Column: Knitwit

Column by Bonnie J. Gordon


I’m obsessed with knitting. I read piles of knitting books and magazines and have nifty knitting equipment, such as a tape measure shaped like a sheep.

This is not even mentioning my garage full of yarn. The thing is, that even though I’ve been knitting for a while now, I’m a lousy knitter.

I’m barely past knit and purl and only recently learned to make cables. I make endless mistakes that I have to take out or choose to ignore.

I’m probably the least detail-oriented person I know. I have ADD, so paying attention over an extended period is a definite challenge.

I have the manual dexterity of a two-year-old. Knitting in no way came easily to me. Because I refuse to ask directions, I was doing the knit stitch wrong for a few years before my friend Eilene pointed it out to me and set me on the right track. So why do I persist?

There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be had in managing to learn something that in no way comes naturally.

After years of avoiding anything craft oriented because I was so bad at it, I have actually managed to make several sweaters, matching ski hats for six college students, two Rasta berets and even a coat.

Wonders never cease. My dauntless attempts to make clothing from a piece of string have actually resulted in some finished projects.

I am as pleased with myself when I complete a project as I would be if I’d climbed Mt. Everest.

I also notice that my manual dexterity has improved to the four-year-old level. Having been humbled by my knitting snafus, I now find I’m willing to admit I don’t know how to do something and able to listen while someone explains it and shows me how to do it right.

Best of all, I can now sit through an hour-long TV show without pacing about the room annoying my family. Now I knit.

I love being a woman who knits. I like to think of myself as an heir to those generations of women who produced their family’s clothing with a ball of yarn and a lot of will power.

I especially identify with my fumble-fingered forbearers who struggled to produce finished products that were (a lot) less than perfect—a sweater only a fiancée could love.

I’m a better knitter than I was. I’m also a more patient person. I’ve had to be. Maybe the most important lesson I’ve learned from knitting is that I don’t have to be the best.

I don’t have to be perfect. I can enjoy my slow improvement and be delighted with a less than perfect product.

For someone as competitive as me, it’s a revelation. I will never be as good a knitter as many of my friends and may never learn Fair Isle technique. It’s okay. The journey has become more important than the destination.