Sunday, June 20, 2010

"You must unlearn what you have learned..., " Yoda

This is what I realized knitting is for me, unlearning. I have for some time, possibly since childhood, wanted to learn how to knit. I remember my mother’s giant knitting needles stuck in yellow balls of yarn. I don’t remember her using them honestly. Perhaps that's why I didn't seek her in attempting to learn. But I recall those needles and the mystery that laid in them in how they worked... Anytime I received a hand-knitted scarf I cooed. Inwardly I thought, "could I do this?"
While in Sonoma, I caught the bug to once and for all learn to knit. I saw knitting circles at the local pub but I hestitated. Was this the crowd I wanted to fit in? For whatever reason, on Twitter I followed someone who had yarn as her avatar. She tweeted about her knitting group and I decided to join in. This circle was at a coffee house and for anyone that knows me, if anything, I'm a coffeeholic so that was extra incentive.
Though I tried to get materials in Sonoma for my last minute decision to join the group that night, I couldn't find any (one of Sonoma's drawbacks) so I went empty-handed to my first meeting. I thought I'd sit back and watch... No going... Kat loaned me her needles; Sasha loaned me her yarn. Sasha casted the needle, showed me the basic stitch and I was on my way. "Oh boy!!," I cheered. I was making an actual row. "I'm knitting," I exclaimed to Kim. "You are, you are making magic over there," she replied. I was all aglow. We chatted. I dropped a stitch or two which Kat fixed and I continued on my merry knitting way. Then our knitting story time came to a close and I returned the needle and the yarn before it turned into pumpkins. (Now that I think about it, the yarn color was orange... whoooooow).
The next day I traveled to Novato to pick up my own knitting supplies. I barely knew how to navigate the needle sizes and the yarn but I picked what seemed the most Universal. ('cause I am, afterall, rated U for Universal). I got home, flug open my new wares and stared... I tried to recall how to cast (actually I didn't even remember the word "cast") Kat, the group leader, had told me I could find videos online. I did. I watched. Rewound. Paused. I tried to imitate the narrator's movements. And I tried. Somehow, my thoughts couldn't connect to what the narrator was saying. I couldn't tell if I was doing it right. Flustured, I tweeted, "how could I learn how to play the violin yet I can't coordinate knitting needles... argh!!" Or something to that effect.... The answer came, via a tweet reply, that I had to unlearn what I had learned... Actually the tweeper said that I must have a strong mind (nice of her) and that my mind wanted to go one way and not the other. This I thought was an incredibly insightful answer....
I returned to the knitting group. I explained my consternation and showed my needles. Kat watched as I tried to cast. She showed me how to do it, returned it and I continued, not doing it right. She watched and caught my fingers movements. She said that for whatever reason, for whatever habit, my fingers wanted to go one way. She literally fastened her hand to mind to show the right way. I relearned.
I have no recollection of my old fingers habits. All I know now is that I have found the rhythm to mastering the basic stitch. And have done it enough to know where the errors are... I have found yarn forgiving as I've unraveled rows to correct mistakes. And to go back "on line" so to speak.
Normally, I can pick up things quickly. I like to get right to the point. In this instance my thoughts and behaviors were so ingrained that I questioned how well I do learn things.... Perhaps I'm encouraging old habits instead of expanding my horizons. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I could learn, be open, and have people willing to wrestle my hands so I'd get it right. Whether or not I'll get to the level to be able to make a sweater or socks I don't know... For now, I'm happy going by the row.... :)

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