Saturday, 7 November 2009

Is there a pattern for it?

We are looking at a plain garter stitch scarf. You cast on 10 sts and then you just - knit. Nothing else. But some people still need a pattern. The scarf looks different because of the yarn. It is made out of rainbow coloured yarn that looks like rope.
Remember when you made yards and yards (now metres and metres) of 'snake' or 'rope' or something like that at school. You did it with a wooden cotton reel (now sadly not to be found except in an opportunity shop which does not realise the value of such things). There were four nails in the top. You wound the yarn round each nail and then pulled the loop underneath that yarn over the top to make each stitch. That was done with a bobby pin (hair grip) and it was all painfully slow. It is called, depending on where you live, French knitting, tomboy stitch, i-cord (and sometimes idiot cord) and sometimes it is done with a "knitting Nancy". There are now little machines that will do it - I believe the Barbie doll people once put one out and there have been other versions since. They are designed to drive parents mad - what do you do with the long lines produced. Why on earth would they actually manufacture the wretched stuff ? It is not cheap.
Well, you knit it. There is the scarf. It is proof. There is also a vest. You could knit that in an evening too. I am not sure they are practical or comfortable but it is fashion and who said fashion was comfortable? So, the buyer needs a pattern. I dictate it to her on the spot. "You cast on ten stitches. You knit each row. When you get to the end of the yarn you cast off. You need to use these needles (20mm for those of you who are technically minded) and make sure you keep the edge stitches straight by giving it a gentle tug like this." I demonstrate. The knitter smiles, pays my fellow conspirator, and heads off saying to her friend, "I'd never be able to write a pattern like that."
It makes me wonder about patterns rather than the person. Is there an unnecessary mystique about these things? There are lace patterns of immense complexity - tablecloths where no two pattern rounds are the same. They deserve to be revered. I doubt I could contemplate creating one. Many patterns, while a little more complex than the 'pattern' I gave the knitter, are really not complicated at all. The language is a little different but so is the language of many instructions - not to mention the difference between English (also used in Australia) instructions and American instructions and differences in knitting styles English vs Continental etc.
Oh, no wonder some people are confused and we all need instructions for some things. I am not going to laugh at that knitter. She is knitting. She is going to make something. She will be able to say. "I made it." That is what matters.


Rachel Fenton said...

I cannot follow patterns - I have tried! Again and again. I can, however, knit, and french knit (cotton bobbin with four pins in the top and a pin/crocheting hook for pulling the loops over the pins), and I can make a basic lace, and I can crochet, and I can make lace cuffs and collars fro dolls clothes and tiny little flowers, but beyond these, and any larger, all I can make are scarves and rectangles and circles (not jersey shapes or mittens with thumbs), I make scarves and sew rectangles into bags. If I could be shown (ie watch another person knitting more complicated things whilst describing the process) I could learn more, alas time (for now) and a lack of my grandmother (who could knit anything) means I will have to make do with scarves, for now.

I reckon I could make one mitten - but it's the getting two to match that's the problem!

catdownunder said...

Never mind! There are some great patterns which are nothing more than rectangles or squares of something equally simple! (There's a great book called Kimono Style - and there is always 'scrumbling' which breaks all the rules you ever managed to learn about anything.) There is also some yarn (made by Noro) on one of the stalls which is made like French would be like knitting with rope and it is expensive but the vest made from it has caused a lot of interest! We will get you there Rachel!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks! Kimono style sounds very me!