alexconall: the Pleiades (Default)
Alex Conall, social justice bard ([personal profile] alexconall) wrote2014-03-23 08:07 pm

How To Knit A Scarf

Tie a slip knot.
It is called a slip knot
because it is meant to slip
up and down the yarn
until the loop is the right size for the needle.
Any size needle will do.
It depends how many stitches
you wish your laughing audience to be in
wide you want the scarf to be
and how many stitches per inch
and rows per inch; this is the gauge.
Start with size eleven, US style,
metal needles (in my brand of choice, they're pink)
and a skein of variegated yarn.
Such yarn comes in camouflage
green and tan and brown
in case you think knitting is too girly
or in softer shades
of violet, navy, sky.
Slide the slip-knot loop onto the needle.
Pull it not quite tight.
Cast on twenty-four stitches.
There are a hundred ways.
The one I learned first:
Start three times the scarf's width
into the skein of yarn
and tie the slip knot there.
Whoops. Untie the one you started with.
Hold the needle in your right hand
(sorry, lefties, you can't knit)
(no, no, I don't mean that,
it's just that I don't know
how to look at the world
through eyes other than my own)
with the yarn ball behind your left hand
and the yarn tail in front
so that the tail is over your thumb
and the ball strand over your first finger
and your other fingers hold both strands.
The yarn should be triangular.
Bring the needle down;
the teachers always say
this looks like a slingshot
but I don't see it.
I had to find a Youtube video
to show me what to do.
Dip the needle under
the strand in front of the thumb
and over the one behind
then under the strand in front of the finger
and pull your hand out
so that the loop on the thumb
goes on the needle
and the loop on the finger
knots the stitch in place.
They say there is a strand
connecting the fourth finger to the heart—
a blood vessel or nerve
or something psychic,
fifth-dimensional, ethereal,
that no surgeon can find
with a scalpel made of mere spacetime.
The wedding ring goes on that finger
because of that strand,
to tie hearts together
with knots of metal.
My mother knits.
Your grandmother, great-grandmother,
was probably a knitter.
With this first cast-on stitch
you tie a knot,
fifth-dimensional, ethereal,
connecting my mother and me,
your ancestor and you,
transmission of tradition
and addition of ambition
(have you seen a sweater?
count the stitches sometime;
count the stars).
Now cast on one more.
Twenty-five loops on the needle
when you are done casting on.
Switch the needle to the left hand
and take its twin with the right.
Insert the second needle front to back
in the first stitch from the point—
the front of the stitch
is the side away from the point—
and loop the yarn over the bare needle
Use the right-hand needle
to pull this new loop
through the old one.
Slide the old loop off
the left-hand needle.
That's one stitch.
Repeat till all the stitches are on the right.
There should be twenty-five.
I count twenty-seven
and two of the loops are the wrong color
(this is why we start with multicolor yarn)
and you're knitting with the long tail
not the ball.
Remove the needle,
pull out the stitches
(this is called 'frogging'
though only the Invisible Pink Unicorn
knows why)
(no, I lie, I showed this to a poet knitter
and they tell me
rip it, rip it
ribbit, ribbit
and—you ripped out too many.
Cast on again.
Good thing knitting,
unlike all the regrets in life,
like learning knitting from a book
or poem
instead of from someone
you love
who knits,
has a way to do it over.

Creative Commons License
How To Knit A Scarf by Alex Conall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
fyreharper: (Default)

[personal profile] fyreharper 2014-03-25 10:56 pm (UTC)(link)
<3 for this, from another knitter. My mother knits too, but I learned from my grandmother.
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)


[personal profile] dialecticdreamer 2014-05-10 03:31 pm (UTC)(link)
THank you for posting this.
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)

Re: Familiar!

[personal profile] dialecticdreamer 2014-05-10 05:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah. I have /huge/ problems retraining my hands-- for me that learning process took eight years of on-again-off-again trying for MONTHS to get to where you do in just one gorgeous column of motion, impressions, and mood.