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I’m Not That Girl Anymore

January 29, 2013

On New Year’s Day, I finished a scarf.

Moose and I had spent several days out at our timeshare, basically doing what we had purchased the timeshare for.  Absolutely nothing.  We played games, watched TV, made tasty food, and I knitted on my scarf.

This wasn’t just any old scarf.  It was the first piece I had started when I took up knitting again.  Back when Wit and I were still living together, in the between time of Moose and I’s relationship, at the home that had a walk-in closet big enough for my craft space and fireflies in the backyard.  This soft grey scarf has the dust of three homes, the fur of five cats, and the air of many an outdoor event woven into it.

I’ve taken up knitting before, but never really managed to get into it.  Up until New Year’s Day, I didn’t even know the proper way to bind off a scarf.  Sure, I could start a project.  But I never really seemed to finish anything.  Having a companion on my knitting adventures seemed like just the motivation I needed.

Wit threw herself into the knitting with her usual enthusiastic insanity about any new project.  She cranked out scarves, hand warmers, and baby blankets like a machine.  The instant one project was done, she was casting on another and looking for the materials to the project beyond that.  The knitting bag became her constant companion.  She tended to knit until she ran out of yarn, and then suddenly realize that she had gone a bit overboard.  One late night out at faire, she pulled out the baby blanket she had been working on and held the needles up to her chest.  The thing fell all the way to the ground and puddled.  We all looked on in utter astonishment at the sheer size of it and she said “… I think it’s done.”

I, on the other hand, was a terribly slow knitter.  I loved the process, but I couldn’t seem to make my hands and needles work with the ease that Wit did.  I pulled the yarn too tight or let it hang too loose and never really seemed to find my rhythm.  I bought different needles to cast on different yarn and started other projects.  Despite also carrying the knitting bag just about everywhere I went, I never seemed to make any progress on anything.  Worse, the original scarf was stalled for several months because I had accidentally purchased two slightly different shades of grey and the local craft store couldn’t seem to get any more.

Time passed.  I still liked knitting, but it became a thing I did only very occasionally.  And then, Moose’s aunt was diagnosed with cancer and wanted hats.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming urge to knit.  Hats were small and easy to turn out.  I made several right in a row before the urge sputtered out.  But now I was in the habit.  I had discovered the ease of taking out my knitting whenever I had a moment where my hands were free, and some tips from Middle Sister helped me sort out my needles.  So I picked up my grey scarf again.

I can look back on that original shopping trip with Wit and realize that I was overly ambitious for my starter project.  The two massive skeins of yarn I’d picked up were beautiful, but would take forever to knit at my pace, even if I hadn’t given up somewhere in the middle.  A less ambitious project would have been finished faster and may have done better to motivate me to continue.  But I couldn’t resist the pull of that soft dove grey.

For Christmas this past year, Eldest Sister had the idea of giving everyone consumables.  Mom got canvases to paint and I got a box full of yarn.  I remember looking down into that box and thinking “Oh god, I forgot to tell her I was abandoning eyelash yarn.”  Followed immediately by “That bulky yarn is amazing.  I want to cast that on right now!”  And then the Traitor Voice piped up.  “You never finish anything.”

It ran through the many projects I had started over the years and never finished.  Fabric for skirts sitting neatly folded into boxes.  Paintings half finished.  A shelf of journals partially filled.  Beadwork partially sewn.  Novels that ground to a halt in the middle.  Cross stitch abandoned in a tangle of bright thread.  Even down to my company, which I couldn’t seem to get off the ground as much more than a hobby.

It took days for me to come to terms with that moment.  In the meantime, Moose and I holed up in our little getaway and endeavored to spend as much time as possible in our fluffy robes.  I slept a lot, took a walk through the complex, and went antique shopping by myself.  The alone time cleared my head somewhat (as it usually does) and let me sort through some of what I had been feeling.  But the real moment of clarity came as we were pulling into the driveway of our home.

At some point during the vacation I had noticed I was almost out of the current skein.  I was looking at the third skein and realized that I hadn’t actually looked at the scarf itself in a while.  I pulled the finished part out, held up my needles, and it fell to the floor in a puddle.  “Huh,” I thought.  “I think it’s done.”

From that moment until the instant we pulled into our driveway, I knit all the time.  Watching all the movies and TV gave me a lot of time to mindlessly knit.  I pushed myself to knit faster and smoother.  I spent the car ride home head down over my knitting.  I realized that if I knit fast enough, I might just be able to complete this scarf before we made it home.  And I did.  Just barely.

I bound off that last trailing end and felt so proud.  I thought “I never finish anything!”

Which is when the practical/sensible part of my brain slogged through the muck of self-doubt and started listing things off.  I’d managed to fill that one journal, hadn’t I?  Sure!  Since I’d started blogging online, I couldn’t exactly be said to have *completely* given up journaling.  I just didn’t have a set number of pages to fill any more.  And hadn’t I made all those skirts and shirts for faire?  Sure I had.  I’d even made a number of dresses.  Including my wedding dress, come to think of it.  And maybe I hadn’t managed to get my business off the ground the way I liked, but I had still probably made thousands of pieces of jewelry over the years, both small and large.  So what if I hadn’t taken to beading or cross stitch?  So what if I hated the way my drawings turned out?  So what if I couldn’t finish anything longer than a short story?  I had finished things, damnit!  Lots of things!  And I was damn well going to finish a lot more!

So despite deciding to forego a New Year’s resolution this year, I wound up setting one anyways.  Every week, I would spend at least an hour knitting.  I would only work on one project at a time.  And I was not allowed to touch that beautiful blue and purple bulky yarn I had gotten for Christmas until ALL of my other knitting projects were finished.

It seems to be coming along swimmingly thus far.  I’ve already finished one half done project, and started on a second.  I need to do some untangling and sorting before I can actually work well with the third.  It is the least finished and will likely take a good deal of time.  Beyond that is one single simple piece, which I may undo in favor of a different type of knit project.  I will still use the same yarn, though, and finish that project before I move on.

Even now, with all the help I’ve been getting, it’s hard to realize that The Traitor Voice still manages to hold sway over my self-image.  It slips in with sneaky little moments of self doubt, insisting that I’m nothing, I’m no one, I’m not worth anything.  It gets its digs in even with the constant repeated proof that I can, in fact, accomplish things.  It’s tempting to just let it whisper the lies and pretend they don’t hurt.

I may never finish the project of knitting myself back together.  There are too many tangled threads, too many knots to untangle, too may places where I was torn open and patch up badly.  But I’m not that girl anymore, the one who never finishes anything.  I am strong and I can carry on.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Danielle L. permalink
    January 29, 2013 10:38 am

    This made me cry a little. I totally know what you mean. I start things and never finish them, I restart things and feel overwhelmed, and I often look at large projects with that Traitor Voice you talk about. But I also complete things, and finish projects and have accomplishments. It’s good to know I’m not the only one swimming around in creative self-doubt.

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