The Long Game

Have you ever heard of chess players who can keep the game in their heads, so much so that they can keep the next 20, 30 or even 50 of their next moves in their heads? They play the ‘long game’. Their objective is clear. They aren’t surprised or distracted. Each move played against them has a counter move. They may win or lose, but the idea is to hold on to that goal. A child prodigy could lose to an old fox, not by lack of intellect, but experience.

Chess can be a short game or a long game. Knitting is the same. Your first goal is the knit stitch, then the purl. After that, the world is your oyster. You can make scarves the rest of your life, or you could learn to knit in the round to make a hat. From there, sweaters with cables and then lace… the possibilities are endless.

At some point, you may want to sell what you make. Maybe you want to do your own designs. You start to play the long game. What do you need to do, to make your ends look good, hide your loose ends, tighten up your ladders. You find yourself drooling over technique books, not just patterns. You start playing. If you can afford it, you take classes. All of this is a long game. You have a goal- to make the best, maybe even to be the best. Or, you could just be a very good hobby knitter. It’s up to you.

To play the long game, you have to have a goal. As knitters, we tend to find one thing and repeat. Generally, we call them our hat phase, top down sweater phase. Some knitters become spinners. There are distractions, some new yarns that call to you, some pattern you have to knit. That’s okay, as long as you refocus back to your goal. Or maybe you find your goal needs to change. Knitting, like life, is adaptable. Sometimes your chess piece disappears. You adapt and go on.

My right hand is in a brace. My chess piece got swiped. I spent the weekend watching knitting classes. I can always improve my technique and learn new tricks. One of the instructors had a funky left handed purl. I copied it, adjusted it to my needs, and while not perfect yet, I’ve adapted.

So what about the sly old foxes? In this long game, it doesn’t hurt to shut up and learn, to ask questions. Sometimes losing teaches you new tricks. In knitting, you learn as much as you want to. That’s the beauty of it. The game can be long or short, takes twists and turns, but it never ends. You are your own competition.

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