Knit one…

I learned something new… and for me at least it’s kind of cool.

When you have dyslexia and some features of dyspraxia, things just don’t come as easily as they probably would to the general population.

I struggle with dexterity all the time, I literally am a clumsy fool… except I’m not stupid even tough it might look like I am when it takes me months to figure out how to open an medicine ampule without crushing it, or give myself a needle stick injury twice before I figure out how to take the cap of a needle correctly. I often think people think I’m stupid but honestly most of the time I’m aware of what I should be doing and just as frustrated as my teacher in that simple manual tasks which I understand in theory seems to take me so long to master. The constant admission of failure is at times embarrassing but I persevere and I do get there in the end… I’m just less coordinated than average

I’ve always been this way and actually I was much worse in childhood. As a youngster, I couldn’t hit a tennis ball with a racquet until at least secondary school. I was that kid who had to hold a teachers hand just to walk along a bench in gym never mind a balance beam, which doesn’t win you any favors in the popularity stakes.  Thankfully over the years things have improved.

I have to say at this point that, in general, my mentors at work are very supportive and I’m always supervised. Basically I simply refuse to give up until I master something. I do live with the almost constant fear that I’ll come up against a skill that I simply can’t master… but among students of my profession  I’m sure I’m not alone.

Anyway, over the last few weeks I taught myself to knit.

It’s something I have been curious about since about age 9. Lots of the women in my family do; my mum, my aunts and my grandmother are all able to reel off knitting rows at speed. At age nine I thought it might be cool to learn, so I asked my mum to teach me. Well, granny was staying with us at the time and so the unfortunate task fell to her.
It played out as one of the most frustrating hours of my life, as my gran tried to describe, show and teach me a basic knit stitch. Needles and wool out of control, I recall her gripping my fingers and trying to force my hands to perform the action correctly which felt awkward and hurt. There were tears on both sides and a massive argument as she just couldn’t understand why I was failing. She proudly showed my mum the scarf “WE” had produced for my baby doll and mum was over the moon. However, I was embarrassed that in reality I didn’t feel I had done any of it.  I promptly decided as most kids would have at that age that knitting was not fun and clearly beyond me. I resolved never to do it again.

This “I can’t knit” attitude has stuck with me right into adulthood. I have a number of very crafty people on my Facebook feed and always admire their knitted creations. Recently, when some of my friends and fellow students were knitting baby hats to be donated to various hospitals, I decided to give knitting a second chance.

Armed with part one of a magazine series and the accompanying DVD recommended by a crafty pal, I started… and after 2 hours I was none the wiser and by now getting really sick of hearing the simple instructions on repeat. So I turned to YouTube and looked up a helpful video called “Casting on – super slow version” finally with another 40 minutes of fumbling with my needles I’d cast on my first row and was pretty pleased with myself..

Over the next 3 weeks I painfully, slowly began row by row to knit my first simple square. It was malcoordinated and slow slow slow, but I was doing it and that felt GREAT.

Great that is until…  I began to suspect I was running out of wool and my square was still looking more like a rectangle… UGGGHH. I totally didn’t want to admit defeat and start over, so stubborn as I am I carried on… and on and on… in denial. Almost literally to the last strand when defeat was obvious.

The pattern had asked me to cast on 44 stitches or keep going till I had a 20 cm row. Well, 20 cm in my first row was about 88 stitches to me but by the time I got to row 4 I discovered that my precious square was 30 cm long. Eventually, I did unravel the whole thing… and at this point I almost gave up again.

But now that I did persevere and have finished, it actually looks better than my first attempt.

Sometimes when things aren’t right its best to pull them apart and start over.  I could do with remembering this lesson haha.

I think I’m going to send this horrifically pink square of knitting to my mum….

It really reminded me that perhaps nothing is impossible… if only we’d keep trying.


Ali xX

At a young age ….part 1 of my revelation.

Four cousins in my family are younger than me – 2 boys and 2 girls. There’s quite an age gap – there are 5 years between me and the next in line (excluding my brother who is two years younger then me) and 12 years between me and the youngest.  I have memories of all four as babies; stories which could probably be used to cause much embarrassment,. I’m sure. I really don’t remember all that much about my aunt on my dad’s side being pregnant. I know that she did come to stay with us. I’ve seen the pictures of her chasing me and my brother in our back yard with a very large bump and some questionable maternity dungarees.  They are precious.  I’m not really sure I was aware what was going on. I do remember the insanely colorful necklace she gave me. In fact, I think I still have it in a box somewhere… maybe. The next time they visited with this noisy bundle (who is now grown up and at university) I do remember watching in awe as my auntie cared for him. I couldn’t stop looking at this wriggling, gurgling person. I wanted to hold and cuddle and help.  I think my parents had a hard time convincing me that maybe I should let his parent push the pram, seen as I could barely reach (mmhumm… short arse all my life!). I felt so proud of myself pushing him to sleep.  I have no idea if my aunt enjoyed trying to change a nappy whilst under interrogation, but I’m guessing not. In my defense, I was only five and didn’t know any better, but still…. I knew babies existed but this one was actually RELATED to me … HOW AWSOME was that! You know what was even cooler? He learned to say my name. Well umm what he actually said was “Ason” the L and the I in Alison were too much at this point. Ohhhh how I giggled soo sooo much EVERY time I heard that “Ason”.  Sheer joy and so amusing.  Sadly, even though I was older, I remember even less about the baby girl this family had two years later. I’m not sure if we saw them less or what.  I do know that my dad doted on my cousin in a way I was not so used to and yep I was probably a little jealous. I’d never really watched him act that way with other kids before.

I recall the day news broke that my mum’s sister was pregnant as if it was yesterday. I was very confused as to why all the adults where huddled round the kitchen table… wait… my dad’s shaking hands with my uncle…  there was some hugging… VERY odd behavior, I thought.  Ohhh I was such a nosy kid. I wanted to know what’s going on… all the adults are being weird and LAUGHING at jokes that make no sense! My dad told me I was gonna have a new cousin. It took a few seconds for the penny to drop… and then I think I took them by surprise. I turned and RAN out of the room at FULL speed SCREAMING for my bother to tell him the EXCITING NEWS!!!!!  I actually remember jumping for JOY in our hallway. At this point, I think the adults may have been laughing AT me, but I just couldn’t keep it all in. My brother’s reaction was much more calm and measured. We remain different in this regard.

Christmas of that year we were at my pregnant auntie’s house. Oooo… exciting. I watched her with the same curious eyes. She moved different. Her belly was pretty obvious. I listened to her telling my mum stories of buying maternity clothes and having to change into then in the store RIGHT THERE because she was too uncomfortable. I thought that was a little silly. It made me laugh. I listened to them discussing the whole “could she have a glass of champagne at New Year’s” Apparently the midwife had said half a glass would be ok. For Christmas we were drinking this bubbly non alcoholic stuff that looked JUST like champagne.Yeah, I asked my mum to check. It wasn’t.  Ooohhh and when I was allowed some, I felt really grown up. My aunt had really sore back which apparently had something to do with the fact that she was a kick ass black belt in karate and could still put my brother in a head lock between her knees when he was misbehaving. lol Fun times!  I REFUSED to believe her when she told me the baby got hiccups. REFUSED. Nooooooooooooooo that’s silly!! …and then she showed me.

I’m not sure that she knew, but umm this was defiantly a life changing moment for me. I didn’t feel like joking anymore and I wanted to keep my hand there FOREVER. I was lost for words and my head was soo soo soo full of question after question after question that I didn’t dare ask. I mean how does that feel, does it hurt… does it happen often… and so many more… and that’s how the fascination started. BTW, she went on to have two wonderful kids. I was lucky enough to spend a week staying with them just after their daughter was born and the memories are some of the best I have of my aunt and uncle. I’m still grateful that I got that opportunity.

I volunteered in the library during high school and when the librarian became pregnant with her third daughter.  I think I asked waaaaay more questions than was polite looking back on it. I badly wanted to feel that child moving too but I thank goodness I drew the line at actually asking.  I absolutely loved the little stories she would tell me about how her daughters were reacting to mummy’s growing belly… giggling… measuring it for her… I don’t think I could ever hear too many pregnancy stories.

When I got to college, MY FRIENDS started having kids. How grown up you feel takes a BIG shift forwards when someone YOUR age that’s close to you utters those words “I’m pregnant”. I did everything I could to help. I bought them pregnancy books, clothes for the little one… at one point I even offered to have them move into my house.  To be honest it was pretty crazy of me, but they were not in the best situation and I just wanted to do ANYTHING to help. I even went to an ante natal class with mom when daddy couldn’t make it one time. It was at this class I realized that for a woman who’s never been pregnant, who’s not even trying, I KNEW waaay too much about childbirth and pain relief.  The midwife was giving out a lot of information and the percentage of stuff that was new to me was shockingly low.

I’m not telling you how many baby/pregnancy books I own… and have read from cover to cover, but it’s double figures and that’s TOO MANY.

Ali xX