Friday, 1 November 2013
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Have you ever tried knitting with a comb? Craftster member Mieljolie has, and the results aren't bad. She details the process here.
If you'd like to see a demonstration, YouTube user Theanswerladyknits has created a comprehensive video showing how she knits on a dollar store comb and demonstrating several different stitches. Comb knitting looks too limited and slow to interest me, but it does look like an excellent project to do with children — it's easy, it will give them a sense of the general knitting process, and they can have fun making simple scarves for themselves.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
I suppose it was inevitable, with my having done a post on arm knitting, that I would do a post on finger knitting. The video above clearly demonstrates how it's done. It's a fun and quirky but limited form of knitting: you can only use as many stitches per row as you have fingers, the gauge will be determined by the circumference of your fingers, and the result is inevitably a loopy chain. The question will then be, what will you do with your loopy chain?
I did some googling to find some good finger-knitting project ideas, and to be honest, I hated almost everything I saw. But as with most craft projects, bad results are usually a failure of execution rather than technique, even when as with in this case, the technique is a limited one. I do quite like the wreath above. You can find instructions for making it on Flax & Twine.
I like this cushion cover idea as well. Design Sponge has instructions for making it.
One blogger crocheted her finger knit chain together to make a rug. [Update: The blog this photo came from no longer exists.]
It's also possible to make a finger knit cowl, as this Etsy seller has done. I'm not a fan of the rope cowl, but that's just my personal preference. They can look quite good given the use of the right yarn and when worn with the right outfit, and they're definitely a trend.
The other use I see for finger knitting is as a kid's craft. It might be a good way to introduce children (or, er, adults for that matter) to the concept of knitting, and at any rate it's easy and a lot of children would enjoy making bracelets or headbands for themselves or (with some adult assistance) a cushion for their beds or whatever else they can come up with. Give them leftover balls of yarn and let them go nuts.
Incidentally, I'm hoping not to find myself ever doing a post on toe knitting, but heaven knows researching and writing for this blog has already led me down some strange Google rabbit holes, so it's best not to tempt fate by making any declarations either way.
Thursday, 31 January 2013
This is an old Family Circle ad from 1974 for a child's Knit Magic knitting machine.
And apparently a child can make all these items with a Knit Magic. I'm skeptical, to say the least. As well as somewhat aghast by the sheer aggressive ugliness of most of those items. Why on earth were seventies crafts just so horrible? It seems to be largely because of the ugly shades acrylics were dyed at that time, but the designs are often cracked-out too.
It's still possible to buy a child's knitting machine. Singer makes one, there's a Hello Kitty knitting machine, and Mattel makes a Barbie knitting machine. You could probably even score your very own vintage Knit Magic on eBay if you searched long enough. But I wouldn't recommend it. The online reviews of child's knitting machines that I came across on Amazon and other places while researching this post were unenthusiastic and qualified at best. People were saying that the stitches constantly slipped off the hooks, that working the machine could be an extremely frustrating and tricky process that was hard for even an adult to learn, and that the plastic gears wore out by the time they made a third item. And another problem I have with toy knitting machines is that they're mostly pink and otherwise targeted exclusively at girls, which will discourage boys and boys' parents from even thinking of knitting machines as a boy's toy, and by extension, knitting as a boy's activity.
My shopping experience has been that cheap special-purpose gadgets are generally not worth the money. They never work anything close to as easily or as well as their advertisements make them appear, and just end up taking up space in the cupboard. Or are donated to a thrift shop, and then bought by someone else who will also be disappointed in them and stick them in their cupboards. You see this principle manifested most often in cooking equipment. As any good cook will tell you, a good quality set of sharp knives will take you a long way. Hey, just look at David Duchovny's experience with the Chop-O-Matic.
Children's craft kits are a subset of the cheap gadget category. Those big, colourful boxes often hold just a few, poor quality items, such as plastic needles and small amounts of horrible acrylic yarn and plastic beads with badly drilled holes and the coating already flaking off them. You'll pay a premium price for that kit, and if you think about how frustrating it is for you to work with poor materials, just think how much harder it will be for your child, when she or he doesn't have the experience or patience or finer motor skills that you do.
So I'd avoid trying to entice children to take an interest in crafting, or in anything for that matter, by buying expensive novelty items, and instead give them less exciting but decent quality materials and tools to work with, invest the time teaching them the necessary skills, and/or enroll them in a school knitting program where they can have fun learning with their friends. If the child really wants a knitting machine, I'd buy her or him a very basic, good quality machine intended for adults, secondhand if possible. Then, if the child uses the knitting machine like an obsessed little prodigy or even just regularly and with enjoyment, I'd get him or her a better model some Christmas or birthday down the road. Alternatively, if it turns out that the child doesn't ever use the basic machine, I could use it myself, or sell it or give it away to someone who will.
When I was six I started asking my mother to teach me to knit. She'd told me she learned to knit when she was six so I figured I could learn at that age too, but she told me I wasn't old enough. I spent the next two years begging her to teach me, and she kept putting me off. She told me later that she dreaded teaching me because of my temperament — I was basically pure id as a child — and she postponed the evil day for as long as she could stand to have me pestering her about it. (This wasn't unjustified — some of her collection of knitting needles are still slightly bent from being flung across the room.)
I still remember the moment of utter joy I experienced when, one summer day when I was eight years old, she finally told me, "All right, go get some needles and yarn." I learned to knit with a pair of double-pointed needles and some remnants of pink Aran yarn. Genuine interest and natural ability can't be bought, but always manifest themselves if given a reasonable opportunity.