Since taking up the needles again, I’ve heard this said to me I don’t know how many times by non-knitters, or muggles as they’re becoming known in some parts of the knitting web. This has been said by friends, relatives, and strangers alike. So here, for the purposes of this blog, are my reasons why, in my opinion, the statement ‘I don’t have the patience for knitting’ is completely untrue, fallacy, an excuse to quit before starting. In fact, I believe knitting teaches patience, something I have by far and away needed help learning.
1. I am the world’s most wholly impatient person. I fight the urge to snap at Son when he fiddle-farts around getting out of the car, dancing around on his little feet and making faces at his reflection in the rearview mirror when the seatbelt has released him for such freedoms. And yet, when I pick up the needles, it’s not about the finished project for me, though there are some knitters who are product knitters. I’m a process knitter, enjoying the actual making of each stitch more so than the finished object that comes off at the end. Don’t get me wrong, that part rocks, too, looking at something I made with string and sticks from one long piece of yarn that can then be worn or help keep someone warm. But there’s a meditative quality in a small, repetitive motion that turns into something lovely that can be worn. Son could take ten whole minutes to get out of the car if it means I get in a few more stitches of zen.
2. Have you ever been stuck waiting for someone, or standing in line waiting for a service counter or stuck on hold on the phone? Those minutes seem interminable. They draaaaaag out, and seriously can try even the patience of a saint. Especially if there’s hold music on the phone calls. Rarely is hold music enjoyable, but it’s only made worse by the break in voice that says, “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and someone will assist you shortly.” Ugh! I hate that voice. But for a knitter, that time isn’t wasted just sitting there. That time is good to whip out the sock and do a few rounds. Spouse running late from being stuck in traffic? You could turn a sock heel in that time. Waiting for your table to be ready at a busy restaurant? Few more rounds. Believe me you could finish a scarf in a matter of a week or two just by doing a couple rows at a time. Not to mention waiting time has morphed into knitting time, and you’re happy to wait. No really, you become happy to wait.
3. There’s a prevailing thought that knitting should never be stopped in the middle of a row. I don’t know what this would hurt, as the few times I’ve done it the world hasn’t exploded in an apocalyptic fit, and there hasn’t been a problem picking it back up right where I left off. Maybe it it’s a particularly fiddly pattern, it might mess up the mojo, but I’ve left even fiddly patterns in the middle of a row. But I find that I don’t like to leave a round unfinished in the middle. Sure, I’ll do it to pick up a spilling gallon of milk that Son drops, or to retrieve a piece of fuzz from Daughter’s mouth from the little part on the couch where Dog ripped it and the stuffing is visible to little toddler picking fingers. (I really need to get on sewing that up.) It just makes me uncomfortable to leave the row in the middle, even if I leave the needles in such a way that a stitch can’t be slipped. Because of this, when I see Daughter throw a toy and bean Son in the head with it, my gut reaction is to holler at her and put her in time out, which startles her and just makes her cry. She’s too young at 18 months for the yelling, and I feel that I’m too yelly in the first place. So, given that I don’t like leaving a row hanging, I’ll finish up (unless I just started it, then I put it down to handle the carnage) the last few stitches, during which time, I’ve gotten in my count-to-ten and I’m much less likely to yell or get twitchy and red-faced. It helps keep me from overreacting, so then I can get the thrown toy, check Son’s head for blood (but c’mon, she’s only 18 months, how hard can she throw?) and forcefully but calmly tell her no, we don’t throw toys. Of course, if there were cries of pain involved in said children fighting episodes, I would drop whatever I was doing no matter what. I’m not a totally insensitive mother. Mostly.
4. It makes long car rides less of a chore and more of a bonus, but only if you’re not driving. In August, I have to make a pretty boring work trip to the south and I’ll be in the car for 8 hours or more each way. I hate this drive, more than I can say, but this year, I’m actually looking forward to the knitting time. See? Patience with even the most unpleasant of things.
5. Productive spare time. Most people have time that they sit and watch TV, read, or what have you. That same time can be used as knitting time without giving up those other things. Wait, you’re thinking. Read and knit at the same time? Yes. I’m saying it can be done. With practice, stockinette stitch can be done without looking at it the entire time. This means you can read blogs, email, and newspapers/magazines without needing your hands at the same time as you knit. If you want fiction, audiobooks are brilliant for this. TV is the same way. If you’ve seen a show before, you can knit and watch at the same time and still keep up with both. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the receiving end of a guilt trip because all I did all day was lay on the couch and watch TV, but with knitting, you can hold it up in your own defense and say, “But I made a sock, too!” There’s very little arguing with that. It also gives you patience when your husband wants to watch NASCAR or football or hockey, or something you’re just not that into. Who cares if the TV is on to something snooze worthy if you have something else on which you can concentrate? Patience with all those channel-surfers, I’m tellin’ ya.
6. Frustrated with an infant who won’t sleep, and you’ve seen the wrong side of the clock too many nights in a row to count? Well, wrapping said baby in your own handknits makes some of those nights a smidge more tolerable. Sure, they suck. Sure they’re hard. But rocking away in the rocking chair admiring not only your baby who won’t sleep unless she’s in your arms but also the blanket you’ve wrapped around her that you’ve created with your own two hands can give you a little more boost. Plus, handknits are soft and I’ve noticed my own children gravitate to the handknit blankets and thus I think sleep better with their softer wubbies than with some of the commercial cotton things we have. Those commercial cottons are fine, but the super soft ones tend to be expensive. Super soft baby blankets can be made for less than $20 as opposed to the $30 or more I’ve seen some of the commercial soft ones. But honestly, the patience on this one wears thin even with the handknits. I just kept telling myself with Son that it might be the last night I’m up with him and do I want that last night to be filled with frustration. (For the record, I wasn’t admiring my own handknits with Son because I wasn’t back into knitting yet. My great-grandma Caroline crocheted us a baby blanket before her death and it was that which I was admiring. And Daughter slept through the night with a few exceptions from the time she was six weeks old. Yes, I deserve to be flogged for that one.)
7. Child comes home late after a night out with friends and you’re too keyed up to sleep? Knit! You might get a tighter gauge on your project due to the tension in your shoulders and your iron grip on the yarn, but it’s better than scouring the Internet and finding all kinds of things online that spark bad imaginings of what’s keeping your tardy teen out, everything from them waiting in a long line for the tongue piercings to the backseat makeout sessions you remember from your own youth. I’m not there yet with my kids, but I will be. And you can bet I’ll have miles and miles of stockinette stitch to keep me going for those nights. Although it might be better to have blunt needles on me for when said kid walks in the door. Wouldn’t want me to have access to anything remotely considered a weapon.
8. Angry over a professor giving you trouble or a coworker who sucks tremendously and can’t seem to stay out of your business? When you have a choice between dropping the class or taking an F, or possibly quitting your job to get away from your nasty coworker, knit yourself an effigy of them. You can even use blocking pins for that voodoo doll effect if you can secure yourself a piece of their hair (and even if you can’t, when your bitch of an officemate slams the bathroom door in your face, it’s still fun to stick her likeness with pins when you get back to your desk). If you plan to burn the effigy however, make sure you make it out of an acrylic type yarn. Wool doesn’t burn very easily. But I’d bet by the time you’re done making the little doll, you’ll find it so funny by then that you won’t want to burn it. You can then take out frustration on the doll instead of the actual person, because the doll won’t care if you pull its arm off and you can always reattach it. This saves you from becoming the subject of a police report or restraining order and you’ll have also saved your sanity or your job without that person ever knowing the wiser, and therefore not getting the best of you. This is the ultimate in patience.
There you have it, the best 8 reasons I can think of that knitting teaches patience, that there’s no reason not to give it a shot, and that spare time becomes knitting time even for those with very little time to spare. Believe me, it’s worth it.