Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finding your level

I was browsing through my newest Knit 'n Style magazine (just started subscribing and love it) and found an advertisement for a pattern I liked. Except it was marked "For Experienced Knitters". Hmmmm, does that mean me? After all, I've knitted for a lot of years. Does that qualify for experienced?

It's easier when they define the levels of difficulty as Easy, Intermediate and Advanced because I know darn well I'm not an "Advanced Knitter". I consider myself a Low Intermediate because I have a) knitted several sweaters (not difficult ones but still...), b) made a fair amount of progress on a lace scarf, c) worked out my own stitch charts for intarsia and d) knitted short rows.

However, there's a lot of stuff (like cables and socks) I have not done. In the case of socks, I never intend to do them ever, ever, ever. So do I dare to order a pattern for an "Experienced Knitter?" Or will I founder on the shoals of my hubris?

All you Yarnies: how do you define your level of expertise as a knitter?

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Blogger kshotz said...


Cables are NOT hard!! It takes a bit of practice to get the tension right when cabling, but the cable itself is the greatest "cheat" in knitting!! (By "cheat" I mean something that gives the immediate look of being difficult and can add drama to a piece, but is one of the simplest things to do!!)

And your knitting resume includes any and all skills needed to complete a sock, so you might as well consider it done too.

I think you could go for it, especially if you're the kind of knitter who enjoys rising to a bit of a challenge!

9:26 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

you'd be suprised. I only taught myself to knit in the spring of 06 and though i do not create my own designs i have discovered i am an advanced knitter. Socks and cables are not intimidating any longer, though i put them off for sooo long! (then discovered how fun and easy they really are!) I think you would suprise yourself if you ordered it and started it. It may cause you to have to look something up to verify or learn a new trick (lol, how i learned all but turning a heel - that i did take a class for) but i think you would love the new accomplishment! go for it!

9:29 PM  
Blogger LisaB said...

I think you define your own levels of experience. Buy the pattern and if you need some help, go to your local yarn shop.

11:40 PM  
Blogger kozmic said...

I'm in a category definited as "Bah Humbug" . A pattern/design has to be interesting enough that I'll knit/finish it BUT it can't be spine-chillingly difficult that I'll never get around to finishing it. So boring gets chucked but so does something with a zing.

I learnt to knit cables , Fair Isle, Intarsia, lace before I found out they were supposed to be difficult. I simply followed the pattern. Socks on dpns held me up for a while till I figured out how to hold all of those silly little needles and tension yarn in one fluid movement.

A good well written pattern is half the battle. Don't let anyone tell you something is difficult as it gives you a mind-set before you even cast on.

12:16 AM  
Blogger KnitTech said...

Levels are hard to define. I can design cabled sweaters, read charts, do color work, but I've got a lace pattern that is kicking my butt.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Cathy R said...

I ignore suggested levels all together. If there is something that I want to knit, I just jump in and knit it!!!

Some things work better than others at the start, but eventually, it all gets figured out.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I tend to be one of those who decides that if I like the pattern, I will learn to knit it. I learned to knit because of the Alien Illusion scarf in Stitch N Bitch--I had to learn how to make the illusion knitting. It was my second knitted item. I learned socks because I wanted to. Less than 6 months after learning to knit. I learned lace because I wanted to. And I'm learning intarsia with this simply because it's pretty and had irises. Yeah, I'm a bit of a wierd duck. But if you love it, don't let it intimidate you.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Ivy said...

Cables are actually fine for a beginner. You're only moving some stitches out of the way to knit them in a moment. No big deal.

Socks scared the pants off of me for the longest time until I tried them. They're not so bad. I'd say intermediate. Shawls scared me too, but now I'm in the middle of two and when the needles are clear I'm casting on a third.

My last weak spot is lace, so I joined Embrace the Lace (the source of the shawl that will be cast on next) and I think I'm getting comfortable with that.

Remember two things. You can always reuse the yarn. You're only doing this for fun anyway. Be a brave knitter and order the pattern if it pleases you.

9:59 AM  
Blogger georg said...

I like it better when the pattern says what's needed, not a difficulty level. If it needs cables, yos, k2togs, ssks, bobbles, colorwork, or the like, say so. I'm not fond of purl rich environments, but I have no fear. True, I've never done a shawl or a sweater, but I'll take anything on.

Especially if you pay me.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

So many pearls of wisdom here! I have promised myself to try cables soon; I have all the fixings for the Vintage Velvet scarf and it requires cabling.

With all of your encouragement supporting me, I think I will go ahead and order that "experienced" pattern. It's for a stole and I love knitting those. I might even make it for myself.

As for socks, no, never, I refuse. Somehow putting something I have slaved over on my (or someone else's) feet does not inspire me at all. Also, I really don't like working with DPNS, even for non-foot-related projects.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

Nancy--I'm not saying you should rush right out and knit socks, but you do know that you don't have to knit them on DPNs, right? I use two circulars most of the time, and others swear by the magic loop. (I don't like magic loop, personally, and two circulars are harder for the toddler to pull out than a DPN.) Besides--I kind of like working with DPNs--it looks so very impressive to the non knitters when you knit in public.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous toni in florida said...

my philosophy is "if you want to make it, just try it." there are tons of us out here who will be happy to help anytime you get stuck. that said, you may just be surprised at how little help you need!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Toni in Florida, your comment about "there are tons of us out here who will be happy to help" literally brought tears to my eyes. It's so true that you all are an amazing community of supportive, generous, friendly people. I can't tell you how happy I am to be part of this group.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Always give it whirl. The worst thing that happens is that you have upped your knitting game. For any problem with techique, YouTube has a ton of knitting hand videos (which are better than talking heads, in my book) to watch and learn.

And never say never to a project... you never know when a sweet-faced cutie asks for a pair of socks and you are helpless to say no.

3:50 PM  
Blogger sjanova said...


As the others have said, cables are an easy thing to learn. I did cables a long time ago as a kid who had just learned to knit. The latest improvement I've learned about cables is reversible cables -- which is just ribbing your cables. Neat thing for scarves that you want to be reversible. So I made one of those for DH.

Do you read Knitter's Review? Are you on Ravelry? Have you checked out YouTube videos? All great resources, besides putting a question here, of course. Go for it!


8:17 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth L in Apex, NC said...

I think that your experience level should translate directly to "what I am willing to try." Honestly, if you hadn't ever made a cake but really wanted to one, would you not get the ingredients and go for it? (Um, yes, if it collapses, cover it with ice cream and eat!) After all, it is just yarn; it won't burden society if it makes you too crazy to finish it!

7:22 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Be brave and step up to the pattern- I'm sure your local yarn shop will be happy to help you if you buy your yarn there or if they have a drop-in nite for group knitting. We, your blog readers could help also.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

I have a pattern I bought that had that rating also. When I printed it the pattern was 12 pages long -- daunting. I think "experienced" knitter really means, "not for the faint of heart".

1:42 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

12 pages!!!! OMG!

2:42 PM  

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