Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pattern acquisition

First, thanks so much to everyone who has popped by already to share pattern-acquisition expertise. There's still plenty of time for anyone else to chime in! I've tried to visit the blogs of each person who's commented, but for some folks, I'm not able to link to a blog from the name in the comments (and Blogger doesn't give me email addresses, so I can't write back to you that way). But it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate what everyone's written -- I do!

Second, it is so good to know I'm not alone. While it means perhaps fewer mind-bending suggestions for ways to memorize pattern repeats, it is nice to know that I'm not the only knitter out there who needs her cheat sheet (and I give my students such flak when they ask for one for tests).

A few folks mentioned charting, and wondered whether that's how I'm doing it, or if I'm using written-out pattern notes. I am all about charts. When I started knitting, to shorten a very long story, I knit a lace scarf (my first FO) on a silk blend yarn with written-out pattern notes (didn't even know to block the thing before giving it to its intended recipient; luckily, silk yarn falls out nicely, so the pattern showed up after a few wearings). I then dove straight into the Japanese shawl in Cheryl Oberle's book, which is also not charted (and which took me three years; I'd like to believe that writing a dissertation and having a baby during that time is part of the reason, but I'm not so sure; see below). Charts terrified me, and I avoided them at all costs (I am definitely a writing-oriented sort of person; I even read my dreams as text sometimes, which I am told is very odd -- you all are welcome to chime in on that one, too, and make me feel less alone).

And then I fell in love with the Icelandic shawl in Oberle's book. It's only charted. Someone told me that you can learn to do anything if you want the product badly enough, and I suppose it's true, so I bought the yarn and dove right in. This one took me three years, as well (again, a second baby came along during this period, as well as a move, but still...). But by the time it was over, I was converted to charts and loved them. I now think that if I had to knit something that was written out (like the patterns in Barbara Walker's lovely book), I would chart them. So, it's not the chart thing.

I have a lovely magnetic chart-keeper from KnitPicks, which I use with bigger charts (like the one for the languishing Hanami). Other than that, I xerox the pattern and cut out the chart so it's minimally sized and keep it tucked into whatever knitting bag I'm using. I like the spiral-bound index card notebook idea; I could tape the charts in there, and they'd be a bit stiffer (or I may just do it on a plain old 3x5 card). It doesn't help me memorize, but it controls the chart a bit better. I particularly like the idea of putting the pattern notes on the back of my hand -- that'll get some attention from my students (who regularly write homework assignments on the backs of theirs; which could explain some of what they turn in to me). I'll keep you updated on whether anything suddenly clicks for me as I try out these new ideas (or whether I just go for the acceptance route, which might also be a learning experience).

I've been working away on Kauni; yesterday's three-hour meeting was certain a nice chunk of knitting time. I've only a few more inches to go before I can bind off the shoulders and cut the steeks (eek! do you think those rhyme on purpose?). I'm wondering whether it would be a bad idea for some reason to put the shoulder stitches on stitch holders while I cut and then to graft them together (my love of Kitchener strikes again). Would that make a weaker shoulder? Would a three-needle bind off be better? The pattern notes say to bind off and then seam, but I am not fond of seaming, and will avoid it when possible; with Kauni, I can see ways to avoid any seaming at all, but I'd love to hear any shoulder experience you all may have. Here it is:
Here's the neck steek. It'll be a v-neck, so I've been decreasing on both sides.
I don't think it'll be done in time to wear to Houston next weekend (I'm not sure the weather would be right for it anyway); I'm hoping to have the body finished and the steeks cut, though, since picking up and knitting the arms might be good travel knitting. It's either that or the Boudica socks, which are finally coming along nicely. I decided to do short-row heels, as I'd like to be entirely comfortable with doing those on toe-up socks (which these are) before learning another toe-up heel technique.

T's play-offs for soccer were today. They didn't advance to the finals (it's been a rough season), which made me sad for both her and Rick (it's his first year coaching). On the other hand, it does mean that they can come with me and K to Houston next weekend (we were waiting with bated breath to see whether we'd need to cancel their tickets -- thank goodness for Southwest's liberal policies!). I think we'll have time to visit NASA, which I'm looking forward to.

Tomorrow: reading and writing.


Stell said...

that steek is looking so ready, I'd do a three needle bind off, or cast of and kitchener the two bound off edges together, but I wouldn't do a kitchener finish on a shoulder seam. Shoulder seams take the weight of the entire garment and the sleeves, so without something like a bound off edge or a bit of tape sewn inside (or ribbon, seen in side quality tee shirts and commercial knits - go and look) they stretch front, back and to the sides, dragging the neck with them. I to love kitchener, and I have made this mistake, if you want an invisible finish, bind of and weave the front and back together over the bind off. Or three needle bind off from inside or out, depending on if you want a marked chain line inside or out. I don't do 3 needle, to me its to bulky and out of place in a sweater with no seams. Sorry to ramble, I'm just glad you can't hear my flat NZ accent, at the same time as read my bad grammar!

No ideas of remembering patterns, some just come easy, some are more complex and the little magnet thingie needs to be where you are. The sticks and string podcast man, David, makes a colour excel chart of each line, and then prints one line to a page, with 2 faded lines above and below the full strength colour version. Then he binds that into a book and takes that with him. Sounds awfully complex, but he is knitting alice starmore's henry 8th.

Tamara said...

Hi. I did a three-needle bindoff on the shoulders for my Kauni, and it worked perfectly. Yours looks great. At least it has cooled off enough around here now to wear it, even if only in the morning & evening!