Where I write about knitting, crocheting and lace, and, on occasion general comments on other topics

Combinations of Knit & Purl – Simplicity or Complexity?

Written by: Lindy

The other day while waiting for my MIL at the beauty shop, I took out my baby blanket and sat knitting in the waiting area. One of the stylists came up to me and asked me what I was knitting. So I showed her. Then she said, “I could never knit anything like that – it’s too complex.” I replied that this pattern was actually very easy – it was just a three different combinations of knit and purl stitches, and I showed her the graph of the pattern square. She then told me that she had once knitted a sweater for her granddaughter that had a color pattern of a frog. So, I told her that if she had done that type of color knitting, this textured pattern would be easy for her to do. She replied that “maybe, she could do it – BUT she didn’t think she’d ever be able to master anything like cables”. So in spite of my gentle encouragement, I’m not certain this knitter will try to knit something with a variety of textures – which is too bad, because she will miss out on some wonderful knitting projects.

Have you ever limited your knitting by such thinking? I know I did many years ago – but after discovering Elizabeth Zimmerman’s approach to “unventing” things, my perspective has changed greatly. I’d like to encourage all my readers to think about this. There is a lot of freedom in being able to take a printed pattern and view it not as something that has to be followed exactly, but more as a place to start something uniquely yours. BTW – if you have never read Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books – you are missing an absolutely fun and enlightening experience!

As I spend time knitting my baby blanket, I find myself marveling at how those two basic stitches – the Knit Stitch and the Purl Stitch – can be combined in endless ways to make up fascinating textures. Consider the sheer simplicity of these two stitches. They are just opposites of each other. Yet these two stitches are knitting up nicely into teddy bear squares surrounded by seed stitch borders. And this project is rather simple. Then consider an Aran sweater pattern as an example of a far more complex combination of textured patterns – but again, the textures are made by the way one combines the basic knit and purl stitches and applies techniques such as cabling. Thus, knitting is both simple and complex and filled with unlimited possibilities of variation and combinations. No wonder we knitters love to knit!

3 Responses to “Combinations of Knit & Purl – Simplicity or Complexity?”

  1. Yes, you’re right. Sometimes it’s absolute instinct to stop right at the brink of doing something new just because it looks harder than we give ourselves credit for being able to learn.

    I haven’t read EZ’s books, though she MUST have something remarkable to teach people. So many people love her work and find her inspirational and feel freed to create after reading her books. I’ve been at the brink of reading them, but . . . .

    Yeah. I should listen to you and take the leap and try something new/old and read EZ. I’ll do it!

  2. admin says:

    That’s terrific. I’m glad my comments triggered a positive response for you. I’d start with either “Knitting without Tears” or the “Knitter’s Almanac” from Elizabeth Zimmerman — both are available through Amazon.com, but many retail knit sites sell them as well. You can also probably find them through your LYS. Happy reading!

  3. Thanks for posting about this, I would like to read more about this topic.