Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Not-so-Fine Art of Putting Yourself Out There

One thing that comes up time and time again with knitters and spinners is the phrase "I'll never be able to do that!" I always cringe when I hear this, not just because I think its something you can't know unless you've tried, but because I too am guilty of having this very thought.

Sometimes, dear reader, you have to leave your comfy little nest.

It happens all the time in life: you let your soft side show and get hurt in the process, or you put up your shields and just pray that no one breaks them down. The truth is this: there is no way to grow unless you go beyond what you expect from yourself. Yes, I realize it is a scary proposition, yes you might get hurt or experience failure, but what will you have learned by doing nothing? By sitting on your hands--knitterly or otherwise--you stay exactly where you are, proclaiming forever "I'll never be able to do that". There is a sort of cruelness to letting yourself fall into this trap, by not taking action, no matter how messy or uncomfortable the consequences. You deprive yourself of something integral to the human condition: vulnerability. One could argue that success actually inhibits growth, that failure is our true teacher. Grow, expand, and if you fail, lift yourself up and move on. Keep creating, keep doing, and just plain keep on keepin' on.

Knitters and spinners know all too well the challenges and dissapointments of their craft. I have heard lifelong knitters proclaim they are afraid to try knitting socks. What? Is the yarn going to eat you or something? Because that would scare me too, but yarn has never in the history of the world eaten anybody and it certainly won't begin to now. At the absolute worst you might have to go online and check out the bazillions of sock tutorials out there for a little hand-holding. At best, you get to spend a companionable couple of hours hanging out with your knitting buddy, Ms. Sock Knitter Extraordinaire.

When I am teaching someone to knit for the first time, I ask them what is it that they want to ultimately create. Sometimes they are reserved and say "a simple scarf will do", other times they want to wield their needles like weapons, and create the most elaborate Fair Isle sweater the human mind can dream. So I teach them to make some gauge swatches and then encourage them to jump into whatever they want, Fair Isle sweater, estonian lace, or socks be damned, its all just knitting and its all just yarn.

Knitters can be a very particular bunch, afraid of making mistakes, afraid how they will look, afraid their knitting will perish hidden in the back of the closet. But there isn't a mistake in knitting--or life for that matter--that a little tenacity and time can't cure. Rip back, begin again. A fresh new row awaits. Keep on truckin', dear knitter, you can do it.

That's it for now. I hope that all of you take this to heart and go challenge yourself try something you've never tried before. If you need help try ravelry or knitting help for starters, and remember:

It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.
Aesop (620 BC - 560 BC)


And if you still think you can't do it, maybe you can attend a boot camp for knitting:

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