Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Knitting consensus.

One of the most unproductive goals of any venture is "consensus." Committees that defer decisions until everyone is happy, leaders who try to involve everyone in a decision so they'll all agree on a new direction, parents who consult with kids so everyone's on the same page . . . consensus never really works. Consensus is fantasy. You have to accept that someone will disagree, and move on.

Imagine the prolonged time-outs necessary for teams to decide what to do next. Or a platoon to debate the merits of several different entries into a terrorist's hideaway. Or a teacher asking the class what they want to learn next.

Not so much.

Knitting is that way. A pattern is really just a direction. Knitters work toward the finished garment through a variety of techniques (continental or throwing? tight gauge or loose?). They may slip the first stitch in a row to create a clean edge or disregard since the sides will be sewn together anyway. They may hate the ewrap cast on and do a longtail cast instead, even though it adds an "extra" row. The only consensus among a bunch of knitters working on the same project is that they like it. But no two projects will look alike.

That's the hardest thing to teach a new knitter. Newbies are convinced there must be just one way to do things. So I teach just one way to cast on and knit, and just one project. Once they've finished, they're more open to different ways of holding the yarn, maintaining tension, casting on and binding off, and sundry other techniques. They relax, they begin to truly enjoy knitting, and they make it their own.

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