We need to talk about something…
When I post a picture of a swatch or a project on instagram, the second most common comment I get (right after ‘what’s that yarn?’) is some version of ‘I could never do that, that’s way too hard for me!’ And it sort of breaks my heart. Because if that’s what you’re telling yourself, you’re probably right…you probably can’t.
But I have some news! You’re not right because the thing itself is particularly hard. You’re right because if you go into it thinking ‘I could never…’ then you’re not ever going to try, and as trite as it sounds, you aren’t going to learn anything new if you don’t try. So I’m going to ask you to make the tiniest little shift in what you’re telling yourself. Instead of saying ‘I could never do that,’ say ‘I haven’t done that yet.’ I promise it makes all the difference in the world.
I had my own little ‘I haven’t done that yet’ moment earlier this year. We had folks here working on the house (burst pipe…water everywhere…ongoing nightmare of plaster dust, paint cans, phone calls, and despair…we’ll talk about it later). And while they are all lovely and are working hard to fix everything, it is disruptive. And disruptive means I can’t write. So I decide I’d learn something new.
The next thing on my list of stuff to learn is brioche. So I grabbed a few bits of scrap yarn, poked around on google for five minutes, and started trying. A few minutes later I had this:
Stunningly beautiful? Nope. Full of mistakes? Yup. Instructive? Oh very much so.
So…with the stuff I’d learned , I grabbed some other yarn and started trying more things. Five more minutes of searching and reading and I was ready to try again:
Is it going to stop anyone in their tracks? Nope. Did it make me feel a whole heck of a lot more confident? Once again, very much so.
At this point I was ready to just play around for the afternoon. If I got stuck I could always either rip it out or go read something and see if I could find help. This was just a swatch, not anything precious…plus it kept me distracted while the nice people tore my house apart. After an hour or two, I had this:
Again, not especially amazing. But in a few hours of practice, I’d gotten comfortable enough to go from ‘brioche…oh yeah I don’t know how to do that’ to being able to cast on, work flat or in the round, increase, decrease, cable, and cast off. And I was ready to cast on for my first actual project.
And I’m not special. You can absolutely do this too…if you’ll let yourself.
In fact, if you knit at all, you have done this. You’ve gone from ‘I don’t know how to knit’ (because none of us are born knowing how to knit) to whatever level of proficiency you have now. And there’s no reason at all that you can’t learn more. So if you look at cables or lace or colorwork or brioche or steeking or whatever else is freaking you out and think ‘I could never,’ stop that. ‘I don’t want to’ is fine…that’s totally valid and there are all sorts of things I don’t want to do right now (sweaters, I’m looking at you…you too blankets). But if you want to but just haven’t yet, try switching from ‘I could never’ to ‘I haven’t yet.’ Leave yourself room to learn something…and be smarter than me and don’t wait for a burst pipe and a house full of contractors to make you do it.