I’ve discovered that I learn best when I learn by ‘doing’. I can read directions but until I’m actually putting something into action it’s doesn’t really stick for me!
When I’m learning how to use new software I need to just jump in and start using it on a job immediately, learning as I go. I’ve never been one to work through textbooks and tutorials. I kind of wish I was, as I often make things much harder for myself that they probably need to be.
I do suspect however that I’m not the only one who learns this way. That’s actually why I write my patterns the way I do, with links to every tutorial you might need for new techniques. When asked what the ‘difficulty’ rating for a pattern is I often feel that my best response is ‘how much patience do you have?’. We all have to learn some time and if you are like me and learn by doing then tackling a pattern with new-to-you techniques is a great way of doing it!
I think that the important thing to think about when you are working on a pattern to learn something new is that you pick just a few new techniques. That way there will be enough that’s new to keep you challenged and learning but you won’t feel so out of your depth that you have to look up everything. I actually regularly still do this with my knitting. There are some techniques that I’ve only briefly touched on and so I challenge myself to design in them so that I learn them well enough to explain it to someone else!
When learning a new technique you will need to accept that you are going to make mistakes along the way. This means that you’ll need to rip and redo sections a few times until you get to grips with the technique. I also find that working nice large swatches is also a good way to practice before you move on to the bigger project.
So lets start a little blog series to take a look at some patterns that you can use to work your way through new techniques. First up lets take a look at cables. Often cables can be very intimidating to knitters as they worry that they are very complex to work. Cables however come in many different varieties!
To start with I would suggest learning how to read charts. Some cable patterns come in both charted and written form but frequently as cables become more complex they may be charted only.
I always group cables into ‘steps’ of complexity.
- First we have the basic cable. It’s a regularly repeating cable, usually with no movement. A project with this cable type allows you to learn the basics but isn’t yet too difficult.
- Next up we have travelling cables, these move back and forth across the work but they don’t change from knit to purl unexpectedly.
- The more complex cables change during a cable cross. Again they are not hard to work but take extra concentration as the changes are easy to miss and you need to watch your work and the chart very carefully.
- My final cable type would be the 2-colour cable. This is often viewed as complex but in fact it’s a little deceptive as it’s just striped garter stitch with the cable only being worked in the main colour and those stitches slipped on the contrasting colour. This cable type is a great one to learn if you want to amaze and awe fellow knitters!