Everything I Know I Learned from Knitting ~

Ok, this is not a true statement.  Especially since I took my first knitting class ever exactly one week ago.  But, what IS true is that being in that beginner mind again, did bring up a few very important life knowings that I apparently need to keep learning over and over again.  I’m a lifelong learner.  I step with great anticipation and high hopes into each new learning space like a blank white canvas just waiting for paint.  I am a creative soul still searching for my medium.  And believe me when I say I have tried a whole bunch of creative mediums – photography, collage, water color, drawing, pottery, and more.  I have the one pound, three inch high pots as my badge of honor.  But, here’s the rub, and apparently the lesson that is tied up somehow in all of this learning… I am not good at being a beginner.  I want to be an artist, but I have a problem with making beginner’s art that might not stand up to the creative output of some third graders I know.  I love the process but I want to love the end result just as much. Right away.  I’m not a fan of the do over (and over and over and over).  I try.  I’m not good.  I move on.  This routine does not lead to success.

So, imagine how it played out this week with my knitting.  It started out as it always does.  I’m casting on, grasping the knit and the purl.  The teacher keeps coming by and telling me I’m really doing great.  I’m catching on very quickly.  I beam inside and I’m filled once again with hope.  I’m on my way!  All it will take is a lot more rows of knit and purl and my fingers will start to work automatically and everyone will be the recipient of my gorgeous and unusual scarfs for Christmas.  The very next night, eager to propel my mastery, I pull out my knitting and sitting next to the hubs, ignoring the TV, I’m in the zone – a knitting fool – for about 15 minutes.  That’s when I notice something is wrong.  Really wrong.  I don’t know how to fix this wrong.  Now what?  I decide to rip out the rows back to the first mistake but having done that, I have no idea how to get everything back on the needle.   Hmmm.  Maybe I should just rip it all out and start over again.  Great idea but at that point I realize I don’t remember how she showed us to cast on.  Less than 24 hours and I’ve forgotten everything.  That’s scary in itself.  I try watching one of the 100+ Utube videos showing how to cast on.  Nothing works.  I’m done.   Stumped. Stymied.  Throw it all in the bag defeated.  And here’s what I’m learning from knitting.  It is art.  It’s not easy.  I’m all thumbs and that’s OK.  It is not relaxing and in the beginning it is stressful, not stress reducing.  And, I WILL keep at it and I WILL master at least the basics.

I may never be the artist on the outside that I feel on the inside, but I’ll keep playing and learning.  For me, it’s the dabbling that is the most fun.  Perfectionism and art are not good partners.  I love the art.  The perfectionist in me has to take a long hike.  The older I get, the more I realize the need to just slow down.  Take my time.  Let things ripen on the vine.  Why am I not applying this to the creative process?  It turns out you can’t rush knitting.  I’m walking back into class tonight a complete beginner all over again.  And, I am good with that.


18 thoughts on “Everything I Know I Learned from Knitting ~

  1. Hey sweet-pea….that inner critic is way too hard on my friend Nancy. You’re fantastic! Just oust the judge that hangs around behind your ear. 😉 Xoxo

    • Ha. I always think if you telling me about my death grip on my “mechanical pencil” in that first drawing class. Actually I have come a long way. I’m more relaxed, just need to hang in with something through the “rough and ugly” phase. Thanks for the kind words my friend.

  2. Mmm a lot of “food” for thought …first Kudos for trying again!!! And I thought it was supposed to be relaxing?…can’t wait to hear followup story…

  3. I can truly relate, except that GOLF is my KNITTING. I envy that you can walk away. I, conversely, have played golf very badly for 52 years and still enter each round as a beginner, with the firm belief that this time I will master this craft. In some circles (including knitting circles), my thought process is what is known as the definition of insanity, i.e, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’m pulling for you to have more success in this endeavor than I have ever achieved in my avocation.

    • Thanks for commenting Gil. I think you are to be commended for holding hope above reality or something like that. Are you familiar with the Japanese word gambaru? I love it. Loosely, the word means Always do your best and never, ever give up, even and especially if there is no chance of winning. So, gambaru to you my friend.

  4. Ouch. This one resonated for me she said as she thought about the almost finished quilt and the sewing machine she has forgotten how to thread. The truth is that it is difficult to leave one’s personality at the door, but perfectionism can certainly be a monkey on one’s back. (If I ever find out who “one” is I’ll let you know. Who is that pompous person who wrote that?) We’ll be waiting for a photo of your first scarf. Even if it’s next winter. 😉

    • Maybe I’ll knit a hat and scarf for the “monkey”. I’ll give her a name too and then tell her to get the heck off my back because I’ve got beautiful things to create. Easier said than done she said.

  5. I so relate to all of this Nancy! You are an amazing writer! You are able to tell my story in such an entertaining way! I am always giggling inside while reading your blog & anticipating your next story! Thanks for the lift!

    • Thank you Char. I so appreciate your comment because it’s exactly what I hoped to achieve with my blog. Share stories that many of us can relate to and hopefully a little bit of inspiration as well. Enjoy this beautiful weather while it lasts! Please feel free to share the blog with any friends you think might enjoy reading.

  6. I remember sitting on a porch on the Maine coast with a group of accomplished knitters, trying to learn. At some point I’d realize something was amiss, puzzle over it, and finally hand it over to one of my friends, who would instantly point at a dropped stitch nine rows back and then–and then–reach in there and fish it all back together with the dexterity of a mature squid probing the coral for hors-d’oeuvres. My project is still half-finished. That was ten years ago.

    • Well I may never have the dexterity of a mature squid probing the coral for hors-d’oeuvres (God, I just loved writing that!) but at least I know I’m not alone in my hope/try/toss trek through the world of creative endeavors. Thanks for sharing your own knitting adventure.

  7. Loved your post and laughed out loud! I went through a knitting phase a few years ago. Everyone got a scarf at Christmas whether they wanted or needed one or not. I learned how to knit when I was 7, stopped all those years in between, and then started up again without lessons.So that was what they got, a scarf that looked just like what I might have made when I was 7! Hope they all still love me. Strangely, though, I did find it pretty relaxing.

  8. I started knitting again Nancy! I am finishing up my first scarf but I have to wait to get to Portland because I have no idea what to do with it when I am done! LOL!

    • Hi Heather. I’m excited you guys are coming back to Portland. We’ll have to meet up for coffee and knitting at Starbucks! Safe travels. When are you back in town?

      • We are on the road in the U-Haul on the 31st of October!! Yes, knitting and Starbucks sounds great. 🙂 We can both laugh at our handy work!

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