I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.
Earlier this year I wrapped up my most ambitious knitting project to date. Unfortunately, since that time everything I have touched has been an absolute disaster. I have scrapped not just one or two, but three projects because I either could not understand the pattern (which I find incredibly humiliating) or because I have stalled due to some mistake and no matter how many times I rework it, something is still wrong. It’s all been very disheartening and discouraging. I am not someone who has to deal with depression issues (though my counselor sister would tell me I’ve had some sort of low-grade depression my entire life), but this situation has really thrown me for a loop and it’s about as close to depression as I get. I sort of feel like that shawl was the best I was capable of and it is all downhill from there. What’s the point? &Etc.
I can almost hear people rolling their eyes about this “problem”, but knitting is the one thing I am good at. And I feel good, knowing that I am good at it. And lately, well, I’ve not been good at it at all, which makes me feel like a giant loser and kind of like I’ve got nothing to offer the world and I might as well give up on everything, lock myself in my house, crawl into bed and do nothing but eat honey mustard & onion pretzels and sleep for the rest of my life.
Is that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard? I bet it’s close.
I’m not sure what other folks do when they feel as though they are failing at everything they attempt, but I’ve found that going back to the beginning, starting over with the simplest steps – that’s a good place to be when you are feeling you are the lousiest at things. And even if you don’t wind up with ground breaking results, you’ve gotten yourself back into the rhythm of an activity you enjoy and you remember all of the reasons you love it in the first place.
I know it might sound a little silly, but those tiny stitches combined with that intricate pattern really takes a toll on a body – both physical and mental. After finishing it, I had been looking for more and more complex patterns to tackle, and maybe what I should have done after completing such a challenging venture was uncramp my knotted fingers, unhunch my twisted back, and relax into the mindless slide and slip of stitches between the needles – something simple, and quick, and that hardly requires a pattern.
In taking my own advice (for once) and doing just that, I bound off the last stitch on the Boneyard shawl yesterday. Just a simple triangle shawl with some ridges for visual interest, knit up in a lovely rustic yarn that a dear friend brought back from Finland a few years ago – and it’s flawed, don’t get me wrong… I was three-quarters of the way through before I realized I missed a crucial bit of the instructions and had to start all over again, and then on top of that I didn’t have very much of the yarn left to begin with, so it’s made a rather dainty sized shawl.
But honestly, I don’t care about any of that. I finally finished something again. I didn’t stop. I didn’t give up. Well, I guess I did give up on those other three patterns but I imagine I will revisit them in time. But I didn’t give up on the concept of knitting as a whole, as something I fill my time with, and something that I enjoy immensely. And it’s made me realize the reason that I love knitting so much, and why I might just actually be good at it. It is the one thing I always go back to, that for whatever reason, I have found that even if I fail over and over and over again, I don’t want to give it up. I can’t.
I love it because it is something that I can’t not do. (And coming from one of the most apathetic people on the planet, there is a great deal of importance in that statement.) I deeply treasure this ability which I cultivated – on my own with no help at all – and it has become so much a part of who I am that it’s little wonder I was so upset a few weeks ago when I was failing endlessly. I wasn’t just screwing up a knitting pattern, I was having an identity crisis!
This is all very rambling, and probably not at all interesting to people who don’t knit (and barely, I’m sure, to even those who do). I suppose I was feeling down and wanted to write about it and share and ask for feedback. What do you do to get back on track with your crafty endeavors when you have a setback? How do you keep yourself motivated when your results are less than you’d hoped for? And what are you all working on right now, anyhow? Talk to me about your successes and failures and how you move forward to do more.