Saturday, February 12, 2011

Knitting with the lights off

When I was a kid, I had a rich fantasy life.  I spent a lot of time pretending I was blind- I tried to fool people into thinking I was a blind kid.   Why, you ask?  I'm sure I had a good reason at the time.  At any rate, I practiced using my finger to feel how full the glass was getting, so that I could pour a glass of milk without looking.  I walked around the house with my eyes closed, to get used to where the doorways and furniture were.  I knitted in the dark.
The only habit I have retained from this skill set is the last one.  And, it doesn't have to be dark, really- I just knit the easy stuff without looking.  Okay, I check the work every so often...except when I am knitting in the car at night.  Knitting-while-riding is a good reason to knit without looking.  If you look at your knitting while in a moving vehicle, you have about 10 minutes before you need the proverbial air-sickness bag.
Knitting in the dark does come back to bite you every now and then.  An unnoticed yarn-over becomes a stitch...and the next day, in the light, you are fixing or frogging.
Even so, the benefits (productivity) outweigh the drawbacks (occasional fix/frog). And, when you can knit without looking, your neck and shoulders will thank you.  Here's how you get there.
1. Start with plain and simple.  Do a scarf in garter stitch, or work on the plain body of a sock in the round.  Find a comfy chair and put your feet up.  (this makes it harder to look at every stitch.)  Knit one row very slowly, getting all of you information from your fingers.  Feel each step of each stitch.  Do not permit yourself to peek until you complete the row.  How did you do? If you did okay, turn and do a second row without peeking.  Again, keep it slow, and let your brain visualize the picture that your fingers are sending.
Don't worry about keeping a very slow pace.   Rhythm is more important than speed right now.  Speed will build with practice.  If you need proof, just use a timer when you knit your second or third row, then put the timer away until you are practicing row 15 or 20.  You will see that you will already be waaaaayyyy faster than when you started.
So, look at your knitting at the end of every row, and (for now) when you turn your knitting to start the next row.
2.  Set some goals.  When you can knit garter stitch pretty reliably, or knit an inch of your plain sock, take stock.  You now know that your fingers can work pretty well without being watched.  Your fingers can 'see' the stitches.    It is time to let your fingers practice some new skills.  Try knitting a plain rib without looking.  Let your fingers 'see' which are the knit stitches and which are the purls.  Or try turning your knitting to start a new row, without peeking.
It's nothing but a little practice, really.  Each new added skill will probably need 30 or 45 minutes to learn and practice.
Whether you peek, or not, there's a great little garter stitch sweater for a toddler on the Lion Brand site, called "Blarney Stone Cardigan".  Here's the link:

1 comment:

NOLA said...

Sooooo, that explains it