It was socks that did it.
Thick, wooly socks, on knitting needles, that I knew needed to be on my feet. I fell down an Instagram rabbit hole, admiring and envying anyone who’d cast on a pair of socks, any socks. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I dare you to type in the hashtag #knitsocks into your Instagram. Are your toes feeling cold? I thought so.
So then I rediscovered Ravelry (remember when I used to crochet all the time, and I even made little crochet apple warmers) and looking at all of the knitty, wooly goodness, I desperately wanted to be able to knit.
I mean. I know how to knit. As in, a knit stitch.
But I’d learned when I was 9, and mum would cast on the stitches and knit a few rows to get me going first, so I could see what I was doing. And she’d be next to me on the couch watching telly, and if I dropped a stitch or didn’t know what to do next, she’d be right there. Thanks mum.
But knitting a scarf when you’re 9 with your mum hovering over you is much different to knitting socks, flying solo.
A couple of knitty friends were very encouraging, and so I borrowed some needles, and used some yarn I’d had laying around and knitted the wonkiest, holiest little dishcloth. It’s actually terrible, you can check it out my Insta-story highlights.
But I was determined. I tried again, and the dishcloth was better.
I watched a million YouTube videos on how to cast on, how to increase and decrease, and how to undo rows and try again, and how to cast off. I was actually getting it. Understanding what each stitch looked like.
Then I made a beanie. Then I made another one because I realised I’d done the ribbing inside out, and still had enough yarn.
Each day when I get home from work I pull that soft, thick beanie over my head and I grin.
Because I made something. Because I learned something hard.
Because I can do hard things.
It reminded me of what we’re capable of doing if only we want it enough.
10 minutes ago I submitted my last assignment of my very first semester of my post grad in library studies. It was probably the hardest semester of my life. I learned new things.
I continued, even when I wanted to give up.
I finished the assessments.
I finished the beanie.
I did hard things, and I didn’t give up.
And I’m telling you this because this is the story you need to tell yourself too.
Too often I listen to the voice that says I’m not good enough, or I know nothing, or I’m not worthy.
But I am. You are. You’re worthy. You’re enough. You can do hard things.
What is it that you really want? What’s stopping you from going after it?
My top tips for finishing a knitty thing, which I think also works for finishing anything important:
1. Cover it with prayer. Sometimes this is just, oh God oh God when the stitches unravel, or when you drop one, or when you don’t know how to fix it.
Other times it’s long prayers in the car, breathing gratitude and laying it all down; the day, the future, the knitting—when you don’t know how to fix the big things.
2. Find friends. Five minute friends who help with frogging your knitting. Friends who live on the other side of the country and hold space for you. Friends who don’t see you as competition, who sit and listen and encourage and champion—your knitting, and your dreams.
3. Talk to yourself kindly.
Be kind. The way we speak changes the way we feel. Honestly this works.
Instead of saying, “I’m going to go and study and do this assignment and I can’t do it and it’s so hard” I’ve been speaking differently.
I’m going to go smash out a giant chunk of this assignment like a freaking boss.
Girl, you’re so smart, you’re acing this. You can do hard things AND give your kids long cuddly tuck-ins at bedtime.
Oh hey there knitter, look at you go, knitting like a pro. Dropped stitches beware, I am the boss of you.
It honestly changes the way we feel. About ourselves, and about the hard things we face.
We can learn hard things.
We can finish hard things.
We are the boss of the hard things.