Friday, February 10, 2006

Angora yarn and knitting for kids

My friend Erin, who also gave me the Koigu I'm using for the mitts, sent me a skein of her millspun 85% German angora/15% Merino sportweight. I had wanted to buy some at the last fair we were at together, but she sold out instantly! Now I know why.

This stuff is beautiful, soft, good hand, consistently spun, and a great shade of white (someday I'll post a photo of a game board I wove with 11 shades of white beads). My mind fills with pattern ideas when I hold the skein. The lustre is incredible; the skein glows like the moon.

Everyone should go over to Rhonna's blog and read this post about de Quervain's, a repetitive motion injury. She has great photos and very important information. Knowledge is power -- if you're well-informed, you can knit (and type) with only positive results!

Here are a couple of shots of the right mitt in progress, showing the thumb and hand stitches on yarn holders, the needles positioned to make shaping and trying on quick and easy. I'm setting it up so you can get both mitts from one 50-gram skein. I might not finish right away since the olympics start today.

Lise posted about her little one knitting. Around age 2 they'll mimic perfectly and often get quite a few rows knit, beads strung, or picks woven. Between 3 and 4 they start thinking about what they're doing and question everything and thus it's all a little harder. Doubt is a wicked thing.

As I've written before, I'm a huge fan of tandem knitting and courtesy rows. I am totally into stress-free knitting. Tandem knitting is 4-handed knitting. Sit facing each other and let her choose whether she wants to start with the needles or the yarn. Switch if she gets stuck or frustrated, talk her through each step, knit a bit for her (it's just knitting backwards), and pretty soon she'll be doing everything herself.

Stephanie blogged about courtesy rows and my daughter was an instant convert, "Mom, please???" She does the planning and design, knits a few rows, then I knit a few, back and forth until the project is done. If it gets to be a slog, I'll knit enough to make it look different (turn a heel, for instance), then she's eager to work on the project again. One of the results is she's ended up knitting far more elaborate and interesting projects and increased her skill level radically.

For uncertain knitters or kids with minimal fine coordination, make pompoms or knot some netting (cotton twine market bags) just to get more comfy with yarn. I always have a pompom station set up at knitting club. Mental knitting is good, too. Make a design station with some old knitting magazines and yarn catalogs, scissors, glue stick, graph paper, a sketch pad, and color pencils. If the person is especially shy, have him design something for a friend (or his dog!). You can discuss why you'd start knitting at the bottom (or top), what kinds of yarns would work best (clip them out of the catalog and glue!), which needles, etc.

Should I post a quickie pompom tutorial or can someone post a link to one?