Knitting Without Training Wheels

Kidney WarmerWith chilly weather having arrived at last, I found myself longing for more warmth. In my online browsing, I came across the fabulous Japanese concept of Haramaki, or as I like to call them, “kidney warmers.” Perfect! I have a decent stash of yarn, and had been wanting to start a new knitting project, so off I went in search of a pattern. You see, even though I’ve been knitting for years, I never learned to trust myself to just whip something up, no matter how simple.

I hear you chuckling to yourself. Yes, indeed, knitting is a microcosm of my personal macrocosm.

Anyhow, the universe had me on her list that day because while there were plenty of sewing patterns, none of the few knitting patterns online were what I was looking for. The goal was something simple, woolen, and that didn’t require purchasing anything. I got irritated after attempting a variety of search terms. This was EXACTLY what I wanted, and it should be so straightforward. Why did no one have a simple, non-frumpy kidney warmer pattern in the vastness of the worldwide web? Feeling defeated, I went to the closet and inventoried my yarn and needles. I pulled out the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter that I’d been saving forever, ran my fingers over its soft lightness with longing, and made a decision. Find your gauge, measure your body, and just make the darned thing! It’s nothing terribly advanced. Just cast-on, knit and purl. What’s the worst thing that could happen, for crying out loud? Deep breath. When I eventually cast-on, I felt strangely liberated, and the creativity began to flow… Go figure!

It’s funny. I used to be the same way with cooking, relying heavily on recipes beyond the point when I needed them for the basics. Finally, one day, I  realized that I had all the tools I needed to shift from simply following directions to a place of imaginative experimentation, and make that next leap into learning by pure experience, with recipes popping into the picture for inspiration as desired. It changed my world for the better. The weight of the recipe was lifted, and to this day, I still love cooking and playing in the kitchen, even though it is a “required chore.”

By the same token, I’ve been steadily gathering wisdom about healing with food, herbs, and holistic lifestyle choices for years. It is what lights me up inside, and until recently, left me feeling constantly guilty because, “How can I be so passionate about this work, in a way that I have never been about my ‘real’ job?” When I left that “real” job and made the move to pursue holistic healing full time, I was filled with joy and hope the likes of which my soul had not felt for decades. Shortly thereafter, I started to realize that, “This is finally IT!” Yet, “How on earth do I structure ‘it’ to not only contribute to the world, but also make a living without it transforming into a form of punishment?” So what did I do? I turned around and picked a fight with someone whom I love and respect. (I know, trust me, looking back I am as utterly confused by this progression as you are!) I was convinced that I needed a pattern; an exact recipe for this leg of the journey. I was also terrified of missing the boat on what I’d discovered, and like a preschooler, felt compelled to fight for it. The crazy thing was, it wasn’t going anywhere. I’m not sure why I felt such an urge to aggressively prove my worthiness and literally fight for something that I love, even though it was sitting right there in my lap, asking to be embraced, but I did. Fortunately, my dear mentor wasn’t about to accept my shenanigans, and promptly knocked some sense into me and managed to help coax out the root of it.

Constantly worrying about “messing it up” is paralyzing. It induces anxiety and, like a chemical reaction, converts the joyful into the stressful. Worry is destructive.

I made a small error in my knitting project (which I hate doing by the way – I usually get so angry with myself and spend hours ripping it out, even if it’s not a big deal), and had to make a choice to just move past it and accept it as part of the process or go back and fix it. Yup, you guessed it, the same holds true on this next journey. Perfection is impossible. When those bumps in the road come along, one can choose to either just keep going, or take a few steps back and fix it. Not all bumps are created equal, and they are an inevitable part of life. Either course adds to the arsenal of experience that shapes people and practitioners.

There is no pattern for what I have embarked on. The paths outlined in textbooks are a general guide to be rolled around in the mind, but I’ve come to accept that I am fundamentally stubborn as heck about doing things my own way. I have a deep need to shape things that I do into my own, for that creative process is a part of what feeds my spirit and serves to keep my passion kindled and the result authentic.

At the root of my soul, I know that “The Way” will emerge organically through the marriage of my stash of wisdom, tools consistently acquired through ongoing study and life, the guidance of mentors, and the creativity that flows when I release fear and simply let go and let be.

Like the elusive Haramaki, it will be simple, yet strong, soft, and warm, with a touch of elegance, and made with love, and all must come from within.



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