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When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Will I ever?

I’ve been thinking again with a swirling ADHD mind about who I am as a knitter?  Last night at 2am I just wanted to be someone who knits lots and lots of stockinette stitch.  Today I tried to fire myself up to work on new pattern ideas, but while surfing on the new iPad, I discovered every idea I had has already been done–several times by several people.  Why bother?

BJ is always telling me I should write a book because I analyze and construct things differently from other people, but I only think brains like mine (and BJ’s) really care about that, and those brains are already doing their own thing.  Besides writing is hard and conflicts with actual knitting.

Go to amazon.com and search “knitting”. Then sort the results by publication date.  You will find umpteen new books available for pre order and among them are several I might have written (in an alternate universe).  One is about making every pattern fit you perfectly; the other is top down stuff based on Barbara Walker.  Noting this got me thinking .   Again.

I love to figure out from scratch ( or a photo ) how to fit and knit a garment.  I love drawing graphs and I even like swatching when I am trying to answer a “What if . . .” question.  I don’t like writing the pattern.  One reason is that I don’t like telling someone else to knit my numbers.  You should knit the numbers that fit or satisfy you.  Standard formats for patterns don’t allow me to tell you the little things you might need to know to be successful.  Sure I can add these as endnotes, but people do not read endnotes.  Newer knitters need the notes right at the point they apply.

So what should I write?  “How-to” articles suit my urge to teach much better than do patterns.  My friend akabini has a line of patterns called Unpatterns available from her website or Patternfish that may be just this kind of thing.   This seems to me the way to do it, to share a pattern.

For a workshop I wrote a handout explaining how to fit a sideways knit vest to your body.  I suggested some stitch patterns to use, but told you to suit yourself. (Knitters always get to chose because they are the knitters). The workshop didn’t fill, so I never published the handout.  I was amazed no one wanted to know how to do this.  I am always amazed when people don’t want to free themselves from patterns and imposed gauges.  A colleague suggested that the idea frightens some knitters.  Well, that’s why you take the class; it’s the instructor’s job to banish the fear.

I’m rambling.  What I think I am saying is that first and foremost I am a teacher.  Even knitting has an academic niche in my life.   Even this blog is intended to be a “Look what I discovered” place.

So what am I asking?  And why does the same question come up every three months with its accompanying mind swirl?  It could be as simple as I am trying to do too much.  But it could also be that I am trying to do the wrong thing.

What would happen if I just didn’t knit for a week?  Bad idea.  What would happen if I just didn’t knit in the mornings?  Forget that.  What would happen if I just knit and let the rest of it go for a while?  Maybe.

I think I’ll just knit and hope one of you reading this has a suggestion.  This time it’s me that wants one–merely one.


7 Responses

  1. Hey, J: Nice musings this morning.

    It’s funny, the reaction I get to Unpatterns. When it works for folks, they *get it* and love the extra assistance figuring out a garment design. For the folks who don’t get it, they either: a) want someone to tell them *exactly* what to do; or b) feel that they know all this stuff already and why would anyone else need that?

    For the a) folks, I feel just as you did during your book and pattern search: if you know what you want, and want someone to tell you exactly what to do, then there are umpteen kajillion gorgeous patterns out there that will do just that. My queue is full of them, for the times when I don’t have the brain space to design something for myself.

    Sometimes it’s not wanting someone to tell you, but it’s the fear… fear of making mistakes in knitting (a little more time-consuming than cooking, right?), fear of looking stupid, fear of math? That’s the tough one for me – when people seem attached to the limited vision of their capabilities. I’m always trying to find more ways to be patient and understanding with that. But as a geek and math lover, it’s frustrating when people don’t think they can do it themselves.

    For the b) folks, that’s fabulous and more power to them. They may well be the people who are currently or about to write all of the above glorious patterns!

    So here’s the suggestion I have for you: Spend some time thinking about the profound question – What contribution would you be most proud to make in the Knitting Universe when you shuffle off into the great yarn store in the sky? Maybe that’s the question you’re already directly pondering… But I know it helps me clarify my priorities. It sure did with the Unpatterns.

    Keep us posted – it’s a great train of thought and I’d love to hear where you go with it.

  2. Hi Jane,
    Your ability to draft patterns, fit and figure knitting problems out is a gift. Not all knitters have this gift. Right now my goal with my knitting is to be able to fix my mistakes and finish what I’m working on. I think that’s where most women are at with there knitting. Just enjoy your gift from God and help women wherever they are at. I enjoyed your class.

  3. p.s. ‘Just knitting’ for a while is perfectly okay and fabulous, too.

  4. How great would it be if you could hook up with the designer/pattern writer publisher and take the known pattern and then write the “rest of the story”., how to get the pattern to fit in a unique way to the knitters demensions.. if I am rambling it’s because it’s spring break and my mind is slightly mushy.

  5. akabini confirmed my suspicion. I imagined that knitters are either creators (like yourself) or rule followers (like me). I don’t want to figure anything out. I want something to do with my hands while I watch TV to turn off the hamster running in the back of my head. Don’t make me count, guess, fit, block, nuthin’.

    I guess this is why I only make scarves.

    I like Debra’s idea too. You should also write other people’s patterns. I’ve heard you complain about patterns that were almost to poorly written to follow. Fix ’em and send them back. Offer a for fee service to other knitters to test and edit their patterns. Teach a course on how to write a pattern at Stitches or the like. I think in your case you can’t see the trees for the forest. Break it down in an ADHD approved list and cross off the things you don’t want to do.

    Write a book, don’t write a book. We can’t all be Sally Melville.

  6. See, this is why I, as a knitter, love the Barbara Walker book. It’s full of possibilities simply because it’s teaches the knitter how to think through a sweater and get it to look and fit the way they want. I LIKE those kind of “patterns”. I would totally buy your pattern for the sideways vest. I want to make one!

  7. Your blog is so wonderful. I just love it. If you write a book, it should be on modifying sweater patterns to fit different kinds of body shapes. I would love to spend a day with you choosing yarn and patterns and having you tell me how to modify the patterns to fit me! You really have a gift.

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