EZ: Knitting Expert or Life Coach?

In her wonderful book “Knitting Without Tears”, Elizabeth Zimmerman reports at one point that you don’t always have to follow the ancient knitting dictum that says “when changing colors, pick up the new from under the old”.  She says:

“The above revelation heartened me considerably. It proved to me that The Books don’t know everything. They know a great deal, but not everything. Take anything you find in an instruction book, including this one, with a large grain of salt. If it doesn’t make sense in your particular circumstances, pay no attention to it; seek further. There are scores of different ways of doing things in knitting, and none of them are wrong, but they are sometimes unsuitable.

There is no right way to knit; there is no wrong way to knit.”

She goes on to say:

“The way to knit is the way that suits you, and the way that suits the wool and the pattern and the shape that you are currently working on. Show me any ‘mistake’ and I will show you that it is only a misplaced pattern or an inappropriate technique. … So if anybody kindly tells you that what you are doing is ‘wrong’, don’t take umbrage; they mean well. Smile submissively, and listen, keeping your disagreement on an entirely mental level. They may be right, in this particular case, and if not, they may drop off pieces of information which will come in very handy if you file them away carefully in your brain for future reference.”

This resonates with me at a fundamental level. The idea of respecting the wisdom of The Books but also respecting one’s own ability to evaluate the current situation and determine what is and isn’t appropriate.  The idea that a mistake isn’t a univeral wrong but an act that’s unsuitable for its context.  The idea that advice can be useful even if you don’t agree with it … perhaps later, under different circumstances, the knowledge will come in handy.  Keeping it on the mental level (not getting upset about mistakes or advice) is possible if this perspective is taken to heart.  Sounds like the basics of “Assertiveness 101”, rather than “Knitting 101”.  Wonderful!

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