01 March 2007

Get off my nerves!

Okay, so I was going to keep my mouth shut about this, but it's been banging around in my brain, and I just have to out with it.

If you're a new knitter, and you're wondering what the next thing you should knit is, and you spy something you love, and someone tells you it's too complicated, what should you do?

Kick them in the shins. Tell them to stop being a jerk. Unless they're offering to help you learn, you should ignore them.

I am sick to death of hearing new knitters being told that they're not good enough, or they don't know enough, or they should wait until they know more. I can't stand that attitude. It seems to be held mostly by sophomore knitters who are just passing their "Oh, how little I knew!" phase on the way to being damned good knitters. But here's the thing. While you certainly can perfect a skill by doing one thing over and over and over, you don't improve on other skills. You don't learn to cable by knitting garter stitch scarves. You don't learn lace work by doing stockinette for acres.

If what you really want to be doing is Alice Starmore or Dale of Norway, nothing in this world is going to teach you how to do it except for diving in and giving it a whirl. There is no other cable design in the world that will prepare you for Alice, and there is no other colorwork that makes me as happily insane as a good Dale. No one is going to show up on your doorstep and tell you that you're good enough now, you can proceed to the next level. You have to push yourself if you want to get better.

Maybe part of this rant is because I learned to knit before I actually have active memories. I remember being six or seven and making my mom do the casting on, not because I couldn't, but because I didn't like to. I kind of knit all the way through high school, but I don't think I ever finished anything. When I was in college, the bug bit, hard. You know what my first real project was in college? A pair of gloves. A pair of alpaca gloves. And since I didn't know crap about gauge, I used the needle size recommended on the yarn (US6) instead of the size in the pattern (US3). I made gloves for the Jolly Green Giant. And I loved them. And I made more gloves (with the right needles this time) for a bunch of friends that Christmas. It was fantastic.

Know the first sweater project I did? Alice Starmore's Cromarty. I'd never cabled before, never knit a sweater before, but someone asked me to make it for them, and I wanted to learn how, so I just did it.

It makes me so aggravated when people let their current skill level deter them from something they really want, or save a beautiful yarn for when they're "good enough."

Maybe I'm no one special, maybe you don't know me from Eve, but you know what? If you can tell the pointy end of a knitting needle from the other end, I hereby dub you good enough. Get yarn you love and a pattern that lights a fire in your heart, and knit it. Otherwise, what the heck's the point?

Okay, rant off. I'm going to go knit a cardi and calm down. Pictures later.


Ranee said...

I am completely with you! I don't even like patterns that tell you what skill level they are. My skill level in lace is different from mine in texture, cables, etc. I have done "expert" patterns not knowing they were expert, but if I see advanced written on a pattern it intimidates me. Knit what you want. You're more likely to finish it.

Tammy said...

I love this post!! The first sweater I knit was Rogue, had not done much with cables before at all. I fell in love with it, and really feel like I could knit anything now. Sometimes I do get intimidated, then my friend Jean says, "Hey, you have come a long way, keep it up!!"

AlisonH said...

My first sweater was a cabled vest. My second was a four-color stranded Scandinavian with inset stranded front yoke and shawl collar, because nobody told me I couldn't. My mom, a knitter, just told me, go for it! I didn't know a thing about gauge swatches, I simply lucked out that they fit well.

AlisonH said...

That, by the way, was when I was 15 or 16. (Hey, look, Kristine, Blogger's letting me comment again. I've got word verification words showing up again. Never thought I'd get excited about that! Too funny.)

Karin said...

Nice 'do. Great tank top.
Go Kristine! I like your attitude re: knitting. Too bad nike already said it: just do it!

Sheila said...

From an adventurous knitter, I agree. Help the new knitter or keep quiet! Knitting is adventous and fun. Keep the fun in knitting. No put downs.

StichinSeminarian said...

Rant on! I work at a yarn shop where I heard one of my coworkers say to a young knitter, "Oh, we don't have a circular that small! You'll have to find another pattern." When I suggested using 2 circs like you would with socks, her response was, "Oh, noooo, she's not ready for that yet." It's only hard until you try it for the first time!!! UGH!!

Alice said...

It's only yarn and nobody dies if you mess it up! Go for it and make what your heart wants, not some crappy little scarf that you hate and never pick up knitting ever again because you thought it was boring as h**l.
I pretty much started on socks and when people ask me to help them learn, I ask them if they want a hat maybe? If they don't.....what do you want? Let's go!