Knitting Lesson: Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mistake

Natalie has been knitting up a storm.  Whenever we’re in Cambria, we visit The Ball & Skein, one of the world’s friendliest knitting shops, and the beautiful yarns and the infectiously friendly attitude of the shopkeepers, Kris and Oz, have this effect on her.

The Ball & Skein publishes an email newsletter, which included the following advice from “Aunt Wooly,” which is such a helpful reminder for anyone who wants to dive into learning anything new.  I think the biggest challenge we can face when learning something new is to quiet the gnawing voice of self-judgment.  It’s vital, because once self-judgment grabs hold, the “giving up” voice begins to sneak into our heads.  Not nice for any new adventure.

This is what Auntie Wooly Says:  Dahlings!  I keep hearing about people saying they were told they knit ‘wrong’ or ‘it’s too hard’ and many other things that can discourage everyone from enjoying playing with fiber. Well, I say Pish Posh! This is supposed to be fun! Pick up that hook, grab those needles and have at it. Drop a stitch? Not to worry, we can you help fix it, or better yet pick a yarn that hides those issues. Gauge not perfect? Then choose a project where gauge isn’t critical and enjoy yourself. Good Heavens Dear Friends, lighten up! Express yourself, have some fun, and just enjoy the experience.

I finally learned to knit when Natalie learned eight years ago.  I had tried to learn once as a little girl and again in my twenties, but I didn’t have Auntie Wooly to help me when I dropped a stitch or added an extra stitch, and I ended up with a “scarf” that looked like a quirky long triangle.  Twenty years later, I found a patient teacher who could teach a left-handed knitter how to knit.  I now have the pleasure of knitting simple scarves in a variety of colorful, soft fibers, while enjoying conversations with Natalie (who rescues me from my dropped stitches).

Within ten days of our last visit to The Ball & Skein, Natalie had knitted a cap (which I think resembles Lyra’s in the movie adaptation of “The Golden Compass”),

a scarf for Deb Mok, owner-chef of Wild Ginger (one of our favorite restaurants in Cambria), and another woolen scarf to be presented to a dear friend we will soon see.


  • Sarvi

    You ladies might like Elizabeth Zimmermann’s knitting books, if you’re not already familiar with them. She insists that there’s no such thing as an incorrect stitch, just a misplaced technique. That inadvertent yarn-over would make beautiful lace in the right place, repeated.

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