When my wife first taught me how to knit, I was still a bit lost. As mentioned in my post about why I became a designer, my wife and I decided to take a beginner’s knitting class together. This reallyhelped me a lot when it came to learning how to knit; my wife, however, sat there most of the class just ignoring the instructor and not-so-secretly fuming (don’t worry – we didn’t pay too much for the class). You see, early in the class my wife – someone who had been knitting for nearly a decade at this point but still struggled with knitting pattern reading – had a conversation with the instructor that went like the following:
Instructor: “Let me see how you knit….”
My wife: “Okay, let me know if this is clear enough or if I need to move or something…”
“No, no, no!”
“What, what’s wrong?”
“You’re knitting all wrong”
“No, no I am not….”
“Okay, so…you’re not really knitting wrong – I don’t want to say that. You’re just…well, you’re knitting wrong. You could keep doing what you’re doing but you’ll thank me later if you just change it now before you really know how to knit.”
“I do know how to knit. I’ve been knitting for…”
“No, no – you know how to knit wrong. That’s why you can’t read patterns.”
“No, I can’t read patterns because…”
“No, here – stop wasting the time of the other class members and just watch.”
My wife shut down at that point. She knits Eastern Combined – all through the back loop – and had always been doing that ever since her Ukrainian grandmother taught her. It wasn’t an issue for her.
Did she run into pattern reading trouble? Sure, but knitting through the front loop wouldn’t have helped that. The knitting instructor just shut her down and caused her to feel completely dejected. My wife at that point had knit just about all of the big “Knitter Life List” items from color work to lace to sweaters and more. Could she actually have been knitting wrong?
Not in my opinion, no, and much of the Ravelry community feels the same (just start a thread asking if you can knit wrong and you’ll see). We all might knit a little differently from each other – a different gauge, a different fiber preference, a different knitting sensitivity, etc. – but we’re none of us by any means wrong.
When I teach others to knit, I teach them Continental, at first. As soon as they decide on a knitting style (usually English) I let them knit like that. If they use a style I’m not used to, I try to figure it out so I can help them, and I try to learn to knit my techniques in a variety of styles to better help people. I would never try to “convert” someone just because it’s my preference. If they wanted, I’d be more than happy to sit down and discuss the pros and cons of various knitting styles, but most people when learning don’t have that interest. Odd….
Of course, it’s one thing to say someone’s knitting style is wrong and quite another to say they have no control over the fabric they create. In my experience, though, every knitting style is more than capable of creating every stitch pattern. It just takes a willingness of the student and teacher.
A few weeks ago we were in the city and stopped by the same store for some notions and my wife overheard the same teacher helping someone. As my wife reached for some fiber to pet (I’d try to explain this behavior if most of my readers didn’t already do the same thing), she overheard “I don’t want to say you’re knitting wrong, we’ll…OK, you are…”
I could see my wife’s blood boil and her nose twitch and her stomach drop. I knew that angry look. I promptly suggested we go to lunch and come back to buy any pretty fiber she wanted afterwards. I’m by no means stupid *wink*.
What do you think? Is there any way a person can knit wrong?