Academic knitting

This is a question I've had for a while, how man of you learn a certain technique just because you think you should know it? I do this a lot and sometimes I find it very useful and sometimes I disreguard it completely. For instance cables are fun even though I find them a bit preppy to look at but magic loop sock method is no fun and gives me no advantage over dpns but I know how to do it though I will probably not use it again. Right now I feel like I should know how to do a short row heel but my knitting freinds tell me it's really an inferior method, hmm, but still........


dannvictoria's picture

I don't just learn a technique for the sake of learing it, I usually will pic a project with techniques I haven't done before.

ronhuber's picture

I will learn new techniques so that I can make comparisons. For example, I have been knitting socks for years. I learned how to knit with two circulars and with magic loop and still knit with my dp's because they are 50 times faster and less awkward. I am glad I know the other two methods because I might use one of them for a different kind of projects. I have tried every sock heel known to mankind and none of them are better or more comfortable than the one I learned when I was a little boy. I thought I knew every cast off there was and had my favourites. However, a month ago, Mark introduced us to a new one and I have used that a lot since that time and it is now my favourite. If we didn't try anything new we wouldn't know if what we were doing was the most effective way to do things.

rc_in_sd's picture

I am drawn to projects with a technique I haven't tried before, but there has to be something about the technique that appeals to me on some level. For example, I loved working on dpns, so I wasn't too interested in working in the round on two circs until I tried it to make a square for a blanket. I still loves me the dpns, but I get the appeal of 2 circs now, too.

Mnjack's picture

I have to admit I am finally guilty of learning something because I think I should. I had never done lace and Mario and all the rest of you show your beautiful work and I decided I should know how to do that. It took me a while to get it right because I was not used to reading a chart. I think I started it over about 20 times. My partner wanted to know why I didn't just give up. My answer was that it now had become a challenge. I am making a scarf from "Arctic Lace" patterns, in baby alpaca. I am actually over half way finished. I am excited now about having tried it and will probably do more.

gardenguy42's picture

Interesting question -- thanks for posting it!

I've been knitting for over 37 years now. I've done sweaters, socks, scarves, hats, etc. for many years. I have pursued the path of Elizabeth Zimmerman, Meg Swansen, challenged myself with Jacqueline Fee, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, and Deborah Robson in the past few years. Where to go next?

I am currently doing nothing but projects "just to learn things" because I find the challenge stimulating. I am at a point where I want to perfect my technique. For example, I am working on Barbara Walker's "Learn to Knit Afghan Book" and I am knitting all the squares in continental style, even though I've been an English knitter my whole life. (Thanks Crafty Andy for the idea for the afghan!)

I am also about halfway through a lace shawl for my mother simply because I want to master lace knitting. I don't enjoy working with the fine wool and reading the charts but I want the skills it is bringing me.

My next project is the Tech Square Afghan from Fiber Trends. I have done almost all the techniques before but I feel that this large-scale project will hone those skills to perfection.

After these projects are finished I am thinking about doing the Great American Aran Afghan and then I will be ready to tackle Level 2 and Level 3 of The Knitting Guild of America's Master Knitter certification.

My hope is to retire in a few years and open my own LYS and teach classes. That would be heaven on Earth for me! All of these "learning because I should know them" things I am doing now are really keeping me interested in my knitting and I find that I no longer start projects that either take forever to finish because they bore me or they never get finished because I simply don't enjoy them.

I am really starting to understand and study my knitting in ways that I never did before and that makes it more interesting to me than I ever thought possible.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

rjcb3's picture

There is no substitute to good knowledge.

If you have to even question the purpose of learning something, then go ahead and learn it (yes the hard parts, too) and then afterward, take an honest look at what you've accomplished and then re-ask your question.

Why do your knitting friends say that short-row heels are inferior? Can they do it? How well do they do it? Do their methods leave holes? Can you improve the method if it needs improving? Is it because some folks just happen to love doing heel flaps and turning the heels and decreasing the gussets? What's the reason that brings these people to this seemingly collective assumption?

If you have even the dimmest spark of wanting to at least try it...why not learn how to do it...and then do it a second time and a third and forth -- give enough time and and experience and energy into being able to make your own informed decision.


albert's picture

I tend to learn new techniques on a "need to know" basis.

QueerJoe's picture

Like others, I like challenges, and sometimes the come in the form of a new technique.

I will say that you should definitely try short-row heels on a sock. Almost all commercial socks are made with this heel (and toe, for that matter) because circular knitting machines can't really do a standard heel (like the Dutch heel). While I would agree that this heel doesn't fit a human foot as well as other heels, I think it's definitely worth learning and at least trying.

I figure with how much I hate the look of entrelac, even that I had to at least try so I could understand its construction.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

What everyone else said. I also have picked up new techniques to be able to mentor others as they knit. [Being seen as a knitting guru makes for lots of opportunities for that.] Plus, it is another way to challenge my skills. I've never looked into Knitting Guild of America's standards but may have to do so sometime. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

scottly's picture

Thanks everyone for the great comments. I find if I don't challenge myself I become bored. One of the coolest things about knitting is that there is so much to learn!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Or re-learn, as the case may be. Sometimes, I've come across something, only to realize it is a technique that I haven't used for quite some time and forgot I knew. Even more frustrating is when it has been just long enough since I did something that I have to go back and brush up on the technique before I can use it. [Like the sock heel turn I want to put into my current pair: I couldn't remember the formula, even though I've knit several pairs in a row with the same blessed heel! It's only been a few weeks since I last used it!!] --Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.