Is the glass half empty or half full? It’s all how you look at it.
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time navel gazing here lately, pondering the greater meaning of life, exactly what talents I do possess and just overall taking stock. I blame the change of season and the start of a new school year for this. Also an upcoming birthday that is bringing along a hint of a mid-life
crisis I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it-because-it’s-not-a-crisis-as-much-as-it-is-some-heavy-duty-life-stuff, that when I talk to friends about why this is forthcoming, all agree, it’s a pretty damn valid impetus and furthermore, I’m handling it pretty damn good, all things considered.
Having cleaned out the happy corner last week, I found a number of discarded or failed projects, leading me to refer to that corner as the corner of project fail. I wrote and discarded no less than 3 posts last week on the subject. My latest and greatest ideas I’ve had bubble up I’ve not been able to carry out – part circumstances beyond my control, part lousy timing, part I just have more work to do on them. Either way, I’ve been feeling frustrated on several levels with a number of things in my life, but mostly myself. At least one friend has told me I need to stop being so down on me and look at things through another perspective. I’ve known this and hearing it was good, but knowing and hearing are far different from actually doing.
I have been working on this orange cowl for almost a year. I have been wanting to try my hand at doing some lace pattern knitting – Edie has her heart set on my knitting her a wonderfully lacy shawl, like one of these. I have not been successful at knitting any sort of lace pattern bigger than a swatch and even that has been full of trial & error. It’s not that I don’t think I can’t do it, it must be that I tend to sit down to knit at the end of the day, I’m tired, I have my wine next to me, I tend to be in front of the tv and well, I guess I lose track of what I’m doing. The sweater I knit for Pat, with all knit stitches in the round until I held it up to him and it was the right length? That type of knitting is far easier than anything pretty & dainty, even if it’s just a small scarf. Paying attention is just not always my strong suit.
I’ve tried several lace patterns from my Treasury of Knitting Patterns and ended up so frustrated, so off my stitch count, that I just ripped it all out and tried again. Someone once gave me a copy of the book “Friday Night Knitting Club” and scattered throughout the book were little gems of knitting advice – my favorite being this:
ripping it out
All you have to do is forgive.
Granted, it was serving to move the plot forward, but it still stands as damn good advice.
So I worked up the courage and ripped the knitting out, a few times. I kept combing through my knitting pattern book, looking for the easiest lace I could find. I finally settled on the vine lace stitch – only two rows to keep track of really and since I was doing a cowl, I was knitting in once piece, in a round, so every other row was knit. I could do this. For a while there, I was doing it. I’d make a mistake but was able to fix it somewhere along the line the next row. I have no idea how, I just kept knitting. Recently I realized my stitch count was off – perhaps the fault of shoving the knitting in a bag which resulted in stitches coming off the needles, perhaps it was just losing track of what I was doing mid-row. Whatever the reason, the stitches are off. I started thinking about ripping it all out and bagging the whole idea. Maybe I should stick to what I know I can knit well, which are cables. I love knitting cables. I recently saw a divine cashmere cowl in a cable pattern that I meant to cut out and stick somewhere as inspiration but I think it landed in the recycling bin on a cleaning kick. Which is fine, because I don’t need more things laying around.
I sat down to watch the final Dexter with Pat the other night. I picked up my knitting, intent on ripping out the cowl. As I held it up in the glow of the tv, I realized that it was not the train wreck I though it was – it was actually sort of interesting and the only person who needed to know how off it is was me. So many of my projects start out one way and become another thing along the way, which is the secret to how creativity works. Google ‘creativty quotes‘ and look at the images that come up. It’s not about doing things perfectly, it’s about trying, it’s about seeing mistakes as not as mistakes, but going down a path you didn’t expect and embracing what comes out of that path.
Just like that, I started getting the change in perspective I needed. It’s hard to change your way of thinking in an instant – just knowing you need to get out of that mindset isn’t always enough. One needs a push in the right direction and that push can come in a variety of forms – from a talk with a friend, to picking up a project and just working through it. For years I wasn’t good at recognizing that internal voice that was holding me back, these days I am much better at seeing me as others see me – capable of doing whatever it is I set my mind to. That doesn’t always mean it’s easy, but nobody ever said everything was going to be easy. You just have to try and see what results.
When I picked up the book “Friday Night Knitting Club” to find that rip it out quote, I stumbled upon this one I had forgotten about:
Every knitter has a sweater left unfinished; the bags of bits and pieces stashed away and never picked up again. And why? A change in fashion? A change in season? If that was so, you’d just pull out the stitches and use the yarn for something new. No, there’s a secret hope that makes you hold on, to dream that you’ll get it right someday, that you’ll go back and take it up again and it will finally come out right. That this time all the pieces will fit. The mistake is waiting until you feel renewed enough to give it another try. You simply have to pick up the needles and keep at it anyway.