Analogue vs Digital vs Knitting

On the one hand, if you shun modern technology and gadgets, you’re a Luddite who is stuck in the past.

On the other hand, if you avoid pen and paper and real, dead-tree format books, you’re a mindless zombie who has sold their soul to Apple/Microsoft/Google/the NSA.

Or, perhaps, you’re in the middle finding your own personal balance between digital and analogue for your own purposes. Which does not make for a good Daily Mail headline. There’s no real conflict in my putting my touchscreen laptop in the same bag as my bullet journal and fountain pen.

My knitting world is similarly divided, which is probably very typical. The “current” knitting revival mainly lives in cyberspace. Most of the knitters I meet I will know their Twitter or Ravelry usernames first. But the craft we’re so passionate about is about as analogue as you can get, slow, methodical manual work. Since I’ve been thinking a lot recently about analogue vs digital in the work and productivity facets of my life, I wanted to find where I fell in my knitting life too.

Knitting books

I own a very small number of knitting books in Kindle format. I love kindle for novels and non-fiction prose, but I much prefer to be able to sit down and flick through a physical book. They’re heavy and they take up space, but they’re so lovely to look at and it’s always a pleasure when a knitting friend comes to visit and we can sit down and flick through looking for a pattern or just inspiration.

I’m the same with my physics books. Digital formats can be great for quickly finding what you’re looking for, but they still haven’t managed to make a digital textbook that I find usable. Analogue definitely wins here!

Single Patterns

Single patterns, on the other hand, are pretty much entirely digital for me. I love that I can buy a shawl pattern at 2 am and start knitting it right away. I don’t, because I’m fast asleep at that stage, but I could if I wanted to! One rare exception was the pattern for my wedding shawl, which was not available as a digital download at the time.

Most of my digital patterns don’t ever make it onto dead tree format. So how do I use them?

Using Patterns

I’m almost never away from a screen, so most of the time I will just work off a pdf. Sometimes I will print something off, usually because I’m going to be taking it on the road, or rail in my case, or it’s a complex lace chart. For those I adore my chart keeper. It’s great for allowing me to keep track of my rows and I can whip it out on the train for extreme lace knitting!

Shopping for wool

Shopping online is still a tricky prospect. I might order a t-shirt online, but I’ve never been brave enough to order jeans or a skirt. I have a hard enough time finding the right size and cut in person, and having to buy, get delivered and send back is a pretty huge commitment for something I suspect would have a 90% failure rate.

Some people take the same approach for yarn. It’s important to be able to touch and squeeze the yarn, possibly even smell it, before taking it home. From that point of view, in person yarn shopping is amazing. I love going to a new yarn shop and seeing all the brands I’ve never had a chance to smoosh before. On the other hand, sometimes I know exactly what I want and online is the right place to go. Maybe I’ve already smooshed in person, like when I bought cocoon for my Owls, or I know I want a particular weight and fibre content in a particular colour, and online ordering is much more efficient for me to get that. The more I learn about the technical side of yarn and what I like to use, the easier I find online yarn shopping and the less surprises it has in store for me.

I love my custom blend of tech and analogue in my yarn life. What’s your custom blend?

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