Monday, February 02, 2009

Pick Up Artist

As I mentioned before, I taught two classes this weekend at the DKC Winter Workshop. I had a great time, met some terrific new people, and spent some serious hours talking about knitting - an excellent way to spend the weekend.

The same topic came up in both of my classes - picking up stitches. It often does. It's one of those techniques that is not well understood, and many knitters simply don't feel confident about it. Like "block", it's a word that's often used in a pattern with no explanation, and it's not something you learn until you need it -- until you run straight into it, usually near the end of the first sweater project.

To confuse further, there are a couple of different ways of achieving the objective... Teresa gives an excellent tutorial on my method of choice here... In short, this method involves sticking a needle through the edge of the fabric, wrapping the yarn around the needle, and pulling it through to form a new stitch. Some knitters just grab a loop of the existing fabric, without requiring a working yarn. I don't generally recommend this second one, but I do know knitters who use it and produce satisfactory results.

Here's the problem: the terminology. Some designers and pattern writers - myself included - simply use the term "pick up" to describe the technique Teresa demonstrates. Others use the term "pick up and knit". I'd always treated them as synonyms. Some knitters don't.

We ran headlong into that in the Entrelac class. After all, Entrelac is all about picking up stitches. My written instructions say only "pick up". If you pick up using the second method, your working yarn doesn't travel with you. And the way I'd written out my instructions assumed that it did. Much lively discussion ensued.

(And of course, you could also interpret "pick up and knit" to mean a two step process: pick up the stitches using the second method, then knit across, which gets you to the same place, but rather oddly... )

I was left with the sense that using either version of the term wasn't clear enough.... I need to think about how to best explain and represent this in a pattern.


Sel and Poivre said...

How about "Using a separate strand of yarn, pick up and knit" vs "thread your needle through each existing edge stitch until all stitches are hanging on it."

Ali P said...

I had this issue when I learned to knit socks. I had no teacher, didn''t know about on line videos, and was basically trying tounderstand the instructions over the phone from a friend who wasn't explaining it very well.
Turns out those early heel flaps have the stitches picked up wrong, but i still got socks. Doing it the right way is SO much easier though. ;o)

Unknown said...

My next project is socks (first time). I've been knitting mittens and have a problem picking up stitches at the thumb gussett (no finished edge). Before I get started on socks, can someone help me with the mitten issue - I don't want to become frustrated with picking up at the heel gussett too!