My knitting design business has just turned FIVE years old and in those years I’ve done an awful lot of knitting and an equal amount of frogging and ripping back. I’ve uttered a million swear words, a zillion sighs in frustration, and countless squeals of delight.
And, after all that knitting and re-knitting, I’ve come to realise how knitting reflects real life, and how, if we let it, knitting can be a wonderful teacher.
I say it all the time, but it’s true.
Not only is knitting good for you (the science says so!), and tons of fun, but it’s also FULL of life lessons.
With every stitch, knitting gives us the chance to hone our skills on a tiny scale, so much so, that as a knitter, life might actually feel … better.
Knitting has taught me so much. The lessons were slow, and for a long time I didn’t see them at all.
I couldn’t appreciate that ripping out yet another sleeve, slogging through a long stockinette stitch sweater body or that crossing my fingers that my colour choices would work, was actually teaching me something.
But it was.
I’ve learnt FIVE big life lessons from all my knitting, and this is what they are:
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.
We know that our instincts know best. We know that all we have to do is listen. But it’s easier said than done, right?
Knitting is the perfect chance to take a chance and experiment with listening to and learning to trust your gut.
Knitting a colour that makes our mouth water, or a texture that “feels” good or a stitch pattern that makes our heart thump just a little harder gives us lots of practice at succeeding by listening to our instincts.
The more we follow that good feeling, the more confident we start to feel that we know which yarns we love best. The more often choose to knit with colours that we have a visceral reaction to, and the more often we wind up loving the projects made with those colours, the more we get used to trusting ourselves.
The funny thing is, by making seemingly inconsequential choices about yarn, patterns and knitting projects and the more we love the results of those choices, the more we’re actually doing a great job of training ourselves, little by little, to trust our choices and our instincts.
This starts to spill over into “real life”, so that pretty soon we realise that we’re listening to our instincts about all sorts of big decisions too.
DON’T FREAK OUT.
Every single knitting project adheres to the 25/75 rule. Sometimes we don’t really notice that it’s happening and sometimes it feels HUGE, panic-inducing and awful.
The rule is that 25% of the way into a project things start to feel yuck. You question the colour you’ve chosen, you think you’re probably knitting the wrong size, you doubt that you’ll ever finish and at 25% of the way through you might wonder what on earth you were thinking when you started.
Yep, it’s not pretty. And, it happens again at about three-quarters of the way through. YUCK, tasteless, waste of time, panic, panic, freak out.
But, don’t panic! It’s normal. Hold that thought of ripping, don’t throw your project into the naughty basket just yet.
Things will get better – you’ve just got the 25/75 wobbles. 25/75 happens in real life too and knitting is such great practice!
How many times have you finally got into the swing of something when you’re suddenly swept off guard by a niggle or a doubt? Do you question whether you can keep going when you’re getting close to the end?
When you start to hang in there with your knitting, and when you remember to stop and ask yourself: “Am I 25% of the way in? Am I about three-quarters done?”, then you’re already on the way to learning a huge, useful life lesson, and maybe you’ll find that you’re less likely to panic and freak out at wobbly feelings in life too.
STICK AT IT.
Good things take time.
There are literally thousands of stitches in a sweater. Even a hat is full of stitches.
Remember what they say? The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
The same is true for knitting. The way to knit a sweater is one stitch at a time. Just hang in there, keep at it. Stitch after stitch, after stitch.
Hundreds and thousands of stitches will grow grit and perseverance – especially if you’re knitting, frogging and re-knitting!
It won’t be long before you realise that you’re not only more patient in real life but that you’re less daunted by a mountain. All that knitting has taught you that if you just put one foot in front of the other, you’ll move forward, even if you have a few challenges along the way.
DON’T RUSH. SLOOOOOOWWW DOWN.
We all know the feeling; when life gives us lemons, pick up our knitting.
Knitting has the fantastic ability to stretch our brains and also sooth our souls, sometimes all at the same time.
So what’s the hurry? Why not enjoy the ride?
Knitting teaches us that slowing down and loving every stitch, relishing every inch of gorgeous yarn, is a wonderful feeling. And when we knit regularly, it’s easy for that attitude to flow into real life. All of a sudden we realise that we’ve learnt to slow down and enjoy the moment a little better.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE.
There’s not much that’s new about knitting. Not only is there someone else who’s had your knitting problem before, but there’s also someone else that gets you and your weird love of knitting.
It’s the second part that is truly special. You’re part of a wonderfully rich and vibrant tradition.
We might not live next door or even speak the same language as other knitters, but somewhere, someone else knows exactly what it means to pour a cup of hot tea, curl up on the sofa and escape into a contended place with needles and yarn.
There are thousands of knitters that understand your need to knit. They know the warm, fullness that a gorgeous skein of yarn can bring and they’ve also felt the satisfied, quietly jubilant feeling after they’ve worked out a tricky stitch.
So you’re truly not alone. You’re a KNITTER!