Monday, August 1, 2011

Try New Things (It Won't Kill You)

When it comes to trying new things I'll admit it: my natural reaction is to just say no. I've had to learn to be flexible over the years and to roll with what comes. That's how life is, right? It keeps moving along whether we adapt willingly or get caught up in the flow kicking and screaming. So in the name of making life less stressful I choose to go along with what comes our way. It makes for quieter living and I'm a big fan of that.

The thing is, that natural bent toward saying no to the new leaks into every area of your life, even the places that don't matter as much in the grand scheme of things. After all- since when did messing up a knitting project affect your value as a human being? There's no reason not to be adventurous in knitting and yet it's easy to find yourself congratulating yourself for even learning to knit in the first place. You tell yourself that just knowing the knit stitch is enough because the very thought of trying to learn lace or bobbles or cabling gives you a little panic attack.

And another moment of honesty: while I feel pretty daring in my knitting endeavors, the very thought of steeks makes me want to pass out.

But it's still on my list of things to try some day, probably following Elizabeth Zimmermann's recommendation to lie down afterwards.

It all comes back to my knitting philosophy

You can always take it back out if you make a mistake.

If it doesn't work you can just try again.

Pick a Project and Go.

It really is that simple. The key is to pick something you really love- a project that you feel drawn to every single time you see it. One of those projects for me was the February Baby Sweater and I learned a *lot* from it. A little bit of lace, more about sweater structure, button holes- it was a good project with just the right amount of difficulty for where I was at the time.

So how can you find a project that is going to help you gain new skills
without being too difficult for your skill level?

1. Read the directions all the way through.

After you find that pattern that you love, read through everything in the directions- every last little line. Check out the new skills you'll need to learn and take a few minutes to watch videos on youtube or to decide if you're ready to attempt those skills.

2. Practice on a swatch.

Not sure if you can do it? Try a swatch. Cast on 32 stitches or so and knit in stockinette for several rows. Then try out the new skill. Try out yarn-overs or bobbles of k2tog- whatever it is that's making you nervous. On a swatch it's okay if your count is off or it doesn't look like anything and it gives you a chance to practice practice practice until you feel comfortable.

3. Know when to quit (and try it again later).

Sometimes you might over-reach and go for something a little too big for where you are right now. That's okay- remember that you can always rip it out and try again. I attempted a lace vest that was waaaaay beyond me about two years ago and I ripped it back several times before giving up completely. It's back on my list for this fall because after a little more beginner lace work and more experience with sweater construction I feel much more confident about working on the project.

How do you feel about trying new things? Nervous? Adventurous?

What have you tried lately that's new to you?


  1. I don't do well with new or change. I like things to just roll right along.
    I am with you on steeks! I find the whole idea fasinating, but not sure I could ever attempt it without breaking out in hives! xx

  2. Oooh! I'm trying quilting! I have my first of the cuts made and a few squares pieced... so excited!


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