I’m sure I listened to my mother read to my siblings before I was born. I devoured books as soon as I could hold them and always wanted to be read to–until I decided that reading to myself would be much better. I memorized my favorite books so I could feel like I was reading them. When I started school, learning to read was a clear goal. I didn’t really care about all the other stuff, reading was why I showed up (and was somewhat annoyed that we spent so little time on it). My clear goal was to become a reader.
When I was in sixth grade we did a reading comprehension program that was self-directed. It was awesome for me and completely in my wheelhouse. I wanted to read. I wanted to comprehend. I liked challenging myself. I definitely wanted to read as fast as I could. I spent every free minute that I was allowed in the classroom improving my reading skills. I still love to read and read as much as I can. My comprehension is good, even if my speed is a little less than it used to be. Those lessons back at age 12 really paid off.
The Lisse Hat features portions of a larger stitch pattern that I swooned over several years ago. You know me, I love those complex stitch patterns! This was perhaps the point at which it started to became clear to me that what I see is not always what other people see. I don’t think this is an inherent or special skill I have–I believe it is how I have trained my eye to see things. I see the big picture, but then start looking for digestible bits that will help my comprehension of the whole, by looking at the parts. I use this in reading, drawing, and of course knitting!
I created a trio of pullovers (and hats) that take apart the overall stitch pattern, and put it together in different ways. For Lisse, I have focused on the pendants and bobblets, each on a purl background, with single knit stitch ribs. Let’s look at stitch comprehension, pattern-by-pattern.
I think I called these bobblets because they are small. In the original stitch pattern they are worked alongside the pendants. By moving the bobblets out to the cast-on edge, they are worked alone, and allow the knitter to focus on a single technique. Bobbles of all sizes are an excellent place to use backwards knitting so you don’t have to turn your work. This will not make them go any faster, but they will feel less burdensome. My flexible long-tail cast on will give the cast on the flexibility to stretch on the wearer and allow the cast on to flex around the shape of the bobblets.
Taking an opportunity to master a technique outside of a stitch pattern will allow you to fully grasp it so whatever permutation you see it in later it will make sense. The fact that you have to repeat it multiple times will give you the muscle memory so you completely own it.
Pendants seem like bobbles or bobblets, but they are worked over a series of independent rounds (or rows) instead of within a single round/row. Stitches are increased on the first round/row, then worked on each subsequent round/row, eventually decreasing back to the original stitch count. Once again, each repetition of this pattern helps you see how it plays out and each repetition will make it more fully a technique you know and can recognize in any context. There are a lot of practice opportunities here, plus you decrease the surrounding stitches to create crown shaping–at the same time!
Purling in the Round
I can’t really think of a way to sell this. Most knitters prefer working the knit stitch and find they can do it faster. I’m a bit agnostic on the subject, but get that purling isn’t as natural and seems to take a lot of time. If you are a continental (hold yarn in left hand) knitter you might like “Norwegian Purling” as an alternative. The yarn doesn’t ever come forward of the needle, but it requires more movement of the right hand. I doubt it is any faster, but may feel a bit more intuitive for some knitters. I really recommend trying both methods as I have found I like one over the other in different applications. I hope to have a video soon!
The overall benefit of these large purl ribs is in the wearing. You have the smooth surface of the knit side of the fabric against your body. It can be much easier for some people to wear.