Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things We Take for Granted: Ribbing

My Project Class often attracts new knitters. And I love them.

My Project Class is a multi-week guided workshop. The idea is that knitters bring a project that is a personal challenge, and I equip them with the skills and knowledge to complete it.

I see a broad range of experience and skills levels in the class. We see seasoned knitters looking to stretch themselves and tackle something they've never tried before, like lace or socks. We get new knitters fresh from beginner classes looking to try an actual project. And there are always self-taught knitters (thanks to the internet!) who have made a million scarves and need something more exciting.

I love this environment - lots of different projects on the go, lots of different skills levels. The more experienced knitters provide encouragement and share skills with the newer knitters, and the newer knitters bring a level of excitement and enthusiasm for their new passion that the more experienced knitters often find inspiring.

Teaching the class is inspiring to me, too. I get to vicariously enjoy the projects my students make, and it never ceases to thrill me to see a student's pride and amazement in her (or his) own work.

I, too, learn lots from the class. I get to see and read a lot of patterns, and I believe it's made me a better writer of patterns and technical editor. I see what sorts of instructions make sense and are clear, and what sorts of instructions create more questions than they answer. (I have been known to get cranky about a pattern - I get frustrated on behalf of all knitters when I see a poorly-written pattern. If a pattern isn't well written, a knitter is less likely to be successful and enjoy the process. And an unsuccessful knitter is an unhappy knitter, and an unhappy knitter is very likely become a non-knitter. And this makes me sad.)

And I learn from knitters what's easy, and what's not.

In a recent project class, I had a student who we shall call Daphne. Daphne had taken a beginner level class, and was feeling very confident about knitting and purling, and had chosen a great starter-level project: a headband worked in (k2, p2) ribbing. Easy, right?

Poor Daphne was completely at sea.

The instructions were fine: Row 1 [RS]: *K2, p2; rep from * to end of row.

But she couldn't figure out why she had so many stitches at the end of a row, and that everything looked so very tangled up.

I laughed when she showed me... in sympathy and recognition. I remember this so very well.... in my case it was (k1, p1) ribbing.

Oh yeah, very easy... knit a stitch or two, purl a stitch or two. But nowhere in the instructions do they tell you that you have to MOVE THE DAMN YARN.

She's on the right track now.


Catherine said...

AS beginner I think I made up for all those extra stitches with a dropped stitch or two. What I don't like about patterns is where there is often no consistency with abreviations from one pattern to another

TracyKM said...

My similar memory--I was trying a stitch pattern from the Vogue Book of Knitting. There was a SSK. The glossary said it meant "slip, slip, knit". So I slipped one stitch, slipped another, then knit the third and thought that was the oddest instructions I had ever read. LOL.