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Knitting heroes

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Knitting heroes

Author Joseph Campbell wrote extensively about the creation of legendary figures - the hero story. Heroes begin as relatively ordinary men and women who receive a call to action. Whether to fight a monster or simply prove themselves, heroes resist the call at first, but eventually accept, heading off to lands unknown, both figurative and literal. They meet a mentor who shares the skills and secrets the hero needs along the way.  The journey is not without difficulties. They try and fail. They fall and get up. They lose faith. They begin again. In the end, the hero succeeds and returns a new and stronger person with the trophy and wisdom they have won. It is a beautiful theme that we see in ancient characters like Beowulf and Hercules, as well as in modern ones like Anakin Skywalker, Harry Potter, and Katniss Everdeen.

The hero's journey is thrilling to watch, but the excitement isn't limited to epic tales in classic literature. In fact, we ordinary knitters make extraordinary journeys all the time.

It starts with the call.  I'm sure you've heard it.  Scrolling through Ravelry, we happen upon a fabulous project way beyond our reach. A complicated lace shawl, an intricately cabled blanket, or a just a beautiful sweater. It doesn't really matter what the project is, the point is that it is clearly over our head in terms of skill and experience. We resist the call, telling ourselves it's too hard, too complicated--impossible, really.  Yet, we go back to the picture again and again. We resist the call, until we no longer can, and thus begins the heroic journey.

We find a mentor.  Maybe it's our mom or other knitting friend.  Maybe it's YouTube. Maybe it's us here at the shop. Whoever, this mentor teaches us the skills, helps us understand the pattern, and gives us the secrets we need to succeed. Along the way, we mess up. Drop stitches. Lose count and lose heart. But we get up and we pick up. We begin again--many times perhaps.  But we never give up, and through grit and determination, we emerge victorious with not only the trophy of our own making but substantial experience and the wisdom that comes with it.

I applaud every knitter who has tried and failed and tried again, knitting on through tangled skein and twisted stitch.  Your completed project is the hero's trophy and mantle, silently proclaiming your accomplishment to the knitting world. Wear it with pride. You earned it.

I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table, and I thank you for letting me be part of your hero's journey. You are always welcome here.  ~Ellen

Back to 24 September 2019 Newsletter

Comments on this post (2)

  • Sep 25, 2019

    Susan,
    You are a true hero. It is absolutely amazing what you have done. Thank you for sharing and inspiring. Miss seeing you, and hope you are well.
    Warmly
    Ellen

    — Ellen Lewis

  • Sep 24, 2019

    Hi Ellen,
    I am such a hero. While sitting in an International Aids Conference in Durban , South Africa, I heard a 13 yr old boy speak . He was Nikosi Johnson and he was dying of Aids. His only regret in life was he never got to see his mother again as he went to an orphanage and she into hospice care. He wished there were a place where mothers and kids could live together.
    For me this was the epiphany and I came home sold everything, replaced myself in my practice with young female family doctors and moved to South Africa. We did establish Nkosi’s Haven where Moms and kids could live and dye together. I did establish 13 End of Life units across SA in his name. Nkosi died in 2003. He was my hero and mentor and he is still in my heart challenging me to do good everyday despite the horrible times in our country. Your epiphany will come also. Just listen for it.

    — Susan Black

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