Practice, practice, practice

Updated: Apr 11, 2018

When teaching beginning knitters, it’s always a touchy thing to be presented a first, second or third attempt that is a mess – or, in the words of the hottest knitter ever, Ryan Gosling, “an oddly shaped, off-putting scarf.” Obviously mistakes have to be corrected, but I don't want to discourage an eager student. I usually make a joke that the knitter has jumped ahead to making lace with all the holes in the knitting, and I need to slow her down. Sometimes the joke goes over better than other times.

Knitting is supposed to be “the new yoga,” but usually beginner students leave my class with their shoulders bunched up and very frustrated. Perfectionism is in our drinking water, like fluoride. We see so many images of perfection in our culture, it’s hard to be gentle with one’s self when learning something new.

I find the more frustrated a person is learning to knit, the prouder they are when they finally get the rectangle of garter stitch with straight sides and no holes. Such a small thing brings such a feeling of accomplishment. The key ingredient in successful knitting is: practice, practice, practice.

The cliché “learning never stops” holds true in knitting. I have a stitch dictionary with 1,000 stitches in it. I always have to practice a new stitch before starting a project. When the stitch doesn’t look like the picture, I think there is a mistake in the instructions. I show it to a friend for validation though it’s usually my mistake. (But when it’s the author's I feel even more superior!) Once I finally get a stitch correct, I hang the swatch on my bulletin board, and I feel as proud as any first time knitter with a perfect block of garter stitch.


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