I’ve been knitting seriously for about six years. I can make basic socks, a scarf, mittens, whatever. I’ve posted pictures of some of my work, and it’s decent stuff. Wearable and attractive. Even creative. But most of the detail work in my knitting has been from stranded colorwork.
Confession. I don’t really know how to read a knitting pattern. Not well, anyway. Mostly, this is because I never knit to other people’s pattern, but use some design templates I’ve found such as Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless yoke sweater, or Wendy’s Generic Toe Up Socks, then added color details as it suited me. The colorwork? Mostly easy, because I learned how to do stranded colorwork from the We Call Them Pirates hat. Yes, that is a pattern, but using some really simple stitch techniques so I didn’t get bogged down in the chart. I’m confident enough with this kind of thing that a steeked Nordic sweater only presents the problem of what sort of pattern and colorwork would look cool on it.
However, I’d like to branch out. I’d like to make an Aran sweater; I’d like to add texture detail on socks. But for the most part, the charts with their symbols weren’t making sense to me.
Why? I was expecting to be able to skim them.
You can’t skim when you don’t know the language. Just sayin’.
I get this with my computer students all the time. They don’t have the vocabulary for whatever it is we’re doing, and it short circuits their brains. Abbreviations and symbols are difficult to decipher until you’re actually fluent in the language. When you’re used to things being easy and fluent, going back to it being tedious to decipher can be a bit of a difficult leap.
The simple fact is that while I can knit some classes of garments quite well, and am a structural thinker, until I’m fluent with the language, puzzling out the charts and patterns for textured knitting is going to be hard. Nothing wrong with that mind, but I’d gotten too used to knitting being easy and automatic and had forgotten that tacking on a new skill is going to require more concentration.