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Knitting Yarn & Novels

Updated on July 23, 2019
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Denise was taught to knit by her grandmother, age10. She has been knitting and creating her own patterns ever since, and loving it.

Me knitting a fair isle baby blanket for a grandchild.
Me knitting a fair isle baby blanket for a grandchild. | Source


I learned to knit and crochet from my mother and grandmother who were both talented and creative ladies. It is a shame that so many have turned from the traditional fiber arts in favor of store-bought goods. A time will come when girls will want to know how to knit but the grandmothers who knew how will be gone and the art will be all but lost. Even my own girls, though they learned from me, have little time or inkling to engage in such an old-fashioned art form.

I have written many things in knitting and the basics of knitting and this is just another listing of the many resources and background knowledge I have learned about the craft.

A knitted wimple.
A knitted wimple. | Source


Craftsy is a web site sort of like Etsy but with no fees for selling your creative patterns. You upload your pattern and photo, people buy it and download it, you get paid. No other fees. Craftsy has patterns in knitting, crochet, embroidery, felting, jewelry, paper crafts, quilting, sewing and more. They also have excellent video classes and tutorials.

Spinning wool with a drop spindle.
Spinning wool with a drop spindle. | Source


Yarn is created by twisting fibers. Animal hair, cotton fibers, flax fibers, or any fibers long enough and kinky enough to twist. This can be done by hand but it is a slow process. So it was only a matter of time before someone invented devices to twist the fiber for them easily and efficiently. Drop spindles have been around for thousands of years. They are very efficient but require you to stand. With the invention of spinning wheels, the spinner was allowed to sit.

First, the fibers are combed with large, sharp “cards.” This is called carding the fleece. The cards pull the fibers in the same direction and then roll them into a long worm-like roll called a “rolag.” The rolag is then pulled and twisted into a string. Two or more of these strands are twisted together (or plied) in the opposite direction, making yarn.

Sheep’s wool has natural oils called lanolin and this makes the hands of the spinner very soft. Many spinners prefer to card and spin the fleece without washing it first to get the full benefit of the lanolin. But there are some that wash the fleece first to eliminate any dirt and sticks, also removing the healthful lanolin.

Knitting in Books

In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, one of the main characters named Madame Defarge, developed a form of shorthand using her knitting. She would listen to people talking and take down every word… in her knitting. So the knitting became a documentary witness against many in the revolutionary tribunal. That had to be some fast knitting seeing that we only have two basic stitches to work with: knit and purl. Also, during the beheadings, the knitters would sit in the front row seats and curse the aristocrats for all kinds of atrocities to the people, including dropping a stitch in their knitting.

My knitting and circular needles
My knitting and circular needles | Source


I highly recommend circular needles. If you have never used them before, they take a little getting used to, but the effort is well worth it. Circular needles offer many benefits. One plus is that you never have to look for your other needle. It is always right there. No chance dropping it or losing it. The second benefit is that they are less cumbersome than traditional straight needles. The ends don’t stick out and bump people sitting next to you. They keep your work comfortably in your lap. Lastly, you can work on large projects as well as small, where with straight needles you must get a longer length for the larger projects. Circular needles will accommodate a wide range of sized projects before you are forced to get a longer size.

The back of a vest I'm knitting for my husband using up leftover yarn
The back of a vest I'm knitting for my husband using up leftover yarn | Source

Knitting in Novels

Barbara Delinsky’s Family Tree relies heavily on knitting whenever the main character is stressed. The main character Dana has given birth to a noticeably bi-racial baby but both she and her husband are Caucasian. Suspicions and distrust run high as they wait for the DNA test to come back and in the meantime, Dana begins a search for her biological father whose heritage her mother never told her about. The knitting is only a side note really but is the calming influence in the story. Since this story has a lot of genealogy research as well as knitting, I really enjoyed it.

This knitted front of a sweater turned out too big because I didn't knit a gauge.
This knitted front of a sweater turned out too big because I didn't knit a gauge. | Source

I learned to knit in 2002, six months after my 5-year-old daughter, Grace, died suddenly from a virulent form of strep. I was unable to read or write, and friends suggested I take up knitting; almost immediately I fell under its spell.

— Ann Hood


The gauge is a small knitted swatch with the number of stitches and rows that you work per inch. It is recommended that you work a sample swatch at least 4 inches square using the specified yarn and needles before you begin your project. If you have too many stitches and rows to the inch, you will know that the project will turn out larger than the pattern says. You could then use smaller needles or knit the project at a smaller size. For instance, if you wanted to knit a sweater at a size 16 but your gauge swatch turned out to be larger than you wanted, you could knit the sweater as a size 14 instead, or use smaller needles. If your gauge swatch turned out to be smaller than the pattern stated, you could use larger needles or larger size.

In the front piece I knitted above, you can't really tell but I got so excited knitting the pattern that I didn't even notice that the piece was much larger than it should have been. I was knitting this for my daughter who is about a size 12. I am a size 18, and let's just say this finished piece could fit both myself and my daughter in it if I had finished the sweater. I could have ripped it all out but didn't have the heart to after all the work. Now I use it as a sample of what NOT to do when you are knitting.

Everyone is different and knits differently. Like a fingerprint or handwriting, knitters develop a particular style and rhythm. This is neither good nor bad. It is individual. Therefore the gauge helps you to be sure all your hours of work will be worth the effort and the pattern will come out as you want it. My mother is a tight knitter and no matter what the gauge turns out too small. On the other hand, I knit loosely and always have a larger gauge.

My own pattern for newborn booties.
My own pattern for newborn booties. | Source

Final Thoughts

I love the feel and look of knitted garments. I have knitted since I was 10 years old and I imagine I will knit until I can no longer hold the needles. If you have any questions or thoughts I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.


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