Work In Progress? Or UFO?
We have arrived at the place in my knitting where it's all about steadfastness. Despite endless rows of sameness on the back of the Bolero, I must be unwavering in my vision of cuteness and Just Keep Going.
This is the point where I sometimes abandon my projects–the long stretches of stockinette, the endless sleeves, the Back Without Boundaries. There is a reason I have accumulated a shameless pile of UFO's…
Well, actually, there are a couple of reasons an object moves from On The Needles to UnFinished Object. One is boredom, no doubt about it. But another reason, equally as common, is what I call The Needy Needles, a project so complex that it requires every synapse I own to be focused on it, every stitch along the way. There's a pair of socks in the UFO pile that falls into The Needy Needles category–four charts, every row different, no memorization possible… They are lovely socks, I adore the pattern…but I adore it In Theory. I adore it From Afar. Up close and personal, it wants too much of me. Despite whatever fantasies might abound, I do not have long uninterrupted stretches of time where I sit in the world's most perfect knitting chair, with the perfect amount of light, with classical music playing in the background, a cat playing serenely at my feet with a felted mousie, and all the quiet in the world to concentrate on four charts for one sock.
In reality, the chair hurts my back if I sit too long, the light is never enough, the cat is gnawing on my spare dpn, and the noises around me distract me so that I forget to move the chart markers in my knitting at the end of rounds.
However, something about this year is different for me, and I'm looking at that pile of UFOs with a different eye. Maybe it's the fact that I've reached Year Six of my marriage, a milestone that was never reached in what I now refer to as "my practice marriage" way back when. I'm wanting to build a Real Life now, to set down roots in a way I've never been able to previously, due to a life of constant moving around, a life lived half out of boxes from childhood onwards.
This year I want to unpack ALL the boxes, and sift through things, keeping what deserves keeping and giving away or tossing the rest. That bad chair that hurts my back? Why keep it? And if I need more light, I can find another lamp instead of, well…instead of cursing the darkness.
But it takes courage to unpack some of the boxes, the ones with old wedding invitations in them (invites from the practice marriage, I mean really–those have gotta GO), or outdated home decor items. It's hard to accept that some things are just Over and need to be put to rest…and perhaps harder still to work out how to keep something without simply packing it away again. Can I find a place for it in my new life? Does it need updating, or repainting, or simply a new button to make it wearable?
And suddenly, I am no longer talking about just boxes of old things…suddenly I am talking about my UFO pile as well. If I approach that UFO pile the same way I am approaching the rest of my life–with an eye towards building something permanent, with the steadfast courage required to put down roots–then what will happen? Will I have the wisdom to give away or unravel those project that no longer fit my life and my body? Even more: Will I have the guts to finish projects I really want to keep?
Perhaps if I can learn to persevere through endless rows of Same in my knitting, then I will learn something valuable about the skills required to build the life I long for in my life away from the needles, a life of rootedness, of family, of community.
Or perhaps the imagery of "life away from the needles" is just an illusion for a knitter? Perhaps our needles are our lives in miniature, where we work out, in small stitches, the same struggles and puzzles and triumphs that are going on in the larger fabric of our lives…
Today, I have no answers for you, no pithy sayings, no clever tips. Today, there are only questions, questions about how to live a life where things last longer than a few dozen rows, where good things are seen through to fullness, where dreams can be lived out instead of cast aside.
I'm on Row 41 of 64 of the back. I can do this. I can knit on, until the knitting's done.
Knit with joy…
P.S. Let me know what you think! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can leave a comment.