Whenever I talk with knitters, we end up talking about fear. It is ever present, bubbling underneath the surface. That fear of knitting a first sweater, trying colorwork, or perhaps dipping a toe into knitting brioche—seems to leave so many of us paralyzed with fear. So much so that we just don’t try.
I know, because I was one of those people for a long time. We allow fear to engulf us. Fear whispers in your ear, “If it’s scary, then it must not be worth your time … don’t do it!”
As children, we were willing to try anything. As adults, we get stuck in our ways, our everyday routines, and the idea of change becomes crippling. Whenever people ask me about sweaters, I often hear “I could never knit a sweater” or “What if I mess it up?” And my responses are usually “Yes, you can” and “But what if you make something wonderful?”
So often we are so afraid of what we might lose (time, effort, money spent on that precious skein of yarn) that we lose sight of what we might gain. What I love about knitting is the possibility of gaining more knowledge, learning a new stitch, a new technique, a new yarn. I want to know it all.
And just like when we talk about learning and growing in knitting, we have the opportunity to do that in our personal lives, too. Change isn’t something to fear.
Since I wrote my last column, I’ve received hundreds of emails, messages on social media, and even comments on this site that have surprised me. I share a lot on social media about racism and injustice. I point out the inequality in things that I think are obvious, but I have learned that to many they are not obvious. Not because of any malicious intent, but because inequality has been the normal for so long.
As an educator I try to share and teach on all my platforms. I’m realizing that perhaps my part is to share what I know and have experienced, and offer resources in all my spaces when I can. It isn’t always pretty, but I try to be honest and thoughtful in what I share. I can’t (and won’t) answer every question because I just don’t have the means to do it and honestly, it can be exhausting.
I know I often get you excited about patterns and what to knit, and about considering bold yarn choices. The truth is, with everything I write and share, I am simply trying to get you to see things from a different perspective. To consider all the possibilities.
To you it might be a simple sweater pattern, but I want you to see all of its potential and how it could be a part of your world. In the same way I might have made you think about the name Mason-Dixon Knitting and how it made me feel, I want you to consider the possibilities. Perhaps next I’ll make you think about how monuments to Confederate soldiers can be harmful and can continue to perpetuate inequality. I’d love to get you to think about how those monuments were a symbol meant to reinforce Jim Crow laws and intimidate black people, in addition to rewriting the narrative on what the South and slavery were all about. And mixed in with me writing about the world, there will be yarn and sweater patterns, and perhaps even dogs in hand knits too.
I write all of this to say that I think this column has to change. I’ve changed. I also hope that you will be open to some change here too.
I won’t make changes in a vacuum. I’ve created a form where you can send me your suggestions here. Let me know what you would like to read more about from me in the future. Change isn’t always easy, but it definitely isn’t something to fear. So let’s be fearless together.