Thursday, January 20, 2011

Expanding My Own Skills; Giving Yourself Permission to Be Awful

The Harlot posted recently about the process of learning, and how we forget that we have to be bad at something before we can get good at it.

I see this all the time in my knitting classes; as adults we expect, I think, that we'll be proficient at everything right from the get-go. I see knitters get frustrated with themselves because they don't get something straight away; I see knitters angry with their work because it doesn't look like the work on my needles, or the samples in the shop.

It's easy to be patient with my students, because I know it's going to get better. I explain, first of all, that everything looks better if you give it a wash (it does! really! next time you knit two of something - socks, mittens, sleeves - wash one and not the other and compare). And I explain that everyone's first efforts were fairly dreadful.

I really wish I'd kept my earliest attempts at knitting, to show off in my classes. They'd be great for comedy value, but also to reassure knitters that they're doing very well!

There was that purple cotton cardigan... oh dear... And those first socks, those red worsted weight socks. And I can remember so very clearly asking the very patient woman at my then-LYS how on earth you were supposed to know what size the hat was going to be when it was done.

(This hat, BTW. It turned out to be the perfect size.)

I've been expanding my own skills of late, challenging myself to learn techniques outside my comfort level. And as is always the way, we are hardest on ourselves. When ripping out the swatch for the fourth time, cursing loud enough to wake the dog, I realized that maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself... and that maybe I should take a lesson from myself.


Catherine said...

You are so right about 'practice makes perfect'. Why do I tell my children this all the time yet ignore it myself? I have recently taken up more knitting and sewing after a very long break - in my head I was going to execute the projects perfectly - the results told a different story. But I am beginning to see better results already and intend to keep practicing (just about to begin my first ever pair of socks!)

C x

KarenJ said...

Absolute evidence that the pooch is fully integrated into the family when he becomes anecdotal in a totally different context!

TracyKM said...

The high school that our band rehearses at has a poster "The expert in anything was once a beginner". I think of that a lot!
On my blog, I did a little series called "Timeless Tuesdays" where I showed off some of my early works, both good and not so good (my first stranding work that required adding in additional lenghts of yarn to ease the puckering...and I used hot glue...)