Dixie Peach: Bobbling for Aibhlinn

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bobbling for Aibhlinn

I've been tempted for months now to knit Aibhlinn, a cowl to cover my giant melon of a head come wintertime. The swirling rib pattern seems a snap - it's mostly a matter of keeping track of what row your own, much like I imagine knitting Wavy will be like. I've read Aibhlinn's pattern at least twenty-five times and every time I read the instructions for "make bobble" I stare at the instructions like a pig looks at a clock.

I've not knitted anything but a rectangle (fuzzy black tube debacle aside) and the only things I'm familiar with knitting are variations of basic knit and purl stitches. The only time I've ever increased stitches was with a triangular scarf I knit for my MIL a few months ago and it was nothing more than adding three stitches at the beginning of each row with a single cast-on. So when I read "Make 5 sts in next st: [K in front, then back of st] twice, then in front of stitch again..." I was as lost as a by-God. I knew it had something to do with adding stitches but I simply didn't know how to "knit in front then back of stitch", nevermind do it five times.

So I whipped out my handy Stitch 'n Bitch, went to the chapter about increasing and decreasing and tried to figure out knitting in the front and back of a stitch meant. It took me a moment to figure out which type of increase it was and that was the easy part. I simply could not get from the illustrations what I should do. That's my biggest gripe with that book - I think the illustrations are lacking in clarity. At this point I figured that just reading wasn't going to help so I got out some wool yarn and a pair of needles, cast on 24 stitches and tried to follow the beginning of the Aibhlinn pattern, trying my hand at making a bobble using the "how to increase" lesson from Stitch 'n Bitch.

I simply was not getting it. Sure, I'd end up with what appeared to be a bobble but instead of adding stitches that I would lose when I was finished with the bobble I ended up with about eight stitches that were gnarled and twisted and too tight to knit with further. It reminded me of when I was learning to rib knit - I got passing the thread from back to front and back again completely screwed up until I finally understood what was expected.

So I went back to what usually works best for me. I picked up Stitch 'n Bitch again and read the instructions to increase over and over and over and stared at the illustration until the light finally dawned. I believed then that I understood what to do.

I snatched up the needles again, cast on more stitches and this time...finally!...I did it. I made bobbles and I didn't end up with extra stitches, gnarled or not. Knitting in the front and back of a stitch finally made sense to me.

Now I can get some proper yarn and start on Aibhlinn but I think first I'm going to practice bobbling a bit more. I want it to be a little more automatic before I have to do dozens of them on my cowl.


Blogger Miz said...

Thanks for the book tip. Amazon had a "like new" copy cheap. I am still working on purl, but I like the cowl and will try it when I am ready.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or--you can knit Aibhlinn without the bobbles. That's what I did. Quite like it. :-)

2:23 AM  

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