Friday, 30 April 2010

knitcroblo4 - A New Skill

Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day? maybe you’re a crocheter who’d also like to knit? Maybe you’d like to learn to knit continental, knit backwards, try cables or attempt stranded colourwork. TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo4

If I started listing all the skills I would like to acquire, given that I am such a new knitter, I could be here all day. I’ve mentioned cables this week already, plus the fact that I’d like my tension to improve. I’ve dabbled with crochet, but I would really like to learn how to do it properly. I want to learn how to knit the different types of heels in socks, and one day get a kick out of knitting two at a time. Maybe even – gasp – design a few things myself.

But to do any of that I need a more basic skill. Let’s call it ‘stick-to-itiveness’. I have a flittish personality and too many hobbies. I throw myself into a pursuit, but a few months later find myself drawn into something else. I’m like this with everything – a Jill of all trades. I read a little history, a little popular science, too much self-help. I draw a little, paint a little, sew, quilt, write, and now knit. I’ve dabbled in computer programming, gardening and a bit of cookery. Knitting feels like a perfect fit right now. I can be challenged when I want to be, or just keep my hands busy while watching TV.

I’ve heard it said that you learn 80% of a skill in 20% of the time it takes to master it. What sorts the dabblers like me from those who are masters of their art is that they have stuck-to-it for that final 80% of the time to master the final 20% of the skills. I’m good at lots of things, but not great at anything. I can tell you the difference between a perennial and an annual plant, what the golden ratio means in painting and the hero’s journey in storytelling, but can I show you an accomplished painting, novel or garden border? I could show you some of my attempts – and you may even be impressed – but look closer and you will still see that veneer of inexperience that tells you a deeper truth about me.

What may be different with knitting is that there is a wonderful community online. That may keep me going for a while longer. And I am getting better at sticking with things. Unlike other pursuits, knitting lacks the snobbery that causes tension in other creative communities (I know there are accusations of yarn snobbery, but that’s nothing like the arguments that come up in artist or writing communities, trust me. I don’t know how you could accuse a knitter of ‘selling out’, for instance). There’s a desire to share and learn from each other in the knitting community that is just so welcoming.

This blog is called ‘Jelliebeans Makes’ and not ‘Jelliebeans Knits’. It’s primarily a knitting blog at the moment, but it may not always be that way. I know myself! But I always come back to things. It’s like a revolving door where I revisit old pursuits, introduce new ones, and others fall away.

Perhaps what this will mean is that I’ll reach about 50 and all these skills will blossom all at once and I’ll become a master of lots of things - or some sort of mixed media artist with a wide range of techniques to draw upon. Perhaps I’ll always be a Jill of all trades, master of none – but I’m pretty much at peace with that. My curiosity and interest in trying new things is something I like about myself and I don’t really want to lose that.

But it would be nice if there was something that I was quietly but consistently working away at in the background. Something at which my skills were growing at a steady pace while I’m otherwise distracted by shiny things. I’d like that thing to be knitting – it fits into my life so well and I don’t have to make special plans or change my clothing in order to do it. But I do need to master a new skill – one which needs a clumsy word to describe it: stick-to-itiveness.

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