Monday, March 10, 2008

Blasted different knitting techniques

I should don my flame-proof jacket for this one...

I was knitting at Knitch the other night and sitting next to Kim, the owner of Knitch, and she happened to mention Annie Modesitt to me. I'm not really sure who Annie Modesitt is, but I do know she's a Knitting Goddess and Most Definitely a Big Deal. In particular, Kim mentioned that Annie was going to be teaching a class on combination knitting. Since combination knitting was what I was accidentally doing recently, I was pretty intrigued that a class was being taught on what so many knitters had told me I was doing wrong, and I finally remembered to go check out the class description. (It was a busy weekend. And by "busy weekend," I mean "lots and lots of video games.")

This is not the knitting you are used to! Learn to knit using the Combination Method -- easy to learn and quick to execute, this method is a combination of the Western or German/American/English style of knitting and Eastern/Islamic knitting. Easier and quicker than traditional Western knitting, this method, creates a very even tension with less "rowing out" less wrist strain. If this method is different than how you've been taught, give it a try and you may discover a new love of knitting blooming! If you're a first time knitter - enjoy! You can master this right away!

So I'm reading this and going WAIT A SECOND!!! I was doing this wondrous technique and people kept telling me I was doing it wrong! And now I'm not even sure if I remember how to do it now that I know it's the best thing since sliced bread!

So now that I know that combination knitting is actually a totally acceptable way to knit (and a technique people will pay a lot of money to learn), I'm determined to learn the tricks I need to know to use it. I was already planning to use it for dishcloths and such, but I'm going to figure out how to do the increases and decreases (which I haven't actually learned in any style yet because StringTheory2.0 believes in getting the basics down first) too. I really like combination knitting, for the simple reason that when you're combination knitting, purling doesn't suck.

I know that all the advice came from a place of good intentions, but I just wish someone had taken a minute to explain what combination knitting was (though in all fairness, Nell did explain about the orientation of stitches and how it would be problematic when I started trying to follow patterns) and how it wasn't necessarily wrong per se. I wonder if some people didn't think I knew anything about different knitting styles? I know I'm just a crocheter, but give me a little credit. Isn't it counterproductive to say "knitting must be done this way!" when everyone already knows about variations -- i.e., English vs. continental? A couple of people even implied the person teaching me didn't know what she was talking about, which really made me see red.

Maybe it's just that as far as I know, there's only one way to crochet, but I've never seen this behavior from crocheters. The most you'll get is a "oh, you hold the hook differently than I do," and half the time that's said because the speaker is considering trying that hold herself. One person (and I will not say who, other than to say it's absolutely not me and it's a knitter) surmised that maybe crocheters are generally nicer than knitters. I'm not making it up, folks, just reporting what I'm told.

Also, is it just me, or do some knitters seem to subscribe to a "it's not a real technique until one of the Knitting Goddesses approves it" theory? That doesn't seem to happen in crochet, maybe because we don't really have Crochet Goddesses. Except people who can crochet really fast, we like those.


Gotta Knit! said...

This is what happened to Annie Modisett and your story is how she starts the Combo class. I was already knitting about 85% combo when I took her class. I'll be happy to show what I know. Nell is correct in that depending on how you want your decreases to slant you have to change what you are doing. I flip all over the place and haven't had a problem

Combo knitting to me is more logical or at least to my fingers it is and it is SOOOOOOOO much faster.

Take her class, you will have a blast. She is an excellent instructor and very funny.

The best advice I ever got was from Annie which is "just make your stitches happy". Everything clicked after that.

Seriously, I'll be happy to show you my combo knitting style that I got from her but you will get more if you take her class.

Also Annie's cabling without a needle totally rocks too.

Anonymous said...

Not all knitters know about different styles of knitting. My Mom taught me English and I had never seen anyone knit Continental until a few years ago. The only reason I know about Combination is from the internet. When people have told me I am doing something wrong I say "this is how my mother taught me" and they just leave me alone.

String Theory Blog said...

As the one who accidentally taught you combination knitting, I feel sort of badly. And maybe try to come at this from the P.O.V. of people are just trying to help, tho' I find tone can play a large role in these things . . . . I learned throwing, or English, style when I was a kid from my mother and grandmother. (My mom actually knits in a way I believe is French - it's very labor intensive and I modified my throwing to be faster). I was then shown, once, how to knit European style in high school. I dragged it out from memory and didn't do any research, but I guess I could get money to teach this? I too cable without a needle, something else I taught myself in high school because I'm a slob and can never find the dang cable needle AND because I'm a speed addict.
Anyway, there are many different ways to knit, tension your yarn, etc., but the basic point is the same, loops pulled up through loops. There are at least 5 ways to increase and decrease (each) that I know of, so I have to think that there must be some way(s) to inc. and dec. in combination knitting that will work.

Stephanie said...

I never knew that there were these "attitudes" about knitting vrs. crochet, until I joined online communities, and started reading blogs.....up until recently I'd been blissfully unaware that people look down their nose at things such as you describe.....I'd just been happily crocheting things for my daughter, and getting loads of compliments on them, and being asked "WHO MADE THAT FOR HER?? oh! YOU did??? WOW!!! I wish I could crochet....."
It's very very interesting to me to learn of this stuff, since I have NO friends IRL who crochet OR knit, just online friends.....I think that both crafts, and all techniques are equally fabulous. the end. haha.
I just think that these "attitudes" are sooooo jr. high-ish....and why can't we all just get along and admire each other's work????!!!

Anyhoo, you rock and yoru combo knitting is awesome. the end.
ok, really, the end this time!

DeuceMom said...

This idea of combo knitting being quick and easy actually makes me want to try knitting, as opposed to the faces, which make me want to not knit! You're very brave and I'm enjoying watching you venture into this (for me) uncharted territory.

PlazaJen said...

I'm a combination knitter. I'm proud. It's like being bisexual. You're half-accepted, half-feared. (I dunno, I'm making it up here.) But I have had people I've taught to knit come back and tell me they've been yelled at, told they were doing it wrong, whatever. I actually do a sloppy purl if it isn't going to matter, and knit through the back loop, and it's a-ok; if I'm doing lace or something where there'll be loads of "standard" decreases that need to point a certain way, I adjust my purling to the slightly longer, more arduous method, and suck it up. If you decide you :heart: fair isle and start knitting it in the round? Your combination skillz will be the envy of those who would cast aspersions on you. Let's rumble, sister, I'm ready to take on the naysayers. :)

Ruby said...

There are lots of ways to do things in knitting, some ways are better than others that's all.

The only thing people ever comment on is the fact that I knit English style instead of Continental. It seems to really bother some people and they keep trying to help me knit faster by trying to explain to me that I need to knit Continental style. Whatever! I thank them and just keep throwing my yarn. It's what's comfortable to me and I get lots of compliments on my finished products.

katerina said...

I think it most closely relates to how a crocheter holds their hook and whether you "grab" the yarn with your hook or "wrap" the yarn around your hook and pull through. I'm a grabber and an combo-knitter, and I think the two go together.
I also dont' think it's teh "knitting goddess has to say so" but more the knitters didn't know it was so until someone told them.
just my 2 cents