I am, and always have been, a perfectionist. My grandmother has a pin that says “recovering perfectionist”. This is not me. My grandmother says that she is learning to say ‘good enough’ and stop there. This is also not me. I am a perfectionist, I will strive for perfection, I will redo things as many times as it takes to achieve perfection, and I will not apologize for it.
But I have learned to focus it.
There’s this thing about knitting. Until you cut the yarn, you can always take it out again. Actually, even after you cut the yarn, you can take it out again, it’s just harder to cover it up. Which means you can focus all your perfectionism at your knitting, and do it as many times as you need to to get it right — and not drive everyone around you crazy! Well, almost. I once made a triangular shawl out of variegated blue/green yarn. It was beautiful, and showed off the yarn very nicely, and had a wonderful drape to it. I wore it to Passover. The next day I frogged the entire thing. (Knitting term: frogging. When unknitting something, one rips it, right? The call goes out to ‘rip it’. Hence, to frog it.) My housemates sat there and stared at me in horrified fascination. They had watched me knit the shawl. It had taken several weeks. And in one afternoon, I took the entire thing apart, because I knew I would never wear it again. It wasn’t what I had wanted. I made a shrug out of the yarn instead, and don’t wear it very often. Perhaps that will come out sometime as well . . . . .
In college, I aspired to knit a sweater. It was the first sweater I was going to have knit, and I wanted it to be perfect. I bought the yarn, Cotton Classic, a few weeks before graduation. I remember my friends giving me the strangest looks when I sat down in my seat for the graduation ceremony — and pulled from my sleeve the base color of the sweater, the cast on pattern, and a pair of circular needles! Seriously, though, they wanted me to sit for how long in that chair, and listen to them speechify? They had to be kidding. I got about an inch and a half done that afternoon!
I knit my sweater diligently. I knit it from the waist up to the shoulders, in wide stripes, one skein of yarn per strip, so I always knew when to move onto the next color. I made cap sleeves, and a v-neck. I got it finished in time for a dear friend’s wedding in June. In June . . . in heavy cotton . . . and the heat and humidity . . . I almost passed out from over heating. Okay, enough of that. I figured I’d add sleeves, full length, so it would be a winter sweater! Easy, right? Never mind that I’d never done sleeves before. I bought more yarn, digging though my credit card receipts to find the one with the colors listed so it would match. I picked up stitches at the edge of the existing cap sleeves and knit merrily away. And knit more slowly. And stopped knitting and left it alone for a month or so. And frogged a bit and then left it alone for another month or three. And ignored the fact that the sleeves weren’t right. And finally laid it out on the bed to look at and swore a bunch and went and looked up new sweater patterns. *sigh*
This time, I followed the directions. I found the Incredible Custom-fit Raglan Sweater on Ravelry, and I followed the directions. Since I had knit the original sweat from the waist to the neck, and the new pattern was from the neck to the waist, I didn’t bother actually frogging it. Why should I? The yarn was already neatly arranged in the order I wanted it in, I wouldn’t have to chase down rolling balls of yarn, nor rewind center-pull balls. It was perfect! I picked out the end of the bind off around the neck, and cast on for the neck of the new sweater, knitting the yarn out of the first sweater and into the second sweater, and carrying around both at the same time. Two sweaters, one being created and the other destroyed, connected by a thin line of yarn, was an entertainment all of its own! More than two years after I first cast on the blasted sweater, it was finally done, and I wore it to work every day that winter for about three months straight.
You’ll notice that I got the sleeve stripes to line up with the torso stripes. I used Fibonacci’s 1,1,2,3 sequence to blend the colors together. It’s Perfect!