Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Come as You Are, Again: Starting at the Beginning

"Saying you're too inflexible to do yoga is like saying you're too dirty to wash." (Ali Bell)

I was proselytizing about yoga during the knitting class yesterday, emphasizing how important it is for fibre people (or anyone who tends to work with her shoulders hunched forward) to stretch ourselves out.  Someone commented that she could never do yoga, because she was too stiff and inflexible.

This statement struck me as rather contradictory (although not unusual). After all, we don't take a beginners' knitting or spinning class because we already know how to knit or make yarns. We know if we want to learn and improve our fibre arts skills, we need lessons and practice. The proof of this was at the table; many of the students had just learned to knit recently and there they were, in an intermediate class on two colour knitting, doing a beautiful job of their samplers and their bags.  This is the sampler:

They took their samplers and cut them open along that steek line.  With sharp scissors.  No basting.  Everyone survived.

We also practised duplicate stitch, as you can see.

The simple act of using needles to turn yarn into cloth demonstrates our innate abilities and dexterity. If there is something else we would like to do-yoga, for example-those skills can be adapted to our needs.  This won't happen right away.  It will take practice, false starts, maybe a sniff of frustration or two.  Given time, effort and gentle determination, the knowledge we carry will help those strained shoulders and tight hamstrings loosen and allow us to move in ways we never thought possible, just as many of us never expected to advance as we have with our knitting.

It's important to start at the beginning.  That sounds odd, but so many people come to classes wanting to work just like the instructor or more advanced students, to knit as they do or settle into a pose with what seems like effortless ease.  They forget that what they see is the result of hours, days, years of practice, of experiencing frustrations we all have when we learn a new skill.  They don't always notice that, even now, the instructor (and other students) make their share of mistakes, too.

(If you doubt this, take a close look at the above sampler. I knit it far too quickly, with a lack of attention.  As a result, you can see the tension problems, even after the swatch was washed and blocked.  I did it again, in my haste to knit a sample bag:

It's not as apparent as it is when you see the actual bag, but the top motif looks very different from the ones below it-heavier, as if I used a different chart.  I didn't; I merely changed hands when I was knitting the second and third motifs (i.e.., moved the green yarn from my right hand to my left, the beige yarn from left to right).  Such a small shift and yet it caused a large change in the design.  I decided to leave it, as a lesson to myself and my students.  I'll pay more attention with the next bag.)

A good teacher is open to change, always seeking new ways to improve and refine her skills. She knows her strengths and acknowledges her weaknesses. A good student will do the same.  A good class, whether it's in fibre or yoga or widget building, will allow both student and teacher to grow, to learn from one another.  Each time I attend a yoga class, each time I teach fibre, I take a breath and start a new beginning.  Each beginning moves me a bit further down my chosen path. I hope my students will do the same.

Start with Now, as you are and trust that time and practice will bring you to where you want to Be.


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