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April 04, 2022 4 min read

After a day of snowboarding, my son Colton hit me with it. 

 “Hey, Mom,” he ventured, “I know you used to ski.  I want you to promise me that you’ll go skiing with me next season.”  

Gulp.  I ditched my Rossignols in 1998 and haven’t looked back.  Now this. A million thoughts ran through my head, and most of them were not good.  But this was my 20 year old asking me todo something with him.  How often does that happen???

 “Um, okay,” I stammered.  What am I getting myself into?

Trying new things is scary.  No matter whether it’s something big and obviously frightening like hang gliding or skiing again after 25 years.   Trying something new triggers a visceral fear.  And fear makes us feel vulnerable. .Will I be able to get off the lift without falling?   What if I look like an idiot in front of my cool snowboading son? (that’s a given). What if I break my legs? Or my neck?   

Even something as seemingly insignificant as tasting a new food or trying a knitting technique (ahem, tubular cast on) can be scary and leave us feeling vulnerable.  But the truth is fear and vulnerability in the face of the new and unknown is not only perfectly normal, but good for us.  

Knitting is a pretty safe space to try new things, and here are ten good reasons to do so.  

  1. It opens the possibility for new pleasures.  Our foreign exchange student, Tommaso was not so sure about maple syrup.  Despite the kids assurance that he’d like it, it was with great hesitance that he put a dot on the side of his plate and dipped the tip of his finger into it and brought it hesitantly to his mouth.  A huge smile erupted on his face and he poured probably half a cup on his pancakes. The pleasure of pure maple syrup!.  It’s the same with knitting.  Just on the other side of fear might be a yet unknown passion for intarsia, or entrelac, or double knitting.  
  2. It builds courage.  It takes courage to try something new –especially something we’re afraid of.  So, the more we face our fears, the more practice we get at summoning courage.  And who couldn’t use a little courage on command?  
  3. It makes us more creative.  New things and new situations call on us to quickly understand a different set of circumstances, process how to handle those circumstances and develop a new way of working through it all.  It engages our creative problem solving skills, and exercising any creative muscle strengthens them all.  
  4. It makes us happier -The more new and fun things you do, the more fulfilling and satisfying your life becomes. People who seek out new ways of doing things and new activities are happier, healthier, and have a more positive outlook.  Because doing new things - trying and succeeding (no matter how many failures lie between) gives us confidence and makes us feel accomplished and competent. 
  5. It keeps us from getting bored.  A familiar routine is one thing.  A rut is quite another.  If every project starts with a long tail cast on, marks 4 raglan increases, and finishes with miles and miles of stockinette in the round, life can get pretty dull.  Try colorwork.  Try that scary tubular cast on (the one without waste yarn).  Or, gasp, try working in pieces and seaming your sweater.  
  6. It helps us understand ourselves better.  When we try new things, or consider trying new things, we learn about what frightens us,.  If we take a step further into introspection, we can begin to see why those things frighten us. When we know what frightens us, we can better understand where we need to strengthen ourselves.  In knitting, do we avoid the new because it might not be perfect?  Because we might look awkward doing it? Because we might need to ask for help?  
  7. It builds our own skill set and competence.  As they say, the more you know, the more you know.  
  8. It’s good for our brainIt’s no secret that knitting, like sudoku and other brain challenges ward off Azheimer’s but not if you do the same ones over and over.  It’s the learning and growing that stimulates and protects the brain.  
  9. It builds good memories.  New experiences punctuate your life. You will always remember when you learned how to turn a heel, or seam a sweater.  Even if the results of your new thing are not ideal, chances are you can look back and laugh at the struggle. At the end of the day, it’s our good memories that mean the most.
  10. It keeps us humble and compassionate. It’s helpful to remind ourselves what it feels like to be not competent at something.  Especially if we’re a parent, teacher, coach, or mentor, it’s important to remember what it feels like to struggle through the early stages of learning a new skill.  

I’m still equally terrified of skiing again and that tubular cast on, but I’m going to try anyway.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  


What new things have you done or plan to do that are a little bit scary?  Let me know.  


I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table, or in our virtual community at Club.crazyforewe.com.  You are always welcome here.


Warmly,

Ellen