October 30, 2007
More and more often, we are hearing about how effective knitting is in relieving stress. The last statement I read quoted a university study saying that for stress relief, knitting is as effective as yoga . My personal experience has been that a day without knitting is like a day without sunshine. Two days without knitting and I am feeling pretty ency. Three days without knitting, well, that just doesn't happen.
There are several schools of thought in regard to what about knitting is so calming. Some claim that it is the silent chanting of stitch counting, while others feel it is the rhythmic clicking of the needles. Many say that the tactile pleasure of yarn in hand does it for them, but for me, it is the Zen like semi-trance of repetition, creating the same pattern over and over until it is second nature. Whatever your theory, the end result is the same. Knitting is therapeutic.
So, are you ready to give this stress relieving activity a go? I suggest that first you find a pattern with little or no shaping, depending on your skill level. Choose a pattern from a reliable source, as this is no time to have to deal with someone else's mistakes. A scarf, or my favorite, a throw, in an easy stitch pattern are perfect projects for this activity. There is nothing Zen about having to rip out rows and rows of a complex stitch pattern, so for this project remember the kiss principal, keep it simple. Next choose a yarn in a fiber you love, something that not only delights your eye, but also your hands. Every time I knit with alpaca, I get a little closer to heaven on earth. And finally, make sure you make your gauge swatch, for there is nothing more stressful than finishing or even half finishing a project, only to find the item unsatisfactory, even unusable, because of neglecting to swatch.
Many knitters add the guilty pleasure of TV to their repetitive knitting. Law and Order is a knitting favorite, though Oprah is another good choice. I see all of these podcasts popping up, but I must confess, I prefer my TIVO. For some, a favorite tune makes their needles sing, while others prefer golden silence. Whatever your choice of accompaniment, knitting is wonderful therapy, with the esteem building bonus of creating needle art.
Copyright 2007 Karen Mather
October 20, 2007
Welcome friends, to the first installment of Kay's Korner, the new blog for Rare Purls.
Lately, I have read several articles on yarn substitution, a task knitters must learn unless they are willing to limit their needle art to using the yarn given on a pattern. There are many reasons to substitute a different yarn for a project, yarn cost and availability probably being the most common. Also, one may want to change to a different fiber for comfort, to accommodate allergy, or to change the look of the finished project. Sometimes, I find myself trolling through my yarn stash and come across a bag of yummy yarn, just waiting for a great pattern. Rarely do I find a pattern specifying that yarn, but I always find a pattern where my find will substitute nicely.
The first step in substitution is to use yarns of like weights. The terms fingering, dk (double knitting,)sport weight, worsted weight, bulky, and super bulky are helpful in this step. These terms are merely rules of thumb, not precise measurements. By far, the best way to compare yarns for substitution is to compare the "wraps per inch" or "wpi" of the yarns. Although there are gizmos sold to measure this, you can make your own out of any dowel, from a pencil to an old knitting needle by placing two marks on the shaft, one inch apart. I like to make a groove to hold the first wrap of yarn. Remember, you can at times combine yarns, carrying 2 - 3 together to obtain a heavier weight yarn.
Next check the number of yards or meters per 50 grams. Once, I was in a local yarn shop when I overheard a sales woman advising a customer to substitute yarns gram for gram. I just had to speak up! Fifty grams of sport weight cotton, for example, will not contain the same number of yards as fifty grams of an acrylic/wool blend. So your second step is to calculate the number of yards required for the project. For example, if a sweater calls for (10) 50 gram balls of yarn that measure 75 yards per ball, you are going to need approximately 750 yards of the substitute yarn of the same weight.
Kay's needles this week are busy on Elsebeth Lavold's "Happy" from her Sunny Side Collection in book eleven. I am making it in the Hempathy version, a delightful yarn composed of hemp, cotton, and modal, a fiber that comes from trees. The stripes, which I made in colors golden, mild green, and sunflower, do look happy, although a friend thinks I am quite brave to be planning on wearing horizontal stripes with my figure. (I love an honest friend, but am not changing my mind about "Happy.")
Copyright 2007 Karen Mather