3KCBWDay 6 – Extending your skill set

The original brief for this post posed 2 key questions which I’m going to attempt to answer  one step at a time. Its generating similar feelings to the appraisals I used to have when I was employed and boy did they make me sweat!

1. How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be?

I think after knitting and crocheting for over 30 years I’ve learned alot, but there are challenges out there waiting for me. I don’t believe you can know everything ever – there is always something you can learn. When I add teaching others into the mix, it gets more challenging – at the moment I feel I learn as much from the groups I teach about the best ways to explain things and how to plan lessons and courses, as I teach them. Its important when undertaking and teaching skills that you maintain a sense of humility, as this is a good reminder that you definitely don’t know it all. After all if I knew everything about knitting and crochet, as a learning junkie, I’d get very bored and lose interest.

The glittens on the right are an example of recent learning, I’d never done 2 coloured rib or fairisle in the round. I’d read it was all really tricky and I nearly wimped out and went out and bought a variegated yarn but decided I was going to try the “hard way” first. And I’m glad I did as I loved making these glittens, they weren’t as hard as I’d imagined and I’ve added to my repetoire of skills.

 I’ve also finally bit the bullet and had a go at felting my work intentionally! I produced a beautiful gadget case using Adriafil Carnival yarn. It was a challenge doing the maths, adding 30% more stitches and 10% more rows to allow for shrinkage and then hoping the finished case was the right size but it worked! And I loved making it so watch out for more felted items from me!

2. Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base?

I always want to learn more! I can’t seem to help it, I just love learning. I’ve got a list a mile long of new techniques to try! Here’s a “learning plan” for 2012:

Double Knitting

This stunning piano scarf from Knitstant Gratification is knitted double, giving the appearance of stocking stitch on both sides. I’d love to master this technique by the winter so i can make eye catching, snuggly scarves in amazing colour ways. I’ve done some reading round it as I want to make “non-curly” stocking stitch scarves and this very much seems the way to go!

 

 

Solomons Knot

 This is a pretty and effective crochet stitch that can be used to make net scarves and lace. There’s a really exciting weddings project in the offing that I’m very involved with and I want to produce a bridal wrap in the beautiful stitch, especially as its also known as the lovers’ knot! This beautiful example is by “Waltzing Matilda”.

 

 

Estonian Shawl

Currently I have a simple but beautiful 3ply circular shawl on the needles and despite a few reservations about knitting on 432 sts I’m loving making it! So its kind of given me the shawl bug, aided and abetted by my friend Michelle who bought me a gift in a recent shopping trip to Hobby Craft. Its a book full of traditional shawl patterns from Estonia. I was tempted by some hemp laceweight yarn at this year’s Unravel and as both book and yarn came home at about the same time, I feel its a strong hint that I need to use this yarn to make a shawl, similar to the one featured on Girl In Sheep Clothing’s lovely blog! I want it for my birthday in June but I think its realistically not going to be possible as I also have a full board of custom orders and prototypes, including baby pants and guinea pig jumpers to knit.

Lanolisation

This is a definite an urgent “must do”! I’ve been asked to knit some pure wool baby soakers for a natural nappy network  – which I’m really looking forward to, especially as this might become a regular income stream. However I’ve been asked to price up and offer both lanolised and non-lanolised versions. I understand the principle of lanolising as it means the moisture evaporates keeping baby’s bottom and the lap of the adult they’re sitting on when they “over flow” dry. I’m researching the subject at the moment and the best method to use. It appears it comes in solid blocks, liquid or spray. Although this isn’t a knitting technique per se, it is definitely part of producing a finished garment the customer wants. And who knows it might lead on to other lanolised products – like pooch wear for example!

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