We all learn the proverb “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” as children. There is a lot of musing time as one is recuperating from surgery. It has reminded me of some projects that got put aside because I couldn’t figure out some aspect of them, or I didn’t have the time to devote to them. I’m always thinking about why things don’t get finished, or started.
The Full Verse is Much Better!
It turns out that that is only part of the verse. It is a maxim used to encourage American schoolchildren to do their homework. Thomas H. Palmer (1782-1861) wrote in his ‘Teacher’s Manual’:
‘Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’
is something we should all remember more often. (Seriously, I will edit anyone!)
We now live in a culture that presents everything miraculously perfect, in short order, without any of the background about how hard things might actually be to accomplish. Even before then, it was not unusual for someone I was teaching to knit to say “I can’t” about 4 stitches into their lesson. Or “I tried once . . . “, or “I was never able to do that.”
Try Again May Open Doors
While we all have things we are better at than others, there is little that as an adult we cannot learn. Our learning curve may be different from our neighbor, but we can learn. My husband taught himself how to knit from my book, but has never done another stitch. I hated knitting when I was introduced to it as a child. I am still not very good at hand stitching (because I don’t practice and am impatient). I could be much better at drawing if I had time to work on it. There are lots of obstacles, but it is usually not that we cannot do something.
Did you know that learning to knit is equivalent to a child learning to tie a bow? There are a similar number of steps involved in making a knit stitch as there are in making a bow.
If there is something that you didn’t understand the first time, try again. Really, try. Sometimes reading instructions out loud makes it clearer. Or find a different set of instructions. It might be that you need to take a step or two back and fill in before you can tackle that thing. It may also help to pay attention to how you learn—and don’t learn.
Presentation Can Be A Factor
As you may know, I have troubles seeing things work in standard ways. It isn’t that I can’t see it, it is that I need a different approach. I once send a pattern book to be reviewed and the reviewer refused to review it because she didn’t like my charts. She said she wasn’t interested in learning a different method. But the thing is, I cannot follow a standard chart (in-the-round is fine, but flat, nope) because my brain can’t make that switch to process “if a knit on RS, purl on WS”. Okay, I know that to be true, but I literally have to process that for every stitch. I can knit way faster than my brain can make the conversion. So I developed a different charting method, Action charts. There is nothing wrong with standard charts–if they work for you!
Wording and Point of View
I am casting on String Theory from KnitEcoChic. Oh man, I would write the pattern so differently! But I figured I could figure it out. So I’ve read the pattern many times while knitting my i-cord. Each time, something else makes sense. Again, I would do it differently, but it isn’t wrong. In this case, try, try again is the solution. Now I am to the fun part—knitting a moebius with my i-cord!
Many knitting patterns are written with brevity being the primary motivator. I write patterns to try to communicate and impart information. I feel like everything we learn expands our knitting experience, and I want to make it possible for other knitters to join my journey. I put a lo into each pattern. Trust me, there is very little chat in my patterns, but I have a lot of information I want to share. That means showing step-by-step, what to do. For more experienced knitters that might mean that they can skip a lot of my row-by-row instructions. Although some knitters complain that they don’t need all that, I’ve never found anyone who objects to instructive charts, schematics, road maps, and easy to follow instructions. That’s what I provide. Personally, I can knit a sweater without more than a couple of notes on a 3×3 stickie. That isn’t what Jill Wolcott Knits patterns are offering.
Returning to Try Again
About a month ago I put aside a swatch project that wasn’t working out. I tried again, and lo and behold, my thinking was completely backwards (see charting issues above!) and I need to redo the stitch pattern and chart. Now I know, so I’m pretty pleased I did try again. I wish I’d gotten it right the first time, but hey, now I know.
Information Brought It Back
Another project I have had in mothballs on and off for years. I had done much of the knitting work on it, and I loved working on it, then I realized one day that I had too many unquantified factors to be able to come to a logical conclusion. It had been really clear at the outset, but I was comparing grapes to olives, to oranges, to peppers. It wouldn’t work. I had to be much more scientific and make sure that I was creating the same scenario in each swatch. Something else moved to the fore and I left it alone, to take it up again, but didn’t feel I had solved the problem. As I was looking for something to work on that would use my brain, but I could enjoy while recuperating, I pulled the project back out. Delighted to say that I have figured it out, and created a spread sheet of collected data, that I plan to put into a table you can use.
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