Stitch-by-stitch, slowly but surely

Howdy hey neighbors. Hope your day finds you well and joyful. Before I forget, Coal wanted to express his thanks for all the kind words you had to say of him. He wishes he could accept it with great humility, but cannot deny he already knows how cute he is and that the scar on his neck is going to make him that much cooler among his feline friends and the strawberry patch creatures.

South Dakota kitty

It’s been a week of rain and house-quivering thunder on this South Dakota farm – much needed and appreciated. Last Friday I mowed like a mad woman, and while in search for a piece of wire to connect the bagger to the mower (I lost the key the first day), I nearly tripped over this passerby:

South Dakota turtle

He blended in so well that I overlooked him the first time, but my surprise turned into excitement as this ancient-looking reptile stared us (Tobi and I) down.

South Dakota turtle

The nails!

South Dakota turtle
A 22-inch 40+ year-old snapping turtle made my day.

South Dakota turtle

Looking for a pond. Can you help a brother out? (Yes)

I thought of Turtle today, driving north on the ripped up gravel roads toward my older neighbor’s home. Marlene is her name, and she’s teaching me how to knit. And like Turtle, learning this new skill has been slow going. But I am determined, because as Marlene pointed out, I need something to keep me busy during harvest and long winter months. Marlene is right.

Today marks my fourth lesson, and today my mind and fingers have clicked with understanding on how to fine motor the steps. I can cast on. I can knit. Is it pretty? That’s a big no. But I am doing it.

Plus, I have some pressure breathing down my neck, and she comes in the form of a nine-year old granddaughter next door. She’s a self-proclaimed “caster master”, and Marlene has made sure to remind me of this knitting whiz.

Learning something new is dang hard. For me, knitting is a generationally-minded skill, keeping me focused.

I cannot wait to knit cool things. Like a Christmas sweater for Country Man. He’ll love it!

What have you learned that has proven challenging? What drives you to press on? Have you been fortunate to have an older person teach you something that will last a lifetime?

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68 thoughts on “Stitch-by-stitch, slowly but surely

  1. I tried knitting, even joined the knitting club at high school. It didn’t work out.
    I got halfway through making a scarf, declared it ugly then threw it out.

  2. That turle means serious business! Wowza! My mom tries to teach me how to knit every few years or so. LOL I’ll get the basic stitch down, make a very long scarf or potholder, then I forget again years later. It is very relaxing though…maybe I should take it up again. My mother did manage to teach me how to play piano and I still play today, absolutely LOVE to play piano and sing.

  3. Congrats on taking up a new hobby! I would have to say that like you knitting has proven to be a bit of a challenge as well. I’ve been doing it for a couple years now starting with books and YouTube lessons. Got my first formal lesson from a friend (much younger than I) a few months ago. Sadly, I have not yet moved beyond a simple scarf. A sweater I attempted is still only a few inches in. I have had more success with knitting looms making scarves, hats, and even a wet felted bag. As far as lessons from older, wiser ones, I have a friend who I take inspiration from in writing and of course my mother-in-law has taught me a few of my husband’s favorite meals. Thanks for the post! How big is that turtle anyway?

  4. My sister taught me to knit years ago – I wanted to learn because I loved the sound of the needles “clicking”. But, crocheting was more my cup of tea (my mom had taught me to crochet when I was a child.)
    That turtle looks HUGE – I was wondering how big he was too?

  5. My husband’s great-aunt taught me how to do embroidery (on towels) and I love it!! Really want to do more of it, just have to get the supplies!

  6. I knit every winter for me and mine and they have all been gifted with what (I hope) will become hand made hand me downs. heirlooms. Persist and it will all come together for you. Puss is delicously gorgeous ( and knows it) and turtle majestic.

  7. Ok, I’m totally impressed that you’re learning to knit and having success. That was a big FAIL for me this winter, but I did learn to crochet…just plain and simple crochet. One thing at a time, right? That turtle is kind of incredible, but I might have gotten a little freaked out if it stared me down. ;-)
    -FringeGirl

    • lol, I couldn’t believe my pup made it back safe from that thing! By the end of the move back to a nearby lake, he was hissing like mad. As for knitting, the first three lesson with Marlene felt hopeless, but by the fourth it just started to make sense. Don’t sell yourself short; crocheting is a great skill too!

  8. I learned to knit from my one grandmother and to crochet from the other one. My mother taught me to sew, and my grandpa to fish. I LOVE to bead and make jewelry, though, that is my favorite craft. I use lots of seed beads for my woven projects, to me that is far more fascinating than simply stringing beads (although I am not adverse to whipping up something to go with a new outfit). I think that everyone needs something to do with their hands that they can simply lose themselves in.

  9. I learned to knit, crochet and make bobbin (pillow) lace as a young girl. These days it’s learning all about gardening, both flowers and vegetables. I am fortunate to have an older lady friend across the way who does it all… I am thankful to have her knowledge and skills to help me along.

    The snapper is a dandy. I don’t see them on our property much because we have no water nearby. However, just today I readied myself to pick a few strawberries that I was waiting for just the correct ripeness… and alas, they were gone. Tonight I found the culprits. Yes, two box turtles milling about still in the strawberry patch. Little devils… ya gotta love them!

  10. I taught myself how to knit & crochet a couple of years ago…made a few scarfs and even a couple of baby toys for a friend….then apparently, I taught myself how to forget everything I learned! I never got the hang of it enough for it to be relaxing and easy…I was always counting and had to concentrate too much….which as you know requires a lot of time that I do not have!!! :)

    I showed the turtle pics to the boys……they want one!!! :0

  11. Love the turtle! I am much smaller ones in my backyard. In response to your question, I am currently teaching myself how to speak French. Even though it can be difficult at times, I persist on because my goal is to Travel to Giverny, France and paint in Monet’s garden and I want to be able to converse with the local people. Unfortunately, I do not have anyone to help me achieve my goal except myself and no one to practice conversing with so at this point I can understand more French than I can speak. It’s great that you are teaching yourself something new, we should all be lifetime learners:)

  12. That is one huge turtle!!

    Hmmm… Well, finishing a task, goal, or resolution, etc. that I set out to do. My son is one of the main reasons that I am pushing forward with completing my resolutions, because 1) I want to teach him to be a man of his word and do what he sets out to do and 2) I want him to learn to never give up. No matter how many times he falls down along the way. I want him to know perseverance. I want him to know and love the feeling of accomplishment when he completes what he set out to do.
    My grandfather had a saying that he taught us at a young age… “Be it big or be it small, do it right, or not at all.”
    I haven’t always put that to use, but lately it has become my personal motto.My grandfather is gone now, but his memory lives on and when Bugaboo gets a little older, I will teach it to him as well.

  13. Oh happy day! I love your posts and blog and so I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. If you choose to accept my nomination, the strings that come attached are well worth the recognition. Do you accept my nomination?
    Here are the rules:
    1. You must create a blog about your acceptance in which you mention that I nominated you, you accept, and provide a link to my site.
    2. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
    3. Provide the links to 7 blogs YOU wish to nominate for this award.
    4. Notify each blogger that you nominated them and ask them if they want to accept the award. If they do, just share the rules with them.

    Keep up the excellent work. You have a loyal follower and I hope you get many more from this gesture.

    All the best, Marija

  14. One tough turtle dude you show there! Knitting is on my list to learn some day. I need to find an older teacher. The toughest thing I learned how to do as an adult was to golf. I could not figure out why those little old white-haired ladies could hit the ball so far when I was younger than they and for sure much bigger. One day one of them took me out in her golf cart and patiently showed me how finesse, not muscle, is the key to the game of golf. I don’t golf often, but I am glad that I can do it if asked by good company or if traveling to places where the golf course may have the best view. And it is something you can do as you get older. Knitting is nice for the winter and it can also be done during long car trips so knowing how to do it will come in handy.

    • Both my parents are golfers, and I am pretty sure that gene skipped me. Maybe when I get a little older I will appreciate it. And you’re so right on the knitting thing! Just yesterday my husband had to run up to Iowa (a three hour drive one way) for parts, and I tagged along. I got lots of knitting practice in! Hope you find a kind older woman to show you how to knit.

  15. Glad you are learning a new skill. Always handy and I am sure your hubby will have need of a sweater, scarf, mittens or whatever you knit him this winter.
    I have been teaching a few young ladies to quilt and it has been fun.
    The turtle looks like he/she needs a manicure, but might not appreciate if you try.
    Have a good week.
    Mylene

  16. I adored Mr. Turtle; didn’t he look as though he was staring YOU down? Like he had a British accent and was rather put upon to be — hmmph – photographed!

    I wish I had someone older in my life now to teach me things but I am grateful that my Grandmother Pearl, who cooked for the Canadian Railway and had multiple marriage proposals before accepting my Grandfather’s, let me linger in her kitchen on summer days to watch her work her magic. Her measuring consisted of “a handful of flour, butter the size of an egg,” etc. and everything – and I mean every single thing she made was pure heaven to taste.

    Good luck on the knitting; let’s hope for a future post with Country Man sporting something you’ve knitted :) MJ

    • I loved the story of your Grandmother. I imagine she was quite beautiful! And Turtle was very snobby toward me, but I don’t think he expected to waddle upon a farm at all, haha, much less a pup and a woman with a camera in his face. I guess we’re just not cultured enough for his tastes :)

  17. I’m learning a new trade as well! Different techniques on dog grooming. Hand stripping and different tools and procedures that are suppose to help de stress the field of dog grooming. I don’t have anyone that is an old sensei but it’s amazing what you can learn from all the girls that came to learn and we all mutate into our own grooming methods that we’ll eventually teach those who are newer to the field. It’s amazing what the power of watching someone else can really do. I’ve spent the last two weeks just watching other groomers and their ways and I’ve learned so much. Now time to get my hands dirty! Good luck on your knitting trade and I’m excited to see the outcome of what you have so patiently taken the time to learn!

  18. I learned to crochet when I was 6, so it comes really easy to me, since that was more than 30 years ago-and it pains me to admit that! :) I have done some knitting, but haven’t ever really done it well. I guess my brain is just wired for crochet. I still do knitting, when patterns call for a bit of it here and there.

    Recently, I’ve learned more than just the basic for quilting. I found paper piecing to be challenging at first. Until I sat at the machine and puzzled it out. My biggest problem is I am a hands on learner. I can read anything in a book or pattern, but to make it work, I have to *do* it.

    My next task, is to teach my Kid how to do some of the creative fabric and fiber arts. She’s 10 now, so it’s time! I am even contemplating making up a class for her school, and teaching interested kids there.

  19. I’m with Thoughtsappear. I had no idea those turtles had such long tails and nails. He’s an intimidating-looking fellow. I hope Coal doesn’t try to take him on.
    Good luck on the knitting. It’s a great skill to have. (Not that I have that skill, but it seems great. :) )

    • lol! I don’t doubt that you have many skills! As for Turtle, it’s been predicted he is at least 40 years-old, which just baffles me for some reason. When the neighbor guy pushed him into the garbage bin to bring him back to water, the claws and hisses came out strong. Coal is safe for now :)

  20. Actually, if I can learn to knit, anyone can! As a confirmed crocheter, it still seems ungainly to me but I’m learning, too. I find that felting those early projects hides a multitude of sins. I also found the “knitting for dummies” book a good resource.
    The toughest thing I ever learned was saddleseat english riding on an American Saddlebred horse. I thought I was a dang good western rider with some huntseat (jumping) experience thrown in until I fell in love with these huge giraffe like saddlebreds. Lots of verticle motion and a flat little english saddle with nothing to hang onto. But I screwed up my 42 year old courage and found a very, very patient trainer and after a good long time finally became a darn good saddleseat rider. Along with that came the equine love of my life, Mr. Parker, and I lost 8 dress sizes to boot!
    So, I know you can do the knitting thing just keep at it and pay no attention to the young “whippersnapper” – they’re faster at learning most things but they don’t have our wisdom! :-)

    • I love that attitude about knitting! That’s been my approach to learning new things as well. I will have to check out the Knitting for Dummies book. I bought another one of those books and found them very resourceful.

      And oh how I would love to see some photos of your horses and riding. You hold onto nothing when riding? That just seems plain terrifying to me.

      Thanks for your words of encouragement; I look forward to showcasing my first something down the road! It might not be the fanciest thing you’ve ever laid your eyes upon. :)

  21. Ooooh you are SO LUCKY!!!!!! I’ve wanted to learn how to knit for so long, but I can’t teach myself. I’ve tried books, watching videos, forget it. I need a human being to show me and I’ve yet to find anyone with the time (or patience?) to sit with me and go through the process step by step. Some have suggested knitting circles – I haven’t been able to find one of those either! ARGH! Please knit something so that I may live vicariously through you and pretend I too can knit.

    As for being taught things, my husband has taught me an awful lot about home renovation. I can now lay tile, install drywall, put down wood flooring, and even build things, like small pet cages (!) which should come in handy with our latest acquisition. 6 BABY CHICKS. I’m in HEAVEN!!

    • I bet you’d love it. I couldn’t imagine learning to do it myself; I need someone to guide me along and help answer questions. Now that I have the idea of it, I can tell things are going to move along much quicker.

      With all that your husband has taught you, you could run your own business! And six baby chicks – how fun for you all! What do you plan to do with them? Hope to see some pics of them :)

  22. Incredible turtle! Loved the pictures. I used to knit, though very slowly, when I was a young mother. I started a beautiful pink sweater with an intricate pattern for my little girl who was two at the time. By the time I finally finished it, she was much older and it was too small, so I made my little boy wear it! He was too young to care (I hope!)

  23. Aw I love these pictures, and all of this. :) Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog post last week! :)

    Hmm, I generally learn things relatively quickly but in terms of retaining them… not so much. I think I’ve learned to crochet about 5 times and can never remember ;)

    Oh, there WAS a Skip-It debacle when I was about 7…. if your’e not familiar with skip-its (or if you want to be nostalgic ;) ): http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2049243_2048660_2049212,00.html
    Basically I could not figure it out for the life of me but I was ANYTHING but patient… there was a LOT of tantrum-ing involved, unfortunately.

    I like to think I’m a little more patient now but I”m still easily frustrated ;)
    best of luck to you in your knitting endeavors! :) <3
    n

    • Of course, I loved your “big” brother birthday shout-out. And those homemade cookies look scrumptious. Take care!

      PS. Remember those skip-its, very nice travel down memory lane. I figured them out and got bored very quickly, I remember. But I was probably a few years older at the time, which helps :)

  24. My mother was a great knitter and so is my daughter, but me – I am a so so knitter.
    What did I learn from an older and wiser woman – never regret. You can’t go back so go only forwards. :)

  25. What have I learned that has proven a challenge? Well, considering that when I got married ten years ago I knew nothing about keeping house, I would say cooking, cleaning, laundry, baking, etc was challenging. Then, when I started staying at home I learned to crochet, sew, and bake better but it has not come easy. I think what’s kept me going is the sense of accomplishment I get when I complete a project like a dress for my daughter.

  26. Every time I am blessed with time with my Grandmother (once a year at most) she teaches me how to knit. And then re-teaches and re-teaches. Each time I consider it a failed attempt and have high hopes of one day sticking to it! I too consider it a generational trade that ought to be passed down and kept in the family. In fact, she has been teaching me the Swedish version of knitting. The toughest part of that is that I cannot even youtube it for repeated instruction after she has left and gone back to Minnesota leaving me to try hard and remember which needle goes where. I give you props, girl! If not for yourself, do it for me!

  27. That is the biggest freaking snapping turtle I have ever seen! They do not get nearly that big in Ohio. Of course, if that sucker was found here, he/she probably would’ve been soup.

    Knitting is a great skill to have! Once you’ve gotten the basic stitches down, dishcloths are nice quick projects to do. And if they’re not pretty, who cares? The dishes sure won’t.

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  30. !!!!!! I love him! That is incredible. I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s crazy to think they just hang out and live over there…

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