I swear you'd never know that the Craft Council of America did a difficulty/skills rating for projects with some pattern books.
"1: Beginner Projects for first-time knitters using basic knit and purl stitches.
2; Easy Projects using basic stitches, repetitive stitch patterns, simple
color changes, and simple shaping and finishing.
3. 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.
4. Experienced Projects using advanced techniques and stitches, such as short rows,
fair isle, more intricate intarsia, cables, lace patterns, and numerous
Now what surprises me is that socks are actually experienced. (I don't know if you read my minor rant about the rug pattern in the Jane Austen Sewing Box, but that's a beginner pattern) Short row shaping for the heel, throws it into experienced. However a sock can be so simple. No really. The heel is really the only complex bit and even then with a well written sock pattern if you follow the pattern it will happen. There are socks that require more brain power.
Now while I don't agree with them on a lot of this I do think that there are projects that fall into complicated that aren't. There are very few patterns that can't be made easier by a well written pattern.
The way I rate projects would be
1. Beginner, the kind of project that can be picked up and a subtitled movie watched by a relatively experienced knitter. Repetitive, simple, very little surprises. If an error is made a lifeline would really make no difference, probably a crochet hook could solve most problems (except knitting too much).
2. Easy. Something that could be knit on a commute without dropping too many things underfoot. May require you to put it aside if you're doing something that requires attention, but nothing that makes you scratch your head too much. A movie in your language could be watched but not with the lights out. A lifeline could possibly be useful for a less experienced knitter but a more experienced knitter would probably be able to rip and pick up without sweating too hard. I would actually put a plain pair of socks with a rib and plain leg here.
3. Intermediate. Some fussing will be necessary and there will be swearing if an error happens, more if a lifeline has been forgotten. You might be able to bring it on a commute but you would probably need a book or alternate distraction for moments that require some head scratching. You could probably watch a well-loved series, but may have to pause either the knitting or the TV occasionally. Socks would have complex patterning but toe and heel pretty straightforward
4. Experienced. Requires concentration. Swearing may require children to be kept well away. May require test yarn and needles to see where it's going wrong. Knitters may retreat to an alternate location to concentrate. A lifeline is essential if you don't want to rip the whole way to the beginning. Extra yarn should be factored in for the yarn ruined by repeated ripping. The item produced is somewhat of an art piece and other knitters will ooh and ah over the piece. Socks wouldn't be made with regular shaping or methods.
So anyone got any ideas? Comments?