The next project for A Year of Techniques comes out tomorrow (!!!) so I thought I might take a moment to reflect on the experience so far.
Four patterns have been released (you can see them all here), each by a different designer and featuring a new technique, which is also illustrated in a video. The videos are free to watch, even if you haven’t purchased the A Year of Techniques book — they are a super great resource
And of the four projects, I’ve only completely finished one — the Hyacinthus Armwarmers (blogged here):
Despite the fact that I’m, ahem, adding to my pile of WIPs, AYOT has been so worth it. Since so many designers are on board, it means that each month’s project has been quite different. It’s easy to get complacent in your knitting, so the projects have been great for pushing me to try new things–and each one teaches so much more than just the featured technique.
Take last month’s project, the Talmadge Cloche (which has almost reached completion since I took this picture — it just needs blocking, buttons, and tacking of the brim):
The technique for this project was a knitted-on border — the brim of the hat gets knitted on at end. I’ve done knitted-on borders before, so I was pretty comfortable with that technique, but this hat had so much else going on!
First, it started with a pin-hole cast on (the technique for May). It was also lace that involved patterning on every row (as opposed to lace on the RS, and all knitting or purling for the wrong side) — which is something that’s always intimidated me a bit! But because the project was small, and so darn cute, I figured I’d give it a go. And lo and behold, I realized I actually really enjoy the focus involved in lace knitting. In fact, I barely had to frog a thing in this project, I think because most of my mistakes happen when I am not paying much attention — something that’s harder to do when action is happening on every row!
So one thing I’ve enjoyed is that the projects introduce or help you refine quite a few different skills all at once. Bristol Ivy’s Brambling Shawl, for instance, features intarsia, but also was (well, is still for me!) a great exercise in how to manage patterns with multiple things going on at once. May’s adorable Alex the Mouse–besides teaching the pinhole cast on–was my first ever start at a knitted toy. And Ella Austin and AC Knitwear provided lots of helpful information on how to neatly finish all the more fiddly bits a toy entails. I love that the projects provide an accessible and relatively low commitment way to try out new things.
And because there are ongoing knitalongs for each pattern as they’re released, you’re also constantly learning from other knitters. Over on the Ravelry forum this month, for instance, one knitter brought up that a yarnover is different depending on the stitch that precedes and follows it — that is, the size of the yarnover will vary depending on if it’s, for example, between two knit stitches, or if it’s between a knit and purl stitch, because the yarn is traveling a different amount between the stitches, unless you do something to compensate for it. For me, this was a total newsflash — though of course as soon as I grabbed my knitting and tried it each way, I saw it was totally true! And it’s something I’ll definitely take into account when I plan my next lace project.
So all of this is to say, even if AYOT has meant my pile of WIPs is growing, I’m finding it totally worth it as it means expanding my knitting horizons with each new project. And though I hope to finish Brambling and Alex the Mouse soon — the shawl would be great for California nights, and I think Alex would make a lovely cross country road trip companion — I’m also not going to feel too bad if I jump on the July project bandwagon and add another WIP to the heap …