On Giants' Shoulders

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Right Tools For the Job -Unexpected

I started working on a baby blanket this week. The pattern is similar, although not quite identical to the one that Aunt Drucilla made for my first baby so I was excited to begin it. I got the first twelve rows (all ribbing) done and started on the pattern. Here's where the problems began.I had a hard time knitting two together across the row with the metal needles I was using, but I did manage it. On the next row where it was knit in the front and back of each stitch it seemed to be going ok, but obviously at some point I dropped one of the stitches because when I finally got to the purl across row two patterns later I only had 171 stitches instead of 172. So I had to ravel back and start over again. I got up about two rows again and caught the needle in the belt loop of my blue jeans pulling a bunch of stitches off (obviously these are very LONG needles). I pondered whether people should knit with long needles while wering pants with belt loops. Then I sighed and raveled back again (only to the ribbing of course, it's easy to pick up stitches at that point). I got about 3 patterns up when my stitch count was off again, this time I only had to tink back about a row and a half to find the problem because I was counting a LOT more frequently. I tried to decide what the biggest problem was and I realized that my problems were actually twofold. First these needles were so slick that the stitches slid off way too easily and secondly it was more difficult to manipulate that knit front and back thing and the knit two together thing than I wanted.

Eureka! In my knitting needle collection I had these ugly plastic needles. They were old, came from my mom, and looked vaguely like the very first needles I ever knit with some 50+ years ago (may have even been the first needles I ever knit with). They weren't as slick as the metal ones so might provide just a little resistance to slippery stitches. They were just a tiny bit flexible which would make manipulating stitches just a bit easier. I was right! They work. The blanket is now beginning to take shape. There's a long way to go. I've only knit 3 inches and it's supposed to be 34 inches long when I finish, but it's finally going easily instead of with frustration every other row.

There are lots of old tools out there that people have rejected for being not pretty, old fashioned, not modern enough. Perhaps it's time to dust them off and see if perhaps they actually fit the job you're doing better than some of the shinier, newer options. You might just be surprised.

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