Friday, December 3, 2010

The 3 M's

Let me start off by stating this blog post is six weeks in the making.  I apologize for my absence.  And I don't want to make excuses here, but...

#1.  I lost my camera.  Granted, it was a camera that I absolutely despised because it took horrible pictures, but it was my only camera and I used it for all of my blog pictures.  (It also, of course, contained a memory card with weeks worth of pics that were to eventually end up in my future blog posts).

#2.  I moved on, didn't dwell, and borrowed by daughter's 'old' camera, only to discover it had 'died'...the battery didn't hold a charge, it wouldn't format a memory pictures were in my near future, obviously.

#3.  I spent just a few hours designing a felted bag project for a 4-H class I taught, then realized I should have spent a few more hours on it because the bag came out looking like it would only hold a pair of chopsticks.  Yes, that long and that wide.  How long have I been knitting?  Had to go back to the drawing board on that one.

#4.  I knit 2 left fingerless gloves instead of a left and right.  No need for further explanation here I don't think.

#5.  I knit and then felted two different size clogs, one small, one medium, that were meant to be a gift.  Again, I'm sure you see the problem here, unless of course the recipient of the slippers has two different sized feet.  In this case the answer is no, she does not.

#6.  I caught a cold.  A miserable, achy, coughing, stuffy head, fever so you can't rest (or even knit and definitely do not feel inspired to blog) cold.

#7.  I thought I was saving time by knitting two sleeves of a miniature sweater at the same time, on the same needles, for aran afghan block #7.  It would have been fine, except the sleeves were supposed to be mirror images of each other and although I was sure I was reversing the pattern, they came out exactly the same.  I didn't discover it until I went to sew them to the body of the sweater.  (Okay, how in the world did I miss that one completely?!?) 

#8.  I have been trying to design a very simple, quick easy project for a mystery knit along.  I have spent the last 8 weeks, in all of my spare time :), ripping it out, erasing, rewriting, reworking, and generally being completely baffled that something so BASIC could haunt me for that long.  My stitch count didn't come out, period.  The design looked more like abstract art than knitting.  And, to make matters worse, I had already announced, on more than one occasion, that the mystery knit along would be posted soon. Yeah, right. 

#9.  I lost my 'little yellow bag'.  Do you know the one I speak of?  It's the pencil bag that holds all things necessary to my knitting life...scissors, tapestry needles, tape measures, crochet hooks, 20 different sizes of stitch markers, pencils, eraser, sticky notes, highlighters, a nail file (yes, not a typo)...and so many other things.  Mind you I only 'lost' it for a short while, but I did spend a large amount of time looking for it.  This seriously tweaked my already frazzled knitting nerves.  (Just a side note to put things in perspective here, I have often said that I'd rather lose my purse than my little yellow bag.  No joke.  It has taken me years to accumulate and pay for all the tools, gidgets and gadgets that are in that bag.  My knitting world stops until that bag is by my side. 

#10.  ...a nice round number on which to end this whine session, don't you think?  But I want to  add that while all of these things were happening, I must have ripped out and started over countless times on a half dozen other projects not mentioned in the above nine, further contributing to the feeling that I may not be up to the task of knitting for a living. 

So consequently, no blog post for six weeks.  

I honestly didn't have anything I felt was worthy of writing down.  How could I write about knitting and how wonderful it was and post all of the beautiful things I was supposed to be working on, when all I had to share were negative things...nothing but mishaps, misfortunes, and mistakes?

And if I dug a little deeper,  I was strongly suspicious that I had been hit with a good old fashioned case of writer's block and all of these things were of my own making so that I wouldn't have to sit down and write.  Yes, in fact, I believe I had a serious case of low knitting self-esteem.  Anyone else been there?

Where did this all come from?

This is what I concluded:

Sometimes I have to be taken down a peg or life...and in knitting.  I don't believe it is because I walk around with a feeling of arrogance about myself, my life, or my knitting skills.  No.  But, evidently I do take these things for granted on occasion and life has a way of reminding me that I shouldn't do that.

I take 100% responsibility though.  No victim stance here.  I have intentionally invited the 3 M's upon myself.  How did I do that?  Well, by living with the philosophy that I am a lifelong student (I just said those very words to someone this morning).  And I have said that over and over to the universe.  The universe generously obliges, doesn't it?  Sometimes the things I have to learn come with heartache and pain, but most often with humor and humility.  That's what I strive for anyway. 

Life lessons and knitting lessons are a part of the deal.

I accept this fact without hesitation. I am not scared.  No.  I welcome the lessons.  At least that is what I keep saying anyway.

The hard part is that I never know when it's going to happen or what the lessons are going to be. Or let's get long they are going to last!  These knitting negatives just kept going on and on until I felt like maybe this was it...I had lost my knitting mojo for good.  Spent, burnt out, done for....

So, what did I learn about myself and my knitting in the last six weeks?

Lesson #1:  The camera thing is a no brainer...lack of  gratitude and lack of perspective.  You see, I didn't appreciate having a camera that took terrible pictures was better than not having a camera at all.  No pics, pictureless blog posts...much worse. 

Lesson # 2:  You can't borrow your way out of a problem.  That would be too easy.  Also, just when you think you're frustrated enough, think again.  That was only the beginning. 

Lesson #3:   Give yourself more than a couple of days to design anything, even if it is just a 'simple, felted bag'.  And more importantly, do not use the word simple as freely as I do.  Simple is as simple does.  Yeah, whatever that means, but it came to mind and so I threw it in there.

Lesson #4:  Do not put a project away for months and then expect to finish it without some negative consequences.  In this case, make a big note for yourself that in fact people do have a left hand and a right hand and the thumb placement is actually pretty important.  Also, no matter how you twist and turn a left mitten, it will NOT work on a right hand.  Okay, hopefully I won't have to revisit that one any time soon.

Lesson #5:  See Lesson #4 with this addendum--if you are going to knit someone a gift, such as felted slippers, and it needs to be a certain size, do not highlight ALL of the sizes in the pattern (in different colors) so that you can't tell what size you knit the first one, forcing you to guess on the second one.  To set this lesson in your brain, repeat over and over to yourself, I am not a good guesser...I am not a good guesser.  Yeah, I guessed medium.  Turns out the first one I knit was a small.  Oh, and one other little something worth mentioning, try to finish your gift knitting in the same year that you started.  These clogs were for last Christmas.

Lesson # 6:  The lesson is:  there is not lesson because this just falls in the misfortune category of the 3 M's more than anything.  Everyone around me seems to have been sick for the last month or so.  It was bound to happen.  However, if there is a lesson to be learned, I am thinking it might be to not get smug and make statements about the fact that you haven't caught anything so far.  And knocking on wood, I now have proof, does not work at all.

Lesson # 7:    Cable chart reading isn't for wimps (or for those that are on the edge of a knitting breakdown).  I even had a nice little 'cheat sheet' that one of the students in the GAAA class, Dee Dixon, printed up so that we wouldn't get confused about the fact that the sleeves are knit in a reverse stitch pattern.  Again, chart reading, even with a cheat sheet, isn't for wimps, and certainly should not be attempted late at night, in a group, while talking on the phone, watching Sons of Anarchy, or anything that may distract you from the fact that you are doing it all wrong.

Lesson #8:  Another no brainer...DO NOT announce that you are going to do a mystery knit along when you don't have the design for the mystery knit along figured out.  That was my first mistake.  My second was assuming that this particular project was so simple (there's that word again) that I could whip it out in no time.  Hmmm...seems to be a theme going on here.  (see Lesson #3)  Making assumptions about anything has never really worked out for me.  Why do I keep doing it?

Lesson #9:  When you have a cold and are frazzled from so many of the 3 M's and the knitting gods are just beating you down, don't put your little yellow bag in a different place than you normally would.  You think you'll remember right where it is.  You won't.  You will panic.  You absolutely won't find the d@*# thing until you sit down, take a breath, and admit that you are beaten.  Then, and only then does the light bulb go on.

And finally...

Lesson #10:  I could mention the obvious here like not taking on too many projects all at once (of course everyone knows that, but who actually follows that?)...There is also a very real sickness (not fatal mind you, but very detrimental to a healthy knitting life:  UFO Disease (Unfinished Objects Disease).  It is REAL and I have it (bet you didn't know that) and it can create confusion and a mountain of knitting problems you didn't think were possible!

...or how about this:  planning and teaching, designing, blogging, running a store, organizing a fiber arts fair, and custom knitting may be a bit more than I bargained for when I said I wanted to live my passion.

I am not complaining, I promise.  It's just a point of awareness that I think, after this very bad period of time with the 3 M's, I am coming to accept.

This blog was started so that I could share my journey towards being completely self-supported by my knitting in one way or another.  Well, looks like this is all part of that journey.  I am figuring out (sometimes the hard way) exactly what I want that life to look like.  There have been many struggles so far, but also so many joys.

I hope you have found some humor in all of this...thankfully I have.  :)  I dedicate the 3 M's blog post to my fellow knitters out there and  to my students who come in, call, and text me on a daily basis ready to give up and throw their knitting in the trash (or at least in the bottom of the closet for the next 20 years or so).

May I offer a bit of advice?  Just put it down, step away, breathe, call me if necessary, and keep things in perspective.  I know I am always espousing the merits of knitting such as it being relaxing, meditative, therapeutic, and fun.  (It is, no really!)  However, just as in life, we wouldn't learn very much about ourselves if we didn't have to go back, rip out, learn from our mistakes, and start again.

Knit on,



  1. Oh make me laugh. Partially because I know exactly where you are coming from. We think "Make a living doing what I" And then life reminds us it's still hard work and sometimes you will love it and some days you will want to throw in the towel and never look back. I feel that same away about my yoga studio at times. Nice that life reminds us to not let our head get too big...and to laugh at our selves sometimes :)

    Hang in there girl...this too shall pass.

  2. Thanks, Jenn! When I wrote it all out it really helped put things in perspective and I have had a smile on my face ever since. :) I know you can relate.

  3. You make me laugh, too! :) Wow have you been challenged lately! I totally relate as well....Great job putting it all into perspective - I admire that. Hopefully without seeming really really dense - What does "3 M's" stand for?

  4. :)Phil had to ask that too! I always try to work the title into the post in sometimes not so obvious ways. The 3 M's are in this paragraph:

    "I honestly didn't have anything I felt was worthy of writing down. How could I write about knitting and how wonderful it was and post all of the beautiful things I was supposed to be working on, when all I had to share were negative things...nothing but mishaps, misfortunes, and mistakes?"

    Thanks for sharing this journey with me, Deb. You are just doing wonderful things with your knitting and I am very proud of you!

  5. OHHHHHHH!!! :) Very very cleaver! Love it!

  6. Haha! I think we've all gone through this at some point, my point was recently also hehe and so this post resonates quite deeply :)

    I want to make a living with my knitting, and this just goes to show that the road will never be easy, but it will always be worth it!

  7. You are so right, Holly! I wish you much success in your fiber art endeavors!