m a cross between a receptionist, customer service representative and a security guard] and often need to put down the project I’m working on to attend to a guest in the dorm.  With most projects,  I can put them down and pick them up without having to worry as much about losing count of rows or stitches.  If I have to put down the lace scarf, I can’t pick up as easily where I left off.

When I knit I tend to be multitasking–watching a show on TV or completing a reading assignment for class.  I’ve never worked on a project that has demanded my full attention before. With this scarf, I need to be completely focused on the number of yo’s [yarn overs] and sl2-k2tog-psso’s [slip two k stitches, k 2 together, pass over slipped stitches]. While I love the challenge and the artistry that goes into a lace project, I’m not sure if I like the time it demands.

However, the pattern in question is beautiful.  My cousin was definitely right that I’d enjoy it.  I wanted to have it finished by the time I started school in August, but unfortunately I only have five of the 27 repeats done.  My new goal is to have it done by Thanksgiving.

Here is a link to the pattern from knitty.com: http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEspring05/PATTbranchingout.html

Branching Out

A detailed look at what the scarf will look like.