Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When the Student is Ready

I've been thinking a lot about learning lately. One of those "thinking about lately" phases that makes you see everything through a certain lens... like wandering around wearing a pair of curoisity-coloured glasses.

It started innocuously enough. I knit a sweater for my Knitting Olympics project. I was feeling very smug with 36 hours to go, being that not only was the whole thing knit, it was neatly seamed and ready for its button-band.  It was a Sure Top-of-the-Podium Finish... until I turned the page and realized that the buttonband was ...crocheted. I don't know how to crochet. At all.

I am not proud to admit that my first (and second, and, um, third) approach was to knit a buttonband instead. I knit (and ripped out) three different buttonbands. They were all craptastic.(Which is probably why the designer - a wiser woman than me - designed it that way in the first place.)

I am even less proud to admit that my next instinct was to give up.  I don't know how to crochet. This buttonband is crocheted. My bad for not reading the pattern. Oh well. I'll frog it and make something else. I'll apologize to the designer for whom I was test-knitting. I'd feel really bad about myself for a bit (I'm not so good with the failure), then lick my wounds with a nice safe sure thing like a trusty sock and try never to think of it again. (Like I said, failure is not-my-best-thing.)

I am semi-proud to admit (semi- because it took this long...) that instead, I dug out my Nana's ancient Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery, looked up the chapter on crocheting, and, with 19 hours to go, red-faced at how easy it was once I read the instructions, crocheted my first-ever buttonband, and earned my first ever Knitting Olympics gold.

Caitlin's Cardi by Sweatshop of Love
Paton's Classic Wool in Dark Grey

Since then, I've had a few meaningful conversations that have really gotten me thinking about the willingness to learn, and the ability to absorb the lessons when they do appear.  Last week, a brand new co-worker told me that when I "over-explain" things to her, it makes her feel like I think she's stupid. (I don't.) My "over-explaining" was what I genuinely thought I was "being helpful", and, all the while, I was getting offended by her "yep got its" and "ya of courses", assuming that she was trying to shut me up (she wasn't) because she had no respect for me (she does). The conversation was amazing in retrospect. I wouldn't have had the nerve to tell her that she was offending me if she hadn't done it first, and we cleared up what could have been a destructive and on-going problem.

It stung when she pointed this out to me, but it hurt because she's right: I go on and on, especially if I'm passionate about what I'm talking about. It's a fault of mine. I've known it on some level for a long time, I guess, but until my co-worker presented the heat-of-the-moment challenge - we did have to resolve it to be able to move forward - I hadn't bothered to really learn the lesson.

So I'm working on being a good student.  Whether the teacher is a colleague or a cardigan.

P.S. Please remind me of this tomorrow night after - wait for it - my first golf lesson. Take that, New Year's Resolutions!