In my experience in teaching and helping other knitters I have come to the realization that a) there is a learning curve to becoming a good teacher and b) we, as a society, should be throwing money at good teachers, wherever we find them (note: I didn’t say I was one but I am always open to having money thrown at me). In any case, I have learned that reading is as essential a skill to knitters as it is to every learner. One of the most common questions we get asked in the store is “Can you tell me where I am? I lost my place”. With a little effort you need never ask that question again (however, we still value your visits).
Now we all like to get wrapped up in reading through patterns, conquering charts, and measuring gauges and these are all important “reading” skills for advancing in knitting. But truly the most important skill is learning how to read the knitting itself. This can be as basic as knowing when you are looking at a knit or a purl stitch or as complex as knowing that you should be twisting a cable or whether or not there should be a yarn over. It should become instinctual, so that when you pick your project up after a hiatus (and that hiatus can just be dinner or even a trip to the bathroom if you have as short a memory span as I do) you can look at your knitting and look at the chart or written directions you are using and know where you are. This will also help if you have a mistake, for example “Ooops, I should have a knit stitch over this purl stitch, let me read back across this row to see where I went wrong” or “I think I should be crossing a cable here so where is it?”
To take your reading to the next level, and this is especially true of cables and lacework, lay out your work and follow where your cables/yarn overs have occurred and when they will be coming up next. Simultaneously read the stitches you just did and the stitches you are about to do. You should also be aware of the rows below if you are in a more complicated pattern. It sounds like you need three pairs of eyes but really you don’t.
This all comes in time if you make the effort to learn as you go. Do not be a slave to just following the pattern blindly: READ what you are doing as you do it. Do a row and then stop and look at it, see where the stitches change up. If you are doing something in a pattern, stop every couple of inches to look at your work and figure out where you are without referring to your notes. I promise that eventually you will be doing this without even thinking about it.
Listen to Teacher and you’ll be graduating to the next level in no time.
People tell us all the time that they are too busy to learn to knit. In fact it’s become almost a competitive sport, someone says “I am so busy!” and you reply “Oh don’t I know it, I am absolutely CRAZED”. They reply “I didn’t even have time to go to the bathroom yesterday!” Then another person says “That’s why I’ve taken to wearing adult diapers, so I don’t have to stop to use the bathroom”. Another person chimes in “I haven’t gone to the bathroom or eaten in a week! My doctor says that my kidneys are shutting down but I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME”.
I came across an article recently on this subject and the author said that he was taken up short when a person he had just complained to actually asked what he was busy with. And after the author had laid out his litany of kids’ birthday parties and sports events and family visits (on top of the usual job complaints) the listener responded “how lucky you are to have such a full life”.
I’m sure you’re thinking what the author of the article thought at the time: “what a jerk to take the wind out of my righteous busy sails!”. But as he thought more about it he realized that of course his friend was right. Most of the busy-ness was definitely first world issues and the rest was pretty much self-inflicted. Think about yourself. Do you really need to bake 500 cupcakes for the bake sale? Do you absolutely have to take that Pilates/ kick-boxing class? Does little Pookie have to be enrolled (i.e., chauffeured to) karate/Greek lessons/ soccer camp/cooking class? Unfortunately, we gauge our value, our worthiness as adults by how busy we are. No one is busier! My time is the most valuable! Especially in America, if you’re not busy, you are a slacker.
I know that I, myself, often think as I am knitting, “I should be doing something else”. And I work for a yarn store so really, I have a “legitimate” reason to knit. But why does anyone have to legitimize it? Is it because it’s considered a hobby? Because it doesn’t go towards paying the rent? Isn’t there something to be said for sitting calmly and doing something creative, using our hands for something other than clicking away at a keyboard. There are so few opportunites out there to create something with our own two hands, to produce something real and tangible that I think we should grasp the opportunity whenever we can.
Life is short. Take time to knit.
We in the knitting world love cold weather. Although we knit all year round we understand that there are many of you out there that are cold-weather driven. And that’s why we are thrilled when the weather turned chilly and many fingers out there start twitching.
But with the coming of tomorrow’s snow I am reminded of how easily panicked we are by any sort of inconvenience Mother Nature wants to throw at us. The media doesn’t help. I think there are now more weather people out on the street than there are regular pedestrians. All of them are making dire predictions as to the amount of snow (1’! 2’! 10’!), when it is arriving (“we’re not sure but it could be ANY MINUTE!”), the wind speeds (“10-20 mph but POTENTIALLY hurricane force!”) and the resulting wind chill factors ((-10 degrees! -40 degrees! Fingers will be falling off! Pets will become cryogenic experiments!”).
I guess we love to be in crisis mode. It helps to take our minds off what is happening in the Middle East, on Wall Street, within the Republican presidential race. But really, can anyone even remember when the last time was that you were trapped in your house for more than 24 hours? We live in a very established area of the U.S., we do not live in the Yukon. There is no reason to start acting like the Donner party, having family members draw straws to see who gets eaten first. There is no reason to load up on gallons of milk, as though all cow udders will be frozen for the foreseeable future. And bread? What family out there needs enough bread for 100 sandwiches? Eggs? Are all the wolves from the north going to slink down and raid all the chicken coops from here to Montana? And yet, the stores are all out of milk, bread and eggs. All I can say is that a lot of families are going to be eating a lot of french toast over the next week or so.
All this having been said, I personally would only panic if I didn’t have anything to knit. A snowstorm without knitting is, well, it’s just unnatural. That is why Mother Nature created sheep as well as snow. So go with the natural order of things: knit, drink cocoa (with a little Bailey’s perhaps), get a fire going in the fireplace and enjoy.
Julie, WY's Do-bee and store wordsmith.