“Beginner’s mind embodies the highest emotional qualities such as enthusiasm, creativity, zeal, and optimism. With beginner’s mind, there is boundlessness, limitlessness, and infinite wealth.”
– Saadat A. Khan
KZ: How did you become interested in knitting?
Anna: I used to sit at my paternal grandmother’s feet and watch her tat [making lace or linen] using string she would pull from the grain bags my father discarded. My maternal grandmother knitted and made gorgeous clothes. I am passionate about fiber arts. So, I have always had an interest in the craft and even tried to learn how to crochet, but I really didn’t take to it. The desire to learn occurred after I saw a project a Facebook friend posted of her nearly finished blanket. I fell in love with the pattern and use of colors. My first thought was, “I want that; I want to learn how to knit.”
KZ: How and when did you get started?
Anna: After looking into local knitting classes, I wanted to be sure this was something that would stick with me before I invested too much money. The wife of one of my employees knew how to knit and she said she would love to teach me. I am left handed and thought this might be a problem, but she knitted in the Continental style-this is also known as German knitting or left-handed knitting. In June of 2012, we met at Panera, and with patience and persistence, I learned how to knit. I also watched YouTube videos and I found a wonderful web resource called Knittinghelp.com which demonstrates both Continental and English knitting.
KZ: Why do you love knitting?
Anna: I have a pretty busy, and at times, stressful job. Knitting relaxes me and I love the creativity. I just zone out and I love seeing a useful object being created out of making loops with two sticks and yarn. I realized that I was totally in love with this craft when I was able to take life lessons from the experience. I’m creating something that I hope will be beautiful, and there are many times that I make mistakes and that’s okay. With knitting, I do have the chance to correct them. There is something so refreshing of the letting go that comes with frogging (ripping out rows: “rip it, rip it”) a project. It does get frustrating at times. My recent project I had to start over five times, but I’m forgiving of myself. It’s nothing to get in a knot over, excuse the pun. I try to carry that with me in life. I make mistakes, so do others; I just forgive and let it go. I can be pretty hard on myself and knitting helps me to release the expectations I put on myself.
It’s also confidence building. I realized this after I corrected a problem that was pretty difficult to work out. It felt great that I did the research and just went for it, realizing that I have the skills to do this, and if I have to start over, it’s okay.
KZ: Describe some of your projects.
Anna: I am working slowly on a cowl [see attached photo]. This is the first project I’ve made for myself, and the design is more detailed than any I have ever knitted before. It’s the one I had to start over five times, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now. I finished a pair of cuffs for my sister, and I loved the pattern so much that I started a pair for myself. I’ve also completed a pair of wool fingerless gloves for my husband. He is a re-enactor and fife player and the fingerless gloves will be helpful for him if he plays during the cold season. Future knit goals include a baby blanket, a lace shawl, and I’d like to try my hand at socks.
KZ: Has knitting led to making new friends or community building?
Anna: I run across more people who knit now that I have this new love. I will strike up conversations with people. For instance, I was passing out flyers in my neighborhood and saw a woman who had a vanity plate that said “purl”. I asked her if she knit and we had a nice little bonding moment. Another time, a group of ladies gathered together from my neighborhood and we had a small knitting session. It was mostly my teaching them the first steps. We were working on a yarn bomb for the neighborhood in preparation for a Knoxville Marathon water stop. We were on a time crunch so I only managed to knit one myself out of rainbow variegated yarn and the rest were granny squares I found in an antique store. We had a great time with that installation. I suspect that I will meet many wonderful people through knitting. We will all have something to share and teach each other.
Photo Credits: Anna and Calvin Chappelle
Copr., Debra Dylan, 2013