3 Life Lessons Learned While Knitting

I took up knitting when my oldest daughter was about a year old.  Really, I was looking for a reason to keep my butt in a chair without getting up every two seconds, but couldn’t stand the thought of just sitting and not being productive. One of the friends I most admire -for being an individual and a strong, smart woman- is an avid (very advanced) knitter. I decided it would give me some street cred with her if I learned to knit, and -besides- I was tired of buying diaper genies for baby showers. I wanted to be the one who gave the meaningful gift. So, I took some lessons on knitting and purling and morphed into a knitter.

Knitting has now been part of my life for four years. It is the only remotely artsy-craftsy thing I do. The fact that lack artistic talent of any kind plays no part in my knitting abilities; it’s simply about following a recipe and picking pretty colors of yarn, so it’s worked out perfectly. Through knitting, some pretty important life lessons remain a part of my nomenclature.

First Life Lesson From Knitting:

Sitting still, accomplishing a little bit at a slow pace, does not equate with failure. It takes a very long time to knit blankets and shawls and larger items, and an hour’s worth of work may not even be noticeable – it might result in just a few rows. But any progress is progress. And without all that in-between, boring foundation-laying, there can be no end result. No fringe and ruffle without the body of the shawl, no cowl neck without the endlessly dull back of the sweater. The foundation is what lets you arrive at the beauty and style of the finished piece.

Second Life Lesson From Knitting:

The decision whether to correct a mistake is often more painstaking than actually correcting the mistake. Mistakes happen in knitting. I knit a purl stitch, purl a knit stitch, drop a stich altogether, or do the wrong thing on the right side of the piece. I lose count of stitches and rows. I forget the tricks to obtaining smooth edges. Sometimes I catch the mistakes immediately and it’s no big deal to go back and fix them. Sometimes I only see the mistakes later, and undoing the work would be incredibly frustrating, set back my progress significantly, and mean that I’d wasted hours on something for no good reason. The temptation to keep going, to hope no one notices the mistake, overwhelms me. “No one will notice this,” I reason. Then, after I finish the piece and tie in the loose ends, I realize the poor sweater (made of really expensive yarn) is resigned to its eternal resting place – the highest shelf in my closet- because I just refuse to wear anything with noticeable flaws. Of course, there is another lesson in this – to not be so incredibly scared of the flaws. To see that the flaws prove the sweater is homemade – something I did with my own hands, my own work, and to see value and beauty in that quality. Deciding whether the mistake is worth repairing, or whether it’s something I can live with, is great practice for parenting, for business, for marriage, and for everything else in life.

Third Life Lesson From Knitting

Gifts of love mean the most.

After the birth of my younger daughter, and while balancing a 2 year old and a full time job, I took it upon myself to knit a scarf for my friend’s birthday. It was a ridiculous thing to do – the hormones were obviously impacting my judgment. And the gift probably wasn’t completely appreciated, but I felt good giving it. When my friends dress their babies in the sweaters and matching hats that I made, I see that they appreciated my efforts and understood that  my taking the time to create something meant more than any purchased gift. Sure, there are times when the baby hats I made while balancing two kids on my lap failed to even merit a thank-you note, but I (truly, honestly) felt good knowing I’d put effort into the gift (even if part of me was slightly bitter, the lack of consideration has -on occasion- proven to me how good a friend someone actually is and taught me not value the friendship so highly in the future).  Giving hand-knit gifts has also strengthened friendships because it was obvious that I was thinking of the person and of the occasion for a long time. There’s nothing last minute about a hand-knit gift. My avid-knitter friend made me three pairs of socks in the last three years because I love each pair so much I wear them out. That’s friendship. From both sides. Thanks, Kamila.

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3 responses to “3 Life Lessons Learned While Knitting

  1. Enjoyed reading your 3 Life Lessons Learned While Knitting. Will check out the others later. I always thought crocheting was a lot safer (and easier) around little ones so I never did much with knitting. I was always afraid to keep such big long pokey things like knitting needles around my little ones and then with all the interuptions of motherhood…..Fear of dropping a stitch….I couldn’t handle the thought. lol 🙂 =^..^=

  2. THIS IS INSPIRING ME to pick up my needles again….i stopped working on a shawl (like-thing….it is really turning out to be more of a uneven blankie….) a year ago and it’s time to finish that up and start a new project! of course, now knitting will compete with my new hobby….crosswords!

  3. I love your analogy, very zen! I learned some of this in yoga.
    “The foundation is what lets you arrive at the beauty and style of the finished piece.”
    Wanting to race ahead is my big bugaboo and slowly building foundations is like holding back an impatient child. Of course in yoga you never arrive, you just keep learning.
    btw. I love knitting! and now blogging

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