For those of you who know me, I do not consider myself to be a knitter. I don't carry around a bag with a cozy little project and sit and knit, well not until the last few weeks anyway!
I am 35 and come from a family of knitters, but have never quite grasped or enjoyed it. My grandmother knits sock and mittens galore plus sweaters, dolls and pretty much anything that can be made by winding and pulling yarn with two, three, or four pointy needles. My mom knits amazingly beautiful and complicated sweaters, socks, and mittens. They are wonderful! When I was 9 or 10 my mom found a soft lavender yarn and taught me to knit and purl. The pattern was a checkerboard scarf. I got about 12 inches in, and that was the end of that. In high school I found a pattern and made a few dish-clothes. That was the end of my knitting until a few years ago when I had another unsuccessful attempt at a scarf.
In October my friend Marilla posted a link to a beautiful scarf she was making. It looked amazingly complicated and made me think of Mom. When I commented on it, she said, "You can do it, it's easy. I'll come show you." (In the meantime I found another simple pattern, found someone to teach me to cast on, had about six false starts, and started another scarf to get my basic "knitting legs" under me a bit.) Early November Marilla came over for an evening of knitting and she helped me to understand the pattern. All knitting! A few yarn overs, and knit two together's and that was it! It began slowly, but she is a patient teacher. The basic skills that Mom taught me so long ago came back and I was on my way!
On Christmas Eve I finished the scarf. It's beautiful, not perfect, but beautiful! Marilla was right, I could do it! And it was fun! So why do I share this story? For two reasons.
- To encourage you to go back to a skill that you may not have found early success or enjoyment. Even though I had tried knitting several times in my life with minimal success and much frustration, I tried it again. This time I was in a different place in life, had found a pattern that inspired me, had a willing coach, and had the goal of honoring Mom with a beautiful knit gift. These four factors were each great factors to my success. If I had focused on past failures I would never had started, not to mention finished it.
- To encourage parents of young children to introduce them to new skills, even if the kids don't get it. I apparently showed an interest in knitting as a child, Mom acted on that and took the time to teach me. Although I gave up and didn't finish the scarf, the skills had been planted. I know that I often am too busy or too impatient to try to teach what I am doing to an eagerly awaiting preschooler. However this success reminds me that Mom took time. I also hate to admit, but sometimes my motivation for not teaching them is that they might mess up the "perfection" I'm striving for. This thought robs both of us of the joy in learning and teaching a skill. I'm learning that I can give them a simpler version or their own materials to learn. Also to not seek perfection in the finished product, but in the experience (and many times I'm finding there is a level of perfection in the finished craft that surprises me.) I hope to start Nate on knitting this year.
On a side note someone recently shared that scarves are on of the worst items to start knitting as if often feels like there is no end! :-)
Have you had a similar experience?