Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sometimes it's not you (knitting truths)

My sister taught me to knit. She's one year older and much more patient than my mother ever was. Mom used to knit my father a vest that could, swear to God, stand up in the middle of the floor without anyone in it. That's how tight she used to knit. An actual reflection of the woman if you catch my drift. When my sister taught me to knit, there were a number of knitting "truths" that she explained to me. When I teach someone to knit, I find myself quoting her often.

  1. When you are learning to knit and you make a "mistake", it is not a mistake if you do it over and over again. It is a design element.

  2. If you have a hole in your knitting, it's not a hole, it's lace.
  3. To knit is to rip. If you cannot rip, you cannot knit.
  4. Illiterate women have learned how to knit. Don't be afraid that you can't
  5. Knitting patterns are not perfect. There is almost always a mistake in there somewhere so sometimes it's not you.

There are many more of these truths. I bet you can contribute some to this list for me. My point is, even knowing these truths and teaching them to others. I sometimes forget them. A good example would be # 5. I had tried to knit the Shetland Tea Shawl from "A Gathering of Lace". I kept getting hung up on the Madeira Lace section in this circular shawl. I could not get it right. I thought I just stank at lace and gave up in disgust for a very long time. I stopped doing any lace at all and went back to cable knitting. The shawl sat mouldering away in a bag, mute witness to my lack of knitting skill. I couldn't rip it, I couldn't knit it. To rip it under these conditions was to admit defeat. Very different from ripping because it's not a pattern you like or a color you fancy or you are bored. I couldn't knit it because it kept coming out wrong. Because I forgot about truth # 5, I never checked to see if there was a correction to the pattern. Until, that is, someone mentioned it on the Yahoo shawl knitting group. See above, there are corrections to the patterns from that book.

For any knitters new to lace. Welcome. Thank you to everyone who posted suggestions for new lace knitters that they could try. It was very very thoughtful and helpful of you all to contribute to a little list I have now put on this blog.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE any new lace knitters. Check to see if there are corrections to any lace pattern you are going to try for the very first time. Remember. Sometimes it's not you if it doesn't come out right!

Good night to all! and Good Knitting!


fleegle said...

Technologically challenged means you just haven't found a really good reason to get interested in computer thingies. Computers are no different than any other tool--once you have a reason to use it, learning to use it becomes easy. What's difficult is learning to use it without a reason.

Halfway through the second repeat of the Spider Queen center! 1/8 around for the edging of the Dragone shawl!

Kat said...

Jane, your Shetland Tea Shawl is beautiful! I've got the second edition of GOL and I've heard that the errors have been corrected.

Thank goodness for the internet--I shudder to think of having to figure out errors on my own, thinking it was me all the time! I'm glad you found the errata.

Jane said...

Dear fleegle,

You are so right about having a reason to learn a skill! When I go to Stitches West next week, I hope to there will be some of those programs available to try out. I look forward to seeing all that progress on your blog! I always gain so much inspiration from what everyone else is knitting and your work is so beautiful!

Jane said...

Dear kat,

That is the pit-fall of being the Beta-tester for new books. You get them before the corrections come out. I'm glad if your version is corrected. It really was a little like "Gas Light" to be knitting that shawl with the mistakes still in. I'm working on it now along with everything else and all seems to be going well. I look forward to seeing how yours turns out too! It's looking really pretty even though it is not blocked yet!

Opal said...

I think this is why I'm wary of buying lace books straight off the shelf when they're published. I'd rather have some other more adventurous knitter work out the kinks of the first publishing then have the headaches of doing it myself.

I'm glad you've discovered that you're talents as a lace knitter were fully intact and that it was the publishers fault, not yours!

Jane said...

Dear Opal,

I have to say, I really did think I had lost my mind when I couldn't get the lace to come out right! That is not to say that I always get lace right. There are alot of pitfalls involved in almost any knitting. Usually it's just part of the fun but I am happy to have the corrections for this shawl. Always nice to hear from you!