The joy of learning

One of my most firmly held believes is that learning should be both lifelong and well varied.  I’ve heard it said that to get a Ph.D. is sort of like taking a giant sphere of knowledge, picking one tiny pinpoint on its exteriormost surface, then milking every last drop of knowledge from that one tiny pinpoint. You’ll know that one subject with more depth than you imagined possible, but you will also have restricted yourself to an extraordinarily limited perspective.

I don’t have a Ph.D.

This is probably a good thing, as I suspect I would very quickly start looking outside of my little pinpoint of focus and, like a kid in a candy store, ignore the jelly beans slowly melting into a glob of stickiness in my hot little fist in favor of tasting a chocolate lollipop or filling my cheeks with gobstoppers.

Every year, I endeavor to learn new things. Often, these things are completely disconnected from anything I’ve ever learned before. Sometimes they’re academic in nature. Other times, they’re of the more hands-on variety. Some take only minutes to figure out while others take weeks of exploring and trying and backing up and trying some more.

Lately, I’ve been finding myself heading back towards learning knitting. Oh, I knit plenty, and I knit a lot, but I learned a bunch of different things a while back and then stopped learning more knitterly things for a while. I’ve never knit a sweater other than a baby sweater, for example. I avoid lace like the plague after a couple of disastrous attempts at shawls which were probably a little too tangy for my skill level at the time. And I pretty much stick to a few basic stitches done in a few basic configurations.

In other words, I’m a boring knitter.

I’ve always told myself that it’s because I like crochet better. That I’ve been doing crochet longer. That crochet just makes mathematical sense to me in a way that knitting does not.

It’s all true.

But it’s all wrong, too.

So this year, I’ve signed myself up for a knitting class and already I’ve learned the most gorgeously wonderful thing that I think is my new knitting BFF sort of thing: the linen stitch.


I’ve only just begun, but it has solved one of my most aggravating problems with knitting.

I love knitting and crocheting with variegated yarns.  There’s something so enticing about yarns whose colours shift and change, going from orange to red to olive green, then with a splash of turquois thrown in for good measure. But when you start working with them, they often fail to satisfy. The colours clump and pool, leaving puddles of one colour and splotches of another.  Before you know it, that wonderful painterly palette you so admired in the yarn shop has become your most detested project ever.

Yet when worked in linen stitch, the colours fade into each other in a much more organic way, preserving the painterly look of the yarn as it lay on the skein.

The irony of it is that the class I’m taking is on knitting stripes with various different textures and techniques.  The instructor introduced the linen stitch with a variegated yarn simply to teach the stitch before then teaching how to work it in single row stripes, then wider stripes.

So here I am, taking a class to move my knitting skills further ahead and not wanting to move forward at all past the first 4 minutes of lesson 3. I quite like knitting the linen stitch in a variegated yarn. In fact, I like it so much, I can’t stop doing it.

I really should finish the class and try my hand at a few stripey variations on common knitting patterns, but as it is an online class, I think I’ll just pause here for a moment. Just long enough to make a scarf, I think.

Or maybe two.


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