My first scarf in all its glory

My first scarf in all its glory

What would you like to try but you hesitate because you think you would do it badly?

Why do we feel if we can’t do something well, we shouldn’t do it at all?

Something happens to us between being kids and adults where our inner critic overtakes our sense of curiosity. We put looking good before having an adventure.

I’m here to say it’s worth looking foolish to do what you haven’t done before. Listen to the little thoughts.

Be a beginner. You don’t have to demand a full run at the start. Let yourself stumble.

Do a simple thing with love. That will be enough.

Little thoughts

After my mom died in 2009 from lung cancer, I wanted to honor her during her birthday month in 2010. One Saturday evening I was walking through Walmart and the thought came to me that I should learn to knit. Do you know those little thoughts—quiet, unexpected and easy to overlook—that guide you? It was one of those.

But that little thought grew in strength as I walked to the craft aisle. I chose a book called I Taught Myself Knitting that came with needles in the package. I picked out some teal yarn.

I had always said that I could never be a knitter because I imagined the arthritis in my hands would give me too much trouble. I wasn’t drawn to yarn but on that day, I dared to try it despite my expectation it would hurt.

My mom's knitting

My mom’s knitting

I felt happy as I finished my shopping. It seemed the perfect way to honor my mom by taking a month to learn the skill that brought her joy, calmness and human interaction. She was an impressive knitter, fast and able to accomplish complicated projects including a queen-size afghan with cables and ivy she made for my wedding.

The next day, we went to church. Before the service, I sat in the fellowship hall working on the new scarf project I had started the evening before.

Once the service started, my friend Pat stood up and talked about the spiritual nature of her knitting. I hadn’t known she was a knitter. She showed pieces of her work to the congregation and said the verse from Psalm 139, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

It felt like God talking to me.

Moved to learn knitting on Saturday evening, I heard about knitting as a practice to bring you closer to the divine Sunday morning. My family remarked on the incredible nature of the occurrence.

Amazed and inspired, I went home and stumbled my way along the scarf. I added stitches, dropped stiches and was altogether mystified by the process of looping the yarn into a warm length of fabric. I kept going. How?

Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; although we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand. Psalm 37:23-24

I finished my first scarf. Her birthday month was close to ending but I decided to try a prayer shawl. I prayed as I knitted.

I completed the first prayer shawl and made more: shawls, scarves, ponchos and sweaters.

After my first five months of knitting, I realized I’d been knitting the wrong way! I’d been doing twisted stitches the whole time. I laughed and kept going.

Lives looped together

My first prayer shawl done with twisted stitches

My first prayer shawl done with twisted stitches

My friends encourage me. They notice my work and appreciate my effort. Is my work good? Not really. Are my friends kind? Yes, beyond measure.

The quality doesn’t matter. It’s the process. There is purpose in trying and in doing. There is value in remembering those we love and trying to be like them.

Doing what my mom did brings me a deeper understanding of her. I forgive and appreciate her as I never did before.

This December will mark three years of working with yarn. I make simple things. I make gifts. As I make them, I pray that the wearer will be happy and at peace. I try to put a hug in the yarn as I work.

I’m messy. My pieces are often coarse and basic but it’s worth it to make the loops.

I let the loops connect to one another. One loop through the next loop, I pull them into a group. I link the circles again and again, building the piece as I go. At the end, all the stitches are joined together. Just like us. Just like people.

God bless you today as that little thought occurs to you and you find your next adventure.

http://genevievehoward.com

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