Excellent question! I bet we all have different ways of approaching something new so here are a few ways I do it.
Being an early riser on the weekends, I've been known to get up early on a Sunday, make a cup of tea and sit in front of Knitting Help videos and spend as little or as much time in front of the screen as it takes me to get a handle on a new technique. This was how I learned finally to do both the provisional and the long tail cast on. Having the quiet and uninterrupted time to play the videos over and over and not bother Sean with the repetition was invaluable. Although I suppose I could put on headphones!
I think I prefer the video method to any other because following those hand movements over and over again is the only way to make something like that stick. If you know how to do a long tail cast on, you'll know that it's all about the wrist action and that really made sense once I watched the excellent Knitting Help video.
But you can also watch videos on You Tube that cover all sorts techniques too. I recently watched Cat Bordhi's video on You Tube showing her excellent invisible increase technique. Highly recommend that!
I can learn a certain amount of stuff from books but I don't tend to retain the information until the moment I actually need it. For instance, I read about making nupps for quite some time but until the moment I needed to do it, I couldn't have really explained it. I needed the information right there in front of me, even though I'd read it dozens of times. I mostly read my knitting books at night before going to bed. Waking hours are for knitting. The time before going to sleep is for reading. As an aside, I've recently figured out that if I read knitting books before going to sleep, I seem to sleep better and fall asleep sooner. I go to sleep with my head filled with ideas and plans and happy thoughts and as a restless sleeper and sometimes insomniac, this is a good thing!
Isn't the blog world just choc full of people who can cleverly explain how they do things? Just today I read a fantastic tutorial on reading lace charts by Ysolda Teague. I can read charts now but her explanation was quite unique and I think would be really useful if you're still a bit daunted by lace charts. Even though Eunny Jang doesn't write her blog anymore, her tutorials on everything from lace to steeking are among the best. I've lost hours to her tutorials.
But apart from the big name bloggers, I learn so much from everyone else. Someone might talk about how they learned to do fair isle with two hands, or how they determined the best way to figure out a yardage issue and I'll just file that way for later. It happens in person too. Rarely do I come away from a gathering of knitters without some small nugget of information that was new.
As for the nupps I added to my list of knitting skills last week, I must confess that when the crunch came, I wasn't nearly so careful or considered. Literally up until the last minute I thought I was going to bypass them altogether but it was Thursday night and my cleaner had been and I felt quite happy and relaxed with a couple of glasses of chardonnay already drunk and so you could say I felt brave, even brazen.
All it took was that one comment from Dr K urging me on and I was off and running into nuppland. No lifeline, no dummy run. Nothing. Just headlong into the new.
Sometimes, you've just gotta let go of the handlebars and fly down the hill.
How do you focus on learning something new?