Sunday, December 07, 2008

Feeling Stupid

I am really hitting a wall with knitting a top-down raglan sweater.

I am at an all time high with feeling like a complete stupid person, a total idiot.

I know that in the beginning it was a good exercise for this homeschooling mom to learn something new. It is good to struggle because it reminds me of what kids feel like when learning something new. Being a homeschooling mom it is good for me to feel like what my kids must sometimes feel like, it keeps me in check so my expectations of them are not too high.

Regarding this sweater I am stuck on the part when the yoke is done and when I need to knit down the body then down the sleeves. I cannot at all understand the directions in this book I'm using which is not written for beginners. A major problem is I don't understand what to do by the steps, if I did I could tell myself not to need to understand WHY I am doing it but just do it and see how it unfolds. But since I can't understand WHAT to do I tried understanding what it is that needs to be done so that I could then approach it from that perspective. Not working.

I also have a feeling once I get this that I will not understand why the written directions were not making sense. But honestly they are not making sense to me right now.

I have the yoke tied off on four pieces of waste yarn. Each sleeve is tied off and the front is one and the back is the other. It fits me well.

I can't understand the method of cast-on the book says to do and I don't understand either what I am casting on for or where. Is the cast on for the sleeve? For the body? Why do I have the cast on anyway? In other words where does my needle go first, do I put the sleeve stitches on the needle then cast on then knit? None of this makes sense to me.

I am completely confused.

Last week I would have gone for the first time to a knitting guild meeting but it conflicted with Boy Scouts and I was being trained for a new volunteer job (small) that I am taking on. This week I can't go either as it is the Court of Honor and my son is earning a new rank. I am going to go to the meeting in ten days time and see if someone can help me.

I went to a local yarn shop for the first time looking for a new yarn. I had been told by two people they are super friendly there. Well they basically had no yarn that coordinated at all. They were nice but man, they had no stock. I was hugely disappointed. The shop's size was tiny and there were too many shoppers so I couldn't get to see all the yarn. Then people were just standing in front of yarn talking with their friend and relatives who were shopping with them and not even looking at yarn and preventing me from shopping. I left buying nothing.

I went to another local yarn shop and they do a sweater class for $150. That is how it is around here, nothing is for free, no help, you have to wait to take a class. That is the same shop that in the first week of July told me I'd have to wait for September to pay to take a class to learn to knit socks. At least another shop locally told me they'd do a private one hour lesson for $25 practically at my convenience. And at another shop out of state the shop worker gave me a private sock making lesson for free, she insisted on it, right then and there, in between helping other customers. Now that is customer service!

I spent an hour at Barnes & Noble yesterday. It was educator discount day so I went looking for a good book that teaches knitting sweaters from top down. I figured if that was all the book was about they'd teach it from a beginner's viewpoint and have good illustrations. And I'd buy the book from them too. No such luck. I found one book and the major focus was on seeing how fancy one can get with that method and there were tons of patters for sweaters with fancy stitches that I feel like I'll never be able to do. The book's directions were poor and mostly were abbreviations in patterns not for a beginner at all.

I have spent now about three hours on Google, You Tube, and Ravelry trying to find the information. So far I have found two posts from people stuck exactly like I am. I contacted one on Ravelry and despite something like 8 months having passed she has given up on it and is soon going to frog it. She never got the answer to her question. Another knitter got an answer that made sense from somone. I printed it off last night and tried doing that and it didn't work.

Another issue is that in other sets of directions some patterns do not call for casting on new stitches at all. They just say "pick up and knit". I also found one online pattern where the person knits the sleeves by themselves and then grafts them onto the sweater in the end. So one challenge is there are all different kinds of ways of doing this, I guess, so other descriptions of how to do it don't match my pattern.

It takes me a long time, about 30 minutes for some reason, to put stitches back on the circular needle from the waste yarn. I did that then I realized the yarn to knit with was on the OTHER side and useless. Now I will have to take this off and put the other side on the needle, I guess.

The good news on the sweater is that I finally found a new yarn for the main color at a local yarn shop. I bought 10 skeins of that dye lot to make the sweater with. So that task was accomplished. I knit four or five rows of the main color for the bottom of the yoke and it does look nice when put together for the sweater.

The bad news on the sweater beyond me being stuck is that one sleeve is 4 stitches wider, so I'll have to remedy that. And somehow the back is 101 stiches and the front is 95 stitches. More evidence of my imperfection!

I thought I had a better picture of this yoke but now can't find it. Maybe it is on the other digital camera and not yet downloaded. Yet another project.

So for now I'll show you my progress on my first sweater, this was taken on 11/26/08.

I could phone my friend who taught me to knit but honestly I'm feeling a bit embarrassed to call her again. She helped me already once with phone counseling about this sweater. I know she is busy and I feel too much like a pain in the butt to phone her.

I've started asking around to others if they've made a top down raglan. So far, no luck, the knitters all say they have not done it yet. One mom even told me yesterday she can't learn any knitting from reading written instructions and she can't read patterns so she doesn't even try. I refuse to not try.

I'm a persistent person. I want to work on this sweater. I don't just want it for a finished product. I want to get back to enjoying knitting it. I bought the yarn and I want to use it, darn it. I'm ready, willing and able.

Maybe later I'll give it another whirl by just winging it.

Update: My Knitting Angel read this post and phoned me with instructions. She completely understood the writing in the book's pattern and re-phrased it in a dumbed down format for my newbie knitter brain. I plan to work on it today. Now it seems ridiculously simple, what I am to do. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

contact said...

Hi Christine,

Your post came across my desk this morning because I have a Google Blog Alert for Sweater 101. It's a book about making sweaters in flat pieces but it might help your overall understanding of how sweaters go together, what gauge is, etc. I'd be happy to send you an eBook version as a gift. It's considered a "classic" knitting book (that would be an oldie but goodie, like me).

I'm also a long-time educator who homeschooled my son who is now 26 and an extraordinary human to whom I am very close. I am most interested in your homeschooling blog and will explore it when I have more time.

About your statement: "I am at an all time high with feeling like a complete stupid person, a total idiot…" Being gentle with yourself, allowing the space for feeling overwhelmed and lost at the beginning of learning something, yet sticking with it because you trust that things will eventually "click"… these are the keys to learning new, complicated things.

You're obviously neither stupid nor an idiot. In fact, after 40 years of teaching in multiple settings, I respectfully suggest that the words "stupid" and "idiot" do not belong in the vocabulary of a student or teacher.

If you send me an email address I'll happily send you the book.

Best regards, Cheryl Brunette