Thursday, January 24, 2008

Relax, it's just a Sweater

Or a sock, scarf, wrap...

This entry is dedicated to all my writing students who've expressed sadness about having given up knitting because they "just couldn't."

I am blessed with a best friend who is a Pastry Chef. She has gifted me with tasty cakes, brownies, and cupcakes smothered in dreamy icing (all gluten-free). She also Gifted me with a piece of kitchen wisdom that transfers to knitting: relax, it's just dinner. So, I tell you, relax, you're just knitting.

I say this not to diminish knitting (ever) or discourage you from pursuing the technical expertise of a Master Knitter. I hope to achieve this rank someday, however, worrying about perfection in every stitch is not the path to knitting enlightenment.

In fact, worrying can inhibit any learning process and that probably goes double for knitting. Sometimes students who know I'm a knitter say, "I tried that once, but I made too many mistakes." Or, even, "my stuff didn't look like the pictures in the book." And, I ask, so what? An imperfect scarf can still keep someone warm. Did the project turn out so horribly that it truly couldn't perform its function? Would it really be so obvious that even a non-knitter would look and point out the flaws? I'm betting the answer is, "No!"

My students and friends, never let these things discourage you from knitting! Writers revise. Knitters find another yarn to knit with, different needles, another pattern. Writers and knitters keep writing and knitting. If they can do it, so can you.

So, how to banish the perfectionist that sits on your shoulder and whispers, "Tsk, tsk, those stitches are uneven." Say, "thanks for the information. I'm enjoying this uneven row and will redo it in a minute." Say, "get lost." Say, "It's a scarf and it'll be Ok." And it will.

Whatever you do, don't give up. Don't put down those sticks. Technical expertise (and knitting nirvana) is just over the craft horizon!


jeffrego said...

Very wise. The world would be a calmer place if more people applied that philosophy to all of their pursuits -- especially the things they do to "relax"!

Jame said...

Ok, I KNOW you were talking about me when you guys said, "It's just dinner." I get stressed out about what to make, and the timing of all the side dishes, and how to make it good enough, i.e., worthy of my loved ones. And I do not in any way hide my STRESS level as said loved ones watch the arrow slip dangerously into the red---DON'T I HAVE A LADLE? I THOUGHT I HAD AN F-ING LADLE...Ok ,but you still love me, right? And if I could just get some yarn storage in the kitchen (knitchen) somewhere away from all the grease fumes and broiler smoke, maybe I could relax a little with a few rows of fiber therapy. (NO, not THAT kind. That's gross. I wouldn't talk about that here.)

Penny said...

Now why oh why would the pastry-er who can't figure out how to add FLAVOR to soup ever look a promisingly delicious meal cock-eyed? I LOVE the food you make. Yours is the best bed and breakfast (and lunch and dinner and please-don't-make-me-clean-up-oh-thank-you) I've ever gone to. I will EVER go to.

And I LURVE making Chris come and share the food with me.

Diane said...

I'm one of those who tried knitting but it just didn't work. I love yarn, and am envious of those who can knit anything more than a square or rectangle. My main problem is that I absolutely CAN NOT follow instructions in a book. I need an instructor to show me ... I need the visual how-to. Forget the technical words in the books. So, here I sit turning all colours of envy and wishing I could knit something other than a pot holder or scarf.

Alberta Postcards
Diane's Flickr photos

Wabi Sabi Knitter said...

Diane! I must say I was (am) you. It has taken me years to understand even the simplest knitting instructions. Like I said, I have more enthusiasm than talent for knitting. Yet, with the help of my patient (in a saintly sort of way) teacher, I am beginning to understand directions. I'm going to write a post about following directions and dedicate it to you! Chris P.S. Your pictures are beautiful!

Penny said...

Must. Have. New. Posts. To. Read.


Or I go to Toys R Us--and you know what THAT means!