Friday, January 30, 2015

Settling In On A Sweater

I have a distant memory of reading my friend Deb Stoller's book, Stitch 'N Bitch, a part where she went from not being really enthusiastic about knitting to settling down on a long train ride, getting out a sweater she'd started then stopped, and finally it clicked. Obviously it clicked in a really big way since Deb has gone on to build a knitting empire with a series of books, workshops, and all around superstardom in the knitting world.

When I first started knitting in 1986, I made one super tightly knotty scarf, decided I was not into it, and put the knitting down. For fourteen years. Then I picked it back up, and thanks in large part to Deb's book, I totally got into it. To the point that now it is a running, loving joke amongst my friends how I am never seen without knitting, be it at a concert, dinner party, or even on the hiking trails (which I like to do on Monhegan Island-- knit and hike simultaneously).

I'm thinking about this because I've been stopping and starting on the adult version of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket. It's been giving me headaches. I chose really small yarn and tiny needles. At one point I totally messed up the decreases and had to frog a ton. Now I'm on the increases and I think I keep messing it up but I can't even tell. The pattern is very mysterious-- hence the word surprise in the title. And I've had my moments of thinking I'm going to quit. But then, I'm just too far along to frog now. So I'm doing some Faith Based Knitting, not religious faith but Zimmermann Faith. EZ is a goddess among knitters. I'm praying she won't let me down now.

Part of my procrastination had been helped along by the fact that I very often keep at least one other project going when I'm working on something tricky to me. The second project is always easy, and usually easy to the point that it gets bumped up to the Primary Project. Such was the case with a beret I recently finished, picture above in progress. Now I am very tempted to get some easy socks on the needles, but I think that, at least for a few days, I'm going to just keep going with the sweater, see if I can truly get to that Deb on the Train moment, get motivated to really power through.

And if it doesn't happen, well then Hello Easy Socks. I just need to remind myself sometimes that I'm in this knitting game for the calming, meditative aspect of it, not to become some Olympic Gold Medalist Knitter.

There are so many things I love about the Knitting and Yoga Retreats I'm fortunate enough to attend. A big part of it is the camaraderie with other passionate knitters. But more nuanced than the We're A Group of Happy Knitters is also this other thing. I have made so many knitting friends on retreat, many of them with skills so astonishingly honed they can knit circles around me. But instead of some competitive air, I get encouragement and reminders: have fun with it, it's not a contest, enjoy yourself, don't sweat the little errors, just keep calm and knit on.

I'm carrying my knitting friends in my head this week as I work to shift my attitude about this sweater in progress from I'm not sure I can do this to I'm sure it's going to be great because it's great already, just knitting and knitting. 

And so here's to all my wonderful knitting friends-- thank you for support so big and strong that even when we are scattered across the country during the rest of the year, all the love I get from you on Monhegan Island carries me through.

I hope you're knitting something fun right now, and that any challenges are more exciting than frustrating. I also hope that if you haven't yet signed up for the Maine retreat or the Vermont retreat (or both!) that you'll do that soon. All the information you need is over at Knitting and Yoga Adventures. 

Can't wait to see you in the fall.

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