This post is for Josie’s writing workshop at Sleep Is For The Weak. It was inspired by this week’s prompt number 5: Pick an emotion that best represents your state of mind right now and write creatively on that theme.
I am optimistic at the moment.
It seems to me that there are many parallels between learning to knit and learning to parent. There are two basic stitches and if I get them in the right order I will produce a well structured piece of fabric which, if I shape it correctly, will be fit for purpose when finished.
I am knitting a jumper for Bonus Boy. If I get into a rhythm I can clatter along at a fair old pace and it grows effortlessly in my hands. I feel an enormous sense of pride in what I’m doing and I want to show it off to people “Look what I’ve done, isn’t it amazing? I’ve never done anything like this before you know!”
Of course, other people have and I can see them looking at my work with their experienced eyes and their ‘oh dear’ mouths. My mother-in-law is a BRILLIANT knitter. She is delighted that I have decided to learn and it has given us lots to chat about but when she decided to show me how to hold my needles and yarn more efficiently she was a blur of fingers, elbows and wool a bit like Roadrunner’s legs.
I was none the wiser. She spoke to me patiently, “Look darling, you put it over your finger like this and then…” meep meep, zoom she was off again and I was left behind feeling slow and a little bit stupid.
If I take my eye off the ball at all, if I try to do something else at the same time, it can all go wrong very quickly. I have pearled when I should’ve knitted which means everything is back to front and the patterny bit ends up on the inside. I have misread the pattern and haven’t increased my stitches enough in the sleeve which means if he puts it on it will go over his head but his arms will get stuck in really skinny, really long sleeves. I have dropped stitches and not realised until several rows later that there is a big hole in the wrong place or I have added a stitch by mistake and the jumper has grown where it shouldn’t.
I am beginning to think that I have taken on too big a project for a beginner and it seems like an endless task stretching before me. By the time I get it right he will be too big to fit into it or he won’t like the colour or style.
I have unravelled it and I have started again, more times than I care to admit to. I can’t do this with my family. They didn’t come with a pattern. I have to plod on, bridging any little holes, adapting any backward patterny bits, stretching the tight bits and rouching in the baggy bits of family life. I am no longer a beginner and I have begun to learn from my mistakes. I have accepted that I will never be an expert and that I am learning new skills all the time. I know that things go wrong and that it is not the end of the world. I can, and do, step back and look at it and I can see that while it may not be perfect, it may be a bit bobbly in places and it could probably do with a bit of darning here and there, it’s not bad. The Thinly Spread Family jumper is pretty comfortable.
So today I am optimistic. I will finish Bonus Boy’s jumper and the Thinly Spreads will turn out alright.