THE Barb Brown: NOT NOW, I’M COUNTING…1, 2, 3,…

From the time I was a wee child I swore that as I grew older I would never, ever say You young whippersnappers! It was so much better in my day! Yet here I am, saying it. Well, I could leave out the whippersnappersI guess!

I have lost count of the number of times I have seen this question on social media (or versions of it) Im a beginner knitter, well maybe advanced beginner. I fell in love with a shawl pattern, but its marked intermediate. Should I try it?and it baffles and confuses me to see the answers! I would leave it till you have more skilland You are only setting yourself up for disappointmentetc.

Detail of Orenburg Rhapsody


When I was young (there you go! I said it!) patterns were not marked this way. For the most part, there was nothing said at all. Many American patterns had something along the lines of this very easy patternor with a little patience, this pattern can easily be knitadded into the description of the design. As a Canadian, I used a lot of British patterns, and one yarn company had their patterns marked in what is, to this day, my favourite designation system. There were symbols that indicated degree of concentration required. Thats it! Just concentration. So if it was high on the scale, you might not want to tackle it while looking after 5 children on a day when you couldnt shovel them outside for an hour or two.

Why do I dislike the current system, and think the old one was so much better? Because I think it discourages people. It makes them hesitant to try new thingsthey automatically doubt their own abilities! When I was a wee kid, Id say to my Mom, “Do you think I could knit this [insert cable hat, stranded sweater, lace socks]and shed answer “Why not?.  Degree of concentration: why not? I can concentrate! AdvancedUmmmI havent been knitting that long; I dont think I can.

cropped Funky Time
Funky Time Cowl and Headband set


First, lets consider lace. Its just holes made on purpose. Make some yos, and some decreases. Thats pretty much it. Not so tough. Add in some stitch markers to help keep track of where you are (thus reducing the degree of concentration required), use a life line if you are a nervous Nellie (like me!) and there you go. (A lifeline in knitting is just a strand of smooth yarn threaded through all the stitches at a point you KNOW you had it right! It gives an easy place to rip back to if need be.)

Take a look at Rippling Waves by Caroline Sommerfeld. You need to yo (wrap the yarn around the needle – thats easy) and knit 3 sts together. Simple! And there you go. You can knit these!

rippling detail

rippling glove
Rippling Waves Fingerless Gloves


Or the In Flight Shawl. A quick read over, and theres that yo, and then slip 2 together, knit 1, pass those 2 slipped stitches over the one just knit, and thats it. Thats all the fancy pants knitting involved!

In flight
In Flight Shawl


So, dont be dismayed by labels of Intermediateor Advanced. Its all just knit and purl with a few variations. 

A lady named maryootsybought my book, Knitting Knee-Highs because she fell in love with Flora. She wrote me Ive never knit socks. Ive never knit stranded. Do you think I could make these?I told her to give it a try, and email me with any problems, and I sent her a few helpful links. A few months later, she sent me pictures of her knee-highs! She knit them 2 at a time so they would matchshed never done that before either.

flora_2 at a time
Flora Socks in progress


Be brave! Be like maryootsy! Knit that shawl, or that cowl, or that scarf, or those socks you fell in love withjust do it one step at a time!

One stitch at time makes the most amazing patterns! Scottie Scarf by Liz Lovick.


Wurmli 6
Wurmli Shawl by Caroline Dick


tiny mouse
Tiny Mouse Scarf by Kathy Perry

7 thoughts on “THE Barb Brown: NOT NOW, I’M COUNTING…1, 2, 3,…

  1. Good article! I taught myself to knit at 15 by making an Aran jacket. I loved the pattern and wanted to do it, so I did. I was told it was “too difficult”, but I’m “thrawn”. I had to “rip it up and start again” a few times, of course, but I kept going. It lasted over 20 years. This why I love Elizabeth Lovick’s books and designs. She never says anything is “difficult “,just, ” a bit more concentration needed “.


  2. You have hit the nail on the head. That is coming from a Carpenter. You never know until you try. I have knit many lace shawls, the life line is your best friend. My shawls have been knit three times, once ,then ripped and then knit again. Hugs Chuck


    1. That’s a great story! I knit an Aran vest for myself at about the same age. It took awhile, but I was pretty proud of it. I already knew how to knit, so your’s was a much bigger accomplishment! Yes, I like Elizabeth Lovick’s patterns for the same reason (and they are lovely!)


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