Sunday, March 9, 2008

Building on the good news

It may seem difficult to learn the basics of knit and crochet because you have to coordinate your thinking with your seeing and with what your hands are doing. Funny thing is, both crafts are just combinations of the same elements.

The basics of both crafts grow out of some combination of Insert, Yarnover, and Pull though. That's all there is to it. Really. And for each, there is a normal way to do it, and doing it differently makes a difference in the fabric.

A slip knot, to start at a starting point, is 2 yarnovers, 1 pull through, another yarnover, and a pull through.

Now, in crochet (for right-handed folk) the yarnovers are always clockwise around the hook. For lefties, the yarnovers are always counter clockwise. Either way, the hook is grabbing the yarn from underneath.

Some people grab the yarn from on top for the first yarnover after they insert the hook into the stitch, but that twists the stitch just a bit, and makes a visual effect.

In knitting, the normal yarnovers are always counterclockwise. This seems confusing sometimes because you also have to swing the yarn forward or backward to switch between knits and purls -- but that is not wrapping the yarn around the needle. If you wrap clockwise, you make a twisted stitch -- which you may want, or not. Normally, you insert your right needle into the leading edge (the side closer to the point) of the stitch on the left needle. Knitting into the back -- or non-leading edge -- of the stitch also twists the stitch.

In crochet, a stitch is everything that happens from the time there is one loop on your hook until the next time there is one loop on your hook. A lot can happen there, so there are lots of possibilities in crochet stitches.

In knitting, a stitch is everything that happens between the time a stitch is on the left needle and when it gets moved over to the right needle. Usually, all that happens is that you put a new loop through the old loop, but fancier stitches involve putting more loops in, adding yarnovers, or moving the old loop to a temporary needle to make cables.

Thinking of sttiches in terms of these elements makes it easier to communicate. Lots of stitchers run into problems when they are just shown how to do something and don't know what anything is called. Building that literacy is really empowering.

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