Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Proficiency, what does it look like?

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July -- even if you aren't an American celebrating. :) I spent most of the day at the Waterfront Blues Festival volunteering with the food bank, who is the beneficiary of the event. Good stuff. :)

Today, I have a question for you: How do you gauge a knitter's proficiency?

Yes, it's a gauge question, but this time you don't have to frog anything and there really isn't any one right answer. :)

I'm really curious what you think about this. I mean, once you learn to knit, when do you cease being a beginner and move towards proficiency? Is there some demarkation based on number of FOs, or types of objects, or range/variety of stitch patterns? Or is it a calendar thing wherein you can't be considered proficient until you've put in X amount of hours/days/years of knitting on a regular basis?

I consider myself a decent knitter, although I have yet to knit a sweater for myself. Does that mean I'm not proficient yet? Or does the fact that I've knit several lace shawls and pairs of socks and can work cables without a cable needle make me proficient? I know I still have things to learn, but I also know that when I get together with other knitters, I'm sometimes surprised that I actually have knowledge about some things that I can share with them, too.

Personally, I sort of knew I'd "arrived" when I accidentally slid about 22 stitches off the needle while working on my feather and fan stole. I watched in horror as the slippery rayon yarn unraveled several rows. Once I collected myself a bit, after thoroughly scarring the cat with my shrieks, I sat down and figured out how to repair it. I managed to get all the stitches back where they belonged in the lace pattern. And once the stole was finished, I couldn't tell where the mishap had occurred. To me, that was the lightbulb moment that said I had become a "real" knitter.

So, friends, how do you determine whether a knitter is proficient? Please give me your thoughts.

Oh, on the knitting front, I'm almost finished with the striped socks and have only a couple of rows of edging and some seaming to do on the test knit item I'm working on. For the Mystery Stole, I've reached row 71 and expect to finish Clue 1 today, unless work gets crazy again. In any case, I'm roughly on target.

Pictures soon! :)


Bobbie said...

I think if you can confidently pick up jsut about any pattern and know you could do it, that's when you're "proficient". The next step is "expert" and I'm not sure how anybody gets there; I've been knitting over 30 years and still find things all the time that I don't know or haven't tried!

Melissa said...

I agree with Bobbie.
That said, if I were to recommend a way for a knitter to become proficient, it would have something to do with not only techniques learned, but also types of garments constructed.
I think there's something to be said about knitting your first sweater and really learning about gauge (usually in a somewhat painful way!!!) and how to read that type of pattern.
To me, proficiency in knitting is a learning curve that never ends.

MonicaPDX said...

Yep, me third. Number of items, years... That doesn't equate with knowledge. A friend who learned to knit just a few years ago told me of someone in her guild who's knit for decades, and produces beautiful FO's. She was awfully surprised to find the woman only knew one way to make a decrease. My friend offered to show her some other methods she'd just learned. What did the other say? "Oh no, I couldn't learn that!" ???!! (C'mon, how hard are most decreases?)

I wouldn't say someone had to learn every method out there for different things. But in addition to the points Bobbie and Melissa made, I'd say having the confidence to try new ways of doing things is part of proficiency. Even if you crash and burn, or end up hating it and going back to the way you prefer, it still means you're confident enough in what you already know to be open to new things. It's one thing to have favorite methods. It's another to refuse to look at any other way. To me, the ability to adapt and change is part of proficiency.

Roxie said...

I went through the Knitter's Guild program and became a certified Master Knitter. And I'm still learning new things. I'd say a proficient knitter is one who can follow most patterns, who can solve knitting problems as they arise (they always do.) and who always has something on the needles when she sits down in front of the tv.

Little Old Liz said...

I'd say that somewhere therein, getting paid to knit has to count for something, too.

Lexy Girl said...

I agree with everyone, I think that in order to become a "proficient" knitter one can't get stuck in a type of knitting. You can't be "afraid" of lace, or cables, or color-work... even if you don't care for it. I don't know if I'd say that I"m proficient at barely two years of knitting, but I would say that I'm unafraid, and so I've met women who've been knitting longer than me who possess fewer skills because theyre scared to knit in the round or make socks or whatever.

A proficient knitter, at some point in her life, took a deep breath and jumped into knitting.

Did that make any sense? I don't know.

Natalie said...

I've been knitting for quite sometime, I've knit a few sweaters, but usually get bored with doing something so big. Perhaps there are different types of proficiencies. I think it's possible for different people to have different strengths when it comes to knitting. And I believe that if you want to challenge yourself to do other things that is always great. I can play around with increases and decreases to make shapes and objects. I recently have been making dolls and toys, but ask me to shape the darts or tucks in a shapely fitting sweater and I'm absolutely lost. Maybe I should just concentrate harder.

Danielle said...

If you can fix that, I'd say you're proficient, sweater or not!! I know many very experienced knitters who can tackle just about any project, who've never knit certain types of projects simply because they don't want to. I think that's reason enough. Knitting is supposed to be fun and relaxing, not a chore, right? :)