Crafts are my passion, Cats are my obsession

My crafting adventures, my cats, my dogs, my opinons - I never did keep a diary as a child, but I'm doing it now!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

When did play become work?

My mind is wandering and jumping from one thought to another....

So, the pathway in this post may get jumbled some...

Maybe if I start at the beginning: Found a short row tutorial on Pinterest.  Decided I would try it out to see if it is worth adding to my repetoire.  Started thinking about short rows, when I learned them, and the fear about learning them.  Started thinking about my need/desire to learn more techniques.  Thought about the obsession of learning all there is to learn.  Led me to think about will it ever end?  Always seems to be a new way of doing things.  Thought about Elizabeth Zimmerman and her "unventing" things.  Thought about how I never heard of her really until the net.  Thought about all the other wonderful inspirational knitters I've found. Thought about how a hobby can turn into work, yet work it once was...

So - those are the thoughts I thought I would elaborate on today...

Via Pinterest, I found a blog (Soctopia) with a tutorial on "shadow short rows".  I looked at it, to see what it was about.  I can normally visualize things I read rather well.  But this had picture after picture (not sure if I like that trend that seems to be happening in blogs lately; especially food/recipes - I mean, do I really need to see a picture of a bowl of flour, then a sentence that says, add 1 egg, then see a picture of a bowl off flour with an egg sitting in it?  Really?)  Anyway.  Somehow, I couldn't totally wrap my brain around how it was going to work, or how much I would like how it would work. Part of that is that right now, the sun is shining right into my face (love it) and my screen is reflecting a lot of glare, so it isn't easy to concentrate.  Part of it that I'm also doing laundry, dishes, and playing door-maid to a couple of dogs... anyway, so I saved the directions planning to go over them later with yarn and needles.  Once I get an afghan further along, and maybe finish a scarf I went and started last night because I need a new scarf.  The scarf is going to be cute; the pattern was originally written in another language, then I'm guessing (by the very strange directions) it was translated via computer.  Plus, it was more like a guideline to make it, rather than a true "pattern" format... Which made the translation even more strange, in my opinion - but fortunately, I'm an advanced enough knitter, and the scarf is simple enough in execution, but I digress (and I'll share it later anyway!).  So, I've got a few things I want to try out this year - tubular cast on, which I am having trouble wrapping my brain around, and this shadow short row thing.  And I thought about short rows.  How I learned them by following a well written pattern, that didn't tell me I was about to do short rows.  It simply told me what to do on the row.  When I was reading a book on knitting written by Wendy Johnson (library book, forget the title at the moment) I remember her talking about steeking.  How she didn't know to be afraid to cut her knitting; she just trusted and followed the directions in the pattern.  That is how I learned short rows.  But I didn't know that is what it was... So, fast forwarding... I had joined the sock knitters email group.  So many people complained about how hard short rows were.  (this was a number of years ago, btw).  They panicked because they were so hard... I made the mistake (don't know why, because I did then and still do know better) of believing these people, and started avoiding any sock patterns with short row heels.  Of course, the more I read, the more I realized what they were -- and couldn't understand why they could do a basic heel turn after the heel flap, which is accomplished by only knitting part of the row then turning - literally, a short row.  Then, I heard about "wrap and turn" for short row knitting.  Again, because this was the method I'd done in the sweater years before, and because it just seemed to be somewhat intuitive, especially if the pattern was well written (and there-in was the difficulty - not all patterns are well written!!) so I stopped worrying about the sock patterns I was finding.  And, I started remembering how I'd been afraid to learn to do cables, because they looked difficult, but turned out fairly easy.  And I started to learn things like lace knitting, but admit at first I was apprehensive about how to do that... Then I realized that there was probably nothing too difficult to learn to do in knitting.  All I had to do was to follow directions, and not think too hard about it all.  After all, it is pretty much all knitting and purling, right?

So. I learned of some other things... like, that there was more than one way to cast on.  But, since the one I used pretty much worked for me, I didn't think I needed to learn too many others.  Sure, I needed to learn the provisional cast on, but for everything else, knitted on worked fine for me.  Then I got a job in a yarn store.  I was shown a better way - the cable cast on.  Of course, doing something one way for a very long time, it was hard to change completely.  I now use the two types, depending on the project.... and of course, depending on the project, there are other cast on methods that can be learned.  And other little techniques here and there.  And when a customer is asking you to show them how to do something, and you use a type of cast on they aren't familiar with, well, you need to learn the other most common method - long tail.  And one thing leads to another... Soon, you find yourself learning things so you can help/show others, or even learning them right along side of the customer!!  Now, I consider myself a quick learner, and am able to learn by reading about stuff, by hearing about it, and by watching it.  Once in a while, I need to re-inforce the learning with doing.  (as for the shadow short row thing).  And, I'm just a little bit (I can hear those of you who know me laughing) obsessive.  Knowing there are more ways to do something, and that some are better in some situations than in others, has made me want to learn more and more...

That isn't the part that made play into work.  In fact, to me, learning new things is still play! Very much so.  I love to learn new things.  I just meant, by the post title, that sometimes, other people stress about learning new techniques.  I mean, really, for many many years, the one type of cast on served me just fine.  It is fairly versatile, and does the job.  For a very long time, I only knew one way to decrease - knit two together.  I didn't know that it slanted a certain way, and that there were other ways to decrease to make it slant different.  Eventually, I came across pattern directions that said to slip one, knit one, and pass the slipped stitch over to decrease.  I just followed the directions, and didn't give it any thought.  Didn't realize that it sort of slanted different than the knit two together.  Same with increases - you either did a yarn over because you were told to, or you cast on an extra stitch at the beginning of a row.  Eventually, I learned that you needed to do something different in the middle of a row to increase, and I think the first one I learned was to knit into the front and back loops of a single stitch.  So, my point is, that if you enjoy the process, and your end result works, why get into a tizzy over some of the techniques?  If you are happy with the result, so what if all your decreases slant the same way?  So what if your wraps on your short rows show?  Really, they are so tiny anyway, and if on the heel of a sock, does it really matter?  Are you afraid someone is going to inspect your foot that closely to see them??  Which is what made me think of Elizabeth Zimmerman.  I had read one or more of her books from the library, and loved her philosophy of knitting without tears (one of the books titles, even). But, honestly, I really hadn't paid attention to the name of the author of the book I'd read or memorized it.  And I'd never seen her TV show.  It wasn't until I read her name over and over on various internet sites that I realized I had read her books... I thought and still think about her saying people "unvent" various knitting techniques.  This seems ore relevant even today - Back in her (hey)days, and before, communication between regions was a long and labourious process.  Sure, there were letters, and later phone calls, and quilting bees and their knitting equivalents, and books, and so on - but mostly, various patterns and techniques were largely handed down through generations, not always across geographical areas.  A particular combination of knits and purls might be called by one name in one country or region, and the same pattern called something else in a different area.  In other words, people were unventing all the time!  For example, the cable cast on - I prefer to call it that, but when I first learned it, the lady who taught it to me called it the "English cable cast on".  She has a German background.  I soon came across some directions for it elsewhere - exact technique, but referred to as the "German cable cast on".  And then there is the "magic loop" technique.  One of those that took me a bit to grasp - mostly because the directions I could find at the time were the opposite of the current tutorial trend - there tended to be NO pictures.  But, I finally got it while going through some of my inherited patterns - a picture showing a center start doily that was done on a long circular needle to start instead of using double point needles, by pulling out a loop of the cable on either side.... aka, "Magic Loop".  The pattern was written in the 1940's or 1950's.  And didn't use the phrase "magic loop", but there it was!!    So  - even though there are "new" techniques out there for me to try and to learn, and new ones cropping up every so often, most of them are probably something that someone somewhere tried doing once before.   And that led me to thinking about some of the new inspiring people of knitting.

There are many ladies, some of whom I knew via email lists and discovered common interests with before I realized they were celebrities ;)  Ok, I know some of them wouldn't be comfortable with that title, even if it is deserved.  Some of them were designers or knitting teachers before I came to know them, just that I hadn't been exposed before.  Some of them I could say (if I were so inclined to) "hey, I knew her/him from way back, before....."  So that also helped me to realize, that knitting is simply a case of doing what you love to do, figuring out a way to do what you want to do (designing a pattern, unventing a technique) and doing it.

At one time, knitting wasn't play, it was work.  If a person wanted a new sweater, or some warm mittens, they didn't simply run to the store and buy them.  They had to make what they needed.  Industrialization changed all that, and people began knitting for pleasure.  A lot of the old techniques were lost that way, I think, and that is probably why they need to be re-invented...

So - that is how my thoughts went around, just before I sat down to try doing a post today.

For a change, my thoughts that would become blog fodder came at a time when I was ready to blog, instead of when I was doing something totally different, so that I couldn't jot it down, and ultimately end up forgetting what I was going to blog about, lol.


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