Learning New Techniques

I worked on mittens last weekend. Remember that “blue project” that you could see by my chair on Friday’s blog? It turned into this mitten (Flocked Mittens by Adrian Bizilia) and I love it.  Since it has floats inside, it is basically double thick. There are directions to knit a lining to cover up all of the floats, but I opted not to do the lining because it’s already so warm and thick. I did see the designer on Ravelry suggest that all mittens should be made larger than necessary and then lined with cashmere, and I thought that was a brilliant idea!  At least for those who live in really really cold climates. I knit this with Spud and Chloe Sweater (colors Barn and Waterslide) just because when those two new colors came in a couple of weeks ago, I was instantly smitten.

Being new to colorwork, this isn’t the best looking knitting up close. I’m still working on getting my tension even with two-handed knitting, and feeling like I’m not all thumbs as I go along. The good thing is that I was motivated to jump right into the second mitten immediately, because I want it to be similar looking, before I get much better at colorwork. I have done one single mitt in colorwork before, but that’s it. I keep seeing great colorwork patterns and thinking I want to get better at it, so that I can make some of these up. On this pattern, I love the picot edge and the unique braid around the bottom. Now that I’ve tried it with worsted weight, I think I’m ready for fingering weight and have already pulled 7 colors from The Loopy Ewe Solid Series for my next colorwork project. I’ll keep you posted!

So that leads me to a question. I know that many of us knit for relaxation. Do you also feel a need to push yourself to learn new techniques and try out different kinds of patterns? Or does that take the “relaxation” out of it, and you’re happy with your knitting, just the way it is. I was a pretty single-minded sock knitter for a long time. I think any new techniques I tried were all within the confines of socks. But gradually I branched into mitts, cowls, sweaters, small shawls, and blankets. Now I am curious about colorwork. I still have the no-brainer knitting projects for when I am tired at night and don’t feel like paying too much attention to what I’m doing. But I also like trying something new and moving forward in what I know. (That’s always good for your brain!) So my question – are you happy with what you already know, or are there other techniques or pattern types that you want to try out? Is there something that you know you’d never want to try? For me, I want to get better at colorwork and I want to try incorporating beads into my knitting. What I don’t want to do is to knit with fine laceweight. The projects are beautiful, but I think it’s too fiddly for me. No desire to work with that. And I also don’t want to knit large shawls, simply because I don’t wear them. I love my Girasole, but it sits along the back of one of our couches, for use as a throw. How about you?

Sheri suchawordyposttoday.I’lldomorepictureslesswordsonFriday!


  1. I want to learn a few new things too — entrelac, brioche stitch and fair isle are at the top of the list right now. I always thought that lace weight would be too fiddly too, but was smitten last summer by Wendy Johnson’s pi shawl. And the only yarn I had on hand at the time with enough yardage was laceweight. So I gave it a shot and loved it! Needless to say, my laceweight stash is growing.

  2. Gorgeous mittens!

    I love to learn new things and I get bored pretty easily, so a lot of my knitting has been about pushing myself to master new techniques. The finished items don’t always looks great. Recently I’ve become more of a “product knitter” instead of a “process knitter” and this has forced me to tackle easier projects and really focus on making them as perfect as I can.

  3. I have several projects on my list of “Never Again” and they are there because I didn’t enjoy making them. I have done fair isle, intarsia and entrelac but mainly like lace and/or cables. A couple of the patterns I’ve finished in the last two years were only completed so I could say I made them and didn’t rip them out. Guess I’m stubborn.

    I’m one of those people who does not like to knit scarves. I abhor garter stitch and will pick patterns on whether they are garter or stockinette. I’ve made several BSJs but didn’t finish them as fast as I should have because of the pesky garter stitch. I love lace and cables. I’m obsessed with socks. I have at least two pairs going at any time: a “follow the chart/pattern” pair that stays home and a “traveling pair” that is left in my purse. Sometimes more but never less. I usually have a large lace pattern going too: I made a Pi Shawl and wear it but . . . because of having to block it on the floor, I will probably never make another one.

  4. Since I teach knitting and work at LYS, I constantly try new techniques. Even if I don’t prefer or use them, I need to be able to teach them or to help others with them. Almost daily we have customers who need help with a pattern, technique etc. That being said I think I’ll go strand.

  5. I do knit for relaxation and if I am not enjoying it, I will stop knitting it. I do have one UFO that I do want to pull out and finish up. It’s the Silk Diamond Scarf and I took a class on it a few years ago but never worked on it again. I do want to try Entrelac again, took a class (or two can’t remember) but never made anything. The one thing I don’t want to do again is Steek. I love lace knitting but don’t wear any of the shawls I have made. This year, I want to make at least one sweater for me.

  6. My primary reason for knitting is relaxation. It works. I have mindless projects perfect for TV knitting, as well as my concentration needed projects.

    For every project I have challenged myself to something different. First it was trying DPN’s….then circulars, then lace knitting learning YO’s, to increasing triangle shawl, tank tops, 3 way bind off, now to cables…

    Next on the list is a top down sweater.

  7. Yes, I’m intrigued by new techniques all the time, and like to try something new to me for most of my projects. At least a new pattern, even if not a new technique. Although the tried and true are what is needed sometimes!

    Colorwork is on the list; I’ve done a very small bit, but not much in stranded.

    I saw your post on Ravelry — Wendy Johnson is also a great help with colorwork!

  8. What a lovely mitten! It makes me want to try colorwork. I’m mostly happy with what I want to knit at the moment and then learn techniques as I want to do some specific project. I have to have the relaxation knitting and the purse sock to carry around, but I do need to have some challenge at times.

    BTW, thanks for the snow that I requested last Friday. It has been snowing for a couple of hours now and has a few more to go. It will be interesting to see what we end up with and how long it will take this area to dig out.

  9. are you happy with what you already know,
    I am self taught, so that would be NO…I wing it. and things don’t turn out so well at times, I feel like I have wasted time if it gets frogged or thrown in a sack of doom.

    or are there other techniques or pattern types that you want to try out?
    I want to try doubleknit and maybe the knitonebelow …but how would you ever correct a mistake in that?…yikes! No lace, and maybe someday steeks – the cutting is scarey, but I understand the process of why.

    Is there something that you know you’d never want to try?
    crochet…don’t get it….making a coat , skirt or dress..too much fitting.

  10. I think most people are naturally driven to learn something new – even if it’s really simple like a new way to increase. A year ago, I totally thought that I would never, ever want to try steeks, but now, I’m thinking that someday, I might want to. I’ve done colorwork in hats, and Christmas stockings, but I’m thinking that I might want to try mittens soon! 🙂

  11. I feel like such a dullard! I’ve been knitting for years, and I’ve tried it all–intricate cables, lace and fair isle. The only thing I really hated was intarsia. That was truly drudgery for me. Now, though, I’m happy with the “boring” knitting–plain vanilla socks, simple lace shawls and scarves. I love stockinette and garter stitch!

    I’m retired now and love being able to knit as much as I want, but no complicated socks or lace patterns for me. They’re beautiful, and I really admire those who knit them, but give me the easy stuff!

    My best friend, who’s been knitting longer than I have, used to knit incredibly beautiful fair isle and intarsia sweaters for a local children’s boutique. Now we laugh about the fact that we only knit plain socks!

  12. I like something simple for when I’m visiting or watching a really good movie, but I also like to keep something challenging. I’ve got an Aran sweater going, and just took a class to learn brioche. It keeps things interesting and I love to be able to look in the pattern books and at least have tried many of the techniques in use today.

  13. ‘Regular’ knitting is great for certain times, and challenging work is good for others. I find that simple stuff can quickly become tedious. Challenging can be frustrating. A little of both is good. Whether it is in one piece of knitting or separate projects to alternate the stress level. I doubt I will ever knit the same thing twice.

  14. Colorwork is something I started learning last year. Also I began a sweater for myself this month (Cabin Fever Patterns are top down as all one piece…I hate seaming). Socks are my very favorite things I have socks in my purse, car, office, brief case…everywhere. I love instant gratification. I really want to branch out and work some difficult patterns this year. I also discovered a wonderful baby blanket last year that makes up very fast (a couple weeks) that I’m in love with and have already made several as gifts. I’m adapting the pattern as a summer shawl for myself. I have 6 or 7 members in my groups working on it also. Very popular!

  15. I love relaxing with my knitting but I always have several projects going at once. I try to have at least one be a more “mindless” knit (that can be thrown in the purse or knit on when I am tired). The rest involve more complicated patterns, shaping, learning new techniques, etc. I am not one to learn something and then let it be. I always have to learn more, do it better, or in the case of knitting – make all those new patterns that keep coming out!

  16. I like the details. The technical details, like having the exact perfect increase or decrease, and having it match, using the best CO/BO (again, matching!) for whatever it is I’m making, having nice edges, weaving things in as I go along so I don’t have to do it later, and so on. As such, I like to learn new techniques and tricks to get my knitting looking its best to get more of the “oh, you *knit* that!?” than the “you knit that, didn’t you?” reactions.

    I also just like new techniques and prefer to use the best technique to get whatever it is I want out of a project, whether it’s entrelac, steeking (which I’ve yet to do…), crochet, Tunisian crochet, double knitting, Fair Isle, intarsia, or…well, you get it. This year is the year of illusion knitting for me, nearly all of my Christmas presents will be illusion knits, one designed from a photograph (I hope).

  17. I love all aspects of knitting – the mindless generic socks and the more intricate ones. But I also enjoy learning new techniques. I have to choose that time carefully, as I need large blocks of time with minimal distraction amd outside stress. I usually have two socks going at the same time, one generic, one patterened,and also another project. Presently I am finishing up a wrap I started when sitting with my mother-in-law when she was in the hospital. I had been working on a lace shawl, but that was too complex to finish in a hospital setting. The wrap has an eight row repeat,which is nice. I’ll finish the lace shawl after the wrap is done. Then I want to knit a replacement christening gown. The first was for my now thirteen year-old granddaughter. Her mother loaned the gown out and it was stored in an attic and became moth eaten. One of those times yoy just have to say, “No one’s life was changed.” and then go on. But it has been on my mind to get started on it.

  18. I think I may be a “bi-polar” knitter. Sometimes i want to just knit what I know and stay very relaxed, but other times I want the challenge of something new.

  19. I am always interested in learning new techniques. I taught myself to knit and I love learning new things from either online or from a book. Thats something that is really amazing about knitting, you should never get bored because there is always something you havent tried yet.

  20. I think learning is one of the great joys of life! And knitting provides me with so many opportunities for that! Of course having so many projects on needles at the same time also provides my comfort knitting along with more challenging projects. At any given time there are 2 sweaters, several scarves, a couple of lace shawls and many socks laying in wait for me. I have a knitting buddy and we spur each other’s interest to try new techniques.

  21. I am part of Susan Anderson’s Spud and Chloe Camp Hoodie KAL right now, so there is your answer! I want to become better at colorwork. I am having a few problems with tension myself, but I feel if I continue to practice–I have a couple of mitten projects I would like to tackle, and mittens will be a first, too–I will get better. I always want to try new things and have mastered most–well, I can’t figure out magic loop!!!

  22. I have a very long list of things I want to learn so I can make all the things I want to make. But…I do knit to relax and when I’m trying to relax, I pick up simple knitting. Things like easy shawls or vanilla socks or hats.

    But I want to learn fancy lace work, and color work and different cast-ons and those things take focus and tend to make me tense. So I choose certain times to work on “new” things and stretch myself.

  23. In every new project I like to have some new technique, yarn, pattern feature or other variation to keep it interesting. Even the relaxing knitting has some new aspect in each project. Keeps it all fresh and interesting!

  24. Sheri!
    I’m totally in love with that mitten design! Part of my tatoo is a scroll type border so it feels like i should do something like yours in my lifetime… As for knitting skills and trying new things… Sock knitting is next on my list. My MIL and I have a pattern we’re going to try together. I’m afraid of DPN’s… lol
    I’ve accomplished a fair amount of hats in the last few months so I’m comfortable with that. I have only completed mini sweater ornaments, prayer shawls, scarves, mostly one- or 2-color items. I ddin’t know that colorway was the name for the pretty knitting you showed us! : ) Lots of things for me to learn. Right now I’m working on a baby blanket for my friend who’s having twins. I aim to learn how to knit a sweater for my husband and I think eventually one for myself also.
    Keep sharing all these good tips with us! : )
    Have a good day

  25. I like a challenge. Knitting serves many purposes for me — I have easy, relaxing projects for when my hands need something to do while the rest of me focuses on something else, and I have challenging projects that push me to the limit. It’s so satisfying to rise to a challenge that I get just as much happiness out of difficult knitting as I do out of simple knitting.

  26. I always push myself.
    The challenge is to get GOOD at a technique before I flit off to something else.
    I agree about the mitten-get the other one done before you change up the tensioning, etc. I have frogged a few socks because I could not get the second one to look like the first.
    Those mitten colors are exceptional. I don’t think the reverse would have had as much impact.

    I do have a project or two that are purely relaxing for evening knit/crochet.

  27. I am never satisfied with what I already know when it comes to knitting. I have picked projects based solely on what I can learn from the pattern (entrelac), because I needed to know how to do entrelac so that I can knit another project in my Ravelry queue. That’s going fairly well.

    But I yearn to do a fair isle sweater and intarsia knitting. I even took a class in fair isle knitting, and I will eventually put it to use in a sweater for myself. I want to be as comfortable knitting multicolor projects as I am with basic knitting. I will get there eventually. The Henry VIII sweater by Alice Starmore of Virtual Yarns is on my definite to-do list.

    Another type of knitting I want to learn how to do involves some of the complicated lace knitting by Sunflower Designs. She has one killer stole pattern (Mehndi) that reminds me of maracasite jewelry. I was doing pretty well with it until I put it down. I’d gotten about 6 rows done before breakfast, but I put it down and never picked it up again.

    It’s something I’d have to work at continuously to not forget how certain advanced pattern stitches are done. Hopefully I will start it over again from scratch sometime this year. It is a gorgeous pattern.

  28. SHERI!! That mitten looks fantastic!!! Brava!!!!

    Me? I am rather kamikaze. There aren’t too many things left that I haven’t tried. Everything from knitting with cobweb weight wool (ask me about the really fine weight silk I’ve got on queue) to colorwork to elaborate lace to sweaters to cables. Most things I just dive into. Some things, I prefer to sit with someone who has done it before just in case it doesn’t make sense when I read it. Intarsia’s about the only thing on my list yet that’s completely untried. But yes, I always have at least one totally mindless project going, and one that’s mindless enough that I can carry on a conversation, so there’s always portable knitting. Ask BFF Liz about it. I even knit in the dark at the opera. 😀

  29. I like to push my technique envelope a little. I am knitting the Fiddlehead mittens right now and it is my push myself project. I also love knitting lace which used to scare me a lot.

    I really have no desire to do intarsia work or art yarn on my spinning wheel but I never say NEVER!

  30. Oh gosh lots of questions Sheri – I love S&C Sweater – I have a collection going but have never actually used any of it. I am anxious to try it. I’ve done a lot of color work over the years – even took a class with Alice Starmore back in the 90’s and I have all her magazines and several Fair Isle items in progress and several more kitted up – 2 handed knitting is slow going I feel unless you really knit on it a lot and get a groove going – I’ve done lots of intarsia over the years – these days – I seem to be relegated to knitting as simple as possible – don’t know why – guess I am just out of brain power and plus at best I only have a couple of hours a night in my chair to knit or stitch – I dont’ want to spend it struggling with a poorly written pattern or something I really have to concentrate on. I also do traditional wool rug hooking so that is another huge diversion for me but something I love to do. relaxation and a few finishes and lovely yarn is my ultimate goal these days. Enjoy ! Melody

  31. I like texture in my knitting so I am looking for new stitches to learn. Socks were on my mind fall ’09 and I fell for them in a big way! Then I read Sheri’s post about shawletts in the fall ’10 and I made one for a Christmas gift. And…. I have a sweater going and two different pairs of socks on needles…and another shawlette…and I read Mason Dixion Knitting and so a couple of dish cloths! I love color and the BIG thing that is on my want list is a Brohus kit. I have done a couple of two and three color sweaters and I want to do more.

    The really complicated stiches that seem to be coming out of Japan ? and working on an afgan are two things that I probably will not try…but never try? I won’t say never. Ever!

  32. I like learning new stitches and try to push myself. It’s fun to try something new and maybe somewhat difficult, then go back to a more familiar stitch and find it’s suddenly not as difficult as it first seemed. Lace is challenging; color work is a push but very rewarding when you get it right.
    Nice Mittens!

  33. I never thought I would do socks … then never thought I would do lace … now I love both and would really rather knit with smaller needles and I love shawls and lace. I remember my great aunt referring to size 9 or 11 needles as “telephone poles”, but I liked getting projects done faster. Now, I tend to knit on the 2 – 3 mm needles. Who would have thought??

  34. I live for the challenge! Well, not all the time, because you’re completely right, knitting is primarily a form of relaxation. But one challenging technique every once in a while keeps me learning, and I looove to learn!

    I really like the pattern for that mitten. And your colors, Sheri! It looks like you are g
    doing a great job. Colorwork is actually next on my techniques to learn list, and I’m starting next week with either these stranded coffee cup cozies or Eunny Jang’s Endpaper Mitts. Wish me luck!!!

  35. Those mittens are gorgeous – so vivid!

    I’ve decided that this year I will finally take a bash at steeking. It looks terrifying though – I think I’ll have to start small for the sake of my sanity!

  36. My goal is improve not the complexity of my projects, but the fit. I have knit since I was seven years old, and have studied color knitting, textured stitches, etc., but even if your knitting is flawless, garments look horrible on you and are not comfortable if they don’t fit. How frustrating is it to spend allot of time and $ on a project only to be totally disappointed the first time you put it on because it doesn’t fit correctly?

  37. I like to challenge myself and learn a new technique each year. Last year it was stranded colorwork and this year I’ll continue to perfect it.

    This year I want to try to knit fine laceweight work of Herbert Niebling. That means really small needles and working with thread to knit doily’s and table toppers. Call me crazy, but I’m really looking forward to trying it. The pattern book I ordered just arrived. I’m also in the process of learning to knit Latvian mittens and I’ve just recently purchased a pattern book so I’m in the process of reading it and going thru all the pattern selections.

    For me, anytime I can sit in my “special knitting chair” and knit or read about knitting is so relaxing for me. One type of knitting that just doesn’t appeal to me and I have no desire to learn is the Entrelac knitting technique.

  38. I go in cycles. I’ve been obsessed with reversible cables for something like four years, but I also do colorwork and lace and experiment with other techniques — right now I am in the midst of my first pair of felted mittens. (I had to bake one of those suckers for over an hour.) With some things like double knitting I have to be really smitten with inspiration to dive back in because I know how fiddly it is. I’ve done very little beading, so that might be my next thing. Or not. I never know. But I do a lot of charity squares, so those are my fallback when my brain hurts, but I also use them to try out new stitches.

  39. When I’m trying to relax, I knit something simple or relatively mindless…the long stockinette body of a sweater or a sleeve, just a few increases or decreases here and there. When I’m watching TV I’ve usually got a sock or a hat on the needles, with the pattern within eyesight but not obscuring my view.

    I LOVE colorwork and working lace patterns on big needles for extra oomph, so I do those often as well.

    Lace knitting on tiny needles with tiny yarn can be fun, especially if the end project is for someone else–like you, Sheri, I don’t wear the shawls and otherwise I won’t knit them.

    So–when I’m knitting for fun, I do stuff I’m used to and comfortable with–but once I’ve tried out the new techniques, if I like them I’ll bring them into my routine and if I don’t–I don’t bother with them again.

  40. The teacher in me tells me that one must never stop learning, so I am always trying to expand and improve my knowledge in many ways. I’ve taken sewing to the quilting and home decorating level, and I have worked to bring new challenges into my knitting as I continue to work with fibers. I am now doing my first-ever two-color item (a hat!), and it is going well now that I can knit “both ways.”

    Another area I’ve gotten into has been lace knitting, which I LOVE. I hope to someday try spinning, too, but my family feels I’m obsessed and need a new life!

  41. I need to do something new every so often. It’s so fun! But I also need something mindless to do at, erm, work, or on the go.

    Laceweight is hard to find time for because it does take concentration, no matter what, with the relatively large needles for the size of the yarn. My daughter has requested a laceweight shawl and I’ve started it (and already messed up on row 9 or so, so I need quiet time to figure out what I did). It’s going to take a good long time to finish, and I’ve already warned her of that!

    You know I wear my Girasole! You saw it at the Spring Fling! I actually wear it and other shawls a fair amount, in my office, at church, at home.

  42. I knit to preserve my sanity. The fiber running thru my fingers is soothing and I can lose myself in the pure motion and process of knitting. Keeps my mind busy and keeps it from running around in and to places I would prefer it not go at this time.

  43. I don’t like knitting the same thing twice – this even is problem with socks! I am always looking to try something new. I also tend to have a “big” project and travel project. These tend to also change up the size needles I am using to give me hands a change of pace.

    Even with the desire to knit something different, I find knitting to be my ultimate relaxation – if it is a thinking project, it is hard to fret about other life concerns.

  44. Hi Sherry, I have knitted for many, many years. I love to plan new projects, but the actual execution and end result might not equal the planning stage. Execution can be down right tedious. I did find out something interesting tho – my husband finds my knitting relaxing! He said ‘I like it when you knit.’ I was puzzled. Months later, old friends of his told me that his long-deceased mother was a prolific (british) knitter. So now I knit for my project satisfaction and indirectly for his relaxation. Weired, huh?

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