Purls of wis­dom

Find out what kind of knit­ter you are with Phil Saul’s funny cat­e­gories

Simply Knitting - - News -

When it comes to fol­low­ing pat­terns, we knit­ters are a di­verse group. And let me say this right now: I see it as a thor­oughly good thing. It’s not just about whether some­one is a cau­tious begin­ner who needs de­tailed guid­ance, or whether they’re highly ex­pe­ri­enced, hav­ing knit­ted for years.


Even amongst the most skilled knit­ters, you’ll find peo­ple who pre­fer to stick so closely to the in­struc­tions that if the de­signer had ac­ci­den­tally tacked their shop­ping list on to the end of Row 17 you’d find the knit­ter in the su­per­mar­ket obe­di­ently hunt­ing for stain-re­mover, su­per­glue, co ee, and painkillers, as per the pat­tern. (Wow, that must have been some party the de­signer had last night!)


Oc­cu­py­ing the mid-point of this scale of pat­tern-ad­her­ence are the folk who re­gard pat­terns as loose guide­lines, nudg­ing things in the right di­rec­tion, rather than as in­vi­o­lable rules. The pat­tern may be for a moss stitch cowl, but by Round 20, they’ve veered wildly o -piste and re­placed the moss stitch with en­trelac, added a cou­ple of sleeves and – oh look – a jumper! Th­ese knit­ters may re­spect the de­signer’s orig­i­nal vi­sion, but they have clear pref­er­ences for what works for them­selves and how they want to achieve it.


Fi­nally, let’s be brave and leap to the far ex­treme of the scale. Here, you’ll find the knit­ters who re­gard pat­terns as a form of op­pres­sion, to be avoided. A pat­tern would cramp their urge to just get on with knit­ting what­ever they feel like mak­ing. Sure, this group in­cludes lots of ac­com­plished in­di­vid­u­als who’ve been knit­ting for so long they prob­a­bly in­vented the cardi­gan, and who cer­tainly don’t need to be told to avoid twist­ing when join­ing in the round. But there are newer nee­dle-wield­ers in this group, too; peo­ple who pre­fer to go their own way, peo­ple who just don’t like be­ing bossed about. Try telling them to work a two by two rib and they’ll stare you de­fi­antly in the eye whilst they (k3, yo, k2­tog) right to the very end of the row. Do not mess with th­ese knit­ters, for they are afraid of noth­ing.


What prompted me to write this col­umn was when a woman con­tacted me to ask, very cau­tiously and po­litely, whether I’d mind if she re­worked my Hik­ing Rein­deer cowl pat­tern as a cush­ion. Are you kid­ding?! Of course I don’t mind! It sounded like an ex­cel­lent idea. That’s how cre­ativ­ity works: one idea spark­ing the next idea, and so on. If you look at any pat­tern listed on Rav­elry, you can browse the very di er­ent direc­tions in which peo­ple have taken it; short sleeves vs long sleeves, a cowl-neck or a but­ton open­ing (all of which are sur­pris­ing choices when the orig­i­nal pat­tern was for a pair of socks, but I’m sure you get my point). Se­ri­ously, though, one of the many beau­ties of knit­ting is that you can do it ex­actly how you like. If you want to stick rigidly to the pat­tern, great! If you’re not quite happy with the neck­line, then go ahead and al­ter it! And if your nee­dles just like to take o in their own unique di­rec­tion, wild and free, then may per­fect stitches fly from their tips! Got a knit­ting story to tell? Tell us about it via the ad­dresses on page 28.

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