I started knitting and writing at about the same time, which was at age 13, around Christmas when I got both yarn and a small typewriter. Back then, I would say I was equally bad in both crafts. My first knitted item got some teasing, enough that I exchanged my knitting needles for a crochet hook for a long time and didn't show anyone my writing until I got to college—where I got horribly criticized by one persistent classmate for writing romance. It didn't matter. I still kept writing.
In my early twenties, I finally got back into knitting. By age 33, I was making elaborately cabled women's sweaters, but only from patterns. They looked pretty good except maybe the gauge was a bit off. Also that year, my first two romances were published. They were also pretty good, except they didn't exactly catch the world by storm either.
I gave up knitting again for the next several years as I pursued my dream and had six more romances published. Then I had to take a break from writing for family matters, and I took up knitting for babies in need to cope with the stress. By 2007, I got skilled enough from all that practice to make my first projects without a pattern—two v-neck, knitted from the top down, women's cardigans, with crocheted shell trim. Finally, when the hubby retired, I was able to make a come-back with my ninth published romance, and a sale for my tenth book—a personal milestone.
Looking at history like that, I can see my progress in both writing and knitting. I've come a long way, despite setbacks. In almost all respects. Today, Christmas, 2008, I sit here wanting to design from scratch a wonderful sweater with elaborate cables and a hood that people will oooh and ahhh over. But I'm doubting I can pull it off. I'm worrying I'll end up with the front too long and the back too short and two cables on the left front and two and a half on the right. (I'm sure writers can relate to that, too.) And it's silly, I know. But that thirteen-year-old ghost of Christmas past, that Flo who showed her baby knitting to the world and got teased, is visiting me. She's the one making me doubt.
I'd banish her, refuse to cave in to the uncertainty, tell her to GO AWAY, but I can't. I hate the doubt, but I like that Flo, the young girl with huge dreams. She's the one who wanted to get published, told everyone she was going to do it, and refused to give up, no matter what obstacles came—and there were pretty big ones and still are. She's also the one who took up knitting again and refused to give up until she made something nice. The memory of that Flo and how much she wanted to be a writer, no matter who scoffed at her dream, reminds me now that it's okay to keep dreaming of being better than I ever was before. To keep hoping for it. To keep striving for it. In knitting and in writing. If I forget what I once was, I might not become who I could be.
The doubts? I don't get teasing or scoffing any more, so I think the doubts might just be there to replace them and keep me humble. And believe me, they work.