Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Need More Analogies

This post has been a little while in coming… a few weekends ago I had a sort of a knitting epiphany. And I needed some time for it to become comfortable. I needed to think through what I had learned and how to express it.

Last month Annie Modesitt came to a shop just south of me and I registered for a couple of her workshops; the autumn leaves scarf and the felted modular bag.
I had been reading her blog for a while so I sort of knew what to expect in her personally and knew a little bit about how she liked to run her classes.
She has said on her blog that she’s not the teacher for everybody… and I’m sure that’s true... although, being a teacher myself, I know that that is a truism that could be stated about anyone. At least in this case, she turned out to be a teacher for me.
Annie is a big personality. She is funny and bright and gives the impression that things just pop into her head and zip out of her mouth. Pop! Pow! Zing! Speaking for myself… I loved it! I found myself completing her sentences in my head… just waiting to hear the twisted pun, song lyric, or whatever.
Both classes were fun, and both were informative, with tips and techniques scattered throughout, but I gained something from the autumn leaves class… something that, as I tried to describe to others, I found myself at a loss for the right words… I kept defaulting to comparative analogies. I don’t know if I ever succeeded, but I’ll try again here.

Annie makes you think.
She makes you look at what you’re knitting and see deeper… to try to grasp the whys and wherefores of what you are doing. I don’t mean to imply that she won’t answer questions or give advice… quite the contrary! But instead of just reeling off the directions “knit 2 together yarn over slip slip knit” she says to you “You want a left leaning decrease here… what are you going to do?” or “The chart shows the right side. How do you make it do that working it from the reverse?”
Instead of chart keys filled with a minutiae of explanation “this is a knit on the right side with the yarn coming to the front except on a Wednesday or a purl on the wrong side with your fingers crossed and throwing from the right and facing south” she says… “This is a stockinette stitch” or “This is a left leaning decrease”.
You know what a stockinette stitch is, right? You know if you’re on the right or wrong side, correct? So… you know what to do. You know that on the right side it’s a left leaning decrease and you’re on the wrong side so... what do you do?
Go on… you know… somewhere inside you know…
And at some moment in this process I did know. I saw. I understood.

Cooking analogy: I stopped following the recipe and understood what flavorings would produce the desired taste.

Language analogy: I stopped translating from English to knit in my head and started thinking in knit.

Jedi analogy: I became one with the force.

If you’re the kind of knitter who needs your hand held, if you don’t trust yourself and need each step explained to you… she’s going to stress you as she makes you think for yourself. But if you’re the kind of knitter who wants to step outside your comfort zone… who wants to not only stand but maybe even run on your own… she has a lot to offer you as a teacher.
If you get the chance to take what she offers do it!

ETA: I didn't mean to give the impression that you need to be an accomplished knitter to get something out of Annie's classes. Far from it! I saw her work with an inexperienced knitter or two and she was most patient and supportive.
But too many of us stay in our safe place using the excuse that we don't know very much yet. We're sure that we're not "There" yet (wherever "There" may be). We're not ready.
But I beg to disagree. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts (mmmm.. doughnuts) that you know more than you think you do! My point was that Annie's classes may open your eyes to how much you already understand. How far along you are. Maybe how far you have yet to go... but how firm you are on the path. To "There".

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Loved the post. Maybe someday I'll be ready to take such an interesting class. Mom

Caroline said...

Well, that post makes me want to be a better knitter. I think her classes are beyond me right now but I hope someday.......

Annie said...

Wow - that's such a wonderful and kind thing to say about class!

THANK YOU!