when an idea fails

I have an image of my new self, my beach self, my (way) post-beads self and post vegan cheerleader self (although I'm still vegan). This best-old-lady-I-can-morph-into self, includes designing things with sticks and string (knitting and crochet), and sharing patterns with the world. In this image, I never make a mess of anything, and all my ideas translate beautifully into soft and splendid items to decorate ourselves and our homes. In this image... I am someone completely other than my real self, who has at least as many failures as successes, and little idea of how to write a kitting pattern.

Truth is, I actually do make a lot of very fine things, between the failures. Friends walk into my living room and look around saying, You made that? And that? And that??? Yes, yes, yes I did. And it's all cool and wonderful. That's how it made the cut to live in my home with me. I look at the knitted lampshade in the corner, the lace encased glass fishing floats, the crystal trimmed valance over the kitchen window, and all the other touches that are perfect for this house, and think how great it would be to share how I made these.

Another truth, however, is, much of what I make is totally improvised, which means it would be difficult to map it out as I go, and impossible to retrace my steps after I've finished the thing in question. There's often a lot of doing and undoing and redoing along the way. There are always surprises, and sometimes... of course, those sad, sad failures.

Last night I finished a big triangular scarf that I'd been working on for days. I was attempting to fine tune a design I made a while back in Portland, so I wrote down all the changes and knitted like crazy for several days, with yarn I didn't enjoy working with, on circular needles that didn't allow me to see how the scarf was progressing, being all bunched up on the cable as it was. I was confident though. And excited to finish it to see how much better this variation would be than the original.

It was terrible.

It was so terrible, in fact, I threw it on the floor and stomped on it. No kidding. I have witnesses. Yes, of course I overreacted. But the thing was so far from what I thought I was making, there was no salvaging it. Bad triangular proportions. It looked like a useless, holey bib, with a long, long pointy front, and stumpy little tabs that would barely tie around my neck. Forget about the graceful, flowing ends that should have draped from the back, over my shoulders, and down the front. I wanted wingspan, dammit.

It was awful and embarrassing, and very discouraging. While I sulked off to take a shower, Rick gallantly unraveled the entire thing for me, and wound it up into a ball of beautiful, difficult yarn, that might now hibernate in my stash for years, if not for eternity.

The point being, and the lesson learned, I suppose, is that making things for the joy of making them is one thing. Making them so they can be something other than their own dear selves (like a pattern, for instance), might not be the best idea for me. At least not yet. To set out with the documentation being more important than the process is a perfect way to set up a grand failure.

When I come up with things that are good and repeatable, sure, I'll share them. Until then, I am humbled by the Scarf Experience, and in even greater awe of all the talented designers out there. Maybe I should just let them do what they do best, while I stick to what I love best about knitting... which is knitting.


  1. Haha, I love that you stomped on that disappointment! And then moved on to such a beautiful realization of what is really most important to you. oxoxo Laurel


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