Monday, June 26, 2017

Yarn Is Life

As some of you may know, I've become slightly obsessed with knitting. It never ceases to amaze me that two sticks and a bit of string can make pretty much make anything short of an internal combustion engine. But lately I think it's more than just the end product of knitting that keeps me going, it's the metaphor for life that it is. Let me explain.

1. Take on new challenges.
My friend/cousin Eileen taught me how to knit using some scrap acrylic yarn and chopsticks. And after some fits and starts, I became the scarf queen. But I limited myself to rectangular objects until I met my neighbor, Sarah. I told her I wasn't able to take on more complicated projects and she said, "Bullsh*t." (maybe she said it nicer, but I don't recall) and proceeded to make me knit socks. I knit a few pairs of socks and suddenly there wasn’t any project I wasn’t willing to take a shot at. And life is like that; you can limit yourself to what you know, but it's more fun to take a risk and push yourself, and the rewards are greater (and prettier).

2. Don't be afraid to re-do it.
It is a bit of sport for my church small group to make fun of how many times I'll knit something, take it apart, and then re-knit it. Maybe three times or more. But that's the beauty of yarn: you can use and re-use it until you're happy with the end result. As Sarah has reminded me, you're the boss of the yarn, it's not the boss of you. So if something is not quite the way you want it, do something about it. Don't be afraid to start from the beginning if you have to.

3. Sometimes, though, you gotta let it go.
On the flip side, this ability to rip stuff apart has to be weighed against what you're giving up. I recently completed a complicated cable-knit shawl. Then I noticed a dropped stitch. My small group friends would assume I'd just rip it out and start again, but I have to weigh this against a few other criteria: how noticeable is this flaw? Is it really that big a deal or is it my pride? Is there another project I need/want to move onto? Sometimes you need to make dramatic changes in life, and sometimes you need to let it go and move on.
Where's Waldo?!?

4. Don't rush it.
A recent piece I worked on called for repeating a pattern 28 times. By the fifth repetition, I was ready to be done. Kind of like raising my kids, I wanted to rush through the high maintenance baby-age but, in doing so, I think I missed a few things. And boy-howdy, I'd like time to slow down now that they're older. If I could be like Madame DeFarge (the knitting information into my project, not the hell-bent on revenge part), I'd knit Galatians 6:9 into my next project, because patience and perseverance makes for a nicer piece.

5. Long and boring can result in beauty.
And speaking of patience, just because something is long and boring, doesn't mean the results will be the same. I've knit some pretty complicated stuff. You know what gets the most compliments? You know the piece I use most? A cowl I made that repeated a shell stitch 1,306 times. No fancy cables, no luxurious merino wool, no cool hand dying, just a tube with a repetitive pattern.

6. Don't forget the finish work.
It's tempting to finish a piece and not want to do the finish work of weaving in the ends and blocking. I mean, I just finished knitting a stitch some gazillion times in a row, can't someone else do the tidying up for me? But like any task in life, you need to see things through to the end. No one can do the finish work for you because they all have projects of their own to finish.
A warm bath and rest remedies a lot of problems

7. Share the beauty.
There's only so many shawls I can wear. And half the reason I knit is for the challenge of the project (the other half is to justify the binge-watching). So what to do with the many items produced? Spread the love. 

Dragonwing Shawl for the '16 Junior League of RI Knit a Thon

Dr Who shawl

Chuck Taylors!
Infinity shawl

p.s. If you want to support my yarn habit hobby, check out my Etsy store.
p.p.s. If you want to knit for charity, here's a few.
p.p.p.s. The Junior League of RI Knit-a-Thon is coming up soon. Expect to hear from me!