Happy Sunday! I have a question for you today that I’ve been thinking about for a long time – is there a universal criteria to establish the difficulty/skill level for a pattern? I am finishing The Choice Cardigan pattern and I would love to hear your opinion about the difficulty aspect!

Cable Cardigan Pattern

Craft Yarn Council has Skill Level standards:

  • Beginner: Projects for first-time knitters using basic knit and purl stitches. Minimal shaping.
  • Easy: Projects using basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.
  • Intermediate: Projects with a variety of stitches, such as basic cables and lace, simple intarsia, double-pointed needles and knitting in the round needle techniques, mid-level shaping and finishing.
  • Experienced: Projects using advanced techniques and stitches, such as short rows, fair isle, more intricate intarsia, cables, lace patterns, and numerous color changes.

And they are certainly great to use as a point of reference when choosing your next project, but they can also be misleading for some knitters. For example, knitting in the round is considered as an intermediate skill level, but I know a lot of knitters who prefer knitting in the round to flat knitting, especially if it’s a garment and requires seaming. Mattress  stitch can be tricky to learn at first and bad finishing can ruin the project!

Fair isle is put into the experienced category, but again there are knitters who can knit fair isle basically with closed eyes, but will have trouble keeping up with basic lace or cable stitches. I, on the contrary, found knitting intricate cables cardigan from Vogue Knitting much easier than a simple fair isle cowl, just because I am more confident with texture than color knitting.

Ravelry also has the difficulty meter next to each pattern, which is calculated on the knitters’ evaluation, but once again – what was easy for one knitter, might be challenging for another…

And we can go on and go on…

In my head I divide projects into two categories: absolute beginner and non-absolute beginner projects 🙂 Absolute beginner projects are basically allow you to practice basic knit/purl stitches, have a better idea how they are formed and just become more confident in knitting them, also they introduce you to the understanding of the gauge and why it’s important. All the rest is very hard for me to put into categories. Some knitters love the look of the lace and will naturally choose lacy shawls/scarves/tops, becoming more and more confident in this technique; some admire fair isle yoke sweaters; some intricate cables that will stop being “intricate” for them very soon after knitting a dozen of cable projects…

So, my question is how do you choose your projects skill-wise? Do you need to see the skill level indicated in the pattern introduction or it’s not helpful and can be misleading? What kind of projects do you consider “difficult” or “easy”? I would really love to read your thoughts about it!!!