While I was laid-up last winter with a broken foot, I decided I’d learn to knit. I streamed knitting classes online and practiced stitches for weeks. When I got bored with knitting, I’d change to woodworking and sewing videos, then go back to knitting. After more attempts than I can count, I finally made a hat good enough to wear in public—as long as no one looks too closely.
Onward! When I could drive again, I took a short class at a local yarn shop https://www.allwoundupyarnshop.com/ to make a shawl. In this class, everyone makes the same shawl pattern with the instructor teaching the new stitches, helping us fix mistakes, and encouraging us when we want to give up. It seemed a good way to take the next step. https://newwayopening.com/2017/11/08/whack-a-mole/
The shawl we were making has two sections. The first is cable stitches—a new skill–and the second is simple knitting. Surely, I could do this. People all over the world knit, so how hard can it be?
That’s like saying people all over the world keep going in tough times. Or, people all over the world have setbacks but keep putting one foot in front of the other. Or, people all over the world fall but keep getting up and trying again. How hard can it be if so many people do it?
Having tried both knitting, and getting up after setback in life, I can tell you: both are harder than they look. Really hard. Frustrating. The biggest difference between them is that one is a non-essential skill for most of us, and the other is life.
I’m still deciding if learning to knit as a way to push through a major setback was a good idea or not. The shawl isn’t finished, nor is the comeback. On each, I go backward so often that I wonder if it’s worth the effort.
Here’s what I mean: I began the shawl at home before the class, but I couldn’t get past the first few inches. I kept ripping it out and starting over. Even with the instructor’s help, I must have started over at least 1400 times. Just last night, I ripped out a dozen rows again. Note to self: Don’t try to knit in the dim light while watching a movie.
Likewise, the last few years have had what seems like at least 1400 life setbacks, as well. https://newwayopening.com/2018/03/05/my-heart-failure-returned/ I keep pushing through, putting one foot in front of the other, but it sure feels like my knitting experiment: slow. I started physical therapy for my foot and ankle and have made good progress. But if I stood too long or didn’t elevate my foot enough, or bent it too much or walked too far, I had to elevate and ice my foot and ankle again for hours.
For months, I walked and iced, knitted and ripped, walked and iced.
My knitting teacher fixed my mistakes a few times and said, “You can do it. It’s hard, but you’ll get it.” My doctor said my foot was healing well. “Keep up the good work. You can do it.”
Then, I took a class on how to fix mistakes without ripping out endless rows of knitting. I felt so empowered and hopeful that I almost cried. I straightened my spine and kept knitting.
On a warm March day, I raked winter debris off my flower gardens. Granted, I had to elevate and ice my foot for an entire day afterward, but I’d worked in my garden without permanent damage. Last week, I was finally able to walk around my block. I’ve gone back to my fitness class. Sweet.
My shawl is now two-thirds finished. People who’ve seen it seem genuinely impressed, as I am. Cool. I’m almost daring to hope.
Last week, I hiked a short distance on a fire road in the mountains of Eastern Washington and walked on rocks beside a stream. I couldn’t have done that a month ago. The smell of cedars in mountain air mingled with the sound of birds singing and our dogs splashing in the creek. If there’s a heaven, I think I was there. I’m almost daring to hope.
Knitting well isn’t easy, as people all over the world know. Nor is it easy to keep getting up when life knocks us down. Yesterday, I chose yarn for my next project and signed up to volunteer in a food bank. Knit and rip. Walk and ice. I dare to hope.
*If you find something helpful here, please pass it along to others and subscribe to my blog. Thanks for reading.