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

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Some years back, my husband and I were moving briskly north, along M-22 in Leelanau County, Michigan, on our way to burgers and brew at Fischer's Happy Hour Tavern, when we took a wrong turn.

The sky was breathtaking, the lakeshore beckoned, and the sunset promised to be spectacular. It was definitely time for a detour.

After several false starts, a few dead ends and a jaunt across a neighbor's orchard road, we came out at a tiny little "pocket" park, perched atop the bluffs above Lake Michigan, with a long downward trailing series of wooden steps, ending in a deserted beach.

We were hooked.

Plans went out the window, hunger took a backseat, and we settled in to watch one of the most spectacular shows God has ever invited us to.

And it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't taken a wrong right turn.


Writers take detours all the time.

Your first draft is the place where you allow your fancies to fly freely, knowing that you can always edit out the most egregious parts. You allow yourself to go places where you aren't entirely sure you belong.

You get off the interstate. You take the road less traveled. You explore the detours, because you never know what you will find.

And what you find in your wanderings often surpasses the original plan. This spontaneity is what breathes life into the words, and causes a reader to catch her breath and go,

"Ooh! never thought of it that way..."

But implicit in this process is the need for openess on the writere's part and a willingness to make mistakes. A first draft can only be free, if it is followed by a second. And a third. And a fourth.

And so on...and so on...and so on...

By the time you submit a manuscript for publication, it is often on its 30th (or better) iteration.

So, writers learn to let go of a lot of their "best" work, as it winds up on the cutting room floor.

Right alongside the ego.


We often hold onto things that no longer belong in our lives, whether they be outgrown clothes, bad habits, harmful ideas, or dead end jobs. One of the hardest things to embrace is change.

And yet, change is the unwavering and only constant in our lives.

It took me three years of therapy to embrace change.

And it is a good thing I did, because this week saw a lot of iterations.

I went off-road with Magic Carpet last week. I took wrong turns. I jounced along foreign lanes. I let the tide carry me to distant shores.

I designed my own lace pattern for the first time.

And all because eight doesn't divide into nineteen evenly.

Remember this?

It is the transition between the 19 stitch palmetto leaf pattern and the 8 stitch chevron.

More precisely, it WAS the transition between the 19 stitch palmetto leaf pattern and the 8 stitch chevron.

Because I just wasn't happy with it. The motifs formed by my midnight meanderings across the graph paper were too large. They were out of scale with the delicacy of the lace.

So I took what I learned, I ripped back, and started over...

And over...

And over...

And over...

In all, I started nine times, before I finished with...

Something I was proud of.

Something that made a smooth transition between and looked like a natural continuation of: both patterns.

Something that reduced my stitch count and looked like it belonged.

Something that was worthy of the project.

Something that lived up to her "big sister's" beauty.

You could say I conducted my own tutorial in lace design last week. Each time I surveyed the ten to twenty rows involved, I saw things I liked. I also saw things I didn't.

Each time I returned to the drawing board ( or the laptop, to be accurate) I took what I learned and made it better.

Until the final iteration, when I couldn't find anything that displeased my eye.

The carpet flies...

The palmetto pattern slides effortlessly into ...

a radiant sunburst that echoes the diagonal lines of the stems; the diamonds mirror the shape of the leaves, and...

offsetting the chevron pattern provides a different look to the pattern while segueing nicely into...

the conventional vertical line of the plain chevron pattern.

Give 'er thirty or forty more rows and she''ll be ready to block. Sometime tomorrow, I'm guessing.

Ten iterations...

Nine rough drafts...

One finished design...

And one satisfied (if worn out) designer.

Kits are available at a presale price of $30


Cheryl, the jungian Knitter said...

Lovely! The scarf and the writing!

Unknown said...

Turns in the road always become interesting adventures - both good and bad. Change is a necessary part of life - including leaving baggage, real and emotional, behind.
And your designs, with all the iterations, corrections, changes and turns in the road do create a fantastic magic carpet ride.

Ronni said...

I love how often you make me think about wider issues when you write. I love that sunset too. It's beautiful. As is the scarf. Which I'm off to pre-order. I'll be knitting for the rest of my life at this rate. ;-)

Diane said...

What a difference between the draft and the finished design! I love the way the three columns form a unity now. Before they seemed to split into three distinct elements. Absolutely stunning. Can't wait.

Megan said...

It's funny how scary change can be and yet when embracing it change can be a powerful thing. What you have created is beautiful and reading about your magic carpet journey just makes me want to knit it even more. I can't wait to order the kit!!!

Lisa said...

Gorgeous! Your perserverance and willingness to take a curve really paid off.

Kristina B said...

You write excellently. Ironically, my original job desire was to become a magazine journalist, but a very twisted path led me to practicing law. I'll have to write about it someday!

Thank you for the inspiration - it is interesting to read about others' creative process.

margene said...

Magic Carpet is gorgeous! Good work.

Donna Lee said...

It's just lovely. You took separate elements and turned them into a beautiful unified whole. Thanks for sharing the creative process. It's fascinating to me to see how these works of art come about.

La Cabeza Grande said...

Simply gorgeous flow of individual pieces into the whole fabric. Kudos!

Dove Knits said...

This is a wonderful post, and a wonderful scarf.