Friday, February 19, 2010

The Real Olympics-- and Knitting

I watched some of the mens figure skating last night—and was once again reminded—I know nothing about figure skating .

I used to be able to ice skate once, but never did it much—I am able to roller skate.. but when I am on the ice, I am usually ON the ice (on my butt, on my knees, on all fours, flat out!—and only on my skates for a short time. I never really learned to skate (well) and I am short on knowledge of the basics—forget the fancy stuff!

I listen to the commentators—a Triple Lux, a double toe loop, an axel--to me, they are all the same (the skater jumps, turns and lands!)—I don’t know the differences and I don’t see them.

I know there are differences (obviously!) and the commentators know from how the skater is positioning himself, what jump and spin is coming up.
Me? Not a clue!

I recognize, that my eye is not trained to see the difference. (I could learn, and maybe one day I will, but for now—I am happy in my ignorance!)

Lots of knitters don’t see their knitting –they are the same way about knitting as I am about skating! The way I don’t see skating detail, they often fail to see knitting details. They are clueless about what is happening.

They might follow directions but they don’t see the big picture, and they don’t see the lead up—or why things are done a certain way (and when or why they can or can’t change details)

I can sit and watch the skaters, and be awed by their grace--and know: just staying up right is work, and jumping, turning, landing, going forward, backwards –and all the other movements are incredible skill—with out ever knowing the detail that go into the skill.

There are knitter, too, who follow patterns, (hope for the best) and are hopelessly lost with knitting—they don’t have the basic skills and understanding of what works: they don't know the how and why of what a pattern instructs.

I know, that when you are learning some knew skill, a good coach or teacher is a big help.

What is needed is to break down the program (or skill) into a series of small easy to understand tasks, master each small task, put them together, and turn the small tasks into a huge undertaking.

For knitting the basis begin with seeing and recognizing the difference between a knit and a purl. It is from this basic skill that all the other progress.

Other basic skills are increase and decreases—there are a easily a dozen different ways to either increase or decrease. Some are easy and straight forward (k2tog!) and others are well..

Lets take YO’s. In most American patterns, the generic term Yarn Over is used.

This term YO is for an OPEN (eyelet/lace) increase.

Now, actually as you are knitting there are slight differences in how the yarn over is created.
1—between 2 knit stitches
2---between 2 purl stitches
3---between a knit and purl
4---between a purl and knit.

I KNOW there are slight differences in how a yarn over is created in each of these four cases. But I have so internalized the techniques—I have trouble teaching or explaining to a new knitter HOW to work each one. I just know!

How do you balance on one skate? I know it can be done. I know I can balance myself on one foot, (or perhaps even on one roller skate, but how do you balance on one thin ice skate blade?—with practice! You learn how, and the knowledge is not perhaps something you can express in words. It’s muscle memory—you KNOW how—but articulate how you know? Hard to do!

When it comes to making a yarn over, I have such a profound understanding of knits and purl, that I just know how to make a new stitch –anywhere in my knitting (as I worked the lace edge on my Fruity Cowl, I make yarn over in both the standard style, and in the true left handed style of knitting.. and my fingers did the work—I didn’t think about what needed to be done—they just knew.

I could sit down, and slowly knit, and watch and break down each step to making a yarn over--UK knitting books tend to define a YO in 3 or 4 different ways –depending on if it is between knits, or purls or between one of each. And give directions to each process.

So I don’t bother—I just refer those who don’t KNOW to one of these books or to a site that has also done the same thing.

It is fine to watch figure skating –and not know the details of each jump—and just enjoy the beauty of it.

And its fine to knit, and not understand the basics of techniques, and just do as instructed (and blindly follow the pattern –hoping it is correct) but the more you know the more you come to appreciate well designed and well knit patterns.


Learning the basics will make you a better knitter.

1 comment:

JelliDonut said...

"the more you know... " Well said!