What knitting teaches me about life

As you may or may not know, I taught myself to knit a few years ago. I knitted myself a 20 foot long Doctor Who scarf. Tom Baker played the Doctor when I was growing up and I LOVED watching him on PBS. He still holds the record or playing the Doctor longer than any other actor … seven seasons! What I didn’t like was that PBS only showed Doctor Who during their fund drives.


Tom Baker was, and is still, an amiable old fellow. I liked him because he had curly hair like me. He wore a floppy old brown hat and that scarf and I thought that was the coolest thing ever! That scarf … I deeply coveted that scarf. Before I taught myself to knit, I had looked for them on the web. They were selling for more than $100 and they looked like crap. I wanted one, but not that much for THAT low quality scarf so I finally decided to knit one myself.

I found a website, The Witty Little Knitter, and, after reading every page, following every link, realized that I could actually do this! She had talked with the BBC, seen the original scarf and had everything I needed to accomplish this goal I had set or myself. She had authentic patterns for every scarf by season; YouTube links to teach me all the tricks and techniques I would need; and the specific colors/numbers of the yarn I would need.

It took me six months to make that first scarf and you can see me still wearing it today. I was very proud of the way it came out with a few small exceptions. You see in teaching yourself to do something like that with no help, you make mistakes that aren’t caught until it’s too late to fix them. Well, an EXPERIENCED knitter could have fixed it probably, but I was far from that so my mistakes stayed in the final product. Still, people tell me that unless I had showed them, they wouldn’t have noticed them. I believe them but even with the mistakes am proud of myself.

I decided to knit another one. The first one was the “First One,” both for me and the Doctor and it was the longest one they made. As the seasons went along, the scarf got worn and damaged and they removes those sections and gave it back. So it got shorter and shorter every year. I am knitting the shortest scarf they used in the series now and here is the life lesson stuff.

Knitting requires me to have patience. Not because I’m slow but for other reasons. First, I see the pattern and know I want it, but I can’t have it because it doesn’t exist yet. This denies me instant gratification which is a good thing. I see the pattern, I see the yarn and the needles, but I have to put those things together and sprinkle in a little (lot of) time in order to be able to put the thing around my neck.

Second, it forces me to pay attention. The mistakes in the first scarf came when I didn’t know what to look for. I started out with 55 stitches across. Suddenly I noticed I was up to about 70 stitches. I had no idea how THAT happened and had no idea how to fix it. I finally realized I had split a number of stitches due to my inattention (and not really knowing what the heck I was doing) and had added 15 extra stitches that way. I had to figure out how to fix it without unraveling the whole section. I ended up doubling up on stiches randomly until I was back to 55. As a result, I know have a perfect example of a Bell Curve in one section of the scarf. Live and learn.

Third, it forces me to slow down. I’ve gained some speed in my technique since I began, but I have to watch it. Even after I realized about the stitch-splitting problem, I’d be speeding along and realize I had done it again. I also find that when I slow down and take my time and everything is going well, time flies and I am really enjoying myself! The mistakes I made with the first scarf will not happen with this one. I want it to be perfect. It’s not GOING to be, but that is my goal.

So, teaching myself a new skill, having patience, paying attention and slowing down to enjoy things … those are the things knitting teaches me about life. For me anyway, they are lessons I can always use a refresher course in. And in the end, there are worse ways of spending the next six months. Right?