Thursday, January 13, 2011

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

Do you ever think about what kind of knitter you are? Do you ever watch other people knit and learn a bit about their personality, or even your own?

I discovered Elizabeth Zimmermann over thirty years ago at a time when I was having difficulty even finishing a project because it wasn't turning out quite right. At one point, perfectionism, for me, had become a terminal disease and I got so frustrated that I tossed more than one project.

With the help of EZ I went from being a possessed knitter to a relaxed knitter. She cured me of my disease. I am not really sure how it happened, but I know she was the one who opened my eyes. Maybe it was the way she 'unvented' things. I like that word. It reminds me of Edison and how he had successfully discovered 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb.

I really don't have any worries when I knit. I don't worry about stitches falling off the needles....I just slip them back on. I don't worry about mistakes in the pattern....I just find them and make the corrections. Perhaps I am relaxed because I am comfortable with what I do. I enjoy designing shawls and hats and sometimes that can require a little frogging...ok...it can require a lot of frogging...to get the design to work. But thirty years ago I would never have been able to do what I do now because I have become a truly fearless knitter. I am not afraid to try something new.

My mom introduced me to knitting when I was about ten years old and I played around with it but didn't really delve into it until my daughter was born. I was a stay at home mom living out in the country with plenty of time on my hands and before I knew it I even had a spinning wheel....then a floor loom...and then more than one spinning wheel. There are currently four wheels hanging out in the corner of the dining room along with the small floor loom. But I digress....

I have had countless people watch me knit and shake their heads and say they would never have the patience to do that. I admit, knitting, or anything worth doing, requires a certain amount of patience. But it seems to me that knitting has taught me patience as well. It all depends on how badly we want to succeed at a particular thing. How much time are we willing to devote to perfecting something? And by perfecting I don't mean that it has no mistakes, I mean how comfortable do we feel engaging in that particular activity? If it seems like a chore, why do it? Life is too short. Find something else that is relaxing to do when you need to lower the stress level.....not raise it!

So...what kind of knitter are you?

Do you sit with your shoulders up under your ears crouched over your work swearing to yourself when you make the same mistake a dozen times?

Do you approach a project like a vendetta instead of with enjoyment?

Are you one of those people, like I used to be, who has turned perfectionism into a disease?


If any of the above apply to you....relax. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. When you get right down to it, we are only talking about sticks and string....and two stitches....knit and purl. So you make mistakes! If I had a dollar for every mistake I have made in my knitting I would have enough money to own my own yarn shop....although if you take a look in my 'sewing' room at the stash I have you might think I already do own my own yarn shop.

It's not the fact that we make mistakes in our knitting that matters: it's what we do about the mistakes! 1. Are they obvious?
2. If they are, frog back to where you made the mistake and correct it.
3. If they aren't obvious and it doesn't interfere with the pattern....who cares?

If you are a relaxed knitter...find an uptight knitter and let them see you knitting while relaxed and happy. Give them a shoulder massage. Get them off caffeine and drinking herbal tea.

If you are an uptight knitter:
1. Be reasonable when choosing a project...don't bite off more than you can chew.
2. Don't have so much invested in each and every stitch that you can't bring yourself to rip it out.
3. When you get frustrated....walk away from it...have some chocolate....or single malt...or both.
4. Don't always assume that the problem is with you.
5. Written patterns do contain mistakes at times so check around to find the corrections.
6. Give yourself a break. It takes time to become adept at something.
7. Realize what you want to do with your knitting and don't just do what everyone else is doing.
8. If all you want to do is knit caps....then knit caps for chemo patients.
9. If you want to design your own projects, jump right in....adapt existing patterns....and...make notes!
10. If you don't like the way something is working out...frog the whole thing and do something else.

And last, but not least....whether you are experienced or a novice....join Ravelry! There are so many other knitters who have 'been there and done that' with all sorts of projects and would love nothing better than to get you over the hurdle with whatever is slowing you down.

So, as EZ would say...Knit on in confidence! Be fearless!
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