Monday, November 12, 2012

Knitting vs. Knitter

Knitting: the act of knitting. The answer to "What have you been doing?".
Many people knit. Blindly follow the written word of someone else. Creating row upon row of knit and purl stitches but not understanding why they are doing it or what they are doing. Decreasing and increasing because the pattern says so. Not because they know they need to shape the material in order for it to fit properly. Just doing as they are told.

When Grandma cast on 20 stitches on to a pair of double pointed needles with rubber bands on one end of each and handed them to me over 40 years ago, I wanted to understand why it worked the way it did. Why was there a hole where there wasn't before. Why do I have 21 stitches now? Why does the end curl up? Why, why, why?

This is why I don't teach knitting. I don't have the tolerance to deal with a mind that is not curious enough to want to know how it works and why.

Knitter: one who knits. But more importantly in my mind, one who understands knitting. How it works. How to push the boundaries and "rules". How to break them. How to take  measurements and simple math and create a sweater, hat, mittens... the list is endless. And most important, knowing when the only solution to a problem is ripping out the entire project and starting again, disappointed, but not discouraged or angry.
I'm a knitter.

 I was putting the finishing row on a 26" length of aran cables and twists then realized there was a mistake 14" back. I tried to isolate and fix the cable but I could not get the twist and the tension the same as the original therefore I had to bite the bullet and pull a week's worth of knitting out. 660 yards of wool. My mom, one who knits, was emotionally upset because all that work had to be ripped back. She didn't break down in tears but if it had been her project, well, it probably would have been put in a bag and left for dead. More than once she has found an error in her knitting and I have taken it and ripped it back because she can't bear the thought. She leaves it alone until the grieving process is complete. She has to have a written pattern. I've tried to get her to think about what she is doing rather than hanging on to each word in the written pattern as if it was gospel. She admits she can't.

If I had been on a deadline for this project I would have been a bit more aggravated...with myself. Put the blame where it belongs. If I had been paying better attention I would have noticed earlier that one cable was twisting the opposite of the rest. While knitting you create a rhythm, your fingers know the pattern. You unconsciously count to yourself. I dropped the ball on this one.

The project is back on track, the stitches have been picked up, the cable corrected. There was no loss of life, no blood shed, no tears. The wool was given 24 hours to relax. I'll check my work more often.

I'm a knitter.