Saturday, January 30, 2016

About Me and There are no Knitting Police

There are questions in this world that get very different answers depending on the context of the question.  "Tell me a little bit about yourself" in a job interview results in a very different response than "Tell us a little bit about yourself" when being vetted to be on the board of a non-profit, or asked to write a quick bio for a publication, or when you are standing in front of a group of students right before trying to teach them why it is important to get in the habit of saving now.  There are similarities between all the answers...this is where I am now, this is how I got here, this is what I want from the future...this is why I am qualified to give you whatever it is you wanted me to do for you.

None of us plays just one role in life.  On a daily basis I can be a friend, manager, mother, cook, dishwasher, laundry aide, teacher, knitter, wife, daughter...the list could go on for miles and for each one of those "jobs" there is a different set of expectations.  Which is why the answer to that one question can be so very different depending on when and where it is asked, or volunteered.

You may wonder where that line of thought started and what on earth it has to do with the knitting police.  I'll explain.

I have a friend who has been knitting for a few years now.  She is not what she would consider an expert knitter, but really are any of us?  There seems to always be something to learn, or do better, or more efficiently than the way we do things now.  She has always been intimidated by socks, which she didn't need to be!  She could already knit in the round, pick up stitches, knit lace, and cables. She had mastered center starts and a moebious cast on.  What could intimidate her about socks, other than the fact that she thought they were hard. In any event, her husband wanted to try some hand knit socks on his feet, so she bit the bullet, faced her fears and cast on a pair for herself to learn how before she attempted to knit some for him. Her first sock got to the heel flap and was frogged, her second attempt got her to the heel turn and she was away from her pattern. We texted back and forth, me giving instructions that would be clear to someone who has already knit her first and probably fourth pair of socks, her struggling to follow them...but it all worked out in the end and she has at least one sock to show for it!

At the same time TOB decided it was time for him to tackle socks. I wrote  a quick pattern, he cast on and he got as far as the heel flap. When I was showing him how I arrange the stitches on my needles going into and out of the heel turn he looked at me and said..."Apart from the aesthetics, I don't see why you put your start of round where you do. It looks nice, but why do you do it that way?"  Which nearly echoed something the friend had said...."So the start of round is in the middle of the heel?"  Well yes, the way I prefer to knit socks it is....but it doesn't have to be.  You can put the start of round wherever you want to and it will still be a sock!

There are no knitting police telling you where to put your start of round. And I will often tell you that Never and Always area words that don't necessarily have to be followed in knitting.  Now, a pattern may tell you where to put your start of round for shaping purposes, but you can always (as you gain experience in reading your knitting) move the start of round to somewhere completely different so long as the shaping still gets worked in the same places on the finished garment and gets you to the same result.  I promise you that once you cast off, no-one will know where you put your start of round...unless you are working stripes and didn't use a "jogless" method for starting your new color.

A lot of what we do, both in knitting and in real life, is force of habit.  It is comfortable to do things the way we have always done them.  Which is sometimes why, in job interviews or discussions where people are looking to find out why you are the right person for what they want done, you are asked to tell a little bit about yourself.  How do you do things? Where did that come from? What do you believe?

So some things about me as a knitter :

I don't use lifelines.  I am daring that way!  I spend a lot of time telling other people, especially new knitters, to use them, but I tend to fly without a net. (That comes from not even knowing about them until relatively recently, I have to have been knitting for 15 years before I first heard of them!)

I only use stitch markers to designate beginning of round in big circular projects and for separating instep from insole stitches in socks when working gussets.  That said, I have quite a large collection of stitch markers because I think they are cute. (I knit fairly quickly and find that slipping the markers interrupts the rhythm of my knitting and slows me down.)

I don't like knitting i-cord or button bands that are worked separately from the body of a cardigan for the same reason, those few stitches don't let me pick up speed before it is time to move to the next needle.

I like self striping yarn for socks because it means I don't have to count every row in the leg or foot, I can just match the stripes, but I find knitting "plain" boring so I am always looking for something more interesting to do with my needles than just knit around for 60 or 70 rows to make a leg.

I view swatches as yarn sacrifices to the knitting gods and only sometimes pay them their tithe.  But, I am comfortable ripping out hours of work when that bites me in the behind and whatever I am making is not going to fit or look right when it is done.  I would say that most of that is experience, I know what gauge I typically knit to in various yarns with different sized needles.  My guestimates don't always work out, but I would say they do more often than they don't.

I never only have one project on the go.  At least one of those projects is something small...something I can drag around with me, and usually one of them is bigger and not portable. (I hate being stranded without something to do with my hands and there is only so much playing on my phone I can do in a waiting room before I get restless for something more physical to do.)

I like thin yarn and skinny needles.  That big, not portable project, is usually some kind of lace shawl, with or without beads!

I can literally knit with my eyes shut or in the dark.  (TOB is trying to learn that trick, he didn't believe I could do it at first!)

I put my start of round in the middle of the back of the leg (or heel) when I knit socks, just because I do.

Due to the way I wrap my purl stitches I have to work my k2togs and ssks in reverse to get them to lean the "right" direction. I honestly don't know where that came from.  I don't remember being taught to purl, only the knit stitch is memorable to me in the learning phase.  As I do so many other things backwards (from tying slip knots to cross stitch) I sometimes wonder if I see the world in reverse to everyone else and followed a picture tutorial???  I don't know of a way to test that theory at all, it is like wondering if the shade of green you see looks the same to you as it does to your next door neighbor.  We both call it green but do we see the same values in the colors?

I can purl faster than I knit.  I am probably the only knitter who has uttered the words...."I like purling".

What things about you, define you as a knitter and where did they come from?

~M

My thought for the day : People want everything to be given to them for free, but only value what they pay for either with money or hard work.


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