women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Only Thing We Have to Fear...

“In my life I suffered from many terrible things, and a few of them actually happened.”
-Mark Twain

I have a new title: Lace Muse. This title was conferred upon me by the lovely ladies of the Beginning Lace Group on Ravelry. I was browsing the new groups last week and happened on this newly formed group of neophytes, whose banner reads, "Scary Lace." Now I know a bit about lace. I certainly don't consider myself an expert, but I do think I am at least marginally competent.

So I joined up. Why? Because I thought I could help.

I started a new thread called, "I'm happy to help out..." And the thread has 37 posts in
11 days. I answer all questions to the best of my ability and they have ranged from charts vs. written directions, to what needles to use, to gauge considerations, to yarn recommendations, to pattern suggestions, to emergency tinking advice, general encouragement, and grief counseling.

I have made
many new friends already and know that I have helped at least a few, as they have told me so. I find myself entering other conversations in the group (at their behest) and now I am...

the Lace Muse. Go figure.

The other day, I stumbled onto a thread that had devolved into statements like, "
Lace has always intimidated me" and "I also have tried, but am frustrated. " How sad.

So I got out my pom poms, hitched up my cheerleading outfit and reassured all of them that the rewards outweighed the risks, and they should not be scared. Lace is a learning process, like anything else in life. Once you become accustomed to its rhythm and symmetry, the pieces begin to fall into place.

A lot has been written this January about "fearless" knitting. I think it is an import
ant topic. Sometimes, we let the "what if"s come between us and the life we could be leading.

What if I make a mistake?

Then you frog back and correct it and your sock looks like this:

but it's temporary...

What if I make a mistake in my pattern math?

Already did

But my test knitter caught it...

What if I drop a stitch?

All the newbies are astounded ( but somewhat reassured) that the Lace Muse makes mistakes too. As do we all...

What if it doesn't fit?

Frog it back and reknit it so it does:

There is still plenty of winter left once you finish the hat...

What if the pattern isn't working for me at the gauge specified?

Knit it at a gauge you are comfortable with, and do more repeats if it is too small.

And knitting questions are the easy ones. Try these on for size:

What if he doesn't love me?

What if he does?

(Which one of those questions you find scariest will vary from person to person, I suspect...)

What if no one buys my patterns? (That's one from my closet of horrors)

What if everyone does, and I become famous like the Yarn Harlot and people follow me everywhere and I no longer have time for my family, because Oprah just listed my shawl as one of her 2008 "favorite things, and I'm sold out until 2010?

OK, maybe I'm getting carried away here...

What if I run out of chocolate?

Uh Oh...

What if I run out of yarn?

So not gonna happen...

What if I run out of ideas? (Whoops, there's another from the closet. Or was it hiding under the bed?)

The point is:

We don't know the answers. We can only ask the questions.

And when the questions begin to overwhelm us (usually late at night), we need to step back from the edge, take a deep breath, and conquer the "what if"s...

with a good, hearty "So what."

Because if we live our lives in fear, we tie ourselves up in knots, and what should be a grand adventure turns into a test.

We forget why we are here:

  • To love fiercely with our whole hearts
  • To bind up each other's wounds
  • To create beauty out of chaos

To bring the holes and tangles of our lace, of our lives, into harmony.

To live dangerously fearlessly.


Anonymous said...

Well said!

This post is standing ovation quality!

I am applauding here in West Michigan!

La Cabeza Grande said...

But what if you do all that and it STILL doesn't work (from my own closet of scary things)? I suppose you just walk away, with the lessons (hopefully) learned tucked away in your beautiful handbag :o)

So, pompoms. Really...

vi said...

you can tell the newbies......

vi says......rippin is knittin......

and it surely is

my bugaboo is fear of poverty
been there and so did that
and do NOT want to repeat it

so i grow a garden
i can foods
i trade soap and eggs and other things for meat and fruits i can't grow

but that particular fear still haunts me late at night


(how's our lusted after shawl doing??????.....)

Miss Bea said...

Yes. Another Standing O from MA!

You write so eloquently, I have very much enjoyed reading this last month or so.

Thanks for posting =)

Lisa said...

I hope you have the biggest yarn poms ever and that you knitted yourself a doggone cute cheerleader outfit. I think it's great that you are encouraging people to try something they're not comfortable with. If none of us did, we would all be knitting garter stitch scarves. Now don't get me wrong, I like garter stitch scarves, but if we ALL knit them, the knitting world would be so boring!

Agata said...

Hurrah! Very well put and obviously heartfelt. Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

Geeze Louise this entry brought an inspirational tear to my eye! Your prose is much more closely related to poetry m'dear!

Ronni said...

Thanks for posting exactly what I needed to read today.

amy said...

Hear hear.

I've always been fearless with the knitting; I don't know why I can't apply that to other areas in my life, though. With the knitting, I always assume that if I don't know how to do something necessary to what I want to accomplish, I will learn how. I'll figure it out. Just today I emailed a newly knitting friend who sounded discouraged that she wasn't whipping along quickly with her very first project (the ubiquitous garter stitch scarf). I told her I didn't knit this quickly when I started, I made all sorts of mistakes (and still do), but as long as I am learning something, well, I consider it a success.

Knitting is very forgiving. I keep forgetting the rest of life can be, too.

Donna Lee said...

And what's the worst thing that can happen? You rip it out and start again, and again, and again. I have learned that I can't count to 5 some days and some days I sail through more complicated things with no problems. The fundamental karma of life says that I needed to learn a lesson so life found a way to teach me. Now, if only I paid more attention to those lessons.

Marigold said...

well, to those of us who don't knit lace, your patterns (patterns that you make up! wow!) are very impressive. Yes, you definitely deserve the title Lace Muse :)

EGunn said...

Hear, hear! My favorite thing about knitting: the worst you can end up with is a tangled ball of yarn. And really, in the big scheme of things, what are a few tangles along the way? Yay for trying things that are "too hard" and doing them anyway!

Anonymous said...

I just read your post and think its fabulous. The only time I've been scared of knitting has been when I haven't read the pattern - when you read it and approach bit by bit then its no problem - I guess thats why when you create something from scratch it can work really well as you problem solve as you go along. As for lifes little problems..... well life is a work in progress and I suspect most of us are not around to admire the finished article so may as well enjoy the process instead

Pat K said...

And I have to remind myself, too, usually late at night, that it's supposed to be an adventure. Knitting? That's easy. Life? Frequently not. But most problems never got as bad as I imagined. Thanks for another great post!

Anonymous said...

I most surely hope Mr. McGregor and peter are okay. I am looking forward to knitting them. I even have a few paypal dollars squirreled away for when it is ready.

Dorothy said...

Your help is SO appreciated over at Scary Lace!

"What if? What if?" I ask that a lot. I usually end with - "God's got it under control - THANK GOODNESS!"

Have a blessed day!

Lucia said...

There's a paint-your-own-pottery studio nearby where I painted myself a lovely bowl recently (we went there with visiting relatives over the holidays) -- and it did turn out really nice, but short of my vision, and once it's fired there's no going back. That's what I like about knitting.

Your "what if?" game sounds like a relative of my "if I won the lottery..." game.

People think lace is hard, and a lot of it is really not -- the simpler patterns are easier than plain knitting in a way, because mistakes are glaringly obvious and easy to fix.

Ev said...

Thanks for putting things into perspective.

First time reader here; found you through Ravelry. I'm very much enjoying what I've read so far and intend to come back (after work?) for more.