MKG Cable Gram - Volume 20, Number 4
Advanced Beginner: it's the most popular level of class being taken in the yarn shops right now, and I rather like it as a description of my skill level. Intermediate feels like too much expectation just yet, but advanced beginner gives me some nice wiggle room. In the Advanced Beginner Project class I'm currently taking at The Yarnery, I'm making my first sweater, a top down cardigan in Tahiti 2nd Time Cotton - a gorgeous variegated red 8-ply cotton/acrylic yarn from Knit One, Crochet Too that's made from recycled fibers. I thought making a sweater would be really hard, but with a top down pattern there are no seams and the most complicated part involves picking up stitches and using a thumb cast-on - not that hard. Fit is mostly a matter of personal preference, I'm finding out. The Holy Grail of fitting may be gauge, but a close second is a willingness to rip out something you don't like, whether it fits or not. My sleeves are in their third incarnation at the moment.
Since my sweater is basically plain knit stitch, a good choice for a beginner, I decided to dip my toes into the advanced pool and find a more adventurous sleeve and body edging than the plain garter stitch the sweater pattern calls for. Knitting On The Edge by Nicky Epstein is the perfect book for trying out more difficult stitch patterns without making a huge commitment - the hardest part is choosing which one to try first. There are color photos of knit swatches for every single edging, and looking through the different sections - from ribs to ruffles to leaves to lace - is an education in itself. The only thing I had trouble with was figuring out that there was a difference between a row that ended with "end K2 P2" and a row that ended with "end last rep K2 P2." I also had to convert a row pattern to an in-the-round pattern for my sleeves - reversing all the knits to purls and purls to knits on the wrong side rows.
Another "AB" project I recently tackled was a cone hat using charts from 45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit by Anna Zilboorg. I saw this book when I was a brand new knitter and realized it was too hard to try just yet. After more than a year, I haven't seen any adult hat patterns as fun as the ones in this book, so I picked it up again. Zilboorg's instructions are a bit cryptic, which made the project a tad more advanced than I'd planned, but luckily I like math (geek alert). With some help from my class instructor and my engineer husband, I was able to figure out what I needed and make up the rest. I sort of pretended I knew what I was doing with 2-color stranding (sometimes that actually works). Now I can honestly say wearing my green/black/aqua/blue cone hat covered in bobbles and cheese wheels (also known as lozenge motifs) makes it totally worth it to get "hat hair." Since this triumph I've decided to design and knit a monkey hat for my sister for Christmas. Alas, monkeys are not a popular cold weather motif, like say, moose or bear, and I haven't been able to find many in knitting books. But monkeys are what she likes. So I finally had to draw my own monkey. I used regular graph paper and made him a bit taller than he is wide to compensate for knit stitches being wider than they are tall, then I knit a test swatch. And guess what? Houston, we have monkey.
My cone hat was the first project I'd used a circular needle on for knitting in the round: usually I use double points all the way. I've knit a half dozen pairs of socks on DPs just fine with no problems at the joins, but the idea of "300 fewer intersections per average pair of socks" got my attention on the back cover of Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles by Cat Bordhi. So I made a pair or wrist warmers - basically ribbed tubes in sock yarn with button holes for thumb openings. The hardest part is getting started. Bordhi has a good series of photos of the yarn on two circulars during different stages of knitting, but she still leaves out one crucial step in the written instructions "turning the work" which was confusing. It took me about an inch of work before I felt like I knew what I was looking at. I can't say I'm a convert - there may be fewer joins, but having the non-working needle ends flopping around like spaghetti was rather annoying. Still, it's always fun to use my Addi Turbos and knit like the Bionic Woman.
Did Jaime Sommers ever use her bionic powers for knitting? This is a useless tidbit I would love to know. I will award one monkey coaster to the first person who can tell me the answer and the episode, if any. I'm also a movie geek and love to catch scenes of knitting in film, so one monkey coaster to the first five people who feed my obsession and send me a list of at least three films with knitting in them. I want the title of the movie, name of character or actor who's knitting, and a description of the scene. You can't use Breakfast at Tiffany's because everyone knows that one, most especially Advanced Beginners. You can reach me at email@example.com.