I’ve been knitting for a very long time, but in all those years, I’ve never ventured too far afield from simple patterns designed for beginners. Even now, I still find knitting a bit of a challenge, and it’s rare that I complete a project that doesn’t have a few imperfections.
Mostly I make simple things like scarves and hats. I do make mittens (I have a very simple pattern to follow), and I’ve even done socks on double-pointed needles (again using a very simple pattern). I can make blankets and afghans, and I have done sweaters. Everything I choose to do, though, is very easy, and everything involves only basic techniques when it comes to color.
And so it is that I marvel over the awesome Fair Isle and Argyle projects I see on Ravelry and in the knitting groups I belong to. I look at knitting charts with their rows of dots and slashes, and I wonder how anyone can ever learn to do such intricate work.
My color work projects are usually nothing more than simple stripes or color changes in sweaters, mittens, and blankets.
Until a few days ago.
Yes, I challenged myself to try following a little knitting chart, and while the results weren’t good, I learned a lot from the experience — thanks to the many video tutorials now available to me. Mostly I learned that intarsia is still going to be difficult for me!
This little knitting adventure began when I downloaded 365 Days of Knitting through the Kindle Unlimited program. I liked the idea of having a fun little knitting project to do each day — a way of priming the pump each morning to get my creative juices flowing. I eagerly turned to the project for the day: A Heart Pot Holder.
What a perfect project…or so I thought until I tried making sense of it all. It truly made no sense. Oh, it was simple enough. Just a basic stockinette stitch for the first nine rows. Then came the instructions to follow the heart pattern. My own heart beat a little faster here. Yes, I was going to do this! I was going to work my way through the chart — right to left on right-side rows, left to right on the others. Eagerly I turned to the following page. But there was no heart chart to follow.
Maybe all the charts were in a separate part of the book, I thought. I turned to the contents. No charts to be found. Obviously I was missing something! Indeed, as it turned out, I was missing a lot because the book had no illustrations whatsoever. No pictures of completed projects. No charts to follow for all the heart-themed projects in February. No illustrations of stitches or anything else.
To say the book was a disappointment would be an understatement. Not only is it lacking in visuals, the patterns themselves don’t really make sense, and a lot of necessary information is missing, too. That pot-holder, for instance. No information is given about what type of yarn to use for the project, and getting the wrong yarn too close to a hot stove could have disastrous consequences. There are also confusing entries in the instructions, such as one project which says “Rows 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 follow heart chart” yet then says later “Row 13 Knit all the way across”. Maybe both instructions are accurate. Without having a heart chart to follow, I’ll never know.
Another project is for a Heart Head Band — completed with 27 stitches across by 14 rows, then folded in half, stitched together on the ends and turned right side out to wear. Huh? Maybe that works…somehow. I don’t know. I can’t visualize it.
All in all, the only value I’ve found in this book is that it can serve to prompt my own ideas each day. That’s what happened over the weekend. I didn’t make a heart pot holder, but I did go browsing around the internet in search of a heart pattern. I printed it out, and yes, I followed my heart, bravely attempting a little Valentine’s color work.
I made a mess of it, but I tried, and that, in itself, felt good. We need challenges, and for me, even something as simple as this little heart was a challenge. Somehow, at some point, I ended up with an extra stitch — I still haven’t figured out how that happened — and even though it’s not the right way to do intarsia, I just carried my unused yarn across the back.
It’s not much to look at, I know. It’s a starting point, though. After completing this little heart, I did a search online, found several videos, and came across a lot of helpful information from Dummies on the basics of knitting intarsia designs.
Best of all, I now have a handy little “heart” chart to follow whenever I want to use it as part of a knitting project. Oh, and I have ideas! I can imagine many ways to use this simple heart in my needlework projects, and it will be fun to create a few designs using it.
I did pick up some bright red yarn on my last trip to the store, so maybe later I’ll play around a little and make my own knitted valentine. Maybe a pillow. Yes! I think I can do that. I can figure out how many stitches to cast on. I can adjust the heart pattern to fit.
It will be fun to follow my heart — not only with this little knitting chart but in all my knitting — and crocheting — projects. It’s always fun to do what we love, and I love learning, growing, and challenging myself in creative new ways each day.
For those who love knitting, too, here are some free patterns I have in my collection that are perfect for Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!