Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, Day 2

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP
Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year.

This sounds a little snooty, but I find it hard to think of any form of knitting as 'too hard' to do.  Very complicated and hugely time-consuming, yes, but not too difficult - with the right guidance (printed, online, or otherwise), I think most knitters can eventually tackle just about any project.  You just have to have the confidence to dive in and start knitting!

I think I acquired this approach from the way I learned to knit - after a preliminary intro from my mom and cousin, I pretty much just taught myself.  I generally ignored difficulty ratings, and just picked up projects that looked interesting - if I ran into trouble, I'd ask for help (it was handy having a house-mate who knit!), go look it up in a book (this was very much pre-Ravelry. Internet assistance and patterns were available, but they took ages to find!), or just fiddle around with things until I got the desired effect.  I also get bored easily, which may have helped me along - I think I knit one garter stitch scarf (in very scary DK-weight baby acrylic!) and almost immediately moved on to worsted-weight socks knit on 4 DPNs, followed by a chunky-weight sweater for my brother.  As a result, I developed a very 'no fear' approach to knitting, and had no problems adapting patterns to suit my needs.
Unfortunately, as I became a better knitter, and began to understand more about the craft, my desire to improvise went downhill (this is about the time I became a yarn snob too, just for comparison!).  Suddenly, it was more important to make sure I knit properly, and to make sure that the finished product looked perfect - especially since much of what I knit was intended for other people.  Over the next few years I kind of stagnated, knitting only from professional patterns, and leaving all the complicated, time-consuming projects to someone else.

But how does this apply to my last year of knitting? Well, after deciding one year that I really should start knitting a few sweaters for myself, I began to realize that I (like most people, but we all like to think we're special!) do not have the same body-type as most of the models in knitting pattern photos: I cannot just knit an item, and presume that it will fit me as well as it does the model (I discussed this in an earlier post, if you recall).  I would knit and finish a sweater, try it on, hate it, and eventually relegate it to the frog pile - just this past Sunday I frogged one that had been there since 2007, and now have 350g of lovely Alpaca-Silk drying in my living room!

The only solution to this, of course, is to start designing my own patterns (or adapting other ones, but I've never been one to do things half way!).  In the last year, this has been my focus - although so far, I've limited my design work to toddler-sized clothes - I knit for a lot of babies anyway, and kids have the added appeal of not needing a great deal of shaping!  It also helps that kidswear is at its low-commitment, since it only takes a few evenings to finish a baby-sized jumper!).  This spring, I'll be taking on a me-sized sweater, as part of a "You deserve it!" KAL we're doing on Ravelry.  Let's hope I can remember to write the pattern down clearly this time (as opposed to in a bunch of hastily scribbled notes), so I'm actually able to share it with others!
The other big project I tackled this past year was a christening set for my brother and his wife (well, for their son Max really, but I think they appreciate it more!).  I hadn't knit a proper lace project before this - lacy shawls aren't really my thing, and I've never been able to justify the idea of knitting something just to say I'd done it.  This time, I knew the effort would be appreciated - so I had no problem setting out to knit the (giant!) shawl as a surprise gift.  And when my sister in law asked me to knit a gown and bonnet (not knowing about the shawl), how could I say no?  :)

I think this set may be the most technically complicated project I've ever knit, but I can't say it was all that difficult really.  Just take your time, pick out mistakes as and when they happen, and eventually you reach the cast-off row.  And when you see the final product in use, all your hard work is fully justified.

Oh yeah, I also learned to crochet this last year (thanks Paul, for teaching us last spring!).  I don't crochet very often, but it definitely has its uses.  How better to create quick little projects that bring big smiles to little (and not so little) faces!


Anonymous said...

I love little totoro

P'cess said...

I ALSO love little Totoro! And to prove it, I've made up and sung a song about him... I will regale you with it next time I see you! Pat says 'Lucky you!'

Vanessa said...

That gown is amazing! Hats off to you.