Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill and 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or a crochet hook this time last year?
 by Amy H., who is ames of Purlene

OK, so the gamer was obviously going to write for the 1UP day. For those of you who may not get the (perhaps unintended, yet fitting) reference, a 1UP in video games is a new life. You run down the street, you hit a box, and boom - an extra life, a chance for a do-over, a 1UP.

We get those in knitting as well. Every time we rip out a poorly-done cable, or tink back a row or seven, or frog an entire project to repurpose the yarn for something more fitting, we get a 1UP. And it is good! It keeps us fresh, even when we're frustrated.

1UPs in games aren't used just to redo mistakes. With enough lives, you can finish the level, go to a more challenging one, and one after that, and after that. The parallel to knitting holds true here, as with each finished project (or project that is "finished enough"), we have the opportunity to take our knitting up a step. We can try a complicated twisted stitch pattern, or knit in a different fiber blend than we're used to, or dive into the wild world of designing our own projects.

2010 was a year of many changes for me. I moved back home to regroup after a challenging end of 2009, and to be closer to my family. Many things in my life were becoming simpler, both in content and in context. My knitting followed suit - all of the changes in my life made it difficult for me to settle down with a project. But I hit a knitterly milestone in 2010 - I knit a sweater. A grown-up sweater that fits a grown-up person, and I did it WELL.

A sweater, by golly

That's right, I'm tooting my own horn. The pattern wasn't super difficult, this wasn't a 1UP in a knitting technique sense. In fact, it was really easy to knit, and if you go and get Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, you can knit one too. Why does it count, then? Two reasons. First, there was SEAMING. I learned how to seam evenly, how to set in a sleeve without bunching, how to prepare each section so they lay flat and matched up evenly.

Second, it was my first real knit-in-pieces sweater. Yes, I did the February Lady Sweater like 90% of the knitting world, but it never felt like it "counted". It's like there's a hierarchy of knitting skills. You learn a washcloth, a scarf, a hat. You graduate maybe to a baby blanket or maybe mittens. Suddenly socks enter your life, and you've changed forever. And then, at the pinnacle of Knitterly Accomplishment sits the Adult Seamed Sweater. And I DID IT. I did it, I wore it, and my mom wore it, and darned if it doesn't look better on her than it did on me, ha.

So there's my 1UP for 2010. The sweater, which reinvigorated my knitting and dragged it out of sock-and-hat land, which is a functional garment that is also cute as heck, and which has the added benefit of keeping my mom warm in the winter. It's almost April, we're well into 2011 now. I wonder what my 1UP for this year will be?

(Secret: it will probably be spinning.)

(to find other blogs participating in the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week and writing on this topic today, enter " 2KCBWDAY2 " - without the quotation marks, into your search engine.) 

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