My knitting has reached a bit of a plateau since I first set off on my Asian adventure four months ago. Indeed, it’s not easy to try out complicated new patterns that require more than two balls of yarn when both your budget and packing space is limited. So instead I’ve been sticking to smaller projects such as socks and scarves. Even then, trying to venture into a more complicated pattern such as the Slippery Slope socks by General Hogbuffer can result in disaster from trying to read complicated charts off of small iPhone screens.
Last night, I frogged what little progress I had made on these socks, much to my distress. It reminded me of my failure when attempting to knit the Askews Me Shawl by Stephen West. I didn’t get far enough on that pattern for it to even merit a worthwhile photo.
I needed a new strategy. A new way of doing things, rather than choosing patterns well beyond my skill level that were doomed from the start. So I created a bucket list filled with important skills to master for the backpacking knitter. Skills to build upon. Valuable skills that can be learned with a limited supply of yarn and no specific size of needles, to improve my knitting and move up the knitting ladder even while backpacking through southeast Asia.
Without further ado, here is the ultimate backpacking knitter’s bucket list.
1. Mastering the continental style of knitting
Continental style of knitting consists of knitting using your left hand and ‘picking’ the stitches up rather than ‘throwing’ the yarn over in the English style method of knitting. I learned to knit English style, but wish I had learned continental from the get-go, as it is so much quicker than the English style. Not only is it faster, but learning to knit with a different hand can reduce strain on your hands and fingers from the repetitive motions of knitting. It’s a win-win situation. Unfortunately, once you get comfortable with knitting English style, it can be hard to go back to square one, where each stitch is painfully difficult and time consuming.
In order to get over this speed bump, and speed up my mastery of this useful skill, I’ve enrolled in this Craftsy online knitting class. It consists of step-by-step videos that explain the nitty-gritty details of exactly how to hold your fingers and yarn.
2. Brioche increases and decreases.
Quite a while ago, I purchased this pattern in an overconfident move to learn brioche. Little did I realize that combining learning how to knit a shawl along with learning brioche would be so complicated. I gave up. But the pattern is still there, tucked away in a folder, waiting for the day when I’ll have the skills to knit that beautiful Stephen West shawl. I decided to take the easy route and am currently working on a simple scarf knit in two colour brioche. But when it comes to increasing, decreasing, and all that other fancy stuff, I’m clueless. I’ve saved this Craftsy class to my wishlist so I can get to the next level. For a simple step-by-step tutorial on knitting brioche, you can check out this post put together by Purl Soho.
3. Knitting two socks at a time on circular needles
This is an area that has both fascinated me and mystified me for a very long time. There is also more than one way to go about this. You can either use two circular needles, one one extra long circular needle using the magic loop technique. After several discussions with different knitters, I’ve come to believe that the easiest way to go about this is using two circular needles rather than one circular with the magic loop technique, but I have yet to confirm this for myself. Unfortunately, the existing step-by-step tutorials on the internet are rather limited. I will likely take a look at these series of Youtube videos to get myself going.
4. Being able to fix mistakes in lace and cables
One of my greatest weaknesses when it comes to knitting is being able to fix my mistakes. Realizing many rows after the fact, that a yarn over was actually knit-two-together, or vice versa, is one of my least favorite parts of knitting.
I have a hard enough time fixing mistakes in simple garter stitch, let alone lace and cables. Nevertheless, this is an area that I definitely need to improve upon if I ever want to get anywhere as a knitter. This online class from Craftsy has also been added to my wishlist!
5. Joining a KAL
If you’re at all active in the online knitting world, you’ve probably come across the term ‘KAL’ once or twice. KAL stands for Knit-A-Long, and well known knit designers such as Stephen West, Bristol Ivy and Tin Can Knits, often host KAL’s to promote their patterns and encourage knitters to try something new in a supportive environment.
If you sign up for a KAL, you can expect to meet other knitters and learn new techniques in the process. Mystery KALs, where the finished product is unknown, have been gaining in popularity as well. I have yet to join any KAL’s joining a KAL is definitely on my list of things to try this next year!
What’s on your knitting bucket list? What kind of skills and new techniques are you wanting to try?
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