Thursday, February 28, 2008

There's good news, and there's bad news...

The bad news:

The beginning of any project in knitting or crochet is usually the hardest part.  So is learning almost any technique, or even learning to knit or crochet in the first place.  In knitting, casting on is the most awkward part, and one usually needs to learn how several times before it sticks.  The first row is also usually difficult to work into.  Joining in the round, especially when double pointed needles are involved, is also a pain to learn, especially if the yarn is slippery.  In crochet, the basic movements that make up the entire craft are involved in the foundation chain, making it perhaps the most important thing to learn.  And it often takes a lot of practice to learn how to do that loosely and evenly enough for the first row to work nicely.

Whenever one works in the round or learns a new pattern stitch, it takes several rows before the work looks like anything recognizable in either craft.  The line between project and tangle is thin, indeed.  

As has been discussed in the recent interest in foundation stitches in crochet, they too are difficult to learn, and for the same reason.  It is difficult, in the beginning, to see whether the work looks like a mess because it is right or because it is wrong.  I will make a post on that in a few days.

The good news:

In this culture, we often start learning new things with easy stuff.  Once the easy stuff is mastered, we learn things that are progressively more difficult.  Needle arts are not like that.  Once the basic concepts are mastered, the apparently hard stuff turns out to be variations on the original theme.  In other words, if you can figure out the hard stuff in the beginning, you can do almost anything.

So, if you knit, and you want to learn how to make lace or cables, don't let the appearance of the finished product intimidate you.  Yes, they are more awkward than just knitting or just purling.  And, yes, it is difficult to keep track of your rows.  But they are just variations on knitting and purling.  The former makes increases and decreases in a specific pattern, so if you've made a hat with decreases at the top and something else that involves increases, lace won't be that hard.  The latter, despite the extra needle, is exactly the same as knitting, it just knits the stitches out of order.

If you crochet, the major hurdle is learning how to look at your work and see where one stitch begins and ends.  Once you are comfortable with identifying a double crochet versus a single crochet and each stitch as its own thing, you can do anything.  In the case of foundation double crochet, to use the recent topic of interest, if you are really comfortable with chain stitch and what that looks like, and really comfortable with double crochet and what that looks like, then it's not so hard to combine the two in a useful way.

You've pedaled all the way up the hill, now you can coast.

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