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May 17, 2013

Today would have been my graduation day, had I stayed with my degree. Instead I am sitting almost 500 miles away watching the day pass by and thinking about what it means to be here a year later. One of the movies I have been watching recently has been 500 days of Summer. (Shout out to my best friend for introducing it to me) In particular I have been considering the scene where it is a split screen of expectations versus reality. (Great scene by the way.) I can safely say that when it comes to my life a year out from the ivory tower, I am nowhere near my expectations. Far short to be honest.


I have heard quite a few places that knitting can be a good metaphor for life, and I agree with the idea. Take for instance the blanket I have been working on the last six months. I have posted numerous times about the trials and tribulations of this behemoth. It has been a test of will and endurance, almost an entire mile of garter stitch. Knitting and knitting and knitting. Hours, days, weeks and months are wrapped up in this thing. Was I foolish for picking fingering weight to work on this thing (hell yes!) Is the pattern boring enough to reduce me to tears (sometimes.) Have I been tempted to abandon it in favor of a really nice toaster, burying the blanket deep in the woods under the cover of moonlight and denying its very existence? (Only twice, so far.)



This blanket is a great lesson in terms of expectation versus reality. I am less than a month away from the wedding, at this point I honestly expected to be finished with the thing. I expected to have it washed, blocked and wrapped beautifully. I expected it to be perfect. There would be no cat hair woven into the blanket (having meticulously removed each strand.) I expected the knitting to be solid and there would be no mistakes. It would stand as a testament to all that is wonderful and amazing and beautiful about knitting. I may have expected (however whimsically)  that a parade would be constructed in my honor, and people would be clamoring down my door to sit at my feet and learn all there is to know about knitting. I expected to curse a lot less.


My reality is far different. I am not finished with even the main part. I still don’t know what I am going to do about the border. I have made mistakes, and while I have fixed most of them there are a few that escaped my sight until it was too late. I don’t think anyone will be throwing a parade, I don’t anticipate anyone wanting to learn from me (unless it is a study in how to make oneself crazy trying to knit something for others.) There is cat hair littering the blanket (and while I am removing it, I apparently thought I could live in a little balloon avoiding the dust buffalo which roam my apartment.) Let’s not talk about the cursing, suffice it to say there was some very adult language pertaining to the simplicity of the knit stitch, and the failure to execute it properly.



Just like with the rest of my life, my reality is in no way living up to my expectations. The blanket is still unfinished, and I am still unemployed. I don’t have a border picked out nor did I write the next great American novel in the last year, (well beyond chapter 3.) I am still trying to figure out where I am going in life and struggling to deal with what it means that I can’t execute a basic knit stitch at 3 in the morning.

But there is one thing I have started to notice. As each stitch builds on the other and as each day ends,there is movement. I may have to frog a row (or seven) and I may not end up with that interview, but there is movement. Too often I am focused on the big forward movement moments. A graduation, a completed blanket. If my day falls short of being something life altering does it mean it wasn’t a good day? If I knit for three hours and don’t finish a section does it mean the knitting was a waste? No. My expectations of where I am supposed to be, and how I am supposed to feel don’t match the reality. And so today, I am going to embrace the sadness, I will acknowledge the loss, knit on the blanket and I will know, in the end it’s still movement.




From → Writing

  1. You will finish it one day and then you will be sad. Enjoy every stitch. You have your life ahead of you. Unfortunately for me, most of it is behind me. Therefore I wonder if I will ever life long enough to finish something. I treasure every stitch because those stitches will be there when I am gone. They are my legacy.

  2. doctordana permalink

    I had the opposite problem — I couldn’t finish anything because I didn’t want it to end. So I kept going to grad school, kept setting aside half-knit projects, kept not-quite-finishing lots of things just because once I did, then they’d be done and I couldn’t enjoy doing them anymore. Or even worse, I didn’t know what I’d be doing with myself afterwards! Scary! I finally did use knitting to train myself that it was okay to finish things, and that there was always something else you could start afterwards. And once I learned it was okay to finish a sweater, then I figured out it might be okay to finish a thesis.

    Most people don’t believe me when I say that I should have quit grad school early, that the piece of paper doesn’t relate to what I really wanted to do. So I admire you for being brave enough to know what’s right for you!

    (Also, that blanket is a real behemoth! Kudos for your perseverance! I’ve never finished a knitted blanket, though I’ve started several…)

  3. Your writing is as lovely as your knitting, you have a voice in your writing that is quite captivating. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Gosh, in some ways your knitting project sounds like a metaphor for thesis-writing! For a border — just to get it done but make it nice — might I suggest a picot crochet edge or 3-stitch i-cord. If you’re looking for an overwhelming amount of inspiration, Nicky Epstein has a few books on borders (Knitting over the edge, Knitting on the edge, Crocheting over the edge, The essential edgings collection : 500 of her favorite original borders). Try your local library and see what they have in stock!

  5. shellssells permalink

    Beautiful post, fantastic metaphor. And if life altering things happened every day, or even every month, we’d be exhausted. It is the building toward it that really counts, that creates the character and the beauty. So, good on you for creating character and beauty this year.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I agree that the big moments can’t happen too often, I just tend to rely on them too much.

    • You’ve communicated what I couldn’t about this post. Thanks IK for sharing.

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