What Knitting Taught Me About Taking Risks

This post is brought to you by Vibrant Nation member RamblinRedhead.


Should a vibrant woman take risks and accept new challenges? I think this is something every woman to decide for herself. And we also choose to take those risks in a wide variety of ways!  I am an engineer – mathematical, analytical, pragmatic.  I have worked in a government job for almost 28 years – different locations, with increasing responsibilities and promotions – but not really out there taking major risks.  My career (and my life) has often been all about risk management.  I always tried to find a good balance between work/family/inner life.

Yet I bought a motorcycle at 40, and have ridden for over 10 years now, and some people think I am crazy to do something so “dangerous.”  At 50, I bought a kayak, and lost over 50 pounds (50 for 50, I called it!). I fell off a ladder about a month ago, installing a new attic ladder in my house, my first (and possibly last?!?) attempt at carpentry.  I could have broken my hip, and my shoulder is still messed up pretty bad.  Many have told me I was “stupid” to do something so risky.

My attitude about risks and risk taking has been influenced greatly by knitting, a much-loved hobby of mine (or obsession, possibly).  When I knit something, if I screw it up, or don’t like it, or it doesn’t fit, no problemo!  I frog it (Rippit! Rippit!), and after it’s a ball of yarn again, I start over, with no regrets.  Hey, I enjoyed the knitting, I’ll enjoy the new project, and make something better/more useful/more beautiful the next try.  So much in life is like that – not irreversible.  You learn from it, you do what it takes to go back and fix it, and you keep a good attitude about it.  It’ll turn out better next time, maybe!

The things in life that don’t fit this model – the things that are more irreversible – like marriage, career, having children, I have been much more careful about, not a big risk taker.  As a child of divorce, I intended to never marry – preferred being content on my own to being miserable with someone else, or having a failed marriage, with all its collateral damage.  But I met someone who was able to overcome that reluctance – he was that unique and worth it – and still is, after over 25 happy years together!  My career is such that if I screw up, people can die, things can catastrophically collapse – so not a lot of risk-taking there.  I was the most scared Mom-to-be on the planet – but I did my best, and took nothing for granted.  I savored every moment, every stage of my child’s life (good thing, was unable to have more, once I found out how wonderful it was!).  I was way, way careful in those areas of life.

Another person might have taken more chances at work, or with love. Lots of people have children without thinking it through very much at all.  And they somehow make it work.  They would possibly consider my life way too boring and predictable, but it works for me.  It’s not that I would be unwilling to up and move – it’s that I have invested a lot and built a good life here, and would not easily walk away from it.  I don’t feel trapped – I chose this life, and I could redo or undo parts of it, if I chose to.  But overall, I consider what I might lose to be too great, considering what I might gain in return.  I’m not sure I would risk going back up on a ladder to do another carpentry project.  But as soon as my shoulder heals up more, I will be back on my motorcycle (but not until it is healed enough to handle the motorcycle!).

I think we all choose our own risks, and the corresponding rewards or benefits.  I wouldn’t spend a dollar on a lottery ticket – consider the odds of ever winning as too low to be worth even a dollar.  But I just spent a whole lot more than that to buy the equipment to make and bottle my own homemade red wine vinegar, because I am gambling I can make it better than that 10 dollar bottle I bought in the grocery store.  It may be a total waste of time and money!  Or maybe I will be eating salads with incredibly delicious homemade dressings any day now!

Popular Knitting Patterns You Can Start Working On Today:

  1. Three Seasons Shawl
  2. Pink Ribbed Knit Vest
  3. Knit Pom Pom Scarf for Yarn Bombing

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  1. Maggie says

    I never really thought about that aspect of knitting before, but you’re completely right in that the craft is about more than the final result. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve completely botched a project and had to unwind several rows or restart (for example, the first sweater I made, I almost cried when I had tear up that). But in the end it’s taught me to keep going on things that seem hopeless or have been botched- I have to go back and identify the problem if I don’t want to be left with a useless heap of yarn. And granted I do have several heaps of yarn that are left- but I don’t like the sight of them, and recently I took one of those heaps, pulled it up, and started again. I now have my first hand-made sweater.

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