Monday, July 14, 2014

Small actions

I am so glad that I picked up my knitting again after ignoring it for a few months. I'm not sure whyI put it down but I now realize that I missed it. I am making fantastic progress on redoing the Charvet pullover - the back is done and I am halfway through the front. I love the idea that a long dormant project will be complete within the week.

But what I love more is the simple act of knitting. The 'engineering' is remarkable and the repetitive movement is soothing. But beyond that, it has always seemed to me that knitting (and perhaps lacemaking as well) is a statement of confidence. It takes so many actions, each built on the last, to create the final product. And throughout the process there is no way to visualize the final product until all of the tiny steps have been completed. All you have is the belief that the accumulation of many actions will create something satisfactory and possibly wondrous.

I agree with what Stephanie Pearl-MacPhee, the Yarn Harlot, wrote on this subject. She was contemplating the enormous generosity of knitters with respect to her participation in a fund-raising bike ride for the People With Aids organization in Toronto.

"I just don’t know what to say, or what to do, or how to ever thank you, or how to tell you that someone who is one of the crappiest riders going to Montreal is now the top fundraiser for the whole rally… or how to tell you about the look on people's faces when I explain that it’s knitters. It’s just how knitters are… and how much what you’re doing is changing the idea of who cares about this, and how crazy wonderful knitters are, and how I think it’s because you’re knitters that you do this.
I’ve been telling people for years that knitting changes your brain. Changes the way you think and teaches important lessons, and that one of them is the idea of cumulative action. Cumulative action is the idea that small actions aren’t unimportant if they are combined with other small actions. It’s a lesson that not everyone learns. Some people go their whole lives thinking that unless you can do something big, there’s no point in doing anything at all… and they have trouble seeing how one small action in their life could ripple and matter. They can’t see the possibility, and so they don’t do what they could. The problems seem too large for a small action to change anything.
Here’s the thing though, there are no knitters like that. None. Knitting teaches you that one small action does matter. That one small action, like knitting a stitch, isn’t unimportant. It’s vital. One small action repeated many times is a sweater. Or a shawl. Or a pair of socks to hold the feet of someone you love, and that idea? The concept of cumulative action? It makes knitters the most remarkable fundraisers of all. Other groups, they have to rely on the part of their community that understands that… knitters? Our whole group gets it. Our whole group sees that one small thing – put together with many other things can create something enormous, and wonderful, and magical.
Why are knitters like this? Because they knit, and they have learned everything they need to know about little things mattering."    Stephanie Pearl-MacPhee (July 26, 2012)

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