Last night we watched The Karate Kid as a family. Call me a total nerd, but gosh, I really kind of love that movie. It always makes me wish I had a bonsai tree. That’s beside today’s point, though. Now usually movie watching is optional at our house — kids can watch or not watch so long as they aren’t disturbing anyone. This showing, however, was mandatory. As we are closing in on the official start of our home school year, my husband had the idea that this would be a great way to illustrate an important lesson: sometimes tasks that seem pointless & boring are actually training you, giving you the fundamentals for bigger things in life. Take these tasks seriously, work hard at perfecting these details, and when it’s time for it all to come together you’ll be ready.
As I sat watching the movie, knitting away on my sweater’s second sleeve I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to knitting, too. As poor Daniel LaRusso suffered through ‘wax on — wax off,’ ‘sand the floor,’ ‘paint the fence,’ and ‘paint the house,’ I thought of my last week of knitting. You may have noticed that my ‘Today on my needles…’ serial has pretty much looked the same for the last week.
Here’s a post from 5days ago…
It’s basically the same picture each time. There’s a reason I took the photos though. Yes, of course, to share with you where I was in the process and also to show myself that I was making progress. Believe it or not, that photo or two a day really helps propel me forward. To knitters everywhere though, these kind of photos mean something beyond just a progress report. We all identify with the monotony of knitting a big swath of stockinette stitch. There are times we appreciate its most basic, meditative rhythm and there are times we curse it and want to poke ourselves in the eyes with our needles because it’s so s l o w & boring. Stockinette stitch is a true fundamental of knitting though. Wax on — wax off. At its core, when a knitter learns to perfect this basic stitch, the whole world of knitting starts to open up.
I thought about how many hundreds of thousands of times I’ve probably made the knit stitch in my life. There was a time when I would knit and my hands would ache, but that doesn’t really happen anymore. It’s not that I knit less — in fact the opposite is true — it’s that for all those stitches and from all the hours with my needles, I’ve built up strength and endurance. I’ve learned how to care for my hands — most notably in keeping my wrists loose, but also in simple things like moisturizing (I shared about the fab LaviShea Lotion Bars a few posts ago) and keeping the weight of big knitted pieces in my lap & not in my hands.
Now it’s true that there’s no knitting tournament in my future — there’s no big ultimate goal out there, nothing to prove to anyone. There are always new techniques and skills to pick up, but I’m at the point where there isn’t much that I can’t wrap my head around. I will definitely never be the fastest or the greatest knitter on Earth, but for me it’s never been about cranking out projects at warp speed, I’ve never been interested in a competition. I knit with my head — to keep my mind sharp and for the quiet, meditative state it allows me. And I knit with my heart — it just gives me great joy to create. And I share what I know with those around me. It’s that simple.
I will, however, continue to work on my fundamentals everyday. That’s what knitting is after all, a few basic fundamentals that flow together. The monotonous, easy tasks — like stockinette sleeves — just make me a stronger knitter. When it comes time to add something more complex into the mix, like the little wave stitch pattern on the body of my sweater, well, I can take it in stride because my basic skills are strong. Wax on — wax off.
The Karate Kid put his fundamentals to work to kick some serious butt at his karate tournament — he had really built something for all his hard work. I put my knitting fundamentals together and while I may not win a trophy, I will have a something at least as great…I’ll have a handknit sweater (that has body & sleeves attached and is cruising along on sleeve & neck decreases at the moment). I’d say I’ve really built something here, too.
Now all I need is keep it up and finish this sweater, one stitch after another. Wax on – wax off.
Oh, and let’s not forget that bonsai tree.