Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jean and her Theory on Starting Over

"Rip it out!"
I have a difficult time figuring out how to type her intonation when she says this, but Jean is what I like to call an A.D.D. knitter.  My knitting group meets every Tuesday morning and Thursday night.  Since I work Saturday through Monday, I almost never see the other knitters between knitting-group meetings, so Tuesday morning is my chance to catch up on four and a half days of yarning with the ladies.  Jean comes into the knitting group like a second-grader with show-and-tell.  Only, instead of a pet frog, Jean pulls out about sixty finished pieces per week and says that she just finished this ol' thing or that ol' thing over the weekend.  It is amazing.

Jean knits beautifully, and as far as I can tell, nothing frightens her when it comes to yarn.  See, every knitter has a fear.  Mine is socks; I have no reason for my hosierophobia, but for some reason, the prospect of knitting two of the exact same item frightens me to pieces.  For others, it is lace-knitting, and still for others, it is knitting in more than one color.  Jean, as far as I can tell, has no fear whatsoever.

And I have figured out her secret.

She is not afraid to go from ball of yarn, to half-finished-but-not-perfect project, BACK to ball of yarn.  And she is not afraid to encourage this behavior in others, either.

Understand, Jean is not perfect and she is fine with that.  However, if she is not happy with how a piece is turning out, her mantra is "RIP IT OUT!"  The great part about hand-knitting with yarn is that you always have the option to start over with the original materials.  Other crafts, like scrapbooking, do not allow that luxury.  And yet, knitters from one corner of Earth to the other will audibly gasp when one knitter is asking for advice on how to fix a mistake from twelve rows back, and Jean offers her tried-and-true three-word command as advice.

Is it because of the wasted time factor?  Knitting takes time!  Granted, it is leisure-time...very few of us are fortunate enough to actually knit for a living...but it is time spent repeating a behavior nonetheless.  Or is it because of Pride, the one of the Seven Deadly Sins we are least likely to swallow?  "I will NOT rip back and fix my mistake!  It is MY hand-made baby blanket, and if the baby judges me, then every gift to it after this one will be a math textbook!"

Maybe it is something way more primal, like any time spent re-knitting is time taken away from the next four projects you have already lined up in your mental queue, and humans have very short attention spans.  I know that personally, I am less likely to rip something out if I am thisclose to starting that next scarf, shawl, bag, or whatever because I am literally so distracted by the future, the present mistakes will be a thing of the past soon enough anyway.

Most likely, the main reason people do not want to go back is just simply that:  nobody likes to go in reverse.  Which is worse for you:  doing something twice, or living with a mistake that nobody would likely notice, unless you are like the majority of knitters who point out every single mistake to each other before just saying "thank you" when someone says, "That shawl is GORGEOUS!"?

I am with Jean.  We should form a tag-team.  My mantra can be "Suck it up" to help ease the burden on the consciences of perfectionist knitters, and hers can follow.  Her way is organic.  There is nothing fake, shameful, fabricated, or impure about just ripping out and starting over.

The same goes for many situations in life, actually. 

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