Monday, August 13, 2007

In which the Tilted Duster teaches me to be a better knitter

Like many knitters I have dreaded the task of finishing. Not the "having a FO" aspect of finishing but the physical "weaving in ends and sewing pieces together" aspect of finishing. So after I finished the second sleeve this weekend (OK, actually the third. I have to frog the first sleeve I knit because the gauge is WAY off), I got to the portion of the Tilted Duster pattern that calls for you to sew the front and back pieces together before picking up stitches for the skirt. I had to take a deep breath when I read that, because this is what I was dealing with:

Lots of pieces!

So I got out my trusty copy of Stitch n' Bitch (which right now I consider the best money I ever spent on a knitting book). I just have to say, "Thank you, Deb Stoller." Despite comments like the one in this article (in which you do knitters no service with the baseball-loving community), you are quickly showing me that I am an idiot when I do not do things the right way and think that my made-up techniques are sufficient.

This project has turned into a learning process for me, in the best sense. So far I have learned:
  • a new (and far superior) cast-on method. I've been using the same method I learned seven years ago when I first learned how to knit! It's amazing to me what a difference doing the thing properly can make, although I guess I really should not be all that surprised
  • how to properly sew pieces together using mattress stitch
  • how to pick up stitches

Yes, you read that correctly. I've never actually picked up stitches. I guess I've done some sort of rudimentary picking up of live stitches when I've ripped back a few rows on a project, but I've never really done it while following instructions on the right way to do it without messing things up. Granted, it's not a monumental difference between them, but just knowing that I'm doing it properly I think will help me tremendously. And while shortcuts are all well and good, it's nice to know that I've done everything I can to make sure that a project turns out looking the way I intended.

Mattress stitch join at sides

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera in to work today, so pics of the constructed piece will have to wait until tomorrow (Update: Pics now added!). I still love this project. Picking up the stitches for the skirt was awesome, but it also means that this project will soon lose the portability factor that made it such great subway knitting. Whatever, it kicks ass.

Sewn and ready to go!
Oh yeah, and I've taken to calling the Duster "Big Red" because that's what it is.