What we learn from knitting

On episode 145 of the VeryPink Knits podcast we include an interview with a volunteer who has brought knitting to a school for at-risk students. These kids have been sent to the school because of behavior issues in their previous school and now a knitting class is helping them to learn how to better control their emotions or give them an activity to keep them from getting distracted in class. I found it to be such an important story.

When I told Staci about the topic, she assumed it would be more about learning math concepts or more tactical skills. Instead, these kids have learned the more soft skills that knitting teaches us - slowing down, taking a moment, not reacting. For children who have acted out in school and likely have stressful home situations, it’s a skill that may save them. Like meditation, knitting is showing these kids to stop and think before they react. What a powerful opportunity.

We are collecting a lot of stories about how knitting teaches us math, science, charity, and even a way to talk about climate change. When we tell others we knit, they often don’t understand all the opportunities our passion offers.

I have been working with a life coach over the past few months to help me make progress toward a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic about self-help books and things like life coaches, but after realizing I am what Gretchen Rubin calls “an obliger,” I embraced the fact that I need some external accountability. I’ll go to the gym several days a week because there is a set time when someone is there telling me what to do. Otherwise, I’ll talk myself out of even just going for a walk. That’s not a fault of mine, that’s just what I need. So, I found a coach who checks in with me to give me deadlines and sometimes pep talks, keeping me on track to my goal.

What does this have to do with knitting? Yesterday, as I complained that a day was wasted because the time I had allotted for a task got interrupted. My coach pointed out, big things are made up of a lot of tiny things. So you didn’t have 5 hours. Take 15 minutes, she said. You’re now 15 minutes further along. There’s no reason to think that you aren’t productive. Find the time where you can.

So, that night, as I got in bed, later than I planned and having not knit all day I realized the same is true for knitting. A sweater is made up of rows. Those rows are made of stitches. I can’t knit a whole sweater today, but I can knit 5 stitches and the next day a few more. Eventually, I’ll have a sweater. My Big Hairy Audacious Goal feels more attainable. It’s like the old saying, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So with knitting we learn slow, measured progress. How do you make a sweater? One stitch at a time.

What have you learned?