When I'm bored (which isn't often--if I'm up and about, I could just walk, or walk while listening to an audiobook, or read, or watch television, or write a script for my upcoming musical, or practice singing, or knit), it probably means I'm at my computer, waiting for some procedure to finish which takes a minute or two ... not enough time to want to break out the knitting, go for a walk, read a book, etc., so in practice I probably head to Ravelry and read the latest Forum posts.
I'm especially fond of two sections: Patterns, where I get to read about the exciting (invariably the more-exciting-than-mine) projects people are working on and maybe stumbling over, and Techniques, where I get to read about the interesting ways people knit. Sometimes I am made to feel Mighty and Superior, like when a new knitters asks a ridiculously stupid question (i.e. something I now know the answer to, regardless of for how many weeks/months/years I was in the dark about it). I can happily pounce in and answer it! If anyone wonders what a good stretchy cast on would be, I tout the German Twisted Cast On. If someone posts that double knitting would be difficult, I contradict them, and refer them to my own blog post on Double Knitting: the Brady Bunch Method.
But that's only sometimes. Most of the time I just read and say "Huh? What? Ack." to myself. Just today, for instance, there are posts from people who:
want to make socks with German short row heels (huh?) using an eye of partridge stitch (what?)
think Portuguese style knitting (huh?) will ease shoulder pain, or maybe Tatyana's Russian Speed Knitting (ack!)
can look at someone else's photo of an unravelled mess of a neckline and determine where they went wrong, how many stitches along, and how to fix it (wow!)
I may not know the answers to these (and other questions), but I'm finding that as I knit (and crochet), and read about knitting (not so much crocheting), and listen to podcasts about knitting, and peruse the very forums that are so confusing (at first), I'm picking up a lot ... little by little I've learned more and more. So, to paraphrase (steal from) David Sedaris, I'm hopeful that me knit pretty some day.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving (which we just celebrated in Canada last weekend), here are some basic/intermediate knitting techniques which I actually know how to do without any hesitation, without having to consult text or youtube videos, i.e. techniques I've actually learned and mastered:
four types of "make one" increases (knit front and back, backwards loop, that thing where you lift the bar in between the stitches, yarn over (if you don't mind a hole, and it might be intentional))
four types of decreases (knit 2 together, purl 2 together, slip-slip-knit, slip one knit one pass the slip stich over)
two ways of achieving the same stitch in reverse (knit stitch and purl stitch)
how to keep track of rows and stitches with markers, counters, notes, etc.
stranded knitting (e.g. Fair Isle)
how to turn a heel
three types of cast on: (long tail, German twisted, and the one where you just knit a stitch then pop it onto the left needle, repeat ad infinitum)
two types of bind off: the normal one (does it have a name?) of knit or purl, repeat, lift first stitch over second stitch and drop it, and the very similar three-needle bind-off, where you mostly do the same thing save for you knit or purl 2 together as a first step.
how to change colours (pick it up and start knitting)
how to avoid changing colours in an unattractive way (make sure your first row of new colour is a knit row)
how to weave in ends
how to unravel an entire skein of twisted yarn efficiently
how to make a yarn "butterfly" for easier intarsia
how to keep track of increases and decreases (shaping)
how to knit flat (or in the round) on circular needles
how to join a circular project without twisting (and how to fix it, if you twisted it, if you catch it early enough)
how to knit using a magic loop or a travelling loop
two ways to attach beads to projects (pre-stringing with dental floss, or using the world's tiniest crochet hook)
how to create cables (this was a 1,000 times easier than I thought it would be)
how to make a hat (or scarf) from scratch without following a pattern (they're the only things I can do like this--other people know socks, maybe that'll come in the future)
how to crochet (I guess this is its own separate thing, but it's a useful adjunct tool for knitters, and I'd be glad I learned it for that reason alone)
how to slip a stitch, and why, and whether to slip purl or knitwise and why you'd prefer one or the other
how to create selvage stitches (and when not to)
how to read most charts (how mysterious these were when first encountered!)
how and why to swatch
how and why to block
how to read my knitting (never thought this would happen in that first month of learning)
how to tink back
how to frog properly (I used to start ripping out and hoping for the best. Now I pick up stitches on my last happy row, and rip back to that)
how to drop a stitch (intentionally) and work it back up
how to knit continental style (I don't like it), though not how to purl continental style, not yet
how to create some basic stitch patterns: garter, stockinette, reverse stockinette, various ribs.
There may be a few more that I've momentarily forgotten, but when I began I knew how to do Zero of these by heart, and after my first week I knew how to do exactly 1 of these by heart (the knit stitch) and after a month I only knew how to do 3 of these (the knit, the purl, and the garter stitch pattern) ... so I've come a long way. I'm proud of me!
And the best is yet to come. I can only imagine what I'll be accomplishing in four more years.
Off the Needles
Falling Snow Stocking (my third one, and it should be the last one unless someone else requests it. Picture forthcoming).
On the Needles
Sea Grass Scarf by Janina Kallio (for my niece, in shades of grey to go with everything. I'm in part two, stripes).
Sophie's Universe crochet project (Part 14: Round 94, continuing the butterflies section. Only 19 more rounds to go ... and then I make up my own rounds until it's big enough for the bed)
GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (finished the torso, currently above the cuff of Arm One)
Persian Dreams Blanket (finished the fourth hexagon, yet to cast-on the fifth)
The second Double-Knit Vice Versa Scarf (still about 3/4 of the way through)
a linen dishcloth, Eloominator's Diagonal Knit dishcloth by Jana Trent.