Oh, hey there, end of March! Where did you come from? I’ve been absent from blogging for the last five weeks or so, and as usual many changes are afoot. (I am beginning to suspect that “Change” might be the overarching theme of my life for the foreseeable future.) The past month has been very full – what with Rose City Yarn Crawl, Mr’s promotion and subsequent transfer to help manage an office in another city, Easter… I’ve
had little time made little time for knitting, beyond completing a cute little test-knit baby cardigan. Mostly the absence has been due to a slight detour into selfish knitting: the edges of my knitterly map, Uncharted Territory. There be dragons here.
Take, for example, my current work-in-progress. The latest shipment of my KnitCircus yarn club subscription, a fingering weight blend of superwash merino, cashmere, and nylon in a colorway appropriately called “Spring Fever,” just called to be knit up into a lacey, drapey, beaded shawl. In high spirits, I cast on, hoping to have it done in time for Easter Sunday. Naturally, that didn’t happen. I think I’m caught in a knitting loop. I keep casting on, knitting a bit, then frogging all that work; only to start again with the same intended outcome.
I’ve tried three different patterns, and I have very little to show for my efforts. No finished object. No light and lacy wrap for my shoulders, twinkling with exquisite little beads. Nope, I have a hastily-rewound yarn ball leaking little tendrils of fingering weight cashmere in every direction, and a giant blob on the needles that may or may not soon start to fuzz and pill from all the action.
So, friends you might find yourself wondering, “What’s the hangup?” I think I’ve finally figured it out: I have issues with “selfish knitting.”
Truth be told, I don’t always enjoy knitting for myself. It’s that label, the S word.
That word is full of negative connotations. Full of guilt. Knitting for myself is tantamount to confronting my feelings (and devaluation) of self-worth. It feels almost like a waste of time. Why spend that precious knitting time and mojo on myself, when I have others for whom I do enjoy knitting? My work is improving – but it’s still far from perfect. Other people probably won’t notice (or, will be too polite to mention) small mistakes that I would notice and be bothered by. Not to mention, knitting The Precious might break it; therefore I feel obligated to find the Perfect Pattern™ so as to use my very best yarns completely, to use them to best advantage.
To combat this, I’ve been signing up to help other designers test their kniting patterns. Following someone else’s directions and offering technical suggestions or critique helps to dispel the nagging of my inner critic. There is an innate sense of trust and adventure, without the looming risk of failure or feelings of self-doubt. After all, the whole purpose of testing a pattern is to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you simply rewrite the instructions, recalculte the math, and try again.
Selfish knitting is so much more difficult, in part, because I typically have a very specific artistic vision for the type of Thing I want to end up with, but my practical knitting and design skills are not yet proficient enough to produce it. And so I knit, and frog, and knit, and frog. Eventually, all that time and effort results in a Knitted Thing that stays knit. Sometimes, I keep the Thing, though more often I don’t.
It’s going to take some time to come to peace with knitting for myself, and overcoming the unnecessary feelings of obligation to The Precious. There will always be good yarn in the world. And I am also worthwhile, and worth knitting for.
In the meantime, I have successfully completed 67 rows of shawl, and that’s a good start.