I’ve been a little poorly, which has delayed the knitting lesson I was going to give to Neeva. I felt much better today, so Neeva came around to my garden to try out the new knitting needles I made for her. We had an unsuccessful attempt to teach Neeva to knit a while ago, marred by unsuitable needles. I cut down some broken Knit Pro needle tips, and glued press studs on the ends. She was delighted with them and started to cast on stitches, just as I’d shown her before:
“Well done, Neeva. You’ve remembered that well.”
“Thank you,” she said. “Do you think I could make a bag to take foraging?”
We had a look at how many stitches she had cast on, to see if it was the right size for the width of the bag she had in mind:
Neeva thought 12 stitches looked about right. I showed her how similar the knit stitch was to the cast on she had used, and she started knitting.
“Can I make a handle for it too?” she asked.
“Of course, if you stop half-way along the row, we can make a hole in the knitting, which should be about the right size for you to hold.”
I got her to do a yarn over (putting the wool over the needle instead of knitting it), and then she knitted 2 stitches together, so she still had 12 stitches on her needles. I got on with some knitting of my own and we happily sat there together knitting away. When I looked again, her knitting had grown –
“Oh dear Neeva, I think you’ve picked up some extra stitches there.”
We counted them. Somehow she had ended up with 20 stitches.
“Don’t worry Neeva, you’re doing really well. The knitting looks lovely and even. It’s very easy to end up with extra stitches when you first learn to knit.”
I showed her how the wool could accidentally end up going over the needle when starting a new row, instead of under the needle which meant you knitted 2 loops instead of one, which is how the stitches were multiplying.
“Will I have to start again?” she asked despondently.
“Not at all. I will take it back carefully to the correct amount of stitches, and you can carry on from there.”
I sorted it out and she happily carried on knitting, and counted her stitches every few rows to make sure she still had 12. After a while I showed her the purl stitch. She was surprised to see that it looked just the same as the knit stitch:
“Ah yes, but the magic happens when you put the two stitches next to each other. If you look carefully you can see a smooth bit of knitting where you changed from the knit stitch to the purl stitch,” I explained.
“If you knit one row and purl the next and carry on alternating each row, you get it smooth on one side and bumpy on the other – then it’s called stocking stitch.”
“That’s strange, because it’s 2 different stitches, but together they get called another stitch,” Neeva said.
“Actually, knit and purl are the main two stitches in knitting, it’s how they are combined that makes lots of other types of stitch patterns. When you think your bag is deep enough, why not try doing stocking stitch for the other side?” I suggested.
So she did, I was amazed at how fast she knitted once she got going:
“That looks really good, Neeva. As you are near the end now, I suggest you do a couple of knit stitch rows, because, as you may have noticed, stocking stitch curls up at the edges, and plain knitting lies nice and flat, that will stop the top edge curling up. Don’t forget to make another handle hole too.”
She got to the end, and I showed her how to cast off:
I cut the wool for her, and she pulled through the final loop:
We laid out the bag with the right sides together:
Neeva borrowed my darning needle and used the long ends of wool to oversew up the sides:
She turned it right side out:
And the bag was finished!
“I’m so pleased with it,” she cried. She looked very proud of her handiwork.
“You did that really well,” I said. “Maybe you have a natural affinity for knitting because you’re made of wool?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “but I enjoyed it, although it takes quite a lot of concentration and counting at first. I’ll have to think of some other things I could make.”
“I’m sure some ideas will come up.”
She headed off home with her new needles and a bit of wool to practise with, in her new bag.