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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Do You Think I Was Born a Good Knitter?

My daughter Julie has recently picked up the knitting needles and joined me on my quest to leave no person cold. So far she knows how to cast on and the knit stitch. She can do some simple decreasing with my guidance, but it seems that learning anything from her mother begets frustration, so we've turned to my favorite knitting instructor via YouTube for some help with the teaching. I remember all too well that frustrated feeling during the learning process. It's really that way with learning any new skill, isn't it? We all learn differently and are best reached with different methodologies. It's important to figure out how your brain processes information the best, and try to learn new things that way rather than frustrating yourself trying to learn a skill via a way that doesn't work best with you. Apparently, whatever it is that needs to be learned is best taught to my daughter by someone other than me. I digress.

Part of her frustration has been working for hours on a project and not getting very far, and watching me knit and seeing that I'm a fast knitter and my work is tidy. She finally expressed that to me, and I found myself asking her, "Do you think I was always as good at knitting as I am  now?" That got her thinking. She hadn't considered that there was a time when I was not only not a great knitter, but I was actually pretty bad. The first "thing" I ever tried to knit was like tangible evidence of my frustration and annoyance. I persevered, though. No matter how hard it seemed, I was going to learn this craft. I remember admiring all the brightly colored yarn at Wal Mart in the fall of 2001, and I thought, "I should learn how to make things with this." So, I bought a book that came with everything I would need to get a project made, and sat in my childhood bedroom with my knitting needles and a skein of green yarn. I opened the book and was immediately intimidated by the illustrations. It looked like Greek to me. I decided to break it down and just read everything thoroughly and go slow. Step 1: Casting on. I can do this. About 3 hours later, I was no longer smiling or eager. My hair was disheveled, by eyebrows were furrowed, and I had a white knuckle grip on those aluminum knitting needles. I ended up staying awake all night. Finally at 6am, I had knit two rows and was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I fell asleep facedown in the book on my bedroom floor in my flannel I Love Lucy pajamas and didn't wake up until noon. When my eyes finally opened 6 hours later, I felt such a great feeling of satisfaction. I couldn't stop looking at the two rows growing from the knitting needles. I made this! It wasn't anything, but to me it was a milestone. Now 12 years later, if I knit that and had to rip it out I wouldn't bat an eye. Back then, if anyone had tried to take that little bit of knitting off of the needles and pull it out, I would have cried real tears.
Over the next few years, I dabbled. I wasn't addicted to knitting until 2010 when I took a class at a local yarn shop and I made a little apple hat for my then infant son. That is when I really became hooked. I have knit every day for the last 3 years and I've made tons of mistakes. I know I'll make many more as I go forward. In fact, today, I made a mistake in a lace cowl and I "tinked" two rounds to fix it. There was a time when I would have just kept going and hoped that no one would notice the stitches that were out of place, but I can't do that any more. It has to be done correctly. That's how I know I have finally graduated from novice knitter to knitting diva. If I had given up on that night back in 2001, I wouldn't have made the friends I've made over the years. People close to me wouldn't have the hand knits that they have made with love by my hands. And I wouldn't have the satisfaction and euphoria that I do when I finally conquer a technique that I had been struggling with. So even if you aren't the best knitter, bowler, golfer, yogi, or artist in the world the first time you pick up whatever medium you use for your task, don't give up. It takes work and drive to get where you want to go, and you'll get there.

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