Are You A Better Knitter Now Than 365 Days Ago?

I'm glad you all liked the Leapfrogging Hearts cable (below, in the turquoise yarn) I designed for my sister's Central Park Hoodie. I will definitely share the chart once I get a little further along and am sure that all the kinks in it are worked out. It would be my pleasure! Hang in there for a bit and I'll make sure we post it.

The Leapfrogging Hearts is my own design; it's not part of the Central Park Hoodie pattern in any way, so if you have the pattern for the CPH already, you won't have to purchase it again to get the cable pattern. (And if you'd like to purchase the Central Park Hoodie pattern, including extended plus sizing, it's here in the Interweave Store.)

Endings and Beginnings

I find the end of one year and the beginning of the next to be a challenging time for me personally. It's all too easy to look at my resolutions for last year and feel that I did not live up to my own hopes and dreams; it's also all too easy to look at a list of completed knitting projects and say, "Is that all I did?"

Goals are important, of course; and finishing projects is a lovely, heady feeling. But life isn't just about endings and beginnings, about checking things off on a list; life is what happens every day, in-between the beginning and the ending. So rather than mark my success by what was finished or checked off, I decided to look at my knitting and crafting life from the perspective of what I struggled with throughout the year.

Cables. This was the year of the cable for me. I learned not just how to cable without a cable needle, I also learned how to translate a cable chart into what stitch needs to go where when in the process. This sped up my knitting as though I'd turned on the warp engines! I also spent hours, and hours, and HOURS designing and swatching and playing with cables for a couple of sweater designs, my sister's hoodie being one of them. All that swatching and playing has given me a solid working knowledge of how to design and work with cables as part of my daily knitting vocabulary. (Here's my tutorial on cabling without a cable needle.)

My stash. I think many of us knitters are struggling with our stashes these days: How to store it, how much to keep around, when to add to it, what to add to it, how much to spend on it. At the beginning of the year, I went through my stash and organized it in a new-to-me way: by yarn weight. All the worsted weight went into one bin, all the sock yarn into another, and so on. This was really helpful in terms of project planning, especially if I wanted to make something with two different yarns, or two different colours of the same weight. I made much more efficient use of my stash this year than any other year; I also had a much more organized approach to what was a good idea to buy and what wasn't when it came time to hang out at a yarn shop or fibre festival. I feel that this is the first time I have really used my stash as a proper "tool," one that needs maintaining and upkeep in order to assist me with my knitting.

Yarn knowledge. This was the year I worked on my Spin-Off lace shawlette (in the brown and pink yarn at right), the one where I processed and spun a hunk of raw qiviut for the yarn and designed my own lace shawl. (The pattern is in Spin-Off Winter 2010.) There wasn't a lot of guidance on what to do with raw qiviut, I suppose because it is so rare; thus, I spent a lot of time reading about various fibres and yarns before I did anything to my little pile of fluff. It was like a crash course in Why Yarn Is The Way It Is; I learned so much about the characteristics of yarn and how these affect the final knitted project! I notice I am MUCH more confident with yarn choices than ever before.

There's just three things, just off the top of my head. If I learned all that in 2010, then it seems a bit silly to worry about how many projects I did or did not finish last year, or what boxes got checked on which list. Just thouse three things above have increased my knitting knowledge and skills immensely, making me a better knitter today than I was 365 days ago.

I wonder what next year will bring to my knitting.

How are you a better knitter now than you were at the beginning of 2010? Leave a comment, I'd love to know!

Warm wishes for a wonderful beginning to a year of surprises and great knitting!

– Sandi

Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. You can find her blogging here on Knitting Daily each week. Want more? Visit Sandi's personal blog, wiseheart knits. Or, if you're on Twitter, you can follow her: sandiwiseheart.

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11 thoughts on “Are You A Better Knitter Now Than 365 Days Ago?

  1. This past year I’ve learned to let go to patterns, to “wing it”, most especially with socks. I’ve learned that I actually have LEARNED how socks work, so that I am not so tied to a pattern and disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way I want. I can just tweak it as needed, knowing I understand what I’m doing.

  2. Like you, when I looked at the end results (finished items), I did not think there was much to ‘write home about’. Then I remembered the Fair Isle hat (first time doing color-work) made last February, the gloves (another first) made in November, and the socks I am currently knitting using the new-to-me technique of 2@time/toe-up/magic loop and realized that in 2010 I expanded my knitting skills and abilities. In short, I’d have to say yes, I am a better knitter now than I was this time last year. At least I have one thing from 2010 to look back on fondly.

  3. This year I mastered making sweaters top down, in the round, with set-in sleeves based on Tuulia Samela’s method. I haven’t bought a sweater pattern since – now I can pick a yarn, swatch, and knit away to exactly my size with no seams!

    I also learned to knit Estonian lace, and have ordered the legendary Pitsilied Koerkijad.

    Now I can look at a picture or have an idea of most any design and then convert it to actual knitting, and so I think I have accomplished more knittingwise this year than in any year before.

  4. This past year, I knit Brioche for the first time. I knit socks from the cuff down on dpns. This past year, I tried learning to do socks from the toe up on the magic loop thingy……after much giggling and frogging, my Mom and I decided that we would likely not change our sock knitting from the top down on dpns. This last year also saw my stash grow by leaps and bounds one skein at a time! Looking forward to 2011 and going with the flow in my crafts. I really would like to do some cross stitching. I have a stash of that too! Now I need stash/project bags to organize them all in so I can grab a stash bag and go………

  5. In 2010 I resigned from my full time job in IT in order to make my knitting business full time. This year I plan to update my website and improve my photography skills so I can sell more of my work online rather than locally. http:\ Liona

  6. Although I’m still not an expert at seaming sweaters, in 2010 I lost my fear and dread of it and can do a pretty good job, thanks in large part to your tutorials. Also, I’m now a much better knitter of lace than I was a year ago; I can read my knitting, notice mistakes right away and fix them easily, love working with lace weight yarn and can now even consider using the finer cobweb and gossamer weights (which were completely out of the realm of possibility a year ago). Again, I’m far from being an expert at lace, but much more relaxed with it. Thanks, Sandi, for all the help and inspiration you give to your readers Oh–I’ve also learned not to offer to make socks for anyone and everyone who admires my knitting, and that should lead to more socks for MOI in 2011. 🙂

  7. I accomplished two things this year which I thought I would NEVER do – 1) a beaded bolero for my son’s wedding — nothing like inspiration, and 2) a cabled cardigan. I also took a class on “How to make it fit” which I have found invaluable. Why knit something that doesn’t fit??

  8. What a great question, because I was just thinking the other day that one of the things that I love about knitting is that I’m always learning new things. It’s how I challenge myself and keep it really interesting for me. This year I learned how to do entrelac, how to do a new cast-on (the name of which slips my mind right now). In trying to find directions for that cast on I discovered that you-tube has all sorts of how to knit videos. How awesome is that?! I’ve ventured into designing socks and learn more with that each time I try. And for this year i’ve already started by learning to knit two socks on two circs! Yay!

    I have to say, I’m so delighted to see you blogging here, because I really miss reading you on Knitting Daily.
    Thanks, Tempe

  9. My dear Sandi (you really do write like you are just sitting across the table with a cup of coffee.) I have been back to this post several times… it has given me a new perspective… an important shift, not only for reflection about the past year & the one coming up, but something I can carry with me throught the year. As soon as I read your first lines, I realized the old way of “talleying-up” the year will always leave me in the “not enough” mind set…. I am practicing looking at life in this new way…. So, my dear, I thank-you for the gift of a change in perspective! Hooray!

  10. Last night, for the first time in decades of knitting, I successfully Kitchener-stitched a sock toe! One of my 2011 goals is to master the Kitchener stitch, which has always been impossible and slightly embarrassing for me. I can do lots of complicated knitting without batting an eyelash, but until last night, I finished sock toes with three-needle bind-off, or better yet, did toe-up socks. I think I’ll still use the three-needle bind-off for my son’s and grandnephew’s socks, but am so proud of achieving a decent-looking grafted toe for my mother’s birthday lace socks. Thanks to Interweave Knits for providing good diagrams so I could figure out the insane trick that makes Kitchener stitch work.