Healing, calming, empowering, focusing, creating, connecting — it seems there is more to knitting than meets the eye.
A few pages into Follow The Yarn by Reba Linker and you might be inclined to think you’re reading a knitting manual.
Then you become drawn into a whole other story about Ann.
With another twist you suddenly realize this book is really about Reba’s personal journey of growth.
Only to be followed closely behind by the little bits of yourself appearing between the lines.
Four stories knitted seamlessly into the simplicity of one.
The work of our hands, of my hands, was a legacy to be cherished.
Ann gave of herself fully and saw every person for who they really are.
In her presence, you. were. seen.
And began to see yourself too in new ways, along with what had been forgotten.
While Ann taught others to knit, what became knitted together reached far beyond yarn.
Often, the simplest action takes 10 times longer to read about than to do.
Without a doubt, knitters will have a well worn and dog-eared copy of the book.
The learnings and experience of a master craftswoman have been shared openly for all to benefit. Because that’s who Ann was.
But so too should dog-eared and highlighted copies be found in the hands of those experiencing change in their lives.
Give yourself fully to this story because a single reading is barely scraping the surface.
Ten may not be enough either, for each contemplative journey through reveals even more food for thought.
And each time you read through, pay close attention to your body awareness. You might just find Ann’s presence sitting with you too.
Reba graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her experience and the process behind the book.
Hope you’ll enjoy this peek behind the scenes we don’t often have a chance to glimpse.
What first captured my curiosity was in the middle of class “a small voice within me piped up. ‘I want to write about Ann’, it said. I kept very still, hoping the voice would go away.” I can identify. Tell us a bit more about that pesky voice. What type of relationship do you have with it, and have other such projects been suggested? What made this suggestion different?
First, Lorraine, thank you so much for inviting me! I love your questions, and I am so happy to be here, interacting with your ‘tribe.’
To answer your question, I’m a ‘creative type,’ so I get lots of ‘inspirations’ all the time, whether for a new project, or just to move the furniture around my living room! I have more ideas than I can keep up with – which is its own kind of challenge, as I am sure many of us know.
What made this ‘inspiration’ so strange was that it seemed to come from left field, and from outside my own volition. I literally heard a small voice and it quite startled me. It didn’t ‘make sense,’ in that I hardly considered myself a writer at that time (I had only just written a children’s comic-book-style book about compost, The Compost Heroes), and this was a beginner’s knitting class, so I certainly was not a knitting authority.
But that is exactly what was wonderful about the situation. It came like a gift, from as if outside myself, and when I finally agreed to take the project on, it was a bit like a treasure hunt: I was following the trail of that voice, hoping to discover where it was leading me. After several false starts and wrong turns, it eventually led me to a great treasure, which was a long-awaited healing and much greater self-knowledge – none of which I could have possibly predicted from the start. (In the beginning, I simply thought I would collect my teacher Ann’s knitting tips and print a few copies for my classmates. Looking back, I feel a sense of divine guidance in taking on the project.)
You mentioned there came a point of writer’s block and couldn’t move forward. Unless you put yourself into this compilation of knitting notes, you would have another unfinished project. Can you describe the inner process you were going through at the time and what tipped the scales allowing you to move forward again.
This was definitely a case of needing to take the time and introspection to see what the block was all about. As a child, I played a role in my family that called for putting others’ needs before mine, to a rather extreme degree. As I wrote about my knitting teacher, Ann, I had the epiphany that I was doing with her what I had done in my family, and in much of my professional life as well: highlighting others to the exclusion of my own identity. This is not to say that Ann was not well worth highlighting – she was an interesting, unique and wonderful woman! – rather, this is to say that I needed to come out of hiding myself, and allow my story to share the pages with Ann’s story.
That meant that I needed to talk about my resistance in the book! I had to share me, and that was what I was feeling and thinking, so in it went! Omg! I was mortified! Was I really going to talk about my family in the middle of a knitting book!?! Dared I step into the spotlight like that? And yet, I was committed to ‘follow the yarn.’ So I took (many) deep breaths, and began to share myself in the book in a very honest way, for the first time, allowing myself to speak the truth about my family and my feelings.
You know, I find it so interesting that, in taking a little of the focus off Ann, I feel that I actually was able to offer a much deeper portrait of who she was. She provided me with the space to finally be me. That gift, paradoxically, shines a spotlight on how wonderful she was, what an incredible healing presence she was. My interaction with her says more about her – on the deepest level – than any description possibly could. She had an uncanny ability to touch people’s lives, and she certainly touched mine.
You discuss the meaning behind Follow The Yarn. In letting go of the end, you begin paying attention to what is appearing. Next steps come into focus rather than being stuck in defining entire outcomes. In the time since you took the knitting class and wrote the book, by continuing to “follow the yarn”, how has your wisdom and experience deepened around your message to “follow the yarn”?
This is a lesson that I have to learn over and over! In ‘Follow the Yarn’ I describe it as ‘ending-itis,’ which is the sickness of wanting to know the end of the story while still in the middle of it! I have come to believe that this is at the core of the maladies of our times: overly goal- or achievement-oriented; hoping for, worrying about, or fearing a future that is not yet here; pinning hopes for happiness upon future results. What all this means, of course, is that we miss out on the precious moment, the NOW, which is the only time there is.
I know this so well, and I see so clearly how ‘ending-itis’ trips me up, and trips others up as well. It has become the core of my work with myself and with others to translate this intellectual knowing to inner knowing; to truly be in the NOW, and to bring all those goals, wishes and dreams into the present.
Many of the Ann-isms or nuggets of knitting pearls (pun intended) apply to life as well. Which ones are your favourite or have found most relevant in your life?
Ann had a knack of bolstering her students’ self-esteem through simple lessons about knitting. I find this one particularly apt: “Your work is worth quality ingredients.” This simple statement applies to any activity and is a wonderful coaching tool: how can you best support your own efforts? Do you give yourself the time and energy you need to do the work that is important to you? How can you support your own efforts more whole-heartedly? How can you care for yourself and value yourself more fully?
Is there a question you are just waiting to be asked, but haven’t yet? And your answer would be?
That’s easy – “What’s next!?” Writing ‘Follow the Yarn’ was a major step towards self-acceptance and self-expression. It has been a glorious experience, and it has given me so many gifts to share with my clients. I am excited to be writing a new book, very much concerning how to overcome ‘ending-itis’ and how to achieve the greatest possible happiness in the present moment. It sounds so simple, yet it in truth it takes great mastery of the ‘game of life’ to live in the present moment. My new book (to be published later this year) is a thorough exploration of how to do just that, full of stories and exercises designed to help uncover our inner knowing.
Thank you & blessings!
Thanks Reba for sharing your personal journey with all of us.
I hope others will follow your inspiration to jump in even when things don’t totally make sense and see where they’re led.
Amazingly wonderful things happen just beyond our imagination.
Reba Linker is a coach and author specializing in inspirational books for women. Her book, Follow the Yarn, leads by example, encouraging others to ‘follow their own yarn,’ tell their stories and discover their true voice. Exciting things are happening, with a new book and courses coming out later this year.
Follow the Yarn is available on Lulu.com and wherever books are sold online.
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chief nudging officer
Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.