I took up knitting a few months ago. This is more remarkable than it sounds. To grasp the concept of me knitting, with proper astonishment, you must first understand that I was born with two left feet — for hands. The way some people can’t dance, I have never seemed to be able to draw, stitch or, for that matter, wrap presents. I have done all of these things as though I were born without thumbs. Add to this my seemingly inborn penchant for impatience and, well, you see why me with knitting needles is a notable thing.
Knitting called to me when I saw my friend Amey Lobdell Maffucci making the most beautiful and remarkable things during the homeschool playgroup our children belonged to back when I lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. Amey is a true talent, but it was the peace that knitting seemed to give her which appealed to me. It was also the way Amey’s life seemed to be an extension of her knitting. She was patient, organized, and nurturing with her husband and children just as she was with her yarn and needles.
I tried to learn knitting on my own once we moved back to New Mexico, in secret, with a ball of dark green yarn and a book. It was pathetic at first. But I soldiered on. I wasn’t going to give up. I found videos on YouTube, and they helped…a little. Then I realized something important. I couldn’t do this alone. Knitting, like so many handicrafts, was meant to be a social enterprise, shared by women. So I found a yarn store where they offered classes, and signed up.
There, I learned the basics of making a scarf in one afternoon. My stitches were unwieldy, ugly, uneven, and there were moments when stabbing my own eye out seemed imminent. But the young, soft-spoken teacher was patient, and the other women, struggling much as I was, laughed right along with me. Together, we knitted. And laughed. And learned. And laughed some more. Here we were, high-powered professionals many of us, and we couldn’t do something as simple as knit. Maybe, I realized, that’s because knitting is not as simple as we’d been led to believe. Maybe knitting, like most other traditionally female work, was valuable and underrated, complex and worthwhile.
I learned to cast on, to knit a basic stitch, and to tie off, but more than anything I learned the value of patience. I’d not been raised with this value. As with so many people raised in the 1970s by hippie parents, I’d learned (wrongly) that I was entitled to what I wanted right when I wanted it. I had very little discipline, and even less self-control. This manifested itself in a variety of unappealing ways in my life, until quite recently unfortunately.
More comfortable with the basics, I went home with my new bamboo knitting needles and high-quality wool, and began to knit. And knit. I knit scarf after scarf. The early ones were awkward affairs, full of holes that served as witnesses to my missed stitches and mistakes. The spoiled brat in me wanted to tear these ones up and start over again, but I realized that with each new scarf I knit, there were fewer holes and mistakes. I decided to line them all up next to each other, to remind myself that with patience and acceptance of mistakes comes learning, and, eventually, beauty.
Five months later, I’ve finally managed half a scarf with no major mistakes in it. My stitches have become fluid, almost automatic, as the muscle memory becomes a part of my hands. I no longer find knitting agonizing. I find it relaxing, peaceful, meditative.
Knitting reminds me, and teaches me, what is said in Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. I was not raised with many of these values, but happily for me it is never too late to acquire them. Knitting has served as a bridge for me, toward a more fulfilling and peaceful life in many areas.
I’ve got a long way to go before I will be able to make the beautiful sweaters, hats and socks that my friend Amey makes, but I now realize that nothing worth doing is all that easy, and that patience is the key to creating anything of value that lasts. I try to knit daily, for pleasure, and also as a reminder that in all things, growth is slow, and every stitch counts — this is as true for relationships, friendships, parenting and my career as it is for knitting.
Have a blessed day.