Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Let's say I'm trying to do something for the first time, like make a slip knot.  Let's say I do it perfectly on my first try.  The next time I need to make a slip knot, I may freeze up and not remember how.

Now let's say I messed that first slip knot up.  Let's say I struggled with making that slip knot for 10 minutes.  I kept making mistakes and consulting the instructions.  I *really* had to concentrate and understand the mechanics and physicality of a slip knot before I was able to make it.  The next time I need to make a slip knot, I'm going to nail it.  In fact, I'll never struggle with a slip knot again.

This is how I learn.  I know this about myself.  So much so that when I do something easily the first time, sometimes I will go back and do it again a couple times the wrong way on purpose.

So last night I had to run out to the cafe for an hour.  I grabbed my needles and some yarn and thought I might start some gloves for myself because my store-bought gloves just sprang a hole in the first finger of one hand.  When I got to the cafe, my first thought was, "Crap.  There is no way in hell I will be able to do the cast on I want to do."

But I was wrong.

I remembered FROM MEMORY how to do the long tail tubular cast on for 1x1 rib (learned from this Ysolda Teague video).  When I was making the girl gloves, I watched that video with needles in hand about 100 times.  Learning, practicing, memorizing, absorbing what I was doing.  And, of course, doing it incorrectly (even completely backwards) over and over and over again.  I frogged those cuffs at least 20 times.  Each.

The video shows the cast on for a specific pattern of Ysolda's that starts with a purl stitch, but I know the technique so well now that I was able to slowly think my way through it and figure out which wrap to start with (since I wanted a knit first) and after only one false start, I had my 38 stitches cast on.

Something looked a little weird, but the tubular cast on often looks a little weird until you get a couple rows in.  I knit for an hour in that cafe.  So happy to finally be crafting after a week of feeling under the weather.  And then, as soon as I got home, a thought popped into my head.  I knew what I did wrong.

My first row knits are twisted.

The knits in the first tubular row must be knit into the back loop or they will be twisted.  I'd forgotten that part.  I will never forget it again.

And, honestly, I'm not mad.  I'm not frustrated.  I find it sort of funny.  It's almost a relief because *now* I know I have the long tail tubular cast on for 1x1 ribbing committed to memory.  For sure.
33 Comments leave a comment

Seanna Lea said ...
I'm the same way with Kitchener. I know I have done enough socks to remember, but if I am home or have a book handy I will do it from the book. Otherwise, I can do it from memory from my efforts that resulted in a reversed Kitchener... which is pretty darn ridgy.
1/19/2011 8:17 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Seanna Lea ... Haven't tackled that, yet. I'll be sure to do it backwards at least once.
1/20/2011 1:28 AM

kingshearte said ...
I kind of like the twisted stitches at the bottom. It's a nice little bit of visual interest.
1/19/2011 9:33 AM

futuregirl replied ...
kingshearte ... Unfortunately, it's not as stretchy as it is supposed to be.
1/20/2011 1:27 AM

Heather said ...
That is how I learn too, from mistakes. I just have a harder time avoiding frustration when I'm deep in the middle of learning that way. It's like I have a sort of selective amnesia and forget how I work.
1/19/2011 9:55 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Heather ... Well, obviously I'm so much more well adjusted that you . Perhaps I'm so unfrustrated because I know I can squeeze a good blog post out of my mistake. :)
1/20/2011 1:30 AM

Amy Cox said ...
I would be frustrated! At least you noticed before you finished. I always notice halfway through if I've missed a stitch/dropped a stitch etc... and I find it agonising deciding what to do!! You will never forget again!
1/19/2011 12:18 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Amy Cox ... I don't blog all my mistakes. Believe me, I've had those "do I frog it all now?!" moment, too. :)
1/20/2011 1:33 AM

Birdy said ...
I like the way you handle the messing up aspect of learning something new. I always get SO frustrated when I'm trying something new and I have to redo it over and over. Now I'll try looking at it from your point of few. Next time... I'll do it perfect. :D
1/19/2011 3:43 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Birdy ... There is always more than one way to look at every situation. :)
1/20/2011 1:34 AM

Kuky said ...
Wow that is some memory you have. I definitely don't craft like that. I frequently find myself relooking up things I've learned before. :)
1/19/2011 7:52 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Kuky ... It's like I'm a caveman who can only learn things by rote. :)
1/20/2011 1:36 AM

Jessica said ...
The twist looks good though - almost like a deliberate part of the pattern.
1/20/2011 1:17 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Jessica ... It is sort of charming, but it's not stretchy like the non-twisted tubular cast on is, so I had to redo it. Now that you comment about it, I'm interested in how you could use twisted knits decoratively ... hmmm, do people do that?
1/20/2011 3:05 AM

Yvonne said ...
Too bad it's not stretchy enough as I think it's a cute design element. Oh and now I feel lacking as I only know two ways to cast on...but not duo lacking I feel like putting out the effort to learn...
1/20/2011 5:30 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Yvonne ... Most of the time a simple cast on is all you need. But something stretchy is good for gloves so I don't have to squeeze my ham-hands into them. ;)
1/20/2011 5:48 PM

Andrea said ...
Dear Alice,
I'm still loving your blog. I check back often for your updates. I smiled reading your blog today- my students ( I'm a middle school art teacher) often have a hard time seeing that the mistakes are most often a very important part of the process. We try to make time to play and experiment in sketchbooks and on practice paper. I try to highlight 'happy accidents as often as possible. "ooh, that blob looks like a little bird" or "that was great practice, now let's do it for real." keep up the great work Alice. I've learned so much from you and luckily get to use you as a reference both for instruction and inspiration.
1/21/2011 1:52 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Andrea ... Oh! Doing things as "practice" is one of my favorite tricks for taking the pressure off myself. :) Thank you for the amazing comment!
1/21/2011 4:42 PM

Kavitha said ...
Alice, I love that attitude. It is great that you are spreading it around.
1/21/2011 5:14 AM

pam said ...
Hahahahahaha! You make me feel so much better! Honestly I thought I was the only one who had to keep going back to the directions for a specific technique several times until I finally "got" it. I was being so hard on myself over this.

Thank you! Now all those bookmarks in my knitting books are not longer an embarrassment!
1/21/2011 5:38 PM

futuregirl replied ...
pam ... My knitting books are full of post-its and bookmarks, too! And of the 44,000 viewings of Ysolda's video, I claim a good 500 of them. :) I've watched it so often that Andrew recognizes her voice now.
1/21/2011 6:38 PM

Sharon said ...
I have been crocheting & knitting forever, & this morning, I could not do the first double crochet in the "magic ring" to look right! I kept redoing it about 6 time before it looked right & I still don't know why!? But, I am just too stubborn to give up - especially when learning something new. I bet you are the same.
1/22/2011 8:34 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Sharon ... Yes, I am the same. :) About that double crochet in the magic ring, did you chain 2 or 3 times before you made the first one?
1/23/2011 11:27 PM

Craftily D said ...
I soooo know what you mean by repeating the same stitch what feels like a million times before all of a sudden having the steps just click within your fingers. I admire that you even test out whether you learned something by doing it the wrong way again! I'm not that brave =)
1/24/2011 12:52 AM

This was wonderful to read. I am a teacher of first year university – design and illustration. I try to tell my students about this very thing. Make mistakes because that's the best way to learn. They get so frustrated and do not see how important this process is. It is hard to watch but hopefully they remember when they need to as you did in the cafe with your needles.
1/24/2011 8:24 PM

futuregirl replied ...
BaitedHookHandmade ... I am 100% a process crafter. Maybe you should *make* them make mistakes ... like draw with the wrong hand, or hobble them in some way ... like wear an eyepatch. Maybe I just want you to torture your students. Ha! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great comment.
1/27/2011 12:46 PM

Claire Grantham said ...
Hey! I love your blog, I get lots of ideas and tips from you. I have just learnt to crochet, so not ready for Knitting yet!!

I have a stylish blogger award for you, as you inspire me a great deal.

1/28/2011 10:04 AM

Jenny said ...
Those gloves are really going to be special. Good luck with them!
1/29/2011 10:15 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Jenny ... Thank you. :) I have them all finished now ... except for binding off. We'll see when *that's* going to happen. Ha!
1/29/2011 5:16 PM

nancymoo said ...
*LOVE* the new logo!! Totally worth the effort! Now I can't wait to see the office chairs... :D
2/1/2011 5:34 AM

futuregirl replied ...
nancymoo ... I seriously have about 200 craft photos to organize into posts. Ridiculous. You can see a sneak peek of the office chairs on Flickr
2/1/2011 2:08 PM

ipanda said ...
I did the same mistake before that how I learn to knit :D I saw your comment that it finished.. Can't wait to see^^
2/1/2011 6:54 AM
futuregirl replied ...
ipanda ... I know! I'm so far behind on my posts! They are so cute, too. :) I can't wait to show them to you.
2/1/2011 2:03 PM


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