Thursday, December 07, 2006


(the un-post from yesterday)

Part 1: some thoughts about knitting, lace, and life.
Part 2: a knitting dilemma within the lace.

Both full of rambles.

Part 1:

The suggestion to cast-on a lace project? Genius. I am definitely having a seashell, kind of Gift From The Sea, sort of moment with my knitting right now. I love it when I can knit along, noticing the parallels between what is in my hands and what is happening in my life.

One topic of discussion as of late, with TheMIG, has been about intimacy, and how each of us defines it. We have different definititions, go figure (although I think we've determined that they do not appear to be entirely at odds with one another).

For me, having intimacy in a relationship inlcudes some form of knowing/understanding/loving/supporting, all of the parts that comprise who I am as a person. But it also means having an awareness of how the seemingly separate parts of my life relate to one another (and it goes both ways--I want to be able to see the same things about you, too).

Imagine some sort of schematic. My life could be a drawn as a bunch little boxes, each of them representing one of the many roles I fill. Partner, mother, lover, dancer, teacher, friend, family member, volunteer, etc.

Some people only know me as just one of those roles. I believe it is entirely possible for a person to feel an intimate connection with me, even though they only have access to just one of the boxes. For example, people whom I perform with, but whom I do not know outside of the "dance box"...I would say that some of us do share an intimate relationship with one another, in relation to dance. We experience a profound connection or understanding of one another through movement. There is a depth of knowing.

It is an entirely different type of relationship for me, however, when I have a person who has access to many, most, or ALL of my "boxes". And it is extremely special to me when someone who knows about all of the boxes has a working understanding about how all of those boxes are interconnected.

That's the schematic part.
You see, there are little web-like lines connecting the roles in my life. If I come from a day of volunteering at the convalescent hospital and I have a bunch of feelings about being there...well, they may end up being filtered into a choreography. If you knew about both the volunteer box and the dance box, and could mabye see the lines. If you knew about even more boxes, you'd see that my volunteer work is not only generating seeds for creativity, but it is also affecting how I see myself and my disability, how I see my family members, how I see political activism, yadda yadda get the picture.

If you have an understanding about all of my boxes, and if you see the integration and connections between them, as I do, I feel you will have a deeper, more intimate understanding of who I am. In my personal definition of intimacy, we will have a more intimate relationship. It has something to do with feeling "seen", and I am sure "understood". There is a whole 'nother bit about how my boxes probably have lines connecting to your boxes...but that's a whole 'nother discussion.

Now, there really is not one box in my life that isn't connected to every other box. I do not believe that I have a single function of my self that stands alone. In fact, some might argue that I might even be a little bit overly integrated. I've never been the type to check my life in at the door when going to work, and vice-versa, sometimes to my demise.

So. How it relates to knitting.

In my mind, my life (normally/on a good day), looks like a nice organized schematic, with skinny little lines connecting my boxes, almost creating and openwork sort of spiderweb ( LACE??). But there is so much going on in my life right now, if you look at the schematic of my life, it's got a whole lotta big fat marker lines connecting the boxes. Everything is affecting everything. For a few weeks there, life was not looking like a spiderweb, but more like some sort of smothering cocoon. In addition to big fat connecting lines, there were just too many damn lines. It seemed that the lines were even going back and forth and repeating in layers. The lines connecting the different parts of me were so intertwinded, I couldn't see between them. There was no negative space. I could barely move without one thing affecting another, and I became fairly immobile ( knitting with worsted wool on US#3's maybe?).

Starting the shawl has been a saving grace. It's repetitive, but not mindless. There is something grounding about occasionally counting stitches when coming back on the purl side...almost like chanting. As I work, intricate beauty falls from my hands. Lace is organized. It's complex. But in some ways it is quite simple. There is something there about the order of things. Lace makes sense. All of the shapes and the open spaces line up. There is negative space...spaces between the shapes. There is form in the positive spaces--shapes in between the spaces. The twisting of the yarnovers....they have somehow reminded me to find both the spaces and the healthy connections between my boxes and their intereconnecting lines. There is room in there.
When you hold lace up to the sun, there is daylight.

It is grand.

Except now I have a lace boo-boo and I have to rip some of the shawl out. But that's okay. This shawl has clearly become process knitting. I don't mind a re-do (except I worry about overworking the yarn). But the question about ripping back now begs the ongoing question about my need for perfection.

So on to Part 2 of this post...

Part 2:
(What Would Eunny Do?)
there a many of lace worthy knitters out there, but Eunny had a good ring to it ;-)

Here is a section of the shawl, on it's 6th repeat. There are mistakes. See them?

Let me say a few things about this lace before I point out the mistakes:

This is not my first lace.
I've knit lace socks, two Branching Out scarves, and (I hate to even mention my lonely unfinished symbol of failure) the Knitting Olympics Shawl (of Shame) was lace, too.
This shawl is easy lace.
This pattern was touted as being good for beginners or a relaxing joy-ride for those with experience. It really is. I'm beyond needing the chart (it's a very easy repeat) and it is very easy for me to look a the stitches and read the flow of the pattern.

In every lace project I have worked on though, I always make the same mistake, and this shawl is proving no different.

When I'm purling back on the wrong-side...when I'm supposed to knit the first two stiches of that row and the last two stitches of that row, to make that tidy little border...I always forget to knit those last two stitches.

When I was doing the Branching Out scarves I finally just threw in a stitch marker so I would trip over it every time I got to that point in the row. But I thought I'd outgrown making that error and was fine without using one for the shawl. I swear to you, I checked the border of the shawl every repeat for that exact error and didn't see the mistakes. Maybe there are evil knitter elves coming in and night and messing with it (they should drop the knitting and go clean my kitchen).

Anyhow, I found the mistakes late at night. I spent quite awhile deciding if I could live with them, and let go of needing all things in life to be perfect. Before you, I don't feel I could drop down and fix them. One stitch is an edge stitch, and I don't know how to drop down on an edge stitch, and the other stitch is next to a yarnover. Seems like a royal pain in the arse, if you ask me.

In a moment of self-acceptance, I concluded that I could live with the errors, and let them go....throw in a stitch marker to trip over while working on the rest of the shawl, and move on. Letting go of the mistakes, let me tell you, is a very different response for me than my normally anal self. But the body of the lace looks great, and the errors seemed relatively unnoticeable, even to me.

And so there I was... happily letting go my internal struggle with perfectionism.

And that's when I turned the knitting over and saw this.


Now, I've been looking and looking and looking at this little loop, and I am pretty damn sure it was caused by a tension problem. I think that somehow I just didn't pull up the slack on a stitch or something. There is no dropped stitch, no hanging yarn over. The lace pattern has been examined, and it is on track. This little loop just "ended up here". The elves did it. I just didn't see it because I've only been examining the front of my work, and not the back (good lesson).

This little loopy-loo is only 1 repeat back and, because I am anal, I have a lifeline in there. Of course the mistake is two rows below the lifeline. How lame is that. But still. Not a huge deal. I don't have any big stress about ripping or tinking or whatever it is I need to do to go back far enough to fix the loop.

But here's what IS gnawing at me:
I am now struggling with the compelling urge to rip back beyond the 1 repeat to fix the loopy-loo....and to go all the way back to the 2nd repeat and fix the edge stitch issue, too. Might as well, if I'm ripping, I might as well rip, right?

On one hand it feels like allowing my perfectionism to win, on the other hand, it feels like who cares...more process knitting could be good. But the question of whether to rip or not rip has had me sitting here NOT knitting on the shawl for 3 days now.
And that's stoooopid.

So now what?
What Would YOU Do?


Anonymous said...

Rip it. You'll always know it's there and you'll never be happy. That's what I would do.

Anonymous said...

I really like you definition of intimacy. Although now I'm curious what the MIG's definition is. It is interesting how something so univeral can be so different to everyone.

Truthfully, I'm not very perfectionist. It's one of the reasons I'll never be a spectacular violinist. If the loop is going to find a way to wiggle its way back in (maybe with a little help) and then end up being blocked beautifully, I'd leave it. If it's going to stick out and snag on things once it's blocked and finished, I'd rip back.

Love the pattern. It looks great.

Anonymous said...

I'd rip back to get that loop out of there, but that's it! I never saw those two stitches you marked. I really don't see them now.

I also have the perfectionist gene, but it seems to be mellowing lately.

~Donna~ said...

I'm with Jodie.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jodie too.

Anonymous said...

I'd rip. It's just like Cara said. It will always be there, and it will always bug you. Better to just fix it now and be done with it.

Perfectionism is not intrinsically a bad word. Consider the possibility that repairing your errors because you can may also be part of your process.

Anonymous said...

I always have a tough time making the decision to rip and then when I finally decide to rip, I feel so relieved that I did. Plus I am glad to have the chance to knit my pattern more and better (maybe not but I tell myself that I am).
So, I'd rip beyond the loopyloo to the edge stitches - since I'm already ripping out.

BeanMama said...

Eunny: would rip. No question.
Margo: Would rip to fix loop (I'd rip to the lifeline and then tink the last 2 rows.) But would probably not rip to fix the edge stitches.
You: It seems to me you've already decided to rip enough to fix the stray loop. Will the edge stitches bug you if you don't continue on to rip them? Only you know the answer to that. Personally -- I almost always have the stray wrong stitch on my edgegs for the same reason you have them! Putting stitch markers 2 stitches in somehow annoys me...

Gray said...

I think that post was itself like lace, with it's own texture and cleverly interconnected sections. I enjoyed your visualization of intimacy and the discussion of how you see it. I would be interested in how you think other people see intimacy and how that affects relationships between people. Perhaps it's my traditional New England roots,

Perfectionism is a funny thing that somewhat depends on one's eyes and expectations. I don't think of myself as a perfectionist because I see all the many flaws in my work. My family and friends hint that I am annoyingly interested in making things perfect.

Perfectionism has a context and is not absolute. When I first started playing wooden baroque flutes with a single key, I tried to achieve the evenness, precise intonation, and power of modern instruments. It took me a long time to learn to listen to the instrument and feel it's music and to play in the flexible, interpretive, and yes, intimate manner that really works for the music of the period. It was very liberating for me to be guided by principles and feelings, rather than be bound by rigid rules and expectations of performance. I am no longer a perfectionist in music, and I am a better and happier instrumentalist because of it. (I bet your playing is terrific even if it isn't perfect, Jodie. Check out old recordings of fabulous violinists before modern recording technology- even the best ones made a surprising number of mistakes.)

Anyway, thanks for a log and interesting post.

Lorena said...

I would tell you to let it go; just rip back to the loop and fix that. I would tell you that nobody would ever notice, and I would tell you that it's okay for it not to be "perfect". Especially because "perfect" is the enemy of "finished".

Having said that, what I would tell you to do is different from what I would do were it me. I would rip it all the way back to the edging and fix that too, because nobody else might notice, but I would. And I have perfectionist issues. ;-)

jodi said...


Rabbitch said...

Dude. I know you don't want to hear it, but I'd rip. The edge dealie is one thing, but the loop? No.


Anonymous said...

I say rip it back and catch both mistakes. I never regret reknitting, but I *always* regret leaving something unfixed. Ripping back never slows you down as much as you think it will.