Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This Old Dog Learns A New Trick

Ever hear the old saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"? I admit that always made me go "huh?!?!" until 2 weeks ago.

I decided that the process of knitting 2 socks at the same time on circular needles seemed like a really great idea. When I knit socks I always change the pattern in some way, shape or form. If I fail to document that change in detail I inevitably get to the second sock and go, "what the heck did I do?"

To knit 2 socks on circs is easier if you knit Continental Style. I have been knitting Scottish Style for 49 years. I am a thrower. I got Nenah Galati's instructional DvDs for Continental Knitting, Sock I and Sock II. I was determined to learn.

My struggles to re-learn everything I know about knitting is not in any way the fault of Nenah Galati. Her DvDs are clear, her instructions are very clear, her presentation is perfectly clear and she is very pleasant to learning to knit with a friend. I totally recommend these DvDs.

My struggles are entirely my own. I absolutely understood the technique. I picked up the needles. I will even admit that the long tail cast on is easier Continental Style. The knit stitch is easier Continental Style...the purl a royal pain Continental Style...but, again, that is not Nenah's fault.

I started to knit. I practiced the long tail cast on and picked it up fast. "Wow, this is cool, the rest should be a breeze!" WRONG!!! I tried to knit and my hands did not want to do it. My brain and my muscle memory wanted to throw not pick. Every single stitch required that I focus on that stitch and only that stitch. It was torture. I tried knitting a dishcloth. A dishcloth that I could normally knit in under 2 hours took me 4 DAYS. FOUR, count them, FOUR days to knit one dishcloth, garter stitch. I wanted to chuck it all in the trash and go back to my comfort zone and hide, but, I am an intelligent adult...not to mention of Scottish heritage, I come from a long line of very stubborn women (sorry Mom, Grandma and Granny, but its true, we could all teach stones to be stubborn). I was determined that I would not be defeated by something that small children can learn. So, I pulled together every scrap of stubborn perseverance I could manage and I stayed with it. My learning curve took nearly a full week. The first dishcloth took 4 days, the second one a day, the third one just 4 hours....I am on the fourth. I can knit almost as fast as Scottish style and I no longer have to focus on every singe stitch, although I still have to look at my knitting. I also noticed that I knit a lot tighter Continental Style. Scottish style I have to go down at least 2 needle sizes to get gauge. Continental Style I have to fight to get the stitches off the needle. I'll work on that.

I did it!! I learned a new trick. I can knit Continental Style! BUT, I still say that purling Continental Style is a pain...a real pain. I am going to have to work on that some more, too.

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks, but the dog has got to have some very powerful motivation.

DvD Review: I really like the instructional DvD's by Nenah Galati. I do recommend them. Her instructions and demonstrations are straight forward, clear and well presented. Her demeanor is very pleasant. What really impressed me was the out-takes from the first video where she was laughing at her own flubbs. She is the kind of lady I think would be my friend if I knew her in real life. Thank you Nenah.