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June 2, 2014: Learning to Knit

I have always wanted to learn how to knit. How cool (I have thought) it would be to make my own wool sweaters, hats, socks, scarves, and dishcloths. My desires have (quite obviously) had a very practical bent. However, I opted not to learn for three reasons. First, I well knew that knitting would take time away from other supposedly more important things, such as writing and reading. And secondly, I sensed that my aspirations would exceed my abilities, consequently leading to a high degree of frustration. And thirdly, I sensed that I’m not cut out to be a knitter. I am left handed, have poor eyesight, and have no depth perception. For example, I still don’t know how to tie my shoelaces. (They’re always coming undone. I know I’m doing something wrong, but haven’t yet figured out what.)

But I am now learning how to knit. I had my first lesson on Sunday evening. Pete and I went to visit our friends Patty and Ira’s place. I knew that Patty is serious about doing crochet and knitting. I’d previously seen her beautiful work and was properly awed. And so I decided to go for it when this world-class knitter offered to work with me.

The lesson began with Patty’s pulling forth a pair of thick, shiny green needles. They reminded me of those metal tumblers that people used to drink out of at summer lawn parties. And she pulled forth a computer box full of differing colored cotton yarn. I was instructed to pick a roll, any roll. I badly wanted to go with the blue and white yarn but figured that I ought not since this was the nicest yarn that Patty had on hand. I instead chose to work with some very sturdy beige yarn, most likely because it reminded me of baling twine.

Patty first showed me how to cast or begin my work. I later learned that there are many, many, many ways to cast or bind (end) one’s work. We began with the simplest of casts – it was so simple that I caught on quick. However, by the lesson’s end I’d forgotten how to do this.

The next half-hour was spent with my attempting to learn to do the most rudimentary of stitches. The question that came to mind as I fumbled with yarn and needles was how could anything so easy be so difficult? I didn’t have this figured out by dinner time. I soon realized that Patty and I once again were on the same page when she suggested that I take a break, in order to let my mind process the process.

I did not cease to think about the ins and outs of knitting during dinner. Rather, I continued to run the process of knitting through my head. Essentially, you pick up a cast stitch, wrap the yarn around the backside of one of needles, push the new stitch up over the old, tighten your line, and then repeat the process, ad infinitum.

We went back to knitting after eating. I figured out how to do the above in short order, in part by making a comparison between jumping a horse and knitting a dishcloth (we are starting simple here). This is put yourself in neutral pelvis, open up your shoulders, and breath from the core.

Once I had the stitch down, I had to learn how to pace myself. For as I discovered, if your speed exceeds your abilities, you might drop one or several stitches, and subsequently end up with a large wad of knotted yarn.

We ended the evening with my having knitted a few rows of what if one squinted, might very well be the beginnings of a sweater. Patty, like Beth, my riding instructor, was very encouraging, upbeat, and enthusiastic when working with me. And like Beth, she just focused on keeping me moving forward when I got discouraged.

Her attitude reinforced what I have come to believe, that is that learning best takes place when the person doing the learning is relaxed and receptive to ideas. This then only happens when the teacher is of a similar mind. I suspect that the neuropsychologists would agree that this is because the amygdala, that is the supposed pleasure center of the brain – is activated when the teacher’s comments are positive as opposed to negative.

Bottom line – I want to keep riding. I want to keep knitting.

Next: 155. 6/5/14: Horse Training: Good Rosey, Good Alys