Thursday, November 17, 2011

On Not Giving Up

In the scheme of things, I suppose it's a small thing, but knitting has taught me something about not giving up.

I've known the basics of knitting since about the 7th grade, when a kind Home Economics teacher taught me the basics.  But until the last couple of years or so, I've never made much progress.

About the time our congregation started a prayer shawl ministry, that began to change, slowly.  I decided to get back into knitting.  And I stopped into a few yarn stores, asking whether they had classes.  Yes, I was going to make prayer shawls, but I thought I'd also renew my irrational quest to learn how to make socks. 

Though I haven't gone from novice to expert knitter these past two years, I have learned how to make basic mittens, basic socks, and have also knitted a couple of simple lace pattern scarves.  I started a sweater about a year ago (don't ask me why).  Trying to knit a sweater has taught me how much I still don't know about knitting.

For example, "short rows."  I discovered that I did not know how to knnit short rows when I attempted to bind off the shoulder seams.  I had to take the sweater into the yarn store, where the store owner patiently tried to show me what to do.  We also tried to figure out how to do it backwards (I'm left-handed, which complicates everything.) 

After not learning how to do short-rows, I decided I needed a pattern which would force me to learn it.  (This would mean another break from the sweater; oh well.)  I got a ruffled scarf pattern and began.

After a few rows it was obvious to me and everyone else that I really didn't know how to do short rows yet.  I ripped out my stitches.  And started over.  Again.  And Again.  And Again. 

I watched right-handed people do short-rows on you tube.  I downloaded explanations.  I made swatches.  And I also, many times, said, "This is it!  I give up!  I am not going to ever figure out how to do this!"

Then I would look at the four balls of yarn, beautiful yarn, sitting there on the sofa, and I would begin again.

It's a mystery to me sometimes that I am actually doing this, and not giving up.  I still look at the really complicated patterns and I will say that I can't imagine that I will ever be able to do them.  But I look at the next project, one step up, and think:  maybe, just maybe, I can imagine doing that one.

In the scheme of things, I suppose it's a small thing not to give up on:  but it's practice for the big things in life, like relationships and ministry and myself.  It's a reminder that I don't have to imagine myself doing the really hard things 8 steps down the line, I just need to imagine myself doing the next project, one step farther.  It's a reminder that when I'm tempted to give up on something that really matters, it's good to think about what is good and beautiful and true.  

And then remember, of course, that even when I do give up, that God doesn't.  Ever. 


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

It's all about enjoying the journey since we can all buy something fairly cheaply made in some other country. And in the Christian life, we need to enjoy the journey, not just look for the reward in heaven.

Diane said...

true words, PS! Thinking about my scarf, which I think is valuable, and well-down, but NOT PERFECT (there are a couple of mistakes in it), and thinking as well: would most people rather have a scarf like this with a couple of mistakes, or something bought in another country, which is perfect, because it was made by a machine.

Terri said...

I've started knitting a sweater for my God-daughters. It's really simple but even still I am knitting in a pattern I've never done, just anew rows in and I have to rip it put. Or live with my one big mistake...because part of me is certain that if I rip it put I'll just make a different, what I wonder is, what mistakes do I live with? And what mistakes require a do-over...sigh.

Fran said...

I'm glad you stick with the knitting, so to speak and with everything else. This is part of your witness - thank you Diane.

Lindy said...

I always say that knitting is a lesson in prayer.

I am glad you keep at it, Diane. I agree with Fran.