24 December 2007

There is Only One Way to Do Things (NOT!)

A pet peeve of mine is when certain knitters insist that there is only one way to do things (such as cast on, purl, hold the needles, etc.). It usually means that these people only know one way of doing things and therefore believe that it is the only way. These people of limited scope do nothing to encourage beginners. Often, they’ve been doing things their way for years and years, so they feel justified to run around telling others that they’re doing things wrong.

For example, I was once teaching a student how to knit. A math teacher (who’d learned how to knit in Eastern Europe in the 1950s) saw the girl working on a garter swatch during lunch and undid everything. “You’re supposed to slip the first stitch, why are you knitting the first stitch? To hold the yarn in the right hand—how bizarre! That’s not how to knit.” Of course, she offered no help, only criticism. She only succeeded in confusing and frustrating the girl and making my job more difficult. I wanted to knock her down and step on her neck.

Since then, whenever I teach anyone how to knit, I always tell them, “There are a dozen ways to do this. I’m teaching you one way to do it. You may come across someone who does it differently. Your way is not wrong, it’s just different. As you become more experienced you will learn different methods. Try to learn as many as you can so you’ll have more options to choose from.”

As deBolsillo said in her knitting podcast:

“Una de las grandes verdades del tejido es que el tejer es una cuestión cultural. Se hace de diferentes maneras en diferentes sitios. No hay una manera correcta de hacer las cosas. Simplemente hay un resultado correcto. Pero a ese resultado se puede llegar de muchas maneras. Se teje en muchísimos lugares del mundo. En cada lugar se teje de una manera.”

Translation: “One of knitting’s great truths is that knitting is a cultural thing. It is done differently in different places. There is no correct way to do things. There is simply a correct result. One can arrive at that result by many different ways. People knit in many parts of the world. In each place they knit a certain way.”

If you understand Spanish, I especially recommend the first two episodes of her podcast.

P.S. Check out knittinghelp.com, an excellent resource, and proof that there are a multitude of ways to approach certain tasks (for example, they demonstrate 14 ways to cast on--seven English and seven Continental).

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