15 July 2009

Tea Ching


This small person learned a big lesson this Sunday past. We Panera ladies had been talking about women and textiles, how collectively we felt connected to women who had gone before as knitters, seamstresses, weavers, and how fortunate we are to be able to do these things for enjoyment and meditation instead of necessity. We always invite people to join the Panera group.


This week, a newbie came (YAY!)for knitting guidance. Since she sat next to me,
I grabbed her first I started by taking a look at her needles, which already had stitches cast on and some stitches knitted, courtesy of her mother. I purled a row to loosen them up, and asked her to show me how she held the needles, or which hand held the yarn. She seemed to take them up using her left hand for the yarn, so I started to guide her through the basics of a Continental knit stitch.

(I knit Continental. I have to - not only is that the way my mother taught me, the way the old ladies from Eastern Europe taught her, but I'm also hopelessly directionally-challenged. Tell me to wrap yarn clockwise or widdershins and my brain cuts out. Tell me to "scoop" and I'm fine.)


She soon was frustrated. I might be a terrible teacher, but I also can sense when something is just not happening. I would guide her hands, or hold the yarn, or talk her through, stitch-by-stitch, but - it just was not happening, despite her fervent desire to learn. Her hands were not cooperating.


Then quirky artist Amy realized what was awry. Amy can knit Continental, she can knit English, she can knit spiderweb yarn that she has spun into her sister's wedding shawl, and she can teach knitting really, really well. Amy realized that our new friend's hands wanted something else. As soon as Amy switched her from Continental to English, presto! Happy hands! She started knitting smoothly and evenly, and she started smiling. We all applauded - truly, it was a wonderful moment.

(Something similar happened when the Tsarina taught me to use a drop spindle - my hands knew that they needed to reverse the directions my guru was teaching.) (
You can read the story here.)

I love moments like this, moments when a barrier is eliminated by honoring how many paths can lead to the same place. It's something I know, philosophically, but I'm not good at watching for it in daily life. Pay attention to the path and the destination will take care of itself, yes? Trust the process.

13 comments:

Amy said...

Exactly. It happens so many times, especially in something like knitting. Learning I do so much better with two circulars rather than DPNs, patterns vs. charts. It's all particular to each person. And it's so nice when it gets all figured out.

Stephanie said...

Yep - there are many ways to achieve something and being open to the options is a great way of lessening stress in life in general. Tying yourself too closely to only "one way" is a sure way to become frustrated!

Sandra said...

Lovely story, we learn something new every day.:)

Carrie K said...

All paths lead to Rome.

Or frustration. ;)

Daphne said...

What a sweet story. It's funny when it happens that way. Often I have to take what someone has taught me, and reinterpret it... as long as the results are the same, and everybody's happy... that's all that matters!

Donna Lee said...

As the mother (and wife and sister) of a lefty, I got used to trying to interpret directions written for the righties of the world into directions that my lovely lefty daughter could follow. And very often, her lefty father and uncle had to help.

angi said...

As a knitting instructor, I super appreciate this post... i can knit Continental and English and try to sense what people would best be suited for, etc. i'm so glad your newbie got the help she needed-- funny, though, how sometimes the student teaches the instructor sometimes :) i know that my instructing position has helped me be a gobs better knitter because of that strange fact.

KSD said...

Absolutely. The path is all. There's only one thing to see at the end. Along the way, there's all sorts of scenery.

Stacey said...

Wish I was there to learn one of those styles... I just plain 'ole throw, it is slower, and causes more arm pain. Knitters that I am around don't do any of the styles mentioned either or I could watcha and pick it up. If Amy were close she could tell me what one looks like my hands want.

Serena said...

i had no idea that you had a knitting blog...I must be living in a cave...and I had no idea that there are multiple knitting styles...continental vs. english...woah

bundle-o-contradictions said...

I kind of miss knitting. I haven't been calm of mind enough lately for it. I'm still @ the learning stage, but I can't wait 'till I can make myself a sweater.

Bridget said...

As my mother would say, that's what makes horse-racing ...

I'm always thrilled when I see someone "get" it, no matter what activity it is.

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

What a great post! Thank you.