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Lessons Learned While Knitting a Pair of Socks March 22, 2014

Posted by heidi skarie in Uncategorized, Writing.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Heidi shoe showing.

Heidi shoe showing.

Today I am at my  husband, Jim, and my cabin in Detroit Lakes.  It’s March, so winter is on the way out, but up here in the North Country there is still a thick covering of snow, so we had to buy snowshoes and hike in a quarter of a mile to get to the cabin.  It took several trips back and forth to bring in our food and clothes. Jim built a fire to heat the cabin.  I took off my wet shoes and socks and put on a new, dry pair of wool socks.

Jim in his snowshoes

Jim in his snowshoes

As I sat in a chair reading, I looked down at my socks and thought of the story behind their creation.  I knitted them several years ago.  The cuffs were a complicated lace pattern, and I started knitting the socks as I sat on a train on the way from where I live in Minneapolis to Milwaukee, about a seven-hour trip.

Here is the cabin.

Here is the cabin.

I started on the first sock and knitted for several inches, then saw that the pattern didn’t look right.  I ripped it out and started over. Again, it didn’t turn out right.  This went on and on for many hours.  It was an unfamiliar pattern, and each row was different.  Moreover, I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to look, and to complicate the situation the yarn was variegated, which made it hard to tell if the pattern was right or not until you knitted many rows.

I wasn’t particularly upset by having to rip out my knitting  One thing you learn as a knitter is that sometimes you are going to make mistakes.  Knitting is forgiving in that you can usually rip something out quite easily.  I saw the pattern as a challenge like a puzzle I was trying to solve.  I’m a good knitter and had learned to knit many years ago from my grandmother, so I wasn’t expecting to have this kind of difficulty.  I had anticipated having at least one if not both socks done by the time I got to Milwaukee.  Instead, I had nothing to show for my time.

As I was knitting, a man came up to me and said, “I’ve never seen someone with so much patience.  You’ve been working for hours and keep starting over without getting upset.”  I found his remark interesting in that it showed me that even when we think no one notices us, in fact, other people might be observing us.  What kind of example are we to others?  Are we demonstrating love, tolerance or perhaps the opposite?


My son-in-law Nick was telling me just yesterday that he was impressed by how good Jim was with our grandson Asher.  Nick said he was learning to be a better father just watching him. Again, this was happening while my husband was being an example without realizing it.

But back to my sock story. When I arrived in Milwaukee, still without figuring out the pattern, I went to the yarn shop with my sister.  I bought knitting markers, and I drew a diagram of the pattern.  With the markers and the diagram, I was able to do the pattern and successfully make the lace pattern socks.

When I finished, my sister said, “You should keep those socks for yourself instead of giving them away.  No one else will ever appreciate the work you put into them.”  She was right.  Whenever I wear the socks, I remember the lessons I learned while knitting them.  One is that with persistence, patience, a little creativity, and a willingness to try things a different way; we can accomplish our goals even when at first they seem almost impossible.  Sometimes we have to rip out and keep trying over and over again, but eventually we’ll figure it out.

What I learned from knitting those socks applies to other areas of my life like my writing.  I’m working on the third book in my Star Rider science fiction series.  I’ve been writing for years and even teach writing, and yet sometimes I have to write a scene over and over again trying to make it flow smoothly.  Sometimes I struggle to make the characters come alive and to have their dialogue sound real.  While doing all that I also have to make sure the scene has tension, excitement and a good beginning, middle and end.

I’ve found that most things that are worthwhile in life take hard work, perseverance and patience.  Have you ever had an experience like mine where you had to work on something over and over again before you finally got it right?  I’d love to hear from you.



1. Leslie - March 23, 2014

You’ve made a number of really fine points showing how reflecting on our lives and actions can really give our life more meaning. Love you so,

heidi skarie - March 23, 2014

Thank you for your thoughts and for encouraging me to keep the socks as a reminder of what I’d learned.

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