My neck aches. My eyes are blurry. My fingers are stiff. But, after three (maybe more) different attempts this afternoon, I have completed the first row of my first ever knit sweater. Knitting this row took me about a half an hour, and it included one weird stitch that I will have to be on the lookout for as I pass through again. First rows are always hard for me, even in a hat or scarf where I am just knitting every stitch across the first row.
This first row, however, was excruciating. I had to knit one stitch, purl one stitch, alternating through the entire row (except for two knit stitches on each end). With my first two attempts, I dropped purl stitches and couldn’t pick them back up (almost a year into knitting, I still don’t know how). Unravel, begin again. On my last attempt, I closed in on the knitting needles, scrutinizing each stitch closely under my glasses. My eyes are old enough that I can no longer look at things closely through my glasses, which are for distance.
After several stitches, I started talking—out loud—to myself: “Just one stitch. Just get this one stitch. Don’t think about anything else.” I continued to cheer myself on this way through the entire row. When I screwed a stitch up (it came out looking doubled over), I kept going. Thank heavens I had the right number of stitches once I was done!
The reason that I think this row and its story are noteworthy is this: I need to do this much more often in my life. I am a terrible multi-tasker. I get overwhelmed and screw up and can’t figure out what’s going wrong. But, if I take it just “one stitch at a time,” I might get through.
This revelation is not entirely new. I’ve decided in recent months that I am going to do as little multi-tasking as possible. In fact, I often have it on my agenda to “uni-task” my way through each day. Sometimes life doesn’t allow me to uni-task, and sometimes I forget to do it. But, I always come back to uni-tasking, because it makes me feel so much more centered whenever I do. Today’s excruciating first row of Samuel’s sweater (meant for Chanukah, but not likely to get done by then) reminded me of this commitment.
Knitting is mindfulness with yarn.