Trust Yourself, Trust The Pattern.

Last week I was at The Caring Place for the start of a new session, and I was talking to one of the administrators who happens to be a knitter.
"What are you working on?" she asked me.
"Socks for my daughter," I said. "My second pair!"
"Wow," she said, "I could never do that. I can only knit in rows!"

Sound familiar? We've all said something like this before, I'm sure. There's always some project out there that we really want to try, but then we read the pattern and begin to get nervous. It's "Advanced"! The pattern's "Advanced" and I'm just an (Advanced) Beginner! What the heck is this stitch they're talking about? Wait, what do they mean "crochet a picot edge"??? And then we throw the pattern across the room and go back to what we know.

I felt this way when I first decided I wanted to try to knit socks. When I told Dori, proprietress of my LYS, that it was time to try out some sock knitting, she set me up with yarn, DPNs, and what turned out to be an excellent basic pattern. Since I live pretty far away from her store (so yeah, I guess it's not really a LYS. It's more like a Not-So-LYS.), she kind of sighed and said, "If you have any questions or problems, give me a call, and I'll try to walk you through it on the phone."

When I got my sock stuff home, I read through the pattern and thought, what have I gotten myself into? The heel flap I kind of got, but the instructions for turning the heel were totally foreign. And I didn't really understand what a gusset was - had to look that one up in the dictionary. I was starting to get flustered, until I decided that I was just going to take the whole pattern one small step at a time. I understood the first part: cast on 64 stitches, join in the round, K1P1 for 2", K for another 8". And so I did that. Never mind the fact that I ripped it all out and started over about a dozen times - it was time well spent as I learned some valuable lessons about knitting in the round, knitting to gauge, knitting too tightly, and knitting on teeny tiny needles. But eventually I got it, and it was time to move on to that heel flap. Before it got too scary, I shifted my mindset. Let go. Trust the pattern. Do as it says, even if it doesn't make sense. It will soon.

So I followed the pattern, and suddenly the heel flap was done. Wow, that S1, K1 really makes a strong fabric. I followed the pattern some more, and to my amazement, a heel was turning. So that's how short rows are worked. I read on: PU&K around the side of the heel. Watching Knitty Gritty really helped me here - I saw numerous demonstrations on how to PU&K and managed to remember how to do it. Then I started the decreases... then knit knit knit... then decrease for the toes... then Kitchener stitch 'em up... then...

Sock! I MADE A SOCK! A huge acheivement to add to my arsenal of knitting know-how. Corny? Yeah, maybe a little, but who cares when you've made a wonderfully warm, useful, and downright handsome FO? And no pun intended.

So what's the point of all this?

  1. Challenge yourself with new, interesting patterns. Chances are they're not as difficult as they seem. No, seriously, they're not.

  2. Trust yourself, and trust the pattern, but don't be afraid to wing it a little. You're a better knitter than you think.

  3. It's only knitting. You can always start over. But you'll always learn something.


Deb S. said...

As a quilter, I've done the same thing many times (it says advanced, it looks too complicated). You're right. You just have to go for it and trust yourself as well as the pattern. Trying new things helps you grow in your abilities. C'mon, if you never tried new things, how could you learn and grow and find out that you LOVE a new pattern/technique or that you love to make socks? Who wants to do the same old stuff ALL the time?

And tell me, do knitters have the problem of not wanting to "think outside your box?". You know what I mean. As a quilter, we seem to stick with the same types of color or patterns and then you get challenged to use something different like plaid (for me that would be "yucky") and it seems to make the project that much harder.

Marni said...

Oh yeah, when we get comfortable with a pattern, we don't want to change. Now that I've knit 2 pairs of socks, I'm actually falling into that comfy basic sock pattern zone. I need to start trying some different patterns... but I don't want to!!!

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