The Editor Wants to Know: Do Knitting Skill Levels Influence Your Decision to Make a Knitting Project?
Do skill levels make you cringe?

Do skill levels make you cringe?

In this edition of The Editor Wants to Know, I’d like to ask the question:

Do Knitting Skill Levels Influence Your Decision to Make a Knitting Project?

A few years ago, we increased the skill levels in Creative Knitting magazine from four to six in order to give you more confidence when choosing knitting projects. I found it discouraging that the decision to make a gorgeous design was dismissed because the skill level was the catalyst for moving forward or not.

I find that many knitters see a skill level and think that it is a reflection of “their” level of knitting, when in fact this is a mistaken way of looking at knitting patterns. The only way to increase your own knitting skill is to take on something that will challenge your skills and help them increase.

I think that all too often we can be swayed away from creating a pattern we fall in love with because we look at the skill level and cringe if it’s anything beyond “easy.” Is this the obstacle you face? If so, I want to hear from you!

Do skill levels influence your decision to make a knitting project?

29 Responses to The Editor Wants to Know: Do Knitting Skill Levels Influence Your Decision to Make a Knitting Project?

  1. Diane says:


  2. Anita says:

    Yes absolutely… however something that is above my skill level is not necessarily prohibitive if I want to learn something new.

  3. Diane Lanier says:

    The first few years I was intimidated by skill levels, but now that I have more experience under my belt, I’m not as put off by designated levels. I have found that the reported skill levels can vary greatly from what I would report the skill level for me. I think it comes down to confidence and desire to try something new, rather than skill itself.

  4. Lynn says:

    I don’t let the skill levels influence my decision on whether to choose a specific pattern. I do, however, try to see that a pattern is clearly understandable as it is written. Sometimes even patterns labeled as “easy” are more difficult because a portion may be awkwardly worded. I follow instructions well…any pattern can be considered easy enough for me with clear direction.

  5. maura says:

    Of course and it has an impact on my choice of yarn as well

  6. Andrea Tabel says:

    Rarely. I get something in my head and just do it. The result might not always be what I imagined but then I know better next time. It’s very rare that I use patterns, but I do look up stitch patterns to find one that suits my imagined project.

  7. Judy Aiken says:

    My answer is sometimes. However, most of the time I find skill levels a confidence booster and find that many times my skills are more advanced than I give myself credit for.

  8. Betty Wharton says:

    I have never allowed a challenging pattern stop me. If I only do what I am confident in I will never learn or grow.

  9. Glynis says:

    Yes, but sometimes I will try knit and discover it is not very difficult.

  10. Carmen N says:

    I rarely look at the skill levels. You never know if you can make something unless you try. No one told me I shouldn’t make a lacy shawl as my second ever project. Or that my first pair of socks should probably avoid cables. The easy access to instructional videos these days means you should be able to try anything!

  11. Doris says:

    Skill level may or not be equal to intricacy of the pattern, but I view things like elaborate lace or unusual shaping as requiring more of my ‘head’ and concentration, almost making work out of what I call fun. If I don’t want to ‘work,’ I avoid a pattern that is complex. Right now, I have a bag for my mindless knitting, that being bags for my newest creation: bars of soap. My complex knitting is a shawl that requires my following the directions closely. I’ve avoided the latter project all winter because I didn’t want to be tied to the pattern, but now it’s OK. So, skill level may be equal to level of concentration, and then, yes, that determines if I make it or not, or when.

  12. Spring says:

    No. I make patterns based on whether I like the finished item. I often find super boring patterns hard because they don’t keep my attention enough to do things like increase or decrease when I’m supposed to. I am not a lover of intricate lace…I just don’t like the way it looks…too fussy for me. I do love all of kinds of cables and shaping. I find intarsia VERY challenging, but in a fiddly way not in a fun way. I can do it, but I don’t LIKE doing it. I have finished a new sock, finished a sock in my “time out” pile, almost finished the time out sock’s mate, and am thinking of pulling out another long abandoned project just so I can avoid a baby blanket that I’ve started for my grand-nephew which has a bunch of color work.

    One person’s “hard” is another person’s tedious. I do love a plain sock as a “I can work on this anywhere”-type of project. I don’t think I’ve ever not tried something because the project was rated too hard (or too easy!) Knitting is what I do for pleasure…I want to love the process AND the finished item.

  13. Dale says:

    I always look at the skill level first, but if I really like the pattern, I will read it through to determine if it’s right for me.

  14. Denise says:

    I try not to let the skill level of patterns deter me form making any items. If the pattern is intimidating then I just knit each line as I come to it and not read to far ahead. Before you know it I’m done and I have a new item to show off. Thank you

  15. Kristie Price says:

    Before I became a mother to a young son, I was undaunted by any and all knitting projects. When I was inspired to create, I would just sit and knit. The level of concentration or “attention” the project required wasn’t a concern of mine. However, in this stage of my life and motherhood, all my knitting projects need to be easy and “mindless”.

  16. Laura from beautiful West Michigan says:

    I look at the skill level as an indicator of how carefully I will have to pay attention to the project. The higher the number, the more it is a “sit at home alone and concentrate” project. The lower numbers are take-alongs or for when there is a lot of talking going on. I usually have two or three or more projects of various levels going on at one time.

  17. Georgette says:

    I do check skill levels, but if I really want to do something, I dive into doing it! I wanted desperately to make socks, and people told me turning the heel was really difficult. I really wanted to do this, because I find socks to be something very practical. Now I teach classes on how to make basic socks! I try to do a little something creative everyday, some are small projects, some take more time! Thanks for the tutorials!

  18. granny duck says:

    Well, to me a demanding knit is a challenge. I like to learn new things and always knit different things. What is known and relatively easy is boring. Of course I have had to undo a lot of work because it didnt turn out the way it was supposed to, but that’s O.K.

  19. Jan says:

    I use the skill level rating as a guideline only. Sometimes I want a challenge, and sometimes I am in the mood for something fast and easy.

  20. Margaret says:

    Do not worry about skill level. I’ll tackle anything once. I have been knitting for about 60 years. I don’t like circular needles or bamboo, just give me the old metal straight ones. My favourite tool is a needle gauge as I have needles from the UK and the UK in both size number and metric! Recently taught my 6 year old granddaughter to knit

  21. Adrian says:

    I look at the skill level as a way to judge the project in terms of the amount of time it will likely take me to complete. I have learned a lot from trying more challenging projects and I really appreciate sources that include a skill level.

  22. Ellen Clark says:

    I try to choose patterns that will increase my skill level by learning the unfamiliar techniques. Sometimes, even the “easy” ones will have a technique that I will research so that I can keep improving.


  23. Marilyn says:

    I learned to knit 62 years ago, and there were no skill levels for patterns then, so I just thought I could do the pattern if I liked it, and I usually succeeded after sometimes trying it several times. I am still that way because not only do I like to knit simple things, but I also enjoy a challenge. I know that I can figure it out if I take it step by step.

  24. Jeanette says:

    Yes! I knit to relax and enjoy the process, so am not inclined to do an “Experienced” pattern, even though I have been knitting for over 50 years.

  25. Sue Lockshine says:

    I rarely let a skill level stop me from knitting something if I like what I see as the finished product. Learning new skills is part of the fun. For intricate patterns I may take it one stitch at a time, one line at a time, but skill level doesn’t stop me from trying.

  26. DebbieW says:

    IMHO, I think it boils down to how well the creator of the item conveys the steps of the pattern. We all have different ways of learning and understanding, but having a well-drawn chart, a well-written pattern and visual steps makes it easy for anyone to follow and do.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Debbie,
      Your comment has to be approved first before it is posted 🙂 Very constructive comment indeed! Thanks for your input!

  27. Shirley Eagle says:

    I don’t usually noticed the difficulty ratings of patterns. If I like the item, I’m game to try it. Like many others, I have to pick the time and place to work on the more challenging patterns. I have a fine wool stole that has been on hold for a few years because of a major health issue that side-tracked me, and I’m almost back to being able to work on something like that. I don’t know the rating on that, either, but it is with a chart, which I had NEVER used before (didn’t understand how to)and am still a little apprehensive about.

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