Friday, January 25, 2008

Thoughts on fearless knitting

Two weeks ago, I was at School Products buying warp yarn for the loom. While I was there, this woman came in and asked the man working there to help her choose yarn and needles because she was going to learn to knit at a free class at her local library that night. We were the only people in the store - she said to me, "I see you smiling over there - do you knit?" and I said, "I'm smiling because when I learned to knit almost 9 years ago, this was the first place I came to buy yarn and needles too. And I've been knitting ever since." She said, "Really? So is it easy? Do you have any advice for me?" and I said, "Well, yes, its easy. And my only advice for you is don't listen to anyone when they say something is hard."

Blogs and knitting sites are a great way to see what other people are doing - but sometimes, I think they can really intimidate. I hate to think of the new knitter from School Products giving up because she read somewhere or someone told her that purling is really hard. Because of course, it isn't - it just takes a little adaptation. Or maybe she learns to purl, but never knits a sweater because someone said its complicated. Personally, I don't think there is anything in knitting that can't be figured out by anyone with a solid, basic understanding of the craft. I taught myself to knit out of a book, and then I taught myself to knit cables and lace and decrease and increase and everything, and never once did it occur to me that I was trying to do something difficult or beyond my skill level.

The reason I'm thinking about this is because I ordered three (yes, three, so maybe I'm a little crazy, maybe just a masochist) Vintage sock kits to make for Christmas gifts for 2008.

I am not normally a regular reader of The Yarn Harlot. I've actually never read any of her books, and when I've stopped by the blog, I always find it amusing but I don't check in regularly.


A few days after the New Year, I stopped by her blog looking for something else, I don't even recall what, but that was the day she mentioned the Vintage sock. I (and probably 500 other knitters) fell instantly in love and immediately went to the website and ordered, without even properly mulling it over, three kits, one in each colorway.

They haven't arrived, and I don't expect them to for a good little while (such is the way when a product is mentioned by SPM). Which is fine. But in the interim, I stopped by her blog again to check in on the progress of her Vintage sock. And what do you suppose happened when I read about her trials and tribulations?

I freaked out.

I started thinking, well, if she's having problems, then I am going to royally screw this up. I mean, if the Yarn Harlot is making mistakes and feeling like its an endless process of knitting leaves and can't get the inlay right, well then, whats this mean for me?

And then I wanted to slap myself. Why would I think that someone else's issues with the sock would be a problem for me too? Why would I even let it cross my mind that the socks might be difficult just because another knitter (albeit a very famous knitter) is blogging about her troubles with them? Why wouldn't I take my own advice, which I had dispensed so authoritatively just a few weeks ago?

I read on Ravelry of people too intimidated to start a Baby Surprise Jacket. Why? Sometimes (to me, anyway) its a lot harder to try to figure out a knitting pattern or technique by reading about it. Sometimes, you just have to dive right in and figure it out as you go, with stitches on the needles and reading one word at a time. With the internet these days, and especially Ravelry, no one knits alone anymore.

But somehow, these same resources that support us can give us more to be scared of.

I really hope that woman enjoyed her knitting class.

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