15 April 2010

Leveling Out

Yesterday, in this blog post, Geek Knitter talked about the things she didn't know when she took up knitting.  So many of those things could probably apply to just about everyone who learns to knit and gets hooked, and like a lot of hobbies, you don't always stop and think about it when it's happening.

Reading it, however, did put me into a contemplative frame of mind, though in a somewhat different direction.  I started thinking about how each knitter thinks of their own capabilities, as far as what they can/cannot knit successfully.  The first person who taught me to knit was a lady who lived across the street with her family when I was in the fourth grade.  I was home sick with pneumonia, and she came over and cast on some stitches and taught me the knit stitch.  I thought it was fun, but didn't keep at it all that time, since a) I was sick, and b) I spent more time reading.  By the time I had a long, red piece of fabric that I liked to call a scarf, Mrs. R and the family had moved away.  I didn't know anyone else who knew how to knit, and my mother was no help ("Oh for God's sake!  How in the h_ll would I know how to do any g_dd_mn knitting??).  So I think eventually I just gave it all away, or threw it away, or we moved yet again and it was "lost." 

So when, as an adult, I signed up for knitting classes, I was a little bit nervous, since I wasn't sure I remembered anything.  (About knitting that is.  Otherwise, I have a pretty decent memory, though not a "photogenic" memory as one of my co-workers claimed to have the other day ...)

The class started, and Lisa was helping everyone pick a pattern and yarn.  I saw a sweater with cables that I liked, but commented that it was probably too "advanced."  At which point Lisa said something to the effect that everything can be considered advanced if you don't try it.  Long story short, I knit the sweater, loved doing the cables, and also loved knitting. 

My next foray was into hats, and then socks, and each time, I was slightly nervous about it, but figured I could probably do it, even if I never tried it again after the class was over.  A couple of years ago, I took a class to learn entrelac.  The instructor handed out the pattern, and immediately said, "I don't want you to read this pattern and think about it at all.  I want you to start knitting, and not to think - just follow the instructions.  Thinking will only get you in trouble."  You know what?  She was right!  I followed the instructions without trying to analyze or think ahead to what might be next, and it made perfect sense. 

As a result, I'm never sure what level of knitter I am.  Beginner?  Yes, there are still plenty of things I've never even tried to do.  Intermediate?  Sometimes, I guess.  Advanced?  Rarely, but if you are, for instance, talking about knitting a basic sock, then yeah, I can zip through that with the best of them. 

Sometimes I think a lot of knitters don't give themselves enough credit because of these labels.  Everyone is a beginner some of the time - but we all have to start somewhere, right?

************

And, just because it's been a while:

"Wilbur, why can't I learn how to knit?"

15 comments:

puffthemagicrabbit said...

Oh- I loved Mr. Ed.

Kate said...

One thing that I realized early on in my knitting experiences is that there is always something new to learn in knitting. There's always a new technique, or concept to be tackled.

I think you're right in saying that knitters don't give themselves enough credit. Knitting isn't something that is learned in one classroom session- I truly believe that it takes years and years to truly "master" the art of knitting.

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Thank you for the link to that post ~ very insightful and dead accurate! I also enjoyed your musing on your own yarny journey ~ did your Mom really talk that way???? So different than in my home where everything was "very proper."

Marie said...

Very nice and thought-provoking post. It's encouraging to me in my quest to be a better knitter. Thanks.

P.S. That fall down the stairs you described made me suck in my breath imagining the pain you must have felt. Thanks for sharing.

Channon said...

I think you can be any level you want to be. It's all in what you want to knit in the moment...

knitseashore said...

Your post is very thought-provoking. I'm always worried about what I don't know how to do, but when I look back at what I can do (and have FOs to show for it), that's pretty cool!

The older I get, the more I realize that attitude and desire are the most important ingredients in learning anything new. If you're passionate about something, you can overcome great obstacles. I remember reading an article about knitters who are blind. Perhaps at the beginning they thought they couldn't do it either!

Kathleen said...

"Don't think - it can only hurt the ball club."

I agree wholeheartedly that knitters often don't give themselves enough credit. I cringe when I read about knitters on the Knitlist who would never dream of knitting in public or being sure they can't possibly knit a certain pattern. It's "just" knitting! I pull mine out everywhere and am proud of it. If you can knit and purl, you're all set to head out on any knitting adventure.

Geek Knitter said...

Blushing here... turning shades of red!

Thanks for the shout-out, and for what you wrote as well.

I've heard knitters say they were scared of things, like lace or cables or socks or... pick something.

I like to think there are no knitting techniques I can't do... just quite a few of them I haven't tried yet.

mary said...

Great post! As a self-taught, left handed knitter (yes, I move the stitches from the right hand needle to the left hand needle), everything you said is so true.

Just jump in and do it!

(sorry, don't mean to sound like a Nike commercial...)

anne marie in philly said...

ohhhhhhhhhh,willllllber!

there are several techniques I have not yet tried, but I don't think they are above me. I consider myself an intermediate knitter.

and I am comfortable about my current knitting place.

handeyecrafts said...

Again, my friend, sheer eloquence.

And nice to see Edward again.

Lorraine said...

Bridget- My mother said the exact same thing.

Whatta ya know?

Jennifer said...

Consider yourself an intrepid level knitter! Willing to take on anything! That is how I think of myself....

Carrie K said...

It depends on the day. There are times that looking at my knitting, you'd never know I can actually knit. Other times? Flying. And learning new techniques is half the fun.

Lorette said...

Great post! I like the label "intrepid". And I really cracked up at the "photogenic" memory...