I've been traveling quite a bit lately, and I've had a hard time finding the motivation to pop over here and get caught up on blogging. Its not that I don't have tons of things to blog about – its actually the opposite. When I don't blog for a few days (or 27 to be exact!) I have so much that I want to tell you about that I have no idea where to start. I've been knitting, traveling, celebrating, cooking, gardening, working … definitely not a lack of things to post about!
Well, I've finally become motivated to write something. I have something to say. Something that I think is important, and until I get it out here, I don't think I'll be able to stop thinking about it.
You see, I'm a knitter. For better or for worse, I love it. I know its sort of the "granny" thing to do, but I just can't help it. I love knitting. I love yarn. I love how slick the knitting needles feel in my hands. I love the way I can create things to wear or things to give as gifts. I'd probably knit in my sleep if I could.
I'm pretty much a self taught knitter. I did have someone show me how to do a scarf in knit stitch in college, but then about 5 years passed until I actually decided to start knitting. I thought I would start with a sweater, the Shalom. While this was a fairly uncomplicated sweater to make, it did involve some techniques I didn't know – knitting and purling in the back of a stitch. I didn't even know such a thing existed at the time. But I googled it, and I watched a you tube video, and I figured it out. I put a lot of time and effort into that sweater – and I had to take it out several times before I got it right – and because I did that, I learned so much more about knitting than I would have if someone walked me through it step by step.
So, let me bring you up to speed on why I bring all of this up. I decided to start knitting the most adorable little pink dress for some friends of mine who are bringing home their 6 month old daughter from Ethiopia next month. I'm absolutely in love with the pattern and the yarn, but I don't want to give away too much because I'm pretty sure they read my blog. Anyway, I went with a friend to a local yarn shop last night to spend some time working on the dress. I was a few rows into it when I thought I dropped a stitch, but I was confused because I didn't see where it went, so I asked one of the staff if she saw it. After briefly looking she confirmed that I had all the stitches on my needles, and I was turning around to go back to my comfy chair and continue working when this conversation happened:
Experienced Knitter: "Let me see you knit." So she walked around the counter to observe my knitting. and immediately exclaimed in a very authoritative voice that I was "doing it so wrong."
Me: "Oh yea, I know. I've always wrapped my stitches clockwise instead of counterclockwise when knitting and purling."
Experienced Knitter: "Well, any experienced knitter would immediately see that is wrong."
Me: "I know, but I've always done it this way, and I'm going to keep doing it."
Experienced Knitter: "Well you're twisting your stitches. Any experienced knitter would see that. You should just take it out and start over. You're only a few rows into it."
Me: "No, I think I'll keep going. It doesn't really bother me"
At this point, I just turn around and walk away, but I hear her muttering, not very quietly to another shop keeper, "I always take out my work with any mistake I see. Always."
As I went to sit back down, I tried not to let my feelings be hurt, but they were. I know I'm not the most experienced knitter, but I have made quite a few things, some large and intricate. I've learned a lot trying to figure out how to knit. And, this is key, I'm choosing to knit the way I want to. I know that I knit "backwards" or the "wrong way". But I have decided that is how I will knit. When I can knit in the dark using a technique familiar to me, I don't want to up and change it in the middle of a time sensitive project. It wouldn't have been a problem if she had delivered the constructive criticism in a nicer manner. It would even have been fine if she had dropped it after the first time she let me know any experienced knitter wouldn't do that. But she just kept going. And it just became more and more abrasive to me.
I have been mulling this over since last night, and here is what I am deciding to take away from the conversation:
- If you are serious about wanting to learn something like knitting, I believe you have to try things that are way above your level of comfort. You have to dive in and figure it out. Otherwise, you'll never stretch yourself and you'll never grow as a knitter (or whatever else you might want to grow in). You'll never become better. Sure, you could continue knitting garter stitch scarves the rest of your life, but you can only wear so many scarves. And knitting scarves gets boring after a while. So learn something. Make the skill your own. Mess up. Own your work. Be proud of it.
- Don't listen to everything people have to say. Not all criticism is constructive.
- Do your own thing. If you decide to do something differently than most people, its ok. Pursue your own way.
- Learn to be a better listener. People just might have a reason for doing something differently than you.
So there you have it. In honor of my obvious inexperienced knitting, tomorrow I'll put up pictures of one of my favorite sweaters that I just finished.