I have been knitting since I was 7 years old. Since I am almost 50, that means 43 years of experience. The thing I have always been most fascinated with is the structure of it all; I love how a single strand winds a path over about and through itself to create knitted fabric. Itʼs why I love Aran knitting more than Faire Isle. Color is glorious, to be sure, but fascinating structure is where itʼs at for me.
Until this week, I have thought awfully highly of myself. I have not completed any guild course that confers titles, but I consider myself a master knitter. I use the lower case “m” to distinguish myself from Master Knitters, and I mean no disrespect to those who have earned their credentials through some official channels. But I have street cred; I earned my stripes in the trenches. I can figure out just about anything, answer just about any questions, and teach folks just about all they want to learn (and in some cases more than they want to learn.) I make things up as I go along, sometimes with the help of stitch dictionaries (Barbara Walker and the Harmony Guides are my favorites.) and sometimes simply out of my own creative well spring. I wing it and almost always get what I want. Accomplished, thatʼs me. An expert.
But write it down? Cheese-Louise. I donʼt like to do the same thing twice so I donʼt usually pay attention to what I actually did in the first place. I just make it work. Write it down? Why? Well, so someone else can make it work, of course. How hard could that be?
I have been quick to be critical of designers who write imprecise patterns full of mistakes. I pride myself, snob that I am, on intuiting what they really meant to write…or I modify their original designs to suit myself anyway so what does it matter (she says with a superior air and a wink to the side.) Never again, I tell you.
The Pine Cone and Tassel cup warmer pattern (available free on our brand new Ravelry Designer page here) kicked my arse in a whole new way.
I wung it like I always do and thought I could just short-hand the patter something along these lines: “Do a 7 stitch 1×1 rib edging on each side and a standard tree-of-life Aran thingy in the middle. Put some button holes on one end and divide it up on the other end to go around the cup handle.”
But when I put it that way to a competent knitter I know she looked at me with a completely blank expression…waiting for the punchline, so to speak. And I realized I would have to me a little more clear. No…a lot more clear. So I had to go back and look at this tiny, simple little thing I had created and figure out how to write down precise, step-by-step instructions that could be easily followed by only moderately motivated novices. A whole new learning curve for me. Who would have thought? It took me a whole day to write down. A whole day to parse 16 rows of pattern. Oh, how are the mighty fallen.
I vow here and now that I will never speak or even think critically of designers again. I promise I will give nothing but respect for the brilliant knitters who are able to clearly express their process so I and everyone else can follow it. I am an accomplished knitter, and a passing fair writer, and I know I will master this skill of scribing patterns. But, oh, my lovelies, itʼs going to take me some time and patience.