A few months ago, right before my Chinese class started and I discovered how out of practice I was at managing my time, I bought a stack of used knitting books and kits on Amazon and borrowed a couple of books from my MIL. I dutifully tried to figure out how to cast on for a couple of days, decided I had it down, and then carefully stacked everything next to our Tower O’ Craft Crap. And it sat. And sat.
Until yesterday. WIth Chinese out of the way, classes for next semester chosen and enrolled for, I decided I was ready to knit already. Out came the needles, the yarn, and the book I had the most success with before. I gave it my all, grunting and squinting and trying to flip the page while holding the yarn and needle. And it was sucking.
Thursdays are the day that my house is cleaned. The woman who comes in is the loveliest person you’d ever want to meet and she’s an absolute whiz with, well, everything crafty. She sews, knits, crochets, beads and cooks in a restaurant once a week. And she took one look at what I was doing, showed me a far easier way to cast on, and now? I have about two inches of knitting. It’s going to be a red rectangle when I’m all done. Maybe a scarf, although I’m a little leery of committing to any one design just yet 😛
And even better, I have a knitting teacher now. She’s going to teach me to crochet as well. And I, my friends, am thrilled.
But even more than the knitting, which I love like only an obsessive-tendencied person who finds repetitive motion meditative and who thrives in situations where there is a clear, observable result can, I am happy to have someone to pass this skill along to me. It’s wonderful to have the books, and I will certainly use them as I get better and need patterns or tips or whatnot, but it is even more wonderful to have a real, live person to guide me. It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger, and this has been a sort of mantra for me over the past few months. Part of something bigger than myself, than my house, than my experiences. People can change the world by being part of something bigger.
Sharon at Causabon’s Book wrote last week about The Competence Project. She gives a list of skills that every person should have and I’ve been thinking about these, and the skills I would really like to have as I go forward. Her list is pretty straight forward, and I was pleasantly surprised at how many skills on it I actually have:
- cook a decent meal–simple meals, yes. Healthy even.
- handle an injury or illness crisis–not so much. I really need to take a first aid class.
- tend a sick kid–yup, I can do this
- fix a broken step–nope
- darn a sock–absolutely
- dehydrate a tomato–nope
- tell a story—yep
- grow a potato–I’m giving it a go but cannot claim knowledge yet 😉
- build a sun oven–nope
- bake a loaf of bread–again, giving it a go 🙂
- put up a fence–I have helped with fence erection but would likely be screwed if I had to do it myself.
- season cast iron–sho’nuff can
- mend a rip–yup
- care for a dying person–no
- sing a baby to sleep–in *my* sleep
- clean a toilet–again, in my sleep
- knit or crochet a sock–soon. soon.
- fix a roof–nope
- use a weapon–nope
- plant a tree–nope
- immobilize a limb–I could probably figure this out pretty easily.
- make someone understand a counter-intuitive idea–yeah, I can do this if I try
- save seed–not yet
- sharpen a knife–yes ma’am.
- chop garlic–absolutely
- make beer–does ginger beer count?
- have courage–surprisingly, yes if I remember to breathe
- fix a bicycle tire–I can’t even ride a bicycle.
- make soup–and good soup at that
- give a pep talk–I am beyond lousy at pep talks.
The long and short of it is that I am lacking in a couple of big areas. The big one is anything related to emergency care/medical stuff. And having two small kids in the house, this is the big focus here. I’m signed up for a CPR/AED class later this month, which will cover cardiac arrest and choking. The other is the building of stuff. I’m not entirely unhandy–I can put up drywall in a pinch although I’m better at the plastering and sanding. But for the most part, I have no access to roofs or steps to learn to repair them. That one will have to be put on hold. The last is the seed saving, tree planting stuff, which I’m going to broaden into Learning about Plants and How They Do What They Do. This one will hopefully be covered next semester in my science class which is about plants and how we use them, including medicinal uses.
The thing about self-sufficiency is that it forces me to admit that someday I may have to act alone. Preparation takes some of the fear out of it. And the more confident I have gotten in my ability to learn new skills and take charge of situations, the easier it has gotten for me to make decisions and act on them. Maybe there will never be a time when I have to live off of my food stores but it’s sure nice to have them. Maybe I’ll never need to perform CPR, but it certainly will make me feel better to know how. The more skills we have and share, the stronger we get. And while I certainly can’t prepare for everything, building confidence where I can is one of the most important preparations I can make. And that is one of the cheesiest sentences I’ve ever written. Sheesh.