I’ve owned a knitting store for over 13 years, and I’ve been teaching knitters since it’s inception. I no longer teach group classes, but I’ve always done plenty of one-on-one instruction. I’ve observed a few things about learning knitting & crochet over the years, and my holiday gift to you is I’m going to share some of it ….
The Most Important ‘Thing’ For Knitters & Crocheters
YOU. The ‘thing’ that is most overlooked and neglected is you. You thought I was going to say some kind of gadget that’s trending on Instagram? Nope, your mind is the most important thing you bring to the table. And it’s also not why you think either. I’m not talking about your analytical skills like math or problem solving, or your visual or spatial skills (I’m actually utterly spatially inept), it isn’t the conventional brain stuff I’m after. I’m talking about the part of you that is YOU, your ‘self’, your feelings.
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself “she just lost me, this chick is getting into some serious off-road, wavy-gravy, crunchy-granola material. What’s next, is she going to try and sell me some kind of crystal which will ‘purportedly’ improve my knitting?” Believe me, I totally get you, I can be a bit of a cynic myself, but please bear with me, I’m going somewhere good, and there won’t be any sales pitches.
Back to feelings …. (are you humming the song in your head? I am too, I’m sorry about that, my bad) … when I’m teaching, the thing I notice most often is that people are unaware of their feelings, and boy, when people knit, A LOT of feelings come out! Knitting is one of those things in life that people take really seriously, but they absolutely don’t have to. If you botch a stitch or a project or a row, NOTHING is going to happen. You won’t lose your job, muck up your relationship, screw up your kids, default on the mortgage, total your car, fail your class, bankrupt your business, etc. None of the important choices you have to make in life is going to be touched. Whatever it is that you fear/hate/avoid, it isn’t on the line.
Kind of liberating, isn’t it? When you make a mistake in your knitting, it doesn’t mean ANYTHING. Nothing, nada. It’s just an experience, a process of creating a textile, learning a set of skills, and you can choose two actions:
1. Rip it back and try to do it again, working over and over until your master that micro-skill.
2. Live with it and forge forward, potentially experiencing new things.
Either way, you’ll get to the same place, a textile. The first option is generally more common, but sometimes I meet people in the second group. Whichever side you land on, I generally suggest you try the other to help balance yourself out.
Which leads to my second point … Knitting seems to be a microcosm for of all kinds of feelings we have about ourselves. When I’m teaching, all kinds of stuff comes out in people. I’m constantly amazed by what I learn about the human condition while teaching people what to do with sticks and string. There’s often a lot of insecurity and self-doubt, but at the core of it, I see FEAR. And that’s absolutely ok, fear is kind of a big part of being human, it’s built into us.
So what do I do when these things surface with my clients? I remind them that it’s only a textile, it’s only a hobby skill they’re learning, and nothing is on the line. I remind them that everyone starts as a beginner, that everyone learns at their own pace, that it takes ten thousand hours to master a skill. I tell them that their ‘performance’ as a knitter doesn’t have any bearing on who they are, it doesn’t mean anything.
Now here’s the big stretch in our little yoga class …. if knitting is a microcosm for all kinds of feelings, if none of it matters and it won’t have an impact on any of the important parts of your life, then it is also an excellent place to experiment with those feelings. Feelings exist for a reason, they’re our friends, they exist to help us. So whatever comes up, say ‘hi’ to it, and if you are feeling brave you might even want to get to know it. If it’s a positive feeling you’ll experience some extra happy (who doesn’t want more of that?), and if it’s an uncomfortable feeling you’ll learn something about yourself, possibly something that’s been getting in your way.
So what does this have to do with actual skills, how is this an actual tool? Well, the uncomfortable stuff holds people back, it blocks them. It makes them learn slower, and it makes the learning process harder. It makes people uncertain about choosing a yarn, a colour, the right needles, the right pattern. It makes them scared to try a new technique, learn a new skill, use Ravelry, try a project outside of their comfort zone. It keeps people knitting scarves for a decade, it makes people afraid to try making a sweater/socks/mitts/cables, it keeps people in a comfortable little rut where they make the same sweater over, and over, and over again.
If you can clear out some of the uncomfortable stuff you’ll start to try new things, you won’t get hung up or held back, you’ll see things you didn’t notice before, you’ll enjoy things you didn’t before, you’ll learn faster, and you’ll be happier with your projects. You’ll become braver, you’ll become more intuitive, and you’ll become more comfortable with your uncomfortable feelings.
DON’T LET FEAR INFORM YOUR CHOICES. It’s only a TEXTILE, it doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t have any bearing on who you are. And for goodness sake, please remind yourself of how beautiful you are, because YOU are.
With all my Love,