If you come over to my house, come hungry.
Cooking is my favorite thing – next to knitting, of course – and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do to decompress from a long work day than to stand in my kitchen, turn on a little indie folk music (or maybe some Fleetwood Mac), pour a glass of wine and start chopping vegetables. It’s not long before something aromatic is simmering.
I’m a “pinch of this, pinch of that” sort of cook; I let my senses guide me. Does it need a little more garlic? Maybe a few serrano peppers would be nice. Gorgonzola! That’s what it needs. I have a ridiculous collection of cookbooks that I use for inspiration, but they’re more of a suggestion than an actual rule when it comes to how I use them in my kitchen.
I tell you this, because it occurred to me (just recently) that I knit the same way I cook – with strategic abandon.
Knitting with strategic abandon means being aware of the lines, and knowing when – and how – to color outside of them to get the results I want. It might look like I’m making things up as I go, but there’s a method to the madness. It’s my theory that when you know how to get the results you want, you have freedom to move.
Cooking may or may not be the right metaphor for you (actually it’s a simile, but I digress); if you hate to cook, then it’ll be hard to draw a parallel. But there might be something else in your life that helps you notice your own patterns. Are you a rigid rule follower? Are you inclined to walk to the beat of your own drum? Do you pick and choose which rules* you like to follow?
*I’m talking about rules with wiggle room, like games and hobbies. When it comes to important rules, like driving the speed limit, I’m a hard core rule follower.
Guidelines can make us feel quite safe, especially when we’re in unfamiliar territory. To be quite honest, when I’m brand new at something, I’m much more likely to read the fine print and follow the instructions spot-on until I feel comfortable enough to start winging it. Confidence comes with practice.
So that’s the real clincher, isn’t it? Practice. The more we do something, the more confident we are – and the easier it is to improvise and troubleshoot. We have to knit a lot, and often, to get comfortable reading our stitches and knowing where we can fudge. We have to make mistakes, and live to tell about them, to know they’re not the end of the world.
Even if you have no desire to bend the rules, the confidence of knowing you could if you wanted to can come in handy when a project goes sideways. You never know when a little resourcefulness – a pinch of this, or a pinch of that – will save the day.