This post is for Day 6 of
Assignment: Improving Your Skillset How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how’s your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you’d like to have tried them by.
It seems that I have come a long way …
… from the 1970s when I first taught myself to crochet, sitting on the bed in my college dorm room with hook, yarn, a vintage instruction booklet and a very puzzling afghan pattern in hand. (For my first project, did I have to pick the intricate one splashed on the cover of the latest magazine, which turned out to be the most difficult, multi-piece, one-of-a-kind pattern?) Both pattern and afghan are long gone, and I’ve never seen one like it since. Sadly, there is no photographic record of that challenging project (unfortunately there was no Ravelry way back then!) Perhaps in 1970 I should have started with a simple granny square blanket like the one I made when DD was born ten years later.
… to the 1980s when I taught myself to knit, practicing slowly and clumsily through my first charitable-cause knitting project for Christmas-at-Sea (the basic garter stitch cap & scarf set)
Oliver’s Cap (knit) and Mariners Scarf (crochet)
… to the 1990s when my skills in both crafts had advanced enough to garner attention from “customers” who commissioned me to make sweaters, baby sets and Christmas stockings
Feather & Fan Baby Sweater from Lion Brand (slightly modified) with DBKN‘s Lacy Baby Hat & Scalloped Lace Baby Socks
… to the current decade where I added new skills (designing and pattern writing) in order to share my ideas with others.
Men’s Fingerless Mitts
At this point, I would consider myself a fairly advanced crocheter and knitter, and yet there is always something new to learn. Take, for instance, the current work-in-progress. DD and SIL just moved into a brand-new house, so I had the crazy notion to make an afghan for them as a housewarming gift. Earlier this week we met at a store so she could choose the colors to match their decor, and ended up with a soft green and white, which will fit in with one of the rooms that has been painted gray with green accents (sounds odd, but actually looks good in reality.) I asked her to choose a pattern from the Berroco book ”Comfort Knitting & Crochet: Afghans.”
As the sayings go “like mother, like daughter” and “history repeats itself” she chose one of the most difficult, multi-piece, one-of-a-kind patterns in the book (see 1970s paragraph above.) When she said “I really like this one! Can you make it?” I immediately answered “Is it crocheted? (that being my strong suit, after all) Yes, I can make that!”
Eager to get started, I merrily dove into the task of following the written instructions in the book to create the first of twenty squares needed for the afghan. The entire thing is worked in single crochet (you have to like single crochet a lot, which I do) so at least that part was already in my skillset. The next challenge was, of all things, following someone else’s written pattern! Ever since 2004 when I began designing my own projects and writing my own patterns, it’s been a rare occurrence to use another designer’s pattern. I persevered through this one, scratching my head several times and uttering “huh?” quite a lot. Even though the directions are thorough and the layout for the squares is clearly mapped out, it still requires a bit of an old test-taking skill. Remember those spatial relationship tests where you have to envision fitting this piece one way and another piece that way and figure out which goes where? This afghan project is giving my brain a similar boost, just as that first puzzling afghan pattern did way back in the 1970s.
Thankfully, each square is getting easier and quicker to complete. I finally caught on to how this unique design is constructed, and it’s quite amazing when you see the result. I am at the stage of assembling the first few rows of this spiral-in-a-square design, using a skill learned from sewing up many knitting projects (mattress stitch) to piece the squares together.
Spiral by Norah Gaughan
It’s going to be one awesome afghan when completed, and this time there will be photographs to record the challenge.
In the world of knitting and crochet, there’s always something new to learn. Isn’t it a good thing that you can teach an old dog (or crocheter, or knitter) new tricks?