Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Knitting Theory

Knitting is simultaneously the simplest and the most complicated thing in my life.

It's only one motion.  Pull a loop through another loop.  (This requires yarn, but not needles.)  Held in your lap with your hands over his, a toddler can do it.  Sitting beside you, a six-year-old can do it herself with enough practice.  A sixteen-year-old can learn it in five minutes.  Right-handed people can teach it to left-handed people without trying to accommodate their different strengths.  It's just a single motion.

But it's such a rich subject.

  • You can go into how to tension the yarn: English, Continental, Portuguese, probably others I've never heard of.  
  • You can talk about the orientation of the stitches: Western, Eastern, and Combined; leading and receding legs, front and back loops.  
  • You can explore different types of knitting: colorwork, cables, lace; in the round or back and forth.  
  • You can talk about the needles: straight, circular, and double-pointed.
  • You can go into the yarn: weight, texture, fiber content, twist (you can get so far into this subject you end up in spinning theory).  
  • You can learn about changing shapes: increases and decreases of all types.  
  • You can research expert tricks: reading your knitting, dropping stitches to repair errors, lifelines, frogging and picking up live stitches.
This isn't even all of it.  There's so much more, and this is just what I could come up with off the top of my head.  The best thing about this list?

You can stop anywhere.  If you want to knit rectangles all your life, no one's stopping you.  If you are confident in lace but not interested in cables, that's okay.  If you know one style of knitting and have no interest in learning another, you don't have to.  That doesn't make you "less" of a knitter.  It just makes you a different type of knitter from me.

Knitting theory is something I'm passionate about.  I can read instructions and follow them, but I believe I will never truly know what I'm doing until I understand how it works.  I spend time searching and experimenting to find out why and how knitting works, and it's information I'd like to share.  So keep an eye out for more posts on knitting theory, probably with videos and pictures and lots of explanation.

And if you aren't interested in the posts about Eastern orientation, but the posts on Combination knitting fascinate you?  That's fine!  You can stop wherever you want.

If you can pull one loop through another loop and end up with fabric, you're a knitter in my book.

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