Monday, March 10, 2014

Masterclass



This is a cowl I recently completed for a friend.  The simple moss stitch didn't require learning any new techniques.  

Magical periods in life exist, where days just flow and tasks are completed in a seamless way. As a high school teacher, there have been times where I have gone to work, taught, and created lessons, and was so completely absorbed in those activities that each day had a comfortable rhythm.  But now, on a daily basis, attending rounds of meetings, learning new technology, meeting the standards of some new "data-driven" teacher evaluation system, and familiarizing myself with new forms of end-of-year testing interrupt getting into this groove. 

The same phenomenon occurs in knitting, although, unlike in the classroom, such interruptions often occur as the result of personal choice.  This past weekend I experienced this occurrence when I decided to cast on a hat, envisioning immediate gratification.


This book is an excellent resource for learning new techniques.  



I'd found the pattern several weeks ago, when school was closed because of heavy snowfall.  I used some of my time off to sort out my yarn stash, and I also looked through some books in my knitting library. In Knitting Masterclass, I discovered a pattern that calls for the same weight Jamieson's Shetland that I bought in Oxford last summer. I had a couple of skeins left over from making a shawl.  On Saturday, I woke up around 3:00 a.m. (ugh) and couldn't go back to sleep, so I decided to cast on. I'd assumed that working this hat would be easy and that it was included in the book in conjunction with a lesson dealing with knitting lace (a skill with which I already have some experience). When I sat down to read the pattern closely, though, I noticed that it calls for a tubular cast on--a technique that requires using waste yarn to cast on and then changing to the main color and picking up stitches on the wrong side.  

I could have taken the easy route.  A hat doesn't have to have this type of edge.  But, apparently, the cast on edge would be both "stretchy" and "invisible," at least according to the book, one which contains tutorials for knitting techniques beyond the ordinary knit, purl, etc.  (This volume also contains appealing knitting patterns incorporating these techniques. I'm itching to knit several items I've seen, especially a scarf with a color-work Celtic knot design.)  So I decided to learn something new, and, ultimately, after some studying and then taking a break, I had a cast-on band, although it wasn't finished until much later in the day.  

Here is my tubular cast on, along with a glimpse of the finished product.  

In the same manner, last week, a new task at school slowed me down a bit.  I'd  prepared for and then underwent a peer review visit--where a team of nine educators and administrators from other schools observed in my classroom and then reported back to me and the school administration.  Following a strict protocol, the visiting team sat in a circle with me in a conference room, where they shared "I saw . . . " and "I wonder . . . " statements.  This interruption in the flow of teaching, grading, and planning was unnerving and seemed to confirm that the arrival of a time to rest on my laurels, reaping the rewards of practice and experience, is just a pipe dream. 

While last week was a trying one, the near 70 degree temperatures this past weekend helped ease some tension.  I snapped this while walking my two dogs.  (It's not the best image, but it's difficult to get a good shot with a huge Labrador mix tugging at the leash.)

I'm not certain if reaching that status is as unattainable in knitting as it seems to be in teaching.  The benefits of experience are self-evident to anyone who has ever asked for help from an accomplished lifetime knitter. These individuals have achieved mastery and typically the respect that comes with it.  If experience truly is "the teacher of all things" (Julius Caesar), shouldn't we all reach a point of mastery in our work and even in our personal lives?  Maybe I'll know the answer to that question years down the road.  For now, I guess I'll have to keep learning new things.  

I finished another top-down sweater using a pattern I designed.  Shaping a sweater to fit
 is a technique I am happy that I learned--even if the math to do so is challenging.
The front waistline darts and side hip shaping are shown here. 




These Downton Abbey-inspired fabric squares were sent to me by my blogger friend, Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse, along with the pattern to make "knickers" from Trixie Lixie (a fabric store in the U.K).  I unearthed my sewing machine and serger this past weekend, but probably won't get to work on these projects (the "knickers" and maybe a bag from the squares).  Even though this is officially a knitting blog, I will share my results here.  I am so blessed to have a friend who is so thoughtful and generous.  








2 comments:

  1. It's always an interesting conundrum the balance between discovering the new and being able to settle comfortably with what one already knows. In the UK professional metrics that constantly pressurise people to "improve" have infected everything and not, I think, in a good way - people just feel harried all the time and rarely that what they do is "good enough". A fast track to depression it seems to me. But on the other hand it's healthy to remain open to new things and new ways of doing things so balance is crucial. I do love to discover new things but hope to hang on to my sanity as well! such as it is! Thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog and for thinking of me and the bantam girls. So glad too that you got my little parcel ok! E xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the look/properties of the tubular cast on, it is slow to work but is very nice and worth it, I hope you enjoyed it in the end! Your pictures are beautiful as always. The Knitter book looks wonderful! Ooh that shawl on the cover, and I'm not even a big shawl person...might have to get that one.

    ReplyDelete