Saturday, 23 February 2008

knitting is not hard

A comment by Sueeeus on my last post raised an immediate response from me.

Hey, knitting is not hard.

The vast majority of knitting utilises a very few moves, it involves no split second timing, no real time danger, no challenging physical manipulations. Kids can do it. Uncoordinated adults unable to conquer auto mobile driving can do it.

So why do I so often hear people sigh and say stuff about how they wish they could knit? I know I'm not alone, many knitters will tell you they hear the same thing all the time too.

I suspect it is all about expectations. Hey if it isn't hard why can't I pick up sticks and make a beautiful lace shawl straight away? Where is the knitted trench coat I expected would fall from my needles in mere days? Why do these needles make me feel like I'm all thumbs AND stupid?

Knitting isn't hard like brain surgery or prize winning sponge cake or fine carpentry. Knitting is practice. If you ever learned to touch type you know what I'm talking about. For weeks you feel like you are writing an essay backwards with your left hand in another language on a topic you know nothing about, and then one day you realise your hand knows where the keys are before your mind is even involved. You don't look, you don't think, you just do it.

Sure you still make a few mistakes, you need to go back every now and then to check, but the more you do, the more automatic it becomes. Your muscles have grasped something your thinking brain could not and now what once seemed really hard is easy.

Now driving a car is not like this. There is traffic and finding your way and controlling your vehicle and not losing it at kids in the back seat driving you wild. No amount of practice will change the fact there are multiple real time events taking place simultaneously and your brain needs to see them, prioritise them and respond to them. And hey, the stakes are high!

So of course some knitting is harder than others, and some people can produce an overall finer result than others, and beginners will make more mistakes and have wonky tension and make simpler things, but really, it's just practice.

On a totally unrelated note I'd like some advice. I'm new to the podcast thing (I know, so last century...). I see the itunes store has tonnes of free podcasts for download - including whole novels. And there's probably around a zillion other places you can get great free podcasts and talking books to listen to whilst riding trams and walking the streets. So tell me, what should I listen to and where do I get it?


lucykate crafts... said...

podcasts - don't know about book ones but for crafty ones, try 'crafty pod' and 'craft sanity', you can subscribe to both through i tunes, and they are free.

amanda said...

i think it's just a question of momentum as well. i think we all go through phases where we learn lots of new things and have goals we want to accomplish with our new skills... and then sometimes we just want to do patterns we're comfortable with. the thing that motivates me most to try new knitting techniques is seeing what other people make, whether it's on blogs or ravelry or my knitting group. i may not be super interested in learning a new technique just for the sake of it, but if i can make something really cool, i'm there.

sueeeus said...

Well.... I *can* type, rather well! So by extension, I should be fine when I try knitting. You've boosted my confidence, at any rate!

craftydabbler said...

I'm not up to podcasts yet, but I do like listening to books from You can download chapters as mp3s.

I think the reference to touch typing is quite apt. I'm not a fast typer or knitter.

Kate said...

Knitting is certainly easier than sewing, etc. If you muck up, you can just call it practice, rip it back and start over.

I would go to iTunes or, and type in 'knit'. There are only fifty billion bazillion knitting podcasts. I especially recommend cast on, stash and burn, and purl diving.

There's also craft lit, which is public domain literature (starting with Pride and Prejudice) They are all sourced from librivox, which takes books that have fallen into teh public domain and gets volunteers to read them. They have a podcast themselves, and you can podcast individual works from their site.

There's also podiobooks, which records new novels by independant authors. Some of their adult books are not my thing, but the kids/young adult fiction is excellent.

Also try ABC Radio National and BBC4 does some excellent comedy shows, etc. If you're in the mood for comedy, why not try the Australian Senate Question time, podcast by ABC News Radio? Always get at least three chuckle snorts from that one.

Was it fiction in particular you were after? Or anything else. Seriously, I have TWELVE DAYS of podcasts on my iPod (and how I think I'm ever going to listen to that, i don't know) and podcasts literally saved my sanity when I was in China in 2005. I no longer watch TV, podcasts are just about my only form of media these days.

Content questions, tech questions, I'm happy to help and advise!

samantha said...

I agree that knitting is easy, and well crochet even easier. but I think that a good teacher does help you get started. just reading about how to knit can make it seem all so complicated when really it isn't. so if you want to knit - get someone to show you.
as for pod casts I too am way behind the times, but as I can never seem to snag myself any time with the ipod I have decided to remain a luddite.

kwoozy said...

haha.. well i am getting into the knitting groove mainly because of ravelry. what i dislike about knitting is how the first projects are always scarves etc etc-super duper boring! but via ravelry I get to see lots of amazing stuff. In fact, I am probably getting in too deep because I want to do the hard stuff NOW. And then it becomes a lot of arghness:)

Emma said...

I always thought that I couldn't knit. But then after seeing so many beautiful knitted things in blogland I decided that I had to get over the fear. I managed to knit my daughter an easy little sweater - with very neat looking increases and seaming and everything! I felt so proud of myself that I was inspired to learn cables, which always seemed incomprehensible to me, but they're actually really easy! My next trick will be knitting in the round, and then maybe one day I'll be able to make socks! I can't wait. But I must, because as you say, it's all about practice.

My husband sometimes downloads lectures on various subjects from Stanford and Yale (and I'm sure other universities do it as well), I think you can find them on iTunes. They often have a video with them too, but you can usually follow along without the video. We've had electromagnetism, Don Norman on car design and an interview with Aaron Copland, among other things.

tiel said...

yeah yeah...alright alright. But I still think it is hard. I can crochet, but not knit. I really think it is the two handed thing. left brain right brain working together. I can play the piano...only with one hand.

one day when the kids are older I promise I will give it ago..except I live in QLd, and I found it difficult to knit when it is 32 degrees for most of the year!

Jessie B. said...

I was just telling a pair of non-knitters on the commuter train tonight that knitting is not hard at all. On the other hand, the one thing I do think it takes is patience. Even the easiest patterns don't provide instant gratification, and to knit well you need to be willing to riiiiippppp. Maybe obsessiveness can be substituted for the patience, though!

Anonymous said...

Knitting is hard for those of us who do not have the manual dexterity to do it. I can't work with my fingers very well, and the only way I can knit is to use very large needles. Even then, its somewhat tough.

sexy said...