I remember when I first began knitting and was squeaking away, hard at work on cheap needles and yarn that was cheaper still - but then I would realize I'd made some error way back there, three rows down and the only way back was to pull. That time it took for me to knit those rows, the time still to fiddle the stitches back onto the needles, and then that painful re-knitting, all compiled into waste. Knitting a swatch was half a day's effort; yards and yards of discarded yarn. As I gripped my needles, white knuckled and teeth clenched, my husband would ask if knitting was supposed to be relaxing, quietly out of the side of his mouth as if the extra air between us would filter out what he was implying which was that - maybe - I was shit at this.
Though it is probably easier to forget those terrible days as I casually watch a move with needles flicking and yarn slipping over and under my fingers as I tension without a thought, I try not to; I want to remember the feeling of being confused, frustrated, and anxious while learning the language of knitting and what that language was guiding me to do. It's in the remembering that keeps me at it, nudged along gently. I would say the same goes for my design work. The earliest of my attempts were clumsy at best, but I was peeling back the mystery of design as I worked. My first patterns accepted for print and all the hours, tears, research, knitting and ripping, floods of self-doubt and agony cultivated the designer I am still developing into; it makes the writing process, even when it's still challenging, sweet and fulfilling.
However, it's not all sunshine and roses - right? And just recently I worked a sample nearly to the finish before I finally listened to the nagging in my head and did a test block. I don't know if this is a common practice with designers - and it's something I do rarely - but I needed to see if the shaping was as dramatic as I had feared. I transferred the stitches onto waste yarn long enough to block out the shawl properly, gave it a quick soak and began pinning. And then re-pinning. And then I stood back and looked at it, hawing over the sad realization that my inner nag was right all along. Was there a way I could change the shaping from here and save it? Maybe if I just go ahead with the border it will all magically work out and not be so... wobbly. As I was standing over it, doing my best to justify this product, my fella walked in.
-What's going on here? -Um, just checking on this shaping... -Are you going to be mad if I give you my honest opinion? -No, you don't like it? -I just don't like this (insert gesture that highlights exactly what I'm trying to justify not fixing). -Uh, well, I mean, I can add some short rows here and here and that will fix the issue with the width while also smoothing this out... -(insert stoic stare) -Aw fuck. Okay, I'm frogging this turd.
And that's exactly what I did. I ripped the entire shawl back, did a couple little shaping swatches, and started from scratch. Which meant the pattern that was nearly complete needed to be re-worked from the cast on forward also. The second time around, the shawl is working up precisely as I had envisioned it and the pattern was able to be simplified greatly. I feel like I'm nestled in a hug of win-win despite that lost time, the hours and days that I had been misguided, ignoring my own quiet little taps on the shoulder. Maybe the lesson I'm meant to be learning at this stage is to listen to myself, hear my intuition, and change course before sailing my creaky little ship right into the heart of the storm.