The Instructions Are Merely a Suggestion

A few years ago, I took up knitting again, after a long hiatus. And I really do enjoy the actual knitting of stitches part. One stitch after another. I see it as a sort of meditation for my restless soul.

But I’ve always had a problem with the sewing together the finished product part. I get all the pieces done and then they sit in a pile somewhere until it’s time to tidy up for company and then they get moved to a drawer or a basket where they can sit for, seriously, up to a year, waiting. Eventually, I just have to get tough with myself and make threats like, no new projects until I’ve finished that sweater. Which is usually the start of another long knitting hiatus. And then my sister comes for a visit and wants to see what’s new in our local yarn shop and I get excited about knitting again and finally,  FINALLY sit down and do the finishing that has been weighing on my soul for so very long.

I’m not sure why, but it finally occurred to me to take a different approach with the sweater I’m currently working on. The instructions say to make the back. And then the front. And then the sleeves. And then you sew it all together and the last thing you do is pick up the stitches around the neck and knit the collar. Which is really hard to do. An entire sweater, all sewn together is ungainly and heavy. And the reason why I set them aside the way I do.

But this time, as I was contemplating a year of minor dread and failure. And because, for me at least, procrastination isn’t just a sign of looming depression, but also causes it, the idea popped into my head to just sew up the shoulder seam and make the collar before I even started knitting the sleeves. Just get the onerous, difficult task out of the way while I was still excited about overall project. Genius inspiration! And without the extra weight of the sleeves, it was a whole lot easier.

Now, I realize that many of you have no interest in knitting, but it was one of those moments that made me look around at my life and wonder what other instructions I should ignore?

I’ve avoided coming back to this blog for 2017 because New Year doesn’t actually feel like a fresh start to me. I need a change in the weather to get that kind of excited. April and September are my time for making plans and launching projects and feeling energized. January makes me feel like a bear, living off my fat reserves and sleeping as much as I can. Who’s with me?

I also cannot start my morning the way the efficiency experts keep saying you should, by getting the most important task done first. My day starts with a cup of tea, if Alan’s home, or a walk with the dog if he’s not and then a cup of tea. Checking e-mail and social media. Another cup of tea. A mooch around for breakfast. And then, when I’m fully awake and know that all my friends are safe and well, then I can get to the tasks that I need or want to get done. It works for me. And from now on, when I start to feel bad about myself because I’m not a leap out of bed and grab the day kind of person, or a fresh start in January kind of person, I’ll try to remember how it feels to wrestle with an entire sweater while picking up the stitches round the neckline versus how it feels to do that before the sleeves are done.

In other words, I will try to remember that the instructions, wherever I may find them are really only a suggestion, a reflection of what worked for the person writing them and I am free to come up with a way that actually works for me.

And how about you, lovelies? What are your thoughts and dreams as we head into 2017?

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7 Responses to The Instructions Are Merely a Suggestion

  1. Mary Ann Rosenbloom says:

    Sounds absolutely perfect to me!

  2. Pam says:

    I’m with you Barb. Two cups of coffee and check on everyone before procrastinating. Normal. Thanks for another allegory on life. Brilliant, as usual.

  3. Marg. O'Reilly says:

    My sentiments as well, a procrastinator. But the part about feeling okay with it…this I need. So thank you!

  4. Lynda says:

    I’m with you and the plants and animals. Curl up. Conserve energy. Walk when it’s sunny. Sleep when it isn’t.

  5. Beverley McCormack says:

    I was just the same when I could still knit – I enjoyed the stitch by stitch part but was afraid, for some reason, especially when there was something tricky or new, of the sewing together part. When I sewed I disliked the instructions for setting in sleeves so did that before sewing the side seams and felt good when the pattern instructions started to do that, too.

    As for January, it’s my low part of the year and spring and early fall are definitely more invigorating and uplifting. Winter is for surviving and hibernation seems like a good approach, if a lonely one for a human.

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