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What makes you a real knitter?

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What makes you a real knitter?

As I was scrolling through social media this weekend, a sponsored link popped up from Masterclass. Most ads annoy me, but there is something very compelling about these online classes. Maybe it's the rockstar artist types they have doing them - I mean, legit famous people ‑ world renowned experts in their field ‑teaching subjects not in the catalog of the most prestigious universities. Annie Lebovitz, Itzhak Perlman and Wolfgang Puck speak with such candor. It's‑as if they are a close friend, right in the room with you sharing their authentic experience, helping you to explore and learn. It is honestly mesmerizing. One particular promo featured the novelist Joyce Carol Oates.  A legend in the writing world, and a household name in the reading world, she appeared on my screen talking about writing, and I was hooked. 

"We'll begin with shorter forms‑ short stories, short monologues, and poetry‑ something we can finish. Something we can show other people. That's very satisfying and necessary to a writer," she explained, "What we all need is the satisfaction of this little uplift that we get psychologically from finishing something."

Her words struck me on several levels. First, it was incredibly validating. I have never really considered myself a writer because real writers write books. But here she is, Joyce Carol Oates, telling me that short forms are also legitimate writings. She gave me the courage to take pride in my little word craft and dare to call myself a writer. That was huge.  For many of us, it's much the same with our knitting, deciding what kind of project defines someone as a knitter. The fact is this: we don't have to knit sweaters to be a real knitter.  Many very talented knitters don't do sweaters at all. The scarf, the sock, and the hat are totally legitimate forms and can exemplify the highest expression of the art. Consider Tanis Gray's stunning colorwork cowls or Hunter Hammersen's elegant socks and hats. The limitations of size and scope can make the small form of both writing and knitting, even more challenging than large scale projects.

It's also interesting to me that Ms. Oates talks about the enormous psychological value inherent in the completion of small projects. Whether in writing or in knitting, that little boost of pride and satisfaction is very real. Studies have shown that in areas where our self-esteem is directly involved, we tend to remember our successes very strongly and be motivated by them. In the shop we talk about those instant gratification projects that we can work up quickly for that quick hit of dopamine our brain releases on finishing. That release can be just what we need to jumpstart a larger project or pull us out of a slump.  

And finally, in her promo, Ms. Oates says, "If anyone who is listening to me feels like he or she is a writer, they probably are."  Likewise, in the shop. If you enjoy what you are doing and feel like you're a knitter, then you are, and we welcome you.

I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table. You are always welcome here. ~Ellen

 Back to 5 November 2019 Newsletter

Comments on this post (8)

  • Nov 09, 2019
    Ellen, You are a brillant writer! I think you should consider collecting your best posts into a book. Many others who read your posts I feel certain would agree. Joyce Carol Oates is right and she is not alone in speaking of the joy of completeing small projects well. Your words bring to mind St. Therese of Lisieux, who in her book “The Story of a Soul” speaks of the “Little Way” as being a path to holiness. In performing all of the little tasks of life well, with love and attention to the smallest detail, we create beauty and goodness in our world. Sending you my appreciation for your words of inspiration. Claudia

    — Claudia Knowlton

  • Nov 08, 2019

    Of course you’re a writer, Ellen, with an elegant and crisp style. It’s no small task to produce a regular newsletter article and keep it fresh! Thank you!!


    — Helen

  • Nov 05, 2019

    As I have said before, you are a very talented writer. Your articles are great and help me keep on knitting.
    It is even greater to know that some knitters never knit a sweater. I enjoy making the hats, slippers and scarves for the senior center here in Roanoke Rapids. Some of the articles go to cancer patients at several hospitals in NC.

    Even though I have never made a sweater, maybe one day I will.

    Kathy Mitchell

    — Kathy Mitchell

  • Nov 05, 2019

    Thank you for the support, gang. It means so much that you read the posts and enjoy them. Your comments are incredibly validating, and I appreciate you taking the time. Hugs and happy knitting!

    — Ellen

  • Nov 05, 2019

    I have always enjoyed reading the weekly newsletters. In a time when people are inundated with subscriptions to different mailing lists, standing out from the crowd and getting people to sit and actually read a newsletter is no small feat. As a matter of fact, I had subscribed to the list long before I began knitting. It is what finally gave me the courage to come in and take a class!

    — Tammy Bradburn

  • Nov 05, 2019

    I have always thought you were a wonderful writer. I look forward to your posts and am in awe of the wonderful topics you discuss. Thanks for being here for all of us.

    — Nancy Williams

  • Nov 05, 2019

    You are a very talented writer as evidenced by your posts. I am amazed by your ability to inspire your community by your knitting and your words of wisdom; keep it up.

    — Barbara Skouzes

  • Nov 05, 2019

    I believe you are a very GOOD writer! Thank you once again for the articles that make us think.

    — Tami Entzian

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