Negative learning curve

Time was, I considered myself pretty hot shit, as a knitter.
I come from a very crafty family. Mother, grandmother, sister and even father are all highly competent knitters (though dad doesn’t, any more); all except dad enthusiastically pursue one or more other crafts (sewing, tatting, crochet and so on). I am the knitter. Since I took it up in high school (I also crochet; sewing, however, is to me the work of the devil), I quickly became the family’s designated Knitting Star. Because my talented family was impressed – nay, awed – by my accomplishments, and I had no one else to compare myself with, I foolishly believed I had me some knitting game.
Then came the internet.* Which quickly put things in perspective.
Looking at blogs such as that of the amazing Eunny (can you believe she’s only 23?!), and reading online magazines that feature patterns of astounding creativity and technique by “amateur” knitters, I realise just what a craven and stumbling crafter I truly am.
Here is my confession:
I use only straight needles. Double-pointeds and circulars scare me.
I generally use only one technique for cast-on, cast-off, buttonholes and so on. (One each, that is. Not the same technique for all three. That would be… interesting.)
I hardly ever create an original stitch pattern, though I adapt constantly.
I hardly ever knit anything other than a sweater.
I design all my own projects, yet I still struggle to get it right first time. Or second. Or third. I do a truly shaming amount of frogging. I haven’t yet worked out a reliable System for things as simple as raglan shaping.
I haven’t really advanced beyond two-colour-per-row knitting.
It was only last year that I finally discovered the true joy of swatching – swatching not just for tension, but to play with patterns and colours; swatching to find out what the yarn wanted to do. (Big lightbulb moment.)
Moreover, as time goes by, I find myself less and less confident in my knitting, rather than more. When something comes out great it’s a relief and a surprise. I no longer take on commissions, because I freeze up under the pressure of actually doing something according to spec.
So I’m working on this. I want to become a Proper Grown-Up Knitter, and I am challenging myself to learn something new with each project. I have vowed to start using circular needles; to use a new finishing or embellishment on each project; to learn Continental-style knitting; and most of all, dammit, to get my brain into gear so that I plan (thoroughly) first, knit second, and frog (nearly) not at all.
But every now and then, I have reason to think: huh. Maybe I do know something after all.
F’rinstance, that thing that leaves Yarn Harlot lost for (polite) words? I do that all the time.
Oh, wait. Maybe being constantly forced to correct my many mistakes isn’t something to brag about. Damn.
* A recurring theme in my blogging, yes.

9 thoughts on “Negative learning curve

  1. I’m also such a coward about trying new techniques. I’ve been brave enough to try circulars, but I still choose dp’s when I knit socks. (You should try socks, btw, they’re completely addictive, and I would think a prefect venue for trying out stitch/colour pattern swatches – I haven’t because I’m a coward…). And they’re so _quick_! It’s all about instant gratification, sometimes.
    I feel much more comfortable having somebody _show_ me, I’m definitely a tactile/direct visuals learner when it comes to crafty-type things. One of these days I’ll get braver, broaden my techniques horizon – maybe when I have a bit more spare time…

  2. Socks are on my list. I definitely like the instant-gratification idea; plus there are such cute self-striping sock yarns available! And I saw someone a while ago wearing amazing lace knee-highs with a cute ribbon tie at the top – something I really have to try. But I think I might be going the two-circulars route for socks. DPNs drive me crazy.

  3. I totally understand! I feel like such a fraud when I design things when I look at the type of stuff Eunny designs. Or the knowledge Grumperina has.

  4. A philosopher whose name now escapes me (aka I’m just being lazy, I could easily Google it) used to say: I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. I think with everything, the more you learn about something, the more you become aware of the huge ponds of ignorance and how much more there is to find out. But don’t beat yourself up, enjoy what you do, your creations, there’s a risk of ruining it all by comparing yourself to others (I know that if I stop and think of all the knitting talent out there, I immediately feel it’s pointless to pick up the needles ever again…)
    PS: It came to me, it was Socrates!
    PPS: I’ve never knitted sox!

  5. I just cast on last night for the second sock in my first pair. I was seriously terrified of DPNs, and I’ve only ever used circs for picking up and knitting collars, and I have to say, I was surprised by how easy socks have turned out to be, once you get past those agonising first few rows and the DPNs stabilise. I was totally addicted to socks by the end of my first cuff.

  6. Heehee, and I find the idea of doing socks with circulars totally intimidating! (Because I’ve never seen it done, it all seems so mysterious). Lace knee-highs, now there’s a thought…

  7. Oh, it’s so encouraging to hear I’m not the only sock virgin. Thank you all for your empathy! Ana, you are an inspiration, thanks for commenting. I hope I will soon have an exciting sock project on the needles to show you all.
    Kathy, it does seem mysterious, but as I’m a complete beginner in the sock world, why not start with needles I actually *like*? We shall see.

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