Level of Difficulty - QueerJoe Perplexed

Level Of Difficulty?

How do you rate the level of difficulty of a pattern?  Ravelry asks me to assess this each time I add a project, and I’m always stumped.

Level of Difficulty is Relative

Two recent projects have me perplexed when it comes to assessing how difficult they are.

  1. Close To You Shawl – For me, this design is about as simple as they come. Mostly garter stitch with a few double-yarn over eyelets. The instructions are simple and clear. I do have some difficulty counting 10 rows of knitting to keep with the repeat rhythm. But I can’t ascribe that to the pattern’s level of difficulty. Right?
  2. April Showers Shawl – My current crochet project has nothing very complex at all. Chains, single-crochets, double-crochets and treble-crochets. And yet, I constantly found myself asking a crocheter friend what parts of the instruction meant. I couldn’t visualize the turns and the set-up rows for each two-row repeat.  But is my lack of experience in crochet something that should make me grade the pattern as more difficult?

On solution to the relativism of how difficult a pattern is, is to list the skills needed. You could even have an algorithm that pre-assigned a level of difficulty to a specific skill and then averaged the overall level of difficulty of the pattern.

But even that wouldn’t have let me easily rate how difficult the April Showers Shawl was.

Unless you included new “necessary skills” to your list of rate-able skills.

Mostly, I found the two-row crochet repeat to be very wordy, complex and hard to follow. But was that my inexperience with crochet or was it just a badly written instruction?  Talking with my crochet friend, I found it to be more the former.

So, one of the yarn skills that might need to be in the algorithm for assessing difficulty level might be “Ability to follow complex pattern sequences.”

Current Crochet

After the initial learning curve of about 30 LONG rows of crochet, I am now flying along on the April Showers Shawl.

April Showers Shawl 09-04-20 03

Yes, the rows are getting shorter and shorter. But I’ve also FINALLY established a rhythm for this design.  I’m still not overly fast at executing five treble-crochets, but it’s getting a little faster.

4 comments on “Level Of Difficulty?

  1. I don’t pay attention to levels of difficulty when deciding whether or not to make something, because as you say they’re so relative. I do appreciate lists of the skills involved so I can decide whether or not the design involves more than I want to take on at the moment. If I really like a design I don’t think there’s anything I’m unwilling to try. With Internet access it’s quite rare to be unable to find a tutorial or online class to help with skills I lack. Much better than the days when I was sometimes unable to visualize what to do from written instructions with still photos. I think it’s too bad that assigning a level of difficulty is usually required.

  2. I’ve been crocheting a long time (almost put my actual age down and that was scary). I learned on the crochet patterns that show(ed) a pie chart of the patterns that covered the beginning to the last row. That is much easier for me to follow and if there are questions I know what written pattern row to double check. I learned on bedspread cotton and a #7 hook doing miles of chain until my Mom let move on. One thing I will say is that my tension is still consistent. I can’t say that with my knitting. I agree with Vanessa that I check the list of skills and read the pattern notes to see if I still want to move ahead. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy your blog.

  3. That’s a very good question. I pair difficulty with worthiness. For example, Purl Soho came out with a scarf recently that was difficult. What made it difficult was the rather elaborate design on both sides. I will usually dive into any lace pattern that you can purl on the private side (I need the break!) But I was willing to forgo the purl backside for the pattern effect. After 6 or 7 starts, I gave it up. In order to get the pattern effect you really had to employ knitting gymnastics. I didn’t like the way the stitches felt bullied. Knitted stitches should feel relaxed, clever, not punished. There is another pattern I have that’s definitely a PhD. But it’s glorious to behold. It’s a dare really. But the end product, which I saw at the last Sheep and Wool, is stunning. I mastered new skills attempting the scarf! But when I looked at the wee results, meh.

  4. I decided if it takes just knit/purl and one extra thing, like an eylet made of a yarn over and a k2tog then I will say it is “easy” – in my mind, “easy” would be a category I would willingly encourage a newbie to attempt. Likewise with crochet, most newbies only know chains and double crochets, so if a pattern is ch, dc, and sc I would label it easy.

    If something has no “rest rows” (like that lace on every row) it is automatically “difficult” imho, because there would be no way to make it while listening to a podcast, for instance.

    This is why I also use the ability for adding notes to my project, so I can say what I found difficult or simple – some people filter finished projects by pattern notes so they can find opinions outside the algorithm.

    Your shawl is lovely!

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