I spent a few hours yesterday in a learn-to-knit class. My mom tried to teach me years ago but she’s a lefty and by her own admission, knits differently than the standard style. She taught me how to cast on but that’s as far as I got. The skein (ball) of yarn sat with the casted-on needles poked in it for three years until I gave it away when I moved to Cleveland. Since then, I’d wanted to re-learn. I’m crafty, I catch on quick and sometimes I really need a distraction. Knitting: perfect.
I arrived, purchased my yarn and needles (apparently bamboo needles are a thing now) and took my seat at the table amongst six other students which ranged in age from 10-65, and two teachers. The older of the two was patient and kind, showed us the steps again and again until we got them and then fixed our mistakes when we needed her to. The other teacher had less patience and while she occasionally complimented the younger ones in the group, lost a bit of her calm when instructing the elders which unfortunately, included your humble author.
The 10 year old boy at our table, while his stitches were inconsistent and resembled something a spider-on-meth would have woven, rarely called out for help and was complimented for it. The 12 year old girl needed her mom’s help a bit more frequently. Her grandmother crochets and picked the change in technique quickly as did her daughter. The young married girl to my left had her yarn casted on and then was off to the races barely speaking up but to discover a missed stitch here and there. When class was over, she left with about four inches of stitches complete (each row comes to just under half an inch). Me, I was the odd duck. I needed more help than anyone and kept making the same two mistakes over again under, I suspect, the watchful eye of the children. By the time we left, I had three rows done and as I got into my car, feared it faced the same fate as my previous project.
I discovered something yesterday. Something I caught glimpses of previously, but never enough to have it stop me in my thought tracks: I realized that if I don’t catch on to something quickly, I am very hard on myself. I feel dumb. Inadequate. Like a failure. I don’t know where this comes from, but something about the aches in my fingers corresponded with the dark cloud in my thoughts and both of those things harkened back to one low point in my developing life: math class. Fortunately, being my mid-30s I have a certain perspective that not everything comes quickly to everyone and it was just knitting anyway.
I was over-thinking it, by my own admission as well as my teacher’s observation. I was picturing how the stitches were meant to turn out. The term “counter clockwise” threw me into fits as if she’d suddenly tried to speak Latin to me and I was meant to understand it. I couldn’t keep my needles close together. I was all thumbs, went into the stich from the wrong side and WHY WASN’T THIS CLICKING YET?!
Then I remembered driving. The first three or four times I drove a car, I was a menace. Wide turns, screeching stops, speed. Then one day, one random day of driving lessons after school, I sat down in the driver’s seat and off we went. It was like I had been doing it my whole life, it came so naturally. It clicked. I reminded myself of this as my patient knitting coach showed me one last time what I had been doing wrong. She handed my work back to me and I focused. The four steps came easier but not with fluidity. Still, I had paid closer attention to where my problems were and overcame them right in the nick of time. I knocked out almost a whole row of stitches without assistance. A small victory.
I am free to return to them when the project is near done and phase two begins, and can go for help anytime before that. Thank God for YouTube, I’ve already looked up a few clips on the process for when I need to remind myself. I have three cross stitch projects in the works and now this.
I realized another thing last night: I am turning into a cooler version of my mother. The knitting and sewing aside, I spent four and a half hours last night making a pot roast. Mom never made pot roast, but she did spend hours in the kitchen. My older sisters don’t much garden, craft, stitch or sew besides the occasional needlepoint, they don’t truly love to cook, and have never made clothing for their children with a sewing machine. The gene which controls the desire to do these things seemed to skip them but landed squarely in me and I love it, but to have something evade my skill and intentions when most things come quickly is infuriating so I’m going to try to do something I almost never do: I’m going to keep at it when it gets really frustrating. I’m going to knit on my way to and from work (when not driving of course), I’m going to do a little every day so I don’t lose the skill or better yet when it becomes muscle memory. I’m going to set a goal of one more project before I decide if I just don’t have an aptitude for it. I’m hanging in there but if you want a scarf, you’re going to have to wait for it.