I really like reading. For most of my years, if I started a book I finished it. This strategy did me a great deal of good. One summer when I was a kid, I went to the public library every week and I picked books off the shelf at random. I read each and every one of those books from beginning to end. Some were exciting, some were stupid, some were weird. It was an interesting summer.
I held firm to my beginning-to-end approach until I picked up Middlemarch by George Eliot. This was maybe 20 years ago. This novel is supposed to be a classic. A classic bore, as far as I’m concerned. I tried four times to get past chapter one with no luck. I finally – finally – gave myself permission to not finish the book. An important turning point in my life. Really.
From then on, whenever I feel the need to surrender and accept defeat, I think of Middlemarch. Just as Napoleon had is
I had my Middlemarch. Waterloo
Now for some knitting. I have started many many knitting projects that for whatever reason I decided not to finish. I never really felt defeated by these false starts. It was usually a matter of taste or time. But over a year ago I started a pair of socks from some yarn that I was especially attracted to: black and teal, with very long color changes and nice gradation from one color to the other. The yarn, “ZauberballSock Yarn” by Schoppel Wolle, is 75% wool, 25% nylon. It is a “singles” yarn, not plied. And it is rather thinner than many sock yarns.
My wardrobe could really use a pair of teal and black socks. I swatched. I preferred the fabric that resulted from the size 0 needles better than from the size 1 needles. I knew my aging eyes would not be happy with the black sections of the sock, so I decided on a relatively simple rib pattern for the sock. I had to wear my strongest reading glasses and work under the very best light. But it was still not easy. The black stitches were hard to see; the singles nature of the yarn made it very easy to split stitches; and dropped stitches seemed to disappear instantly. I dreaded the idea of having to unknit and reknit any section – something I expect and plan to do on nearly any knitting project.
In one of my project notebooks I wrote the following entry: “Jan 8, 2013. I started that sock on Nov 27 and finished it today. What a torment.”
At a workshop I taught later in January 2013, I was describing my less-than-enthusiastic attitude about knitting this sock. I really wanted the finished project, but I dreaded the actual knitting. How could I let a measly pair of socks defeat me??!! After all, I am an accomplished knitter. I’ve knitted dozens and dozens of pairs of socks. I love knitting socks. But I just wasn’t sure I could bring myself to knit the second sock.
Katy R., a young woman at the workshop was listening to me complain. She looked at me with her young eyes and a mildly annoyed look of disgust on her face and she said, “Oh, just do it!”
I was mortified. I decided then that I would not let a pair of socks defeat me. I would not surrender. I would just do it!
With determination, I started the second sock. I knitted the cuff. I knitted the leg. Then other fiber projects required my attention so the second sock languished. I mentioned in January 2014 that one of my fiber resolutions was to finish this sock.
But while I was flying to
and knitting a
different pair of socks, I had an epiphany. I simply have too many wonderful
and fun fiber projects ahead of me to waste my time on a dreaded fiber project.
In flight, I surrendered and accepted defeat: My Middlemarch. I planned to
throw away the finished sock, the half finished second sock, and the remainder
of the yarn. Just chuck it! A few days ago I told my friend Marty F. of my
plan. She suggested that I give her the yarn instead of throwing it away. So,
that’s what I did yesterday. Here’s a picture of what now belongs to Marty: Alaska
Oh, I finished the pair of socks that I started on my trip to
A lovely light heathered grey sock yarn, Schoeller Stahl “Fortissima Socka”
yarn, 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon. I made some modifications to the pattern,
“Gentleman’s Sock with Lozenge Pattern”, in Nancy Bush’s book, Knitting
Vintage Socks. A fun knit and a pleasing pair of socks. Alaska
I will continue to enjoy my sock knitting. I will accept technical challenges. But I will not accept dread.