Tech Talk – A Bag of Tricks

Filed in Uncategorized by on March 10, 2010 0 Comments

I just got home from teaching the past few days at Purls Tucson which was very enjoyable.  Not only because my favorite part of this business is teaching, but I really enjoy the “Purls Girls” (my own little pet name for the 4 partners).  One of many topics that came up was “why choose one technique over another”.  Actually, it is a topic that often comes up in lots of different classes.  So here is my rule (Gwen’s rule for Gwen, but you can adopt it for yourself if you like):

(1) If a direction is specified (like a particular cast on or type of increase or decrease), I assume the designer specified it for a reason (even if it is not immediately evident) and I use that technique.  (2) If the direction is generic (CO 138 sts), then I choose the method I think will work best given my preferences, knowledge and experience.  (3) And in either case, I may select to do something completely different for reasons of my own choosing (I just have to live with the consequences too)!

Because of statement #1, I have learned about a lot of different techniques over the many years of my knitting.  But more importantly, because I cared about the why (trying to figure out why THIS technique should be the one used), I have learned not only the mechanical skill, but theory as well.  Because of statement #2, I have tried LOTS of different techniques and methods.  Obviously, some with greater success than others.  But most patterns are written this way and as with statement #1, I always work to discern the answer to the “why is this better” question.  Statement #3 really only came into play sometime after I began working full time in the knitting industry and realized that in some cases, my knowledge (because I really am a knitting geek) is better than the designer in a particular area resulting in a “better way” to knit the garment.  And this is because my “bag of knitting tricks” is REALLY large.

I cannot tell you the last time I knit something from a pattern that I did not write or was not written for Knitability.  But I own LOTS of books and subscribe to most of the major magazines and I do not consider them a waste of money.  In fact, I often read lots of the included patterns.  But instead of reading them for the particular project, I read them to get into the designer’s head.  What design choices did they make and can I figure out why?  And almost every time I do this, I am able to add something to my bag of tricks.  Then, when a particular problem SMACKS me the face, I can dig into the bag and see if I can construct an innovative and elegant solution.

Try it sometime.  Find a pattern with an interesting detail, a unique collar, a complicated stitch pattern or some other element that catches your interest.  And then read the pattern, not for the project, but for the technique or skill.  You might be surprised what you add to your bag of knitting tricks!

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