Today’s Knitting Blog Week post is about comparing my knitting skills from this time last year, to now.
Which shouldn’t be too difficult because I only began knitting in January of last year. So, I didn’t know anything then – and now I’ve completed two projects and nearly done my third!
It was tough, though. I started (and re-started, multiple times) about 8-9 projects in the past year, and only three of them blossomed into something. Perhaps that’s a good ratio? I really don’t know.
My thing is, I like to jump into new stuff I’ve discovered. Just throw myself in, and see what happens. Usually that means I do quite well in the beginning (for a beginner), then I crash into some wall of lack of skill that looms just over the first bump of learning that occurs. It’s at this point I either feel so discouraged I give up completely, or somehow manage to retain enough passion to continue practising, doing whatever it takes to inch forward and make progress. It’s these activities that stick with me.
After a while, the activity sticks and starts to grow on me, and I find things I really love about it, despite my initial surprise that it’s not as easy as it looks. With knitting, what that looked like was this:
- Knit a couple of gauge swatches, learning how to cast on and make a few rows of knots.
- Begin knitting a legwarmer. Keep losing stitches and making holes that weren’t supposed to be there, not in any pattern-like way. Unravel failed legwarmer (which was re-started about four times before final giving-up occurred), discard yarn (which I hated because it was the cheapest stuff I could find), exit project.
- Begin knitting something called a “Spat” (a little foot accessory that fits over one’s ankle and foot, typically worn on the outside of a shoe – don’t ask, wouldn’t it get all wet in rainy weather? dirty from the street? I don’t know, this is just what the photos I’ve seen of spats show). Did well with the ribbed stitching, but when it came time to part my circular knitting, it all fell apart. I think this is still sitting half-knit in my yarn drawer. I WILL complete this one day.
- I’m told: start with a scarf. So, not being one to cop out so early in a game, I go through my collection of patterns thus far (pattern collecting seems to be the thing I do best when it comes to knitting – not incredibly useful, I know), find a cute lacey scarf (relishing the thought of the challenge), and pick up some fingering weight yarn. Cannot, for the LIFE of me, keep this pattern straight. It CONSTANTLY breaks down – I mean every 5-10 rows, I make a very obvious mistake. I get about 20% of the way through the scarf, after having lost a fair amount of the 1 skein to the re-starting of the scarf, and realise that the amount of mistakes that are visible in such fine lace is absolutely not worth taking this project any further. To restart again – the idea nearly killed me. So, this one is still sitting around, waiting for my memory to improve to a point where I won’t screw up the lace every 5-10 rows. Hopefully I won’t screw it up at all!
- Since my dream was to be knitting myself sexy wearables, rather than boring accessories, I enthiusiastically dove into knitting a tank top – the famous Coachella. I figured my passion would take over my frustration, and I’d actually complete this project. I start it. I screw up within the first 15 rows. I restart. Same thing. Multiply this sequence of events about 10 more times before I decide to fully give up on yet another project.
- By this time, it’s summer, and the very last thing I can do is contemplate holding heavy wool in my hands for the duration of it. Or any type of yarn, even the ma-made unsweaty stuff, whatever that may be. I just have zero interest in knitting for the entire summer. Maybe this helps my skill improve – the whole, leaving something alone for a while, allowing it to digest, and then remembering it easier when you return. End of summer approaches. I decide I need to knit a boring old, straightforward KP scarf. I dig up Laura Zukaite’s Tube Scarf from Luxe Knits, and decide that this will be my super simple project that I actually, finally complete. I’m wrong. The yarn is ridiculous to work with (Malabrigo’s Silky Merino), as it almost instantly tangles (let me say, for the record, NOWHERE I CAME ACROSS UPON MY INTERACTIONS WITH THIS YARN AND INFORMATION ABOUT IT ONLINE, DOES IT TELL YOU THAT YOU NEED TO WIND IT UP INTO A BALL BEFORE USING IT). Yup. I instead use it as it comes, praying it will unwind in an orderly manner, and am immediately deflated. Now, by this time, I’ve learned a good deal of patience and how to deal with frustrations of any kind. With so many utter failures under my belt and absolutely nothing to show for it, I would be at my wits’ ends if all that process hadn’t taught me any patience or grace. Oh I still get mad with the yarn. I yell at it, I cuss it for its existence… but I still plow ahead and get quite far on the scarf – nearly half way. That’s the photo of it on the right. I realise at this point, once I start knitting the dark purple (the 4th colour I’ve bought for this scarf) into it, that the colour combination is horrific. The deep purple stresses the similarly-toned enough blues in combination with the semi-out-of-place off-white to the point where I went: UGH! I would NEVER wear that! And I decide it needs to be torn out. The object in the photo no longer exists.
- It’s at this point where my determination to succeed reaches a level I don’t recall ever experiencing prior to this. Like a bull, I plowed my way into the shortest, easiest-rated pattern I could find that would work in the Silky Merino. I decide I will only use TWO shades for this scarf, and the dark blue and the dark purple look so delicious to me that I choose them. Blue for the trim, and dark purple for the main area of the scarf. I passionately knit this scarf whenever and wherever I can for the next 5-6 weeks. I pass up parties and weekends to just get it done – and finally it IS done. And so far, it’s my pride and joy – behold, my Just Enough Ruffles scarf!
- Flushed with pride at having pumped out my first baby after about 11 months, I quickly look about for the next project. The next thing I know, I get an email from my dad asking me to making him a winter scarf. I had been frustratedly attempting to do a provisional cast-on with some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky, but after doing it over and over for 4 hours, never successfully, and getting both the flu and a horrible allergic reaction to the wool at the same time, I gave up on that idea. It just did not seem like it was meant to be. I happily re-allocated the yarn to this beautifully simple scarf pattern, and was happy to complete it for my dad in time for Christmas. My second project – my first knit gift!
- Filled with gusto, self-confidence, pride and the ability to weather frustrating situations like a Pro with patience and grace, I decide to tackle Coachella again. And, well, if you’ve gone back even just a couple of posts in this blog, you can see my progress with that – and it’s still going well. I’m nearly done! 70% I’d say! WOOHOO!!
So, it took me almost a full year to complete anything successfully, and now that I have, I’m on a roll – I hope. I know things will get hard again when I try to take on something new (pattern design, anyone?), but that’s what I love about learning new skills. They challenge me – make me think in ways I hadn’t before – and it just gives me one more thing to be excited about – building on my own progress on something. In a measureable way, no less. It’s very gratifying.
The next thing I need to do is figure out how to avoid arthritis and RSS…