There is a Russian theorist, who theorizes that all people have what he calls the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). ZPD is “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978b, p. 86). In knitting, this means that you have a level of knitting that you can produce by yourself and that there is a second higher level of knitting that you can do but only through the help of a more capiable peer or teacher.
I really like this theory, and I use it in my own research in Linguistics, but I believe it can be applied to any application of life where you are learning something. Learning doesn’t have to stop once you are good at something. You can always challenge yourself to do more or try something new or different. Even if you are the best kniter in the world, you can still always learn something new. Of course, you might be out of luck since, if you are the best, there may not be any “more capiable” peers, but that is besides the point, since I doubt that particular knitter will be reading this blog.
I have a fantastic mentor in my godmother. She is an amazing kniter! Check her out on Ravelry. Seriously, I am awed by her fantastic stiches and eye for colors. Whenever I have a problem, I go straight to her. I also send her pictures of my projects all the time. She always has a kind word for them, which is so generous of her, considering what she can do.
Finding someone like that in your own life is vital to becoming a better kniter. Isolation produces frustation and frustation leaves to giving up and giving up leads to quiting knitting. This person doesn’t have to someone you meet in person (thought it does make it a lot easier). It also doesn’t have to be someone who is a lot better than you, or even someone who is better than you. Just having a community to encourage you in your work and be able to help you out when there is some crazy mistake that you can’t figure out, makes knitting enjoyable and worthwhile.
However, when I first started knitting, I was far away from my fantastic mentor. She wasn’t close enough that I could just pop over to watch her do a new stich I needed to learn. I needed another way to learn.
I found this other mentor through youtube. In the begining, I had to look up how to do knit versuses purl everytime I picked up my knitting. But after watching those videos a thousand times, I no longer have to look it up. I have stored that muscle memory in my brain.
I do this everytime I need to learn a new stitch. I am often a visual learning, so watching someone do it ten thousand times helps me cement things in my brain. I even do this when I am starting a new project that uses a sitch I haven’t used in a while. Some videos aren’t very good, but they often start you on the basic path you need and you can supply the rest from written instructions.
I also recommend watching a few different videos, so you can see how mutliple people do a sitch. It’s different for everyone. I am working on editing my video of how to do a garter tab for lace shawls. Since it’s my first video, I appoligize in advance for how bad it will be.
Here is what I am working on today. It’s a lace shawl found here on Ravelry. I really like it because I can use two different colors of yarn. I am using Knitpick’s Fingering Gloss Blackberry and Winter Night. It’s turning out quite nicely. It’s a bit hard for me to keep the pattern straight in my head because of the k2tog and the ssk, which to my brain look the same on the chart. However, as long as I check frequently, I can move through it alright. I just finished the third chart and need to check to see what size I want to make now, as it is ajustable.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Internalization of Higher Psychological Functions Mind in Society: Development of Higher Psychological Processes: Harvard University Press.