On Giants' Shoulders

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Made a Mess? Frog it!

I've recently been working on a knitting project which promises to anticipate my time in purgatory. I have, so far, ripped back the body of the sweater three times. The first time it represented 8 inches of knitting (on roughly 240 stitches), the second time 20 inches of knitting, and the last time (so far) about 15 inches of knitting. I have also ripped out one attempt at a sleeve (although I have both sleeves knit at this point). In short, I've already done more than one sweater's worth of knitting, yet the sweater is nowhere near completion. I had hoped to finish it by Thanksgiving, but that's looking more and more doubtful.

Now part of the ripping back is due to a certain type of perfectionism not seen in most of my life (the second time), but the first and third ripping backs were due to some actual mistakes that would have altered the shape of things (a twisted first row does not produce a wearable sweater, although I suppose I could be going for a new fashion statement and a right seam that is a half an inch away from where it should actually be would definitely alter the drape of the sweater). My husband, watching me start again after the second frogging said he didn't think he'd have the patience to do it. I didn't even admit to him or my son that I'd had to rip out that attempt as well.

Sometimes life feels a bit like this sweater. You work as hard as you can, do the very best you think you can do, and things still don't turn out the way you anticipate. So you have two choices, you can give up, move on , don't try harder, or you can heave an enormous sigh and start over again. The starting over again is a bit easier with knitting, although I'm not sure my yarn is going to look the same without washing if I had to do it a fourth time, but even in the rest of our lives it is possible. There's a reason why marriage vows include the words for better or worse. We don't have the option of opting out when our spouse does something we find unacceptable. We don't have the option of opting out when they no longer look like they did at the altar. That's why parents are supposed to love unconditionally. We don't get to throw away the kid that didn't turn out according to our expectations. We only get to love them more and try to see in them the unique person that God created.

Re-knitting is not without pain. In order to get this project done anywhere close to my original deadline I'm spending some of my knitting time with sore joints. It's stopped being a stress reliever and become the source of a bit of stress. Yet in the end I'm going to have a sweater with a better design than I would have had at the beginning. I've discovered a better way to make the sweater drape properly, I've figured out better placement of the seams, the whole process is making me a better knitter (although spending two hours obsessively counting stitches to get the stitch count between seams right probably only made me learn buckets of patience) and teaching me some lessons about careful beginnings.

I wouldn't have been this obsessive if the sweater were for me. I've fudged lots of things on my sweaters and lived with them. This sweater is for someone else, someone I love, someone who deserves my best., not a "good enough." Our lives are like that too. We are not our own, we are bought with a price and as servants of our Lord we need to be willing to start over as many times as needed. In the end, this sweater won't be an example of a perfect sweater. There will be lots of knitters who could do it better. It will only be the best sweater I could make with the design and the materials I had. In the end, I won't be a perfect person. I won't ever be the Blessed Mother or Saint Therese. The question is will I be the best person I could be given my make-up and my history. The jury's still out on that one. I try to remind myself of Father Harl0w's admonition that we should all be striving to be saints. So far following that admonition has required lots and lots of frogging.


At 6:15 PM, Blogger Kitchen Madonna said...

Thank you for this one. Very healing.

I'm making a quilt, something I've never done and am just starting with fear and trepidation. Quilting will be my metaphor. Just patching it all together, out of leftover pieces of many many aprons.

Want some jasmine tea?


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