A mom and her knitting needles come together during the pandemic.
Hello, my name is Angela, and I’m an un-crafty mom. My version of creating beautiful things has always been with words and writing. Making things? Not so much. I’d say I’m the queen of Pinterest fails, but really, browsing Pinterest is the same to me as following Chrissy Teigen on Instagram … it’s fun to see, but I’m never going to look like that in a flowing sarong or cook those incredible meals from scratch, just like I’m never going to hand-make seasonal decor or do my own home improvements.
And yet, one weekend morning when I was mindlessly binging a glass blowing competition show on Netflix (Blown Away, check it out.), I wondered if I had arrived at the point in pandemic life where I needed a new hobby that didn’t involve streaming content or games on my phone. A tote bag of knitting supplies, high up on a dusty basement shelf, came to mind.
Years ago, my mother-in-law taught me the basics of knitting. I bought knitting needles and a couple of balls of yarn. I started various swatches of non-specific projects and then stopped. I struggled with dropped stitches, extra stitches, and inexplicable mistakes I couldn’t fix until I just gave up. But, this time, I took a different tack that has turned me into a person with several semi-successful completed knitting projects to my name and a whole rolling storage cart of supplies (a.k.a. a knitter!).
Banish Fear of Failure
I’m a recovering perfectionist. I really hate doing things if I’m not good at them. Running has taught me to be satisfied with doing my best, so I applied the same principle here. I also knew that I needed a quick win, something I could finish in a day to prove to myself that I could actually complete something. So, I spent a few minutes researching and found a YouTube video on how to knit a 3D cube. I watched the video through and then restarted it, pausing/rewinding as needed to keep up. It should be noted that there is a YouTube video for literally everything, and not just from one source. I searched until I found a YouTuber I liked (shout out to RJ Knits) and went from there. While it took me longer than the estimated hour, at the end of the afternoon, I had a slightly lopsided but perfectly acceptable cube that my kids promptly ran off with. Success!
Next, I wanted to try something more complex and practice new stitch patterns, so I chose potholders because while they are slightly more time-consuming than cubes, they’re still small scale. However, as I knitted, I realized that at some point, I’d lost track of the pattern. On the side where there should have been ridges, the fabric was suddenly flat. For a moment, I considered tearing it all out and starting again. But, no, that’s how I ended up frustrated in the past. Instead, I asked what Tim Gunn would do and “made it work.” I determined that by repeating the pattern on the “wrong” side again, I could get back on track, more or less. Instead of an error, my finished pot holder has an interesting, symmetrical design.
Celebrate Wins … Whatever They Look Like
As I’ve continued to knit, I’ve successfully made a kid’s scarf complete with colorful tassels and moved on to experimenting with more intricate stitch patterns. I especially wanted to try one called Tumbling Blocks that featured 20 different row patterns. Sticking to my mantra of quick wins, I tested the pattern on a blanket for my daughters’ doll bed. I had a rough time at first keeping track of all the changes within and between rows. The first half of the blanket is not great. However, as I went on, I got much better. When I finished the blanket, the improvement from beginning to end was obvious and totally worth celebrating!
So, no pressure, but if you, too, think of yourself as a hopelessly non-crafty mom, don’t be afraid to give that new creative outlet (whatever it might be) a shot. You might just find your new favorite activity.