Life Lessons Learned In Knitting

 

FBE3022B-45DE-45D4-B577-AFCAB6FC876AHappy New Year! It’s the coldest, darkest time of the year here in New England. Winter brings much-needed downtime from things like gardening and weeding. While January always seems to be the LONGEST month of the year, it’s still nice to hunker down next to a warm fireplace, watch a good movie or two, and knit! While I’ve been a professional instructor, teaching knitting classes for over ten years, knitting itself has taught me some good LIFE LESSONS.

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I learned to knit about two decades ago. It was just something I longed to do. Along with the stitches came “purls” of wisdom.

D3062F09-3D67-4A14-8466-F8799C513442Busy Hands = A Peaceful mind. When I was expecting my daughter almost sixteen years ago, knitting saved my sanity while I was on bed rest- absolute torture for someone who always wants to be busy and moving! When I feel super-stressed, I need to knit.

Knitting is MY “yoga”. (I’m not one for actual yoga. My mind wanders to things like, “What’s on my grocery list? Why is it that both Goofy and Pluto are dogs, but Goofy talks and wears clothing, while Pluto walks on all fours and barks…?”

I’m also not “bendy”. The last time I took a yoga class, the teacher, with good intentions, suggested I posed balanced against a wall. I fell through the drywall with a loud crash, leaving a rather large and very embarrassing hole in the wall. Knitting calms my mind and I don’t have home repairs after).

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Never stop learning. Knitting’s easy once you “get” it, yet no matter how much you know, there’s always something new to try. Learning something new is awesome at any age! I’ve had plenty of knitting patterns where after I completed them, I felt like I had earned new wrinkles in my brain (those are the “good” kind of wrinkles)!

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Patience is a virtue. Sometimes when you get stuck, you have to stop and take a break. Often, coming back with fresh eyes means the problem is easier to solve. This works with all sorts of problems, not just in knitting!

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The best things in life are worth the wait. There’s nothing as satisfying as that beautiful completed project like a blanket in a difficult stitch you recently mastered, or a cozy sweater that took some major time to do. (Unless it’s for a child- in that case you’d better get stitching ‘cause young’uns start growing even faster when there’s something being knitted for them).

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KISS: Keep It Simple Sometimes. Meaning, sometimes simplicity is what we crave. Though I love a challenging pattern, sometimes the simplest, easiest stitch is just what I need. I always have a couple of projects going; among them is always a simple, easy stitch perhaps on a scarf or dishcloth that I can whip out and knit on quickly while watching tv or having a conversation (also good for when I am tired and would make mistakes otherwise. If you can knit a simple garter stitch, you are still knitting and are a knitter)!

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Nothing touches the heart like a handmade gift, because handmade means made with love. ‘Nuff said.

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Many “baby steps” make great strides. The best way to learn something is to start simple and work your way up. If your first knitted project is a cabled sweater with knitted lace, on teeny-tiny needles in thin yarn, frustration will set in before you get anywhere.

Decades ago, I got so frustrated with a first project, I remember bending my needles! “Isn’t knitting supposed to be relaxing?”, my husband inquired innocently. “I AM relaxed!”, I hissed through clenched teeth. Putting that project away until I was more experienced was the key. Now, I can knit that ol’ pattern backwards with my eyes closed! For a beginner, it was taking a bigger bite than I could chew at the time. There’s so many times in life this rings true. When I feel overwhelmed with something, my husband always reminds me of an old Danish saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

18B271D9-1511-410A-81A7-36BA612B9E63Surround yourself with positive people, those that see your talents, not your flaws. Often, I’ll have students complete a beautifully knitted project, only to have them focus on its flaws. First off, a hand-knit piece is just that: hand knit, not “machine perfect”. It’s beautiful and unique in itself, to be worn with pride!

If someone’s pointing out imperfections, then there’s another issue entirely (if it’s your newly-knitted scarf, the first issue is they are standing TOO CLOSE)! Seriously, if someone only sees your imperfections, they are not worthy of you!

There’s few mistakes that can’t be fixed in some way, and those that can’t be remedied are lessons learned. Sell that beautiful-but-made-a-size-too-small sweater on Etsy, and move on! Sometimes we “dwell” on our mistakes. Life’s too short!

*Dedicated to all the wonderful people that I’ve met in knitting.

 

Happiest of New Years! Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

 

Leave a comment 40 Comments

  1. Carol says:

    A beautiful way to look at life and all that comes with it. I intend to focus on more crafts this year to make my heart sing.

  2. Krista says:

    Love this blog! I can relate to it all, but from a crochet point of view. What’s funny is about 10 minutes before I read this, I just got done telling my mom about a tiny little flaw on a pair of baby booties I’m making. She told me that the flaw isn’t even noticable and that I’m just dwelling on it. So it was nice to read your post and be reminded that I am human and not a machine so it won’t be perfect! I love to crochet. I love the quick whip up projects that make me feel like I can accomplish something fast and I love the large projects that give me the proudest feelings ever. Now I’m ready to sit down and take on the other pair of baby booties!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Krista! Thank you! I bet those baby booties are adorable! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Rebecca M. says:

    I love your post and understand perfectly when you talk about the lessons you learn from knitting. Patience is a big one for me. I’m better at crochet than knitting, although I can do both. I was eleven when I learned to knit and enjoyed it, but I never seemed to be able to get past the simple projects. Then I learned to crochet and it just seemed to fit. Occasionally I still like to go back and learn new patterns in knitting, though, just to challenge myself. A few years ago, I was reading a book (can’t remember the name) that had a pattern for a Georgia afghan and I was determined to make it. It took me awhile, it had some flaws, but it’s still one of my favorite projects. Lately I’ve been crocheting messy bun hats, because they’re quick to make and they’re useful.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I bet that afghan is beautiful! I teach crochet, too, but I have to say I prefer knitting myself. What I think is interesting is everyone that can do both always prefers one over the other. I love the messy bun hats. Very cute! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Julie Pruett says:

    Hi Nicole,
    I too, see what your saying from a person that crochets and quilts…I have been with people that have been, JUST devastated if their project isn’t PERFECT! My step-grandmother was like that,(Bless her heart) she must have been taught what she knew by a strict “task master”. I believe you should do your best, but we aren’t robots, nor should we be…The Amish when they make a quilt, will purposely, at times put in a very obvious mistake, to show that know one is perfect but GOD, so we as mere mortals, should just enjoy the process. Ironically, I just got back from the store and bought yarn for my next “winter afghan project”. IT IS relaxing to crochet, like knitting…I don’t do a challenging project, I really just like how the colors blend I don’t need any intricate counting, or I would end up with a triangle LOL.I enjoyed this blog…especially the yoga part, I can relate…Thanks, Nicole

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie! Thanks for commenting; I love what you said about the Amish. As an often-times “perfectionist”, it is sometimes hard for me to let some stuff be “imperfect”. It is a good reminder to enjoy life, and not always be so serious! Good reminders for us all. Enjoy your new project – it looks like this winter will be especially cold and good for crafts! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Thank you for your wise words!! I learned to knit last year. My one trick is a cotton dish cloth. Simple and useful. I tend to be a nervous Nelly so knitting helps keep my hands and mind engaged and relaxed as well. I have fiddled about with new stitches this winter and love the look of the seed stitch. Happy knitting to you as well :)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diane, Great start! I love, love, love knitting dishcloths and they are great for new knitters, too, as you can try new stitches like you mentioned. I love the seed stitch, too! I don’t know if anyone told you this, but if you soak your just-finished knitted cotton dishcloth in cold water overnight before using, it will last a very long time shape and color-wise. I wash and dry mine in the washer and dryer and they hold up a long time. Thanks for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Joan says:

    Super start! My Grandmother was a fabulous knitter, she did the method where the yarn is not tossed but picked like in crocheting. Yes she tried to teach me but I work right handed and think left handed, yikes. I think beginner classes might be in my ‘bucket’, wish you were in my area. Hope you all stay safe as the big storm comes. God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan, Yes, I wish you were in my area, too. From the comments you have left, I know we would have a ball together, fellow farmgirl! I know how to do the European “pick” method, from my mother-in-law in Denmark. I also teach left and right handed knitting. Had to learn it all so I could correctly teach each person individually. I am like “mother hen” when one of my students makes something – so proud of them! Thanks for the wishes for the storm; I have to say it is pretty scary out right now. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Terry says:

    Love the pictures you selected to go with each lesson.

  8. Ulla says:

    Dear Nicole.
    You are so good to knit and teach the studens to knit. I have seen you teach.
    I still remember when you first began to knit.
    Pip is soo cute in his sweater.

    Love Ulla

  9. Christie Yorks says:

    What a nice blog! My friend forwarded this to me. She and I have so much in common and you’ve touched upon so much of our likenesses! Knitting and quilting are two of my favorite things to do and you’ve reminded me to use them as my yoga not my stressor!! Life is too short!! Enjoy your winter, it’s my favorite time, step back and slow down!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Christie, Thank you! I am glad you like this post. Welcome, hopefully you will “join” us more often! Today we are “hunkering down” with the big blizzard and I plan on doing some knitting and sewing! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Beverly Battaglia says:

    I am very proud to wear the scarves you have knit for me. I am very proud of your talents and that is a pretty picture of you knitting. It made me so sad when I lost one scarf you knit for me. A lot of wisdom in your comments. Love, Mother

  11. Susan says:

    Hi Nicole….beautiful knitting! I’ve never learned but sure do admire anyone who does….on another note, a while back….you were experincing some heath issues that you wrote about….and I’m interested in what you found out….if you could email me, I’d appreciate it so much! Happy New Year….and your trailer….I love it!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susan, Thank you! I so do appreciate your concern and will email you privately. As for my little trailer, she is packed up for this horrible winter, and I am missing spending time in her for sure! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. maureen bruner says:

    Hi Nicole,

    You are so right about knitting. My first attempt at a class many years ago, was an awful experience. I was so proud of the stockinet sweater back that I had completed and the instructor stated “It will do, it’s really sloppy, but it will do.”. I held it together for the rest of the class, but cried all the way home and never returned. Fast forward 10 years….I refused to give up on wanting to learn and found a wonderful, patient instructor. Now, I don’t think there’s too much I can’t knit. I am grateful every day that knitting soothes me and am happy to share my talents with anyone with the desire to learn….and I have some pretty awesome sweaters to prove it! Spinning my own yarn makes the process even sweeter. Big Hugs!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Oh Maureen, I am so sorry you had an instructor like that! How horrible! I had someone teach me something once when I was a new knitter. Similar story, but she ripped all my work out! I never went back. A good teacher makes all the difference. I am so glad found someone patient and kind, and didn’t give up! And I am sooo impressed that you spin your own yarn! Wow! That is a talent in itself. You might enjoy a blog I wrote about a friend who spins: http://www.farmgirlbloggers.com/date/2016/11?cat=5

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy Knitting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Connie Gause says:

    Great writing as always! Enjoyed your article!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Connie, thank you so very much! Your comment means so much to me; I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Marge Hofknecht says:

    Hey, Nicole, when I first saw your post, I saved it so I could read it at a time when I could enjoy it more. As you know, I’ve been working on becoming a better knitter. And besides becoming familiar with new stitches and working with “sticks” instead of hooks I’ve been learning other things as well. Patience is one thing as I work backwards to correct a mistake I find, learning how to read my knitting, researching a new stitch and watching a youtube on it. I learned to knit at eight years old with my mother teaching me the very basics of casting on and working the garter stitch. I still have my #8 metal knitting needles that she bought for me and I’m sixty-five now. For years I had it in my head that I couldn’t do more than that basic garter stitch and so I avoided knitting and stayed in the crochet arena becoming a very proficient crocheter with designing my own patterns and teaching others. But I always loved the look of knitted items and how yarn behaved in a knitted stitch as opposed to a comparable crochet stitch. I’ll never give up crocheting; I’ve got way too many projects lined up but venturing forth into the world of the knitter has been an experience that I’m enjoying so much. Thanks for your encouragement. Have a blessed day.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge, what a wonderful, inspiring comment! How special that you have your needles your mom gave you. What a treasure! I have loved seeing your knitted projects that you have emailed me pictures of. You’ve made beautiful pieces and should be very proud. Keep it up, you’re doing great! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Heidi says:

    Wise words from a wise woman, and an awesome knitter!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hello my dear, farmgirl friend! You are one of the most amazing knitters I have ever known! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  16. Marilyn says:

    What an up lifting blog. i do knit but only the basics. I do have some books I intend to read and learn more advanced knitting. Wishing you and yours a Blessed,Happy and healthy 2018.
    Marilyn

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marilyn, Glad you enjoyed the blog! Thanks for reading and commenting! Remember, even knitting the basics makes you a knitter. Enjoy! Happy New Year and Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Vivian Monroe says:

    Nicole, I loved this post. I crochet and only wish I could knit, I have tried, and I have made a scarf for my husband that actually is one of his favorites, but I cant remember how. Like with crochet I can just pick up whenever, I cant seem to remember how to get started on the knitting. my fingers dont seem to want to act right when I am trying to knit, I know it is because I am just not practicing enough to get comfortable like I do with crochet. Now I can see why when I am trying to teach someone to crochet, I am like why can you not see how to do your fingers or hold your needle it is so simple. haha…that is probably what the knitting teacher is thinking watching me. ha. Well you have inspired me to pick up those knitting needles and try try again. thanks for sharing. Be Blessed Neta

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Neta! I wish we lived closer so I could teach you! You need a patient person to get you on your way. It is like riding a bicycle, once you have tried it, it will come back once you start practicing it again! Keep trying, I know you will get it!

      Farmgirl Hugs,
      Nicole

  18. Sharon Alane says:

    This was such a needed help for me today. We tend to announce all the imperfections.

  19. winnie Jackson says:

    I too love to knit and crochet along with many sewing projects, quilting. Do you have a favorite pattern you love to do many times for others? Would you be willing to share this pattern? if so please forward to me. I enjoy what others are making and try to change from what I do from time to time. One can never have enough home made gifts for our friends, family, etc. Happy fiber day! Winnie Jackson

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Winnie, thanks for commenting! I do have some good “classic” favorite patterns I would love to share with you. I will email you directly. Happy Knitting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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