October 06, 2019

Yarn and Cynefin

     I just knitted a black beanie in fingering yarn using Jane Tanner's pattern Scraptastic Hat.  Didn't get gauge at first.  I haven't sewn in the ends and blocked the hat yet, so am still not entirely sure the size is correct.
     There is a framework for decision making developed by Dave Snowden.  Being Welsh, he called Cynefin.  It divides contexts into different categories such as obvious, complicated, complex, and chaotic.  Depending on the context, you take a different approach as you make decisions.  I like to knit and listen to talks on YouTube by Liz Keogh on the subject.
     Non-knitters, or at least the non-knitters who don't live with knitters, think knitting is, at most, complicated.  And not terribly complicated.  You learn to knit, you get supplies, you follow the pattern, and you get what you expected.  Like clockwork.
     Certainly there are best practices in knitting.  So it can be complicated.  Many knitters like to choose unfamiliar patterns and learn new techniques, which increases the level of complication.  That in itself can stall a project.  But it's not the only thing.
     Knitters know that knitting is not just complicated, it is complex.  There is stuff we don't know, that we cannot know, going in.
     One yarn is not exactly like another so a substitution is a gamble.  Having scanned a lot of Ravelry project listings on pattern pages, I'd say substitution is the norm.  And from the discussion boards and conversations I've had with yarn folk, a lot of time is spent deciding what yarn to get.  Or spin.
     Then there is gauge.  One person knits tightly, another loosely.  Some people change gauge when they relax.  I am fortunate, as my knitting is fairly consistent.  I am also fairly consistent when I spin yarn.  But my gauge is not always the same as the pattern writer's, and it takes a while to figure out what gauge I have.  In my first crack at the hat, it came out inches too big.
     Another factor is that knitters like to throw pattern modifications in to the mix.  It's equivalent to changing a baking recipe and hoping for the best.  But with more math.
     Some knitters make up their own patterns.
     I think non-knitters don't get into knitting because they think they are not up to the challenge of learning the complicated steps, they'd rather spend their time on other things, and they wouldn't get enough of a payoff out of the investment of time and supplies.  After all, they can get clothes they like from the store without a hassle.
     Whereas knitters know knitting can be akin to an epic quest.
     I found weaving to be similar.  Same yarn, same draft (pattern), wider width, and different loom resulted in a looser cloth.
     I and others find it very tough to make decisions on warping interlinked språng.  I believe that would improve if we got more patterns to follow.  Språng is a whole other pair of sleeves, as the French idiom goes, because it is a bias construction.

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