Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yesterday I Spent an Absolutely

ridiculous amount of time knitting this

It's the first little sample sock in Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I got through the leg just fine, no problem shaping the heel cup with short rows. But when I got to the part of the heel that runs at the bottom of the foot, Blam!, it was like hitting a brick wall. I could not get my rearranged stitches to match the diagram in the book (or more accurately, I could not conceptualize the relationship of the diagram to the stitches I was slipping onto different needles.) When I forged ahead and completed something like a heel I ended up two stitches short, with loose sloppy edges and gaping holes where the "wing" stitches met up with the instep. It was a mess.

I don't think there was anything wrong with the directions. I think it had to do with the way I assimilate information, at least knitting information.

First off, I think that what I already know got in the way of what I was trying to learn, I have a very clear grasp of the construction of a traditional heel flap and "French" heel turn.

I mean, by this point I understand it at some gut level that is deeper than words or numbers. Hand me any sock leg with any number of stitches on it and I can work that heel, because I can visualize how it is all supposed to come together, and how the proportions of the different sections work, and how a change to one dimension (say length of heel flap), will affect the other dimensions. And I think some of these "deeper than conscious thought" assumptions were bumping into the printed directions on the page and jangling things up. Because this heel is "sorta like, but not really" the heels I already know. Call it cognitive dissonance.

Secondly, I could not yet visualize how the parts of this new construction were supposed to work together. And if I didn't have a mental picture of what I was aiming for, and how it all worked together, I got confused. I'm good at visualizing something once I've seen an example - not so much from a written description. (Maybe that's why I like working from charts so much.) After I had my first somewhat bungled attempt done, I could turn it over in my hands and run my fingers along the places the different parts came together, internalizing how it all fit together.

It was at least close enough to what the designer intended that a little light bulb went on. "Aha! This is sort of, almost, like a Dutch Heel, only instead of using up stitches of the heel flap you are using up those "wing" stitches that are sort of the equivalent to a gusset." I ripped back, rearranged the stitches on the needles in a way that now made sense to me and sailed through the second go around.

I don't know that there is any moral to this story except maybe that it's really hard to write directions that can be clear to all "learning styles". I had no problem with Cat's instructions for her way of working short row wraps, or her favorite "Judy's Magic Cast On." But then, I'd watched her YouTube videos of those first. I was already seeing in my mind where to go and how to get there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What you already know getting in the way of learning something new -- so true.