No, I haven’t got the quotation wrong. Like many sayings, the phrase “Stick to your knitting” has actually morphed from its original intent, “Attend to your knitting.” The idea isn’t to do the thing you are good at (stick), but to pay full attention to the task at hand (avoid errors).
It all fits with my recent venture into actual knitting.
As a newly minted grandparent, I figured it was time I dug out the ol’ knitting needles packed away in the basement and produce some lovingly-created hats, booties, sweaters, mitts, etc. Although I’d learned the basics of knitting many years ago, I soon found out that my knitting was fraught with knitting “issues”. The result: mittens with deformed thumbs, sweaters with holes, and hats that literally came apart.
“I though knitting was suppose to relax you? “ ventured my husband. “Go away, “ I replied, as I unwound yet another failed project.
How to knit: Don’t make mistakes!
The trouble with knitting isn’t the basic concept. The two stitches—knit 1, pearl 1—are dead easy. The challenge is that you can’t make mistakes. If you don’t focus your attention, that is, when you attempt to knit while talking, watching a complicated movie, eating, drinking, texting, petting the cat, etc. you’re bound to make an error. A dropped stitch, an added stitch, or a stitch added or cast off incorrectly makes the difference between a finished product that actually stays together, aside from fitting properly.
Such insistence on focus is actually the reason that for many, the act of knitting is considered a good way of meditating.
How to live: Pay attention!
The good news is that my knitting is improving. Not much has unraveled lately, and its feeling a bit less like an exercise in frustration. But the activity remains a challenge for me—a reluctant meditator and proud multi-tasker. Knitting truly forces me to count my stitches every step of the way, despite the fact that my first reaction is always “I can keep track in my head,” and even though it slows me down, I recognize the value of consulting with the experts when needed (YouTube). Most importantly, I now take the time to stop and redo, instead of looking for way to cover up an error (because the errors AWAYS come back to haunt you! )
Hmmm….sounds like something a lot of people could benefit by doing!