Friday, May 17, 2013

Knitting, and Other Creative Successes

So I have started knitting.

A year ago, a friend I met in Bible study brought in a book on knitting pillows she had won from a raffle earlier in the week. She had been knitting for years and was explaining to me the ins-and-outs of how truthfully easy something like this was to knit. I did not believe her.

My own experience in the creative parts of life are as a cook and a writer. When I feel a tug to do something creative, or keep my hands busy, I generally open my pantry or Microsoft Word. Baking makes me happy, and writing is an invaluable medium for me. My handwriting still stinks to high heaven, though.

I explained to my friend, Terry, that I am not particularly crafty, but she was still willing to try what I thought was impossible: teach me to knit. My sister is the one who sews and makes things that are really impressive. The things I made, in my experience, were at the first-grade-toilet-paper-roll-craft level.

I have since discovered that this is not true, that actually I really like to craft. Some stuff I make even looks good. Most projects have a quirky, homemade quality, and I particularly enjoy making party decorations. But my friend, Terry, said that she could teach me. She was confident that knitting really is easy to learn, very relaxing, and fun.

I agreed, and she was right. Anyone can knit, even me.

We started by making simple swatches to learn both knit and purl, which are just opposites of each other and make up about 75% of the actions taken to actually knit something up. For a while I wondered how these two actions could take place side-by-side without canceling each other out, but it works.

Soon I was making really good-looking swatches, with no knots or holes or water stains (not that I would ever leave cold water alone for hours only to find the condensation would reach my project and warp the yarn.) Then, I graduated to the world’s longest scarf, because after practicing over and over, I had forgotten how to finish (called binding off). Then I made things for cute kids, like hats, and things with features I once thought really complicated, like cables.

It really is relaxing, too. There is something about the rhythm of knitting; it reminds me a bit like the praying the Rosary. While getting some nervous energy out by keeping your hands busy, you can really focus your mind and heart on much bigger things. I have found myself praying in the middle of a project many times, wondering why I hadn’t tried this method of prayer more often.

Overall, I recommend it. If you are looking for something new in the creative realm, try knitting. It is not just for older ladies, or for people with tons of free time. Many of the projects I have made held true to their quick-and-easy promise, and turned out nice for people of all ages. Some are even trendy (I am pretty sure a hundred years ago people were not knitting Kindle covers.)

But consider knitting not so much for the end result, though that is a nice bonus. In general, it is good to try something new every once in a while without worrying you might fail a couple times before succeeding. How you handle failure in small matters can shape how you handle it in big ones. For me, the perfect little thing to fail in—before happily succeeding—was knitting. And now, I have a wonderful new hobby.

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