Monday, October 4, 2010
Reading is Fundamental
We start reading when we are very young. We learn to read by first learning the individual letters of the alphabet. We learn what they look like, what they sound like, and how they feel in our mouth. We then learn to put them together and how they look and sound when combined. Eventually, we graduate to the multi-syllabic monsters such as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Everyone learns to read at a different rate. Having two kids, I can certainly attest to how true that it. I have one child that came home from his first day of kindergarten and exclaimed, "I can read," and he hasn't stopped since. He reads and understands words that are well beyond his grade level. It is instinctual to him. On the other hand, my other child struggles everyday with her reading. She wants so badly to be able to read like her brother, but it just doesn't come as easily for her.
What does this all have to do with knitting?
Reading is fundamental to knitting as well. Not just reading patterns or a chart, but reading your stitches. I knit for a long time without understanding how to read my stitches. Others would talk about knitting and being able to tell what row of a pattern they were on by simply looking at the stitches hanging from the needle and I just couldn't see it. It was frustrating to watch it come so easily for others and not for me.
To be honest, I didn't make much of an effort to learn to read my stitches. I didn't see the value versus the effort it was taking to learn the skill. That is until I realized that by learning to read my stitches I was going to catch and correct issues faster. I wouldn't have to rip everything out and start over again, because I'd actually be able to tell where I went wrong.
Just like learning to read words, I had to start with the the building blocks: knit and purl. I figured out how to really see these stitches with the help of the book Stitch 'N Bitch, by Debbie Stoller. If you are still unsure of your stitches, this book is a valuable reference. Once I had those two stitches down, then it was easier to learn what the various combination of the two look like. The more time I spent staring at the right and wrong side of the stitches the easier it was for me to recognize them on my needles the next time I saw them.
This skill has been especially helpful with knitting lace. If I find that I have miscounted my stitches, it is easy enough to look back through the row I am on and find the exact stitch I need to go back to to fix the work. I have done this exact thing at least 5 times in my current project.
I don't know how I survived for so long in the knitting world without this skill, but I am so glad that I took the time to learn to read my knitting.