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The 3R's of Knitting
Reading, wRiting, and 'Rithmetic of Knitting
Remember the "3 R's" of school days – Reading, wRiting, and 'Rithmetic?
Taking that as a theme, I thought it would be appropriate to this time of
the year to relate that to learning about our fiber arts. I will use
knitting as the prime example, but you will see that the ideas relate to
spinning, weaving, etc. as well.
- Learn and be inspired by READing books and magazines, participating in
email discussion forums, surfing the internet for all kinds of information
about knitting, etc.
- When beginning a project with a pattern, READ through the instructions
quickly to get an overview of the approach and whereabouts of the
information (e.g. where are the abbreviated terms explained? where is the
key to the symbols used in charts?) Don't try to work out all the details
in your head at this point – let your hands help you "learn" as you
actually do the project in the next step.
- As you work through the project, READ carefully. Then translate that
into the motions your hands make upon your materials – transforming the
word concepts into a real thing that is uniquely your own!
- A good learning tool to write patterns of your own design, is to READ
published patterns – whether or not you yourself use patterns! What
layouts work best? What types of instructions are clearest? etc.
- WRITE down notes to yourself about your project, materials used,
variations you've made, your whereabouts in completing each of the
project's instructions, etc. This record can help you immensely in
resuming a project, avoiding mistakes, remembering how you did something
so you can do it again, remembering what NOT to do because it gave an
unpleasant result. We learn by both what works – and what does not!
- WRITE down ideas for future projects, design inspirations, etc. This is
just a good way to organize yourself, and keep your creative juices
preserved until you have time to take action on them. This can even come
in handy when you are in a slump and need a "boost".
- WRITE to others - share and give back to others via email discussion
lists, your own internet web site, submitting articles to magazines that
support fiber-passionate folks like us. Every time I WRITE something, I
learn or gain a deeper understanding. I think you will likewise find
reward in these type of activities.
- WRITE down patterns of your own design. Abbreviated instructions are
fine as you prototype and experiment, or for your own use later. If you
intend to publish your pattern (even a free one on the internet), I
encourage you pay careful attention to completeness and clear
- You don't have to be a mathematical genius to knit, weave, spin, dye,
etc., but it certainly helps to have a good understanding of numbers,
basic aRITHMETIC functions – and a calculator, if possible!
- Be careful in working with numbers that you understand what unit of
measurement the numbers represent. For example, grams vs. ounces, yards
vs. meters, U.S. needle sizing vs. metric vs. UK, etc. Do your aRITHMETIC
on like unit of measurements, or convert one to another beforehand. It
helps to keep a conversion table close to your calculator!
- Many good patterns, and even computer programs, are available to assist
you along your way by already having worked out most of the aRITHMETIC
details. The more adjustments to patterns you will make, the more
aRITHMETIC you will be called upon deal with.
- If designing your own originals, you can't get around having to use
aRITHMETIC. Commercial computer programs may help a little, but you will
still need to apply your aRITHMETIC skills to verify that the input you
have supplied to the program is giving you reasonable results, and to make
adjustments not covered by the program.
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