As I read through the comments we receive on Facebook I often see people say things along the lines of “I wish I could knit/crochet like that” or “Cables (or the technique show) are beyond my skills.”
We’ve also received comments and emails from fans asking how they can become a better knitter or crocheter.
I usually have two answers for these people.
First, don’t hold yourself back! As the motivational posters point out, “If you say you can’t, then you won’t”. You might be surprised by just how talented you are.
Second, don’t underrate the importance of practice when it comes to your knitting or crocheting.
Yes, my stockinette stitch does look nice and smooth and my cables are crisp, but you know what? I knit a lot. At least an hour a day. Sure, it’s my job, but I devoted that much time to my craft before I got this gig because I love knitting and crocheting that much. (And housework is overrated.)
We have skills
We have to remember that our knitting and crocheting are more than “crafts”, they are skills. And skills need to be practiced if you want to improve.
I took shop class in middle school, but I couldn’t walk into a woodworking shop and produce a chair because I haven’t touched a jigsaw since 8th grade!
Do you play a musical instrument? I bet you didn’t hit all the right notes the first time you picked it up.
Aside from practicing, we have to challenge ourselves if we want to improve and grow in our knitting and crocheting. I like to say that every project increases our skills.
Try that new technique or you’ll never learn it! If you don’t want to “risk” testing out a new technique on a large project, then just work a swatch instead. So you cross a cable the wrong direction, what’s the worst that could happen?
It’s yarn! Rip it out and try again. Yarn is rather forgiving that way.
Knitting basically involves variations of the knit and purl stitch. The magic is in how you combine them. Beautiful crochet projects are also built on just a few basic stitches. Once you learn those basics you can tackle any project you put your mind to.
And if you still aren’t feeling brave, then take a class at your local yarn store. You’ll have someone there to guide you and answer questions as you go along.
Don’t get rusty
Oh, sure, it’s fine for me to spout all this encouraging stuff, but does it have an bearing on reality?
Let me give you a concrete example from one of my recent projects.
With the new fall yarns arriving daily, I was given a ball of Noro Shiro to play with. It is a yummy 40% Wool, 30% Cashmere, 30% Silk blend yarn with 137 yards per ball.
I thought to myself, “This would make a great cowl! I bet one ball would be enough.”
A crochet cowl using chevron stitch seemed like a good idea.
Now, usually, I’m talking about knitting, so you might be surprised to learn I grew up crocheting. My grandmother taught me when I was very young. I crocheted many afghans and scarves, and even designed my own stuffed animals.
Sadly, I started getting pains in my wrists from too much crocheting and had to put it aside. To say my crochet skills are a little rusty is an understatement.
On the first swatch for my cowl, I worked my first double crochet in the wrong stitch on the foundation chain so I didn’t have enough stitches to work a full repeat.
Since all my decreases weren’t balanced by enough increase, my swatch grew steadily smaller.
I ripped it out and started over.
This time I had the correct number of stitches, but I didn’t properly line up my peaks and valleys and my swatch started tilting off to the side. At least it was wide enough to measure a vague gauge.
Annoyed with swatching, I ripped once again and decided to just plunge in and start the cowl.
I don’t have a picture of the start. Let’s just say it’s not pretty. I have too many stitch to work the pattern repeat properly. Even worse, I introduced a twist when I joined and have a mobius on my hands, which was not my plan at all.
Did I mention I used to design complicated crocheted stuffed animals?
My crochet knowledge will come back to me and I will defeat this cowl!
But as you can see, if you don’t practice you don’t improve and might even atrophy.
What tips do you give when someone asks how to improve their knitting or crocheting?