Last December I decided I wanted to learn to knit. It was during the dead days at the end of the year, and I was feeling flush with Christmas money and gift cards. I bought a book on knitting, and a lot of supplies and I watched a lot of online videos demonstrating various knitting stitches. (It is impossible, by the way, to knit and move the mouse to hit the pause/start button as needed, so those videos are not very useful.)
Now, don't throw things at me, but what I'm working for here is this...knitting is a lot like writing.
1. You're going to screw up a lot before you get it right.
Most of my early scarves had this weird tendency to get wider. I'd cast on 18 stitches and a certain point find myself with 26. When this happens, what do you do? You do what you do in writing. You revise it. You go back to where you went wrong and you pick the bad part out and you start again and try to keep the count right.
2. Follow the rules, even when you don't think you need to.
The knitting book said "some people count stitches," which lead me to think that it was kind of a nerdish thing for uptight people and hey, man, I don't need that kind of headache, man...
Now I count stitches. And my scarves don't get bigger. *crosses fingers.*
3. You keep going because you fall in love.
Early on I went to a small yarn store and saw such beautiful yarns that I spent more money than I'm willing to confess, even now. The first scarf made from one of those yarns, though a little...uneven...in shape, has drawn a bunch of compliments mainly for the color. As I drove home I thought, now you've got to make sure it comes out right. And every time I looked at the yarns I was led on to create something. I wanted to try new things, just so I could live up to the yarn.
4. Know your limits.
I joined a new church and someone asked me if I could knit and next thing I knew I was knitting a prayer shawl, in slightly scratchy green acrylic Wal-Mart yarn. (My own fault -- I picked out a shade that looked nice in the sunlight.) The prayer shawl fell victim to the same enlarging phenomenon that the scarves did. But it will be done...someday.
Here's what else I can't do. I can't purl. I can't do circular knitting. I can make scarves. Lots and lots of scarves.
Everyone needs scarves.