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My 75-year-old neighbor called me one day and said, “Do you still do that knitting thing?”
I admitted that I did, and she asked if she could come over for some help. The sweater she had knit for her grandson wouldn’t fit over his head. I expected that it would be any easy fix: I would just show her how to do a more flexible bind-off for the neckband, and she’d be all set.
She arrived with a beautifully knit pullover. Unfortunately, the solution to her problem was not so simple. The cast-on edge at the bottom of the sweater was too tight to stretch over the child’s shoulders as it was being put on.
Me: What cast-on did you use, Helen?
Helen: The cast-on, like I’ve done for over 60 years.
Me: Which one is that?
Helen (spoken slowly and with a look of incredulity that a “professional knitter” would ask such a thing): You know, The Cast-On. The one where you don’t have any stitches on the needle and you put stitches on the needle so you can knit them.
It was at that moment I realized that not only did Helen know only one way to cast on, she didn’t realize that there were other ways of putting stitches on the needle. I explained to her that there are many different cast-ons, one of which might have resulted in a stretchier lower edge. She was both amazed and chagrined to find out that there were alternatives to a technique that she had been doing her entire knitting career.
Learning What to Learn
We’re all a bit like Helen, I think. Whether it’s knitting or crochet, there’s always something new to learn, but sometimes we don’t know what that something is.
Just last week, I watched an online class** taught by Sally Melville and learned a tweak that will help me remember, without experimentation (my previous method), which increase is M1-R and which is M1-L. I’m always trying to continue my education and figure out what I don’t know. To that end, I’m compiling a list of knit and crochet techniques that I want to be sure I’ve mastered. I’ll be sharing those lists with you in the coming weeks.
What’s on your list? Where do you go to learn new techniques and how do you determine what you don’t know? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below or via Facebook.