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Familiarity...Musings by Mindy

April 2018

Travel is often a catalyst for me to look at our world of Making with different eyes.  

The themes I found myself considering during our trip to London and Edinburgh include familiarity and the importance of Making.  Kate Davies’ new book “Handywoman” (available in May) addresses Making, as does Making Magazine (next issue will be in our shop in late April or early May), so I won’t talk about that here.  

I've been mulling over the concept of familiarity.  Travel offers the opportunity to step out of our familiar places and introduces us to new experiences.  It can be uncomfortable to explore somewhere new, where we rely on maps, recommendations of others, new means of transportation, and unfamiliar foods or preparations.  It takes a different, deeper level of concentration and awareness, which I find stimulating.

Taking that one step further, I realized that these initially unfamiliar places and experiences became familiar very quickly for me.  We learned our way around, how to read the Tube Map in London, how to get ourselves to the Corn Exchange (conference center) in Edinburgh, and how to find the museums and restaurants (okay, sometimes a pub, too).  

Let’s consider how this applies to knitting and crocheting.  When we first learn a new craft or a new technique, it feels unfamiliar.  Then, as we return to it again and again, practicing and building our muscle memory and our familiarity, it feels more and more comfortable.  This is all part of the Making journey. 

How can we enjoy our Making journey even more? If we take the time to swatch (eek, that 5-letter word that makes you cringe), we build familiarity using a small palette to confirm that we understand and like the many aspects of our next project, beyond our stitch and row gauge.  Swatching gives us the opportunity to confirm the combination of yarn and needles or hook, our understanding of the designer's pattern instructions, the stitch pattern, the charts (if applicable), and so much more. 

Swatching gives us a practice tool for fixing mistakes, exploring new techniques, and your swatch can be your practice tool even after you are working on your project. When you begin your project, you’ll already be familiar with the yarn, tools, pattern, and designer’s style, making the overall experience even more enjoyable.  

I’ll bet you didn’t expect my train of thought to go from travel, to familiarity with a project, to the value of swatching, did you? 

Thanks for reading!  Here are a few photos from our London and Scotland adventures.  You'll find more photos on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

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