Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Learning to Knit

A few years ago, I was browsing through a catalog of courses being offered in our town.  When I came to the knitting class, I thought "I wish I could do that," and kept going.  Somewhere along the line, I had ascribed to this view of myself as a person with limits.  I was generally quiet, funny with friends, smart, a former-teacher and now mommy...  There was no room in this identity for new interests or pursuits.

A few days later, my friend emailed and asked if I would take the knitting course with her.  I felt like I had to.  First of all, because that's what good friends do (which I don't necessarily agree with anymore, but that was then).  Secondly, because I really wanted to and I felt like I couldn't come up with any more excuses.

So we took the class.  I actually left the house, learned something new, had fun with other adults...  I didn't expect I'd learn to knit (which is strange because that was the point), but I did.  Kinda.  And with the help of YouTube and lots of practice, I got the basics.

Some bunny slippers I knit for my daughter.  Cute and easy.

Last year my mom met a lady who told her about our local knitters guild.  She wrote down tons of info on a tiny piece of paper and gave it to my mom who passed it along to me.  And guess what?  I again thought "I could never do that."  So I threw away the paper.

Six months later, a new friend heard I was a knitter, and invited me to the guild.  So I went (probably following Rule #1 above).  And I realized I was a complete amateur.  These ladies were the real deal.  One lady even raised her own sheep, sheered the wool, and did everything else to make her own yarn, and THEN she knit it.  

I decided to make a shawl after seeing some really beautiful ones at the guild fashion show.  I went to the yarn store, and it was packed with knitters.  Probably 50 or so.  Eating pizza.  Talking about knitting.  Sitting in front of the yarn and smiling at me as I paced the store.  I didn't even know what kind of yarn I wanted to buy (who knew there were so many options).  I almost ran out and swore off knitting forever because I was so overwhelmed.  But for some reason, I didn't.  I stood in a corner out of eye shot and talked to myself (in my head-I'm not completely nuts-I swear).  I realized, all these ladies (and a couple of men) had once been amateurs, too.  They weren't better than me.  They were people who had gotten help and learned to knit.  So I went and got some help from the shopkeeper.  I came home with some gorgeous yarn, and I started in.

It's a little darker, and has some shine, too.  
I'm sure there's knitter terms for it, but I'm still newish.

I'm still working on the shawl.  It's coming along well.  I've probably spent more time undoing and re-knitting than anything else, but I'm learning.  And in some ways, that's way more valuable than the finished product will be.  My knitters-guild-friend and I meet up and knit often.  She's given me some really good advice and helped me learn what to do when I mess up.  

It's easy to say "I could never do that."  Although it's not much fun.  But it is safe.  In order to really learn something, I've found I have to get up and do some work.  And I usually have to interact with other people.  It turns out that's more fun than scary (at least most of the time).  

But I keep running in to people who admire my knitting and say "You are so talented.  I wish I could do that!"  And I say "You can!"  And they say "I could never do that!"

In my own life, there are still times I put things off that I'd like to try.  I'm realizing how important it is to keep learning and trying new things.  It makes life more fun.  And I get to meet fun people.  Taking time for myself throughout the week helps me to be a better wife and mother.  It's easier to play Batman (for the millionth time) or to calm a crying two-year-old when I know I've got a break coming.

Tonight I'm going swimming.  I've wanted to swim laps for exercise for the longest time.  And subconsciously I've told myself "I can't do that."  Because I have to watch the kids.  I have to make dinner.  I'm not sure I can commit to going on a regular basis.  I would have to wear a bathing suit.  I'm not sure how many times to do the front stroke.  Or how fast to swim.  Or how long I can swim for.

But I'm going.  I can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. Goodness that's a gorgeous shawl! I think what stops me most from taking on knitting projects is the fact that yarn replacement is a total pain. Instead of just "this feels right and will drape well" (as is the case with fabric, my primary textile) yarn substitution actually requires math. So far I've just been playing with different weights and needles to see what I can get out of them.