On Tuesday I had my first group class at Tangled Purls Yarn Shop – Knitting 101. I had a lovely time. It’s been a while since I have taught a knitting class, but in no time I felt myself slipping back into the swing of things. In fact I am teaching a second round of the class next week on Tuesday the 18th from 1:30 – 3:30. We will be working on this pattern and continuing to work on our elementary knitting skills. You can call or go into the shop for more info.
The group was comprised of mothers and daughters who had signed up together, which added an extra element of fun. I talked in my last post about the sense of familial connection and pride that I get from my knitting, and I really loved the idea that the women in these two families were learning to knit together and starting their own fiber-arts traditions.
A messy classroom table is a sure sign that lots of good knitting is happening 🙂
Coming back to the fundamentals of knitting after a little bit of a break, there were a few things that struck me during our class about the important life lessons that knitting can teach us. I think that there are lots of them: lessons about tradition, lessons about patience, lessons about commitment…I could go on, but what struck me most when I was working with this new group of baby-knitters was this: In knitting, and in the rest of life when you are trying something new it is okay if it’s awkward and uncomfortable at first. In fact, it’s a good thing!
Whenever I am teaching someone to knit, one of the first things I always say is that knitting is an action which requires muscle memory, its like writing, walking, or riding a bike. At first it feels strange and alien, but after a while our hands learn the motion and it becomes second nature. In no time we are knitting in the dark at the movie theater like nobody’s business.
However, no matter how fervently I reinforce this notion to my students, about half way through their first row almost all of them say something like “This feels weird” or “I look silly” or “I feel like I am all thumbs” and its true, its awkward and strange and we look silly and feel silly. Unfortunately, every once in a while there is a student who is so put off by this feeling that they shut down and stop learning or stop trying. (Thankfully no one from yesterday’s class). Most of the time people push through, but sometimes the discomfort gets the better of them.
I’m not saying that everyone who tries knitting has to love it or become addicted to it the way that I am. But the thought of missing out on a life experience for the sake of avoiding discomfort is a sad one I think.
In today’s society of instant gratification, I think a lot of us live with the misconception that skills, like food and clothes and apps on our phones, should be handed to us instantly. This is certainly something that I struggle with sometimes. But unfortunately that period at the start where we feel like a wobbly baby giraffe, stumbling around all over the place, is critical to the learning process. Isn’t that the definition of stepping outside of our comfort zone? Feeling a little uncomfortable for the sake of trying something new? Isn’t that the only way we learn and grow? Couldn’t it be seen as an indicator of bravery? Having the courage to let ourselves look and feel a bit silly at first? So, I think I’ll end my philosophical tangent there. But I do believe that is one VERY important thing that I have learned in my journey as a knitter, not to give up just because I feel wobbly, but to make room for that feeling and acknowledge it as a sign of growth.