Sunday, May 6, 2012

esCAPING Perfection

A friend's pretty daughter models the almost perfect capelet.
I still have to sew on five buttons.
Several days ago I finished a capelet I’ve been working on for several weeks.  After picking up stitches along one side of the opening in the front and knitting a couple of rows of garter stitch, I noticed an inconsistency—no, a glaring flaw—in my beautiful piece crafted with luxurious Louisa Harding yarn.  There were about six stitches in one of the vertical cabled bands of stockinet stitch that were not smooth.  They had the visible bumps of purl stitches. 

I had worked on this cape in the midst of planning a birthday party, working full-time, and running back and forth to my sons’ athletic practices and extra-curricular events.  I had also produced this item while taking part in a week-long blogging event, with required daily posts, and while dealing with a sick child and other family obligations.  So now, I faced a dilemma.    
This garment has a picot editing along the top, which miraculously, came out well and used exactly the correct number of stitches given in the pattern instructions.  I couldn’t bear to tear this edging out along with my picked up stitches along the front to correct an error that no one, without closely examining the capelet, would see.  Only I would know about this mistake.  Attesting to my perfectionistic nature, the flaw troubled me for several days, until I finally said, “Let it go,” as I have had to say about nearly everything since I’ve had children. 


This error, however, like so many times I have missed information in emails and posted on calendars or left my closets a mess or neglected to style my hair or groom the dog, is the product of a life pulled in different directions.  While some thrive on busyness and overbooked schedules, I find that I cannot produce any work of quality or substance, let alone anything “perfect” (if such things exist) without expanses of time to focus, free from distraction.  Hence the fact that my students’ essays and tests pile up, as I await that ideal, long stretch of time where I can sit quietly and work uninterrupted, that time which never comes, so I inevitably end up going to a Starbucks on a Saturday morning several days before the end of the marking period and frantically grading an obscenely large stack of papers, hoping I won’t get distracted by running into anyone I know.
My friend's younger daughter looks adorable in this lavender color.

The constant pull of committments and responsibiities and the constant need to prioritize and sacrifice duties to more pressing ones drives me nuts.  Yesterday, a huge mountain of laundry sat in the front of the washer and I was unhappily aware of the fact that my family hadn’t eaten a home-cooked meal in a week.  With obligations to be out every evening and starting an online course in website “accessibility” (which entailed hours of emailing the online instructor and questioning coworkers about how to actually find the magic link to access the course in which I was enrolled) and trying to plan a British tea party for my 12th graders (which led to dragging china cups, tea pots, tablecloths, etc. to school), I was exhausted and knew that I should stay home and attempt to salvage some type of domestic life for my family. 

But I had decided several weeks ago that I needed to return to the horseback riding I had given up over a decade ago due to the fact that this activity takes away so much of my limited time with my family and for housework.  I’d done quite a bit of thinking and realized that if I continued to find reasons not to get back on a horse, I might never ride again.  Also, this hobby, I rationalized yesterday morning, should help me relax and aid in decreasing the stress in my life.  So after knitting a few rows on a cabled shawl (a Mother’s Day present which will certainly arrive late to my mother in Arizona, and which I’m also making as part of a  Ravelry knitalong,) and completing some household chores, I headed off for a thirty-minute drive to the country, where my husband’s sister and her husband have a horse farm.  I didn’t relax on the way there, however, as I was plagued by the fact that I hadn’t posted to my blog in nearly a week. 
Lace Shawl designed by Iris Schreier from Vogue Knitting Spring 2012 issue.   For information about joining the knitalong, go to Ravelry.  This shawl looks almost lavender here, but it's silver, made with Sublime yarn and beads I'm adding. 

I did ride, however, and enjoyed sunshine and country scenery.  My sister-in-law also gave me some yarn she’d obtained from a friend, whose mother, an avid knitter, had died recently.   The yarn is a mohair-acrylic blend and should go get along swimmingly with the other skeins and balls just waiting for me to have some time to work with them. 
Sina is a good-tempered Icelandic horse.  Go to Windgait, if you'd like
more information about Icelandics. 

After some errands, I was home for a few hours.  That evening, however, I drove out to the country again, to a horse farm owned by a former co-worker of mine.  A mutual friend is in town for a couple of weeks, and we were going to have a reunion, where we could sit by a bonfire and watch the “supermoon” this weekend (go to The Detroit Free Press) for information. In a weary haze, under a sky too cloudy to see the moon, I managed to last a few hours, before groggily heading home on some dark country roads and literally passing out from exhaustion

So today is a cloudy Sunday, perfect for knitting, blogging, and getting my 12-year-old son to work on his European country PowerPoint project for school. I’ll also continue to knit, attempting to find harmony and balance in perfectly crafted stitches.  I can’t let bumpy mistakes get me down.  I’ll carry these lapses along with me, and hope that I can be like the knitter in Knitting:  A Novel who totes all of her unfinished, flawed knitting pieces around with her in suitcases, until she learns a lesson in accepting human fallibility and is able to walk freely and unburdened by the baggage of her past mistakes. 

Had to add one more picture. 

6 comments:

  1. This post speaks to me in so many ways (although I certainly do not have even half as much on my plate as you do!), I completely understand the fight for balance in life. It's hard to let the bumpy mistakes go, and sometimes that kind of attention to detail is a good thing. Also, it certainly sounds like you are doing above and beyond in many other parts of your life, such as your job. Sounds like you are pretty much superwoman actually : )

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    1. Thanks so much for your comments. No, I'm not Superwoman. It just seems as if life is either slow or fast, a feast or famine kind of thing. Right not I'm in a busy place, but plan to slow down this summer.

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  2. Your cape is very beautiful, you did such a wonderful job! Hand-knitting is special because it doesn't look like something out of a machine, wee mistakes are just a product of the love! My own knitting is never perfect but I don't care about that side of it at all so long as the actual thing looks quite nice overall. It doesn't even bug me a little, and if it bugs other people who look at it then quite frankly that's their problem lol! Sina is gorgeous! Hope you get more time to de-stress, and that the riding helps, your life sounds awfully busy x

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  3. So recognise what you are talking about here - too little time for too many things but just enough time to delude oneself they are possible! Have fallen victim to this today with starting a crochet project in the gaps between other things and finding that it does not look exactly how it should. Probably because I've not kept count properly or skim-read the pattern. And this always happens when time is short and I'm trying to cram too much in. Possibly this is why i get on better with crochet than knitting because it seems to be more forgiving of flaws or glitches! Trouble is I know they are there! Art however is not afraid of flaws. I remind myself as I look at what has not quite turned out iike the pattern that in ancient Chinese art the greatest painters always deliberately added a flaw to their work because human creation is just that and is not meant to be perfect. Hope this reassures both of us in different ways thousands of miles apart but beset with the same slight nagging discontent with imperfection! Hope your schedule frees up just a bit - it does sound heading towards the unsustainable. Take care, there's only one of you! Elizabeth

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  4. It looks great in the pictures.
    Remembering to relax, and making it a priority, allows us to recharge our batteries so we can take care of our family. You already know knitting can help in that relaxation goal and letting go of mistakes in projects is a good exercise.

    Of course, if the purl stitches are really bugging you, you can always try to duplicate stitch over them. :-)

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  5. Whooo weee, Girl! You are so busy you are making MY head spin! Spreading yourself a little thin, maybe? xx Let me know if you need help with the PP Project. hehehe...

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