Are you *really* a beginner?
We hear it all the time:
“I’m just a beginner.”
“I can’t handle anything too hard — I’m not that good.”
“That’s probably beyond my skillset.”
“That pattern looks way too hard for me.”
The funny thing is, many times the above statements come from knitters who are way beyond beginner level.
Just the other day a customer self-identified as a beginner, then told me they’d recently knit an intarsia scarf. That’s right, intarsia, that two-color technique that usually involves bobbins of yarn colors and a lot of planning.
Ummmm…For the record, in our knitting universe, this is not a beginner technique.
Here’s another one. A knitter wanted to make this beautiful Noro sweater after seeing the sample we have in the shop. The beautiful bobbles were what drew her to the pattern — but yikes, bobbles?! She’d never tried them! However, since she’s knit multiple beautiful sweaters and can follow a pattern, we said heck YES you can!
So let’s unpack what being a beginner really means, and why so many of us consider ourselves beginners.
You’re truly a beginner knitter if…
You show up to Myranda’s Beginner Knitting Workshop and are picking up needles for the first time to make loops of yarn that eventually turn into a fabric. And yes, we’ve had folks come to the beginners’ class with skills way beyond beginner because they needed reassurance and confidence. Which is fine!
You might also consider yourself a beginner if you’ve got some basics down like knitting and purling, casting on and casting off. Once you start thinking about knitting a hat, you’re moving beyond true beginner status.
But wait… aren’t we all beginners?
With knitting or crochet — or any craft or hobby you love — every new project is a new beginning.
If you’re working on a pattern from a new-to-you designer, the pattern might be formatted or or organized a bit differently. You might be using a new yarn or a new fiber content. Or perhaps your pattern asks for a different cast-on technique or utilizes a new stitch pattern.
As crafters, we’re always learning.
That’s what keeps our craft practice interesting! Imagine if all we could do was garter stitch or single crochet forever? Complete snoresville.
Trying a new technique is what challenges us and helps us grow as crafters. And it’s also completely normal to feel uncertain or even a little anxious about whether you’re ready for that challenge. (Spoiler: usually you are!)
And there’s nothing like the boost to your confidence when you’ve persevered and gained mastery over a new skill. It feels awesome.
Being a beginner makes you a good girl.
“I’m an experienced and accomplished knitter.”
If you were to say this out loud, would it make you feel weird?
Our craft world is still mostly dominated by women (including folks who identify as women). Society has conditioned women and girls to be modest. Good girls and women definitely aren’t supposed to self-promote or brag.
This is a big problem when it comes to workplace advancement for women. Researchers have found that it’s the societal norms that women have internalized, not a lack of self-confidence. (Read all about it here, and here for the research paper.)
The takeaway is that even when women are absolutely confident they’ve got certain skills or abilities, they’re less likely than a man to say that out loud. Because: no bragging for ladies, even when it’s a factual self-assessment.
Because of how women have been conditioned, it feels way more comfortable to say, “I’ve been crocheting for awhile, but I’m still a beginner” than “I’ve been crocheting for 25 years and I’m an expert.”
Beginner? Expert? We’re here for you.
At The Goat, we strive to honor and respect where you’re at with your craft, and we’re not here to push you (too far) beyond your comfort level.
We love helping our customers find a Goldilocks project — a well-written, just-right pattern with the right amount of challenge for an individual knitter or crocheter.
Whatever your skill level, let’s practice being honest about what we know and who we are as makers:
“I’m an accomplished lace knitter — I knit a wedding shawl for each of my daughters.”
“I always freak out if it’s something I haven’t tried yet, so I need reassurance.”
“I’m an adventurous beginner!”
“I hate to purl but you should see the amazing garter stitch shawls I knit!”
“I’m a knitter with solid skills who needs reassurance!”
“I struggle with reading patterns but once I understand what they’re telling me to do, I can make anything I want.”
“I hate knitting lace but I’m a pro at colorwork.”
“I’m new to knitting — I’m still figuring out the basics.”
Come up with your own statement and try it out at home, then stop by the shop and practice with us! You’ve got this.