I’ve been working on a crochet blanket for a couple of years.
Wait, wait, before you leave, this isn’t just a post about a crochet blanket. There’s some deep fricken insight coming up.
Right. So, as with many big crochet projects, I started and stopped a couple times before I settled on a pattern and a rhythm that I could stick with. I’m not opposed to ripping out hours of work if I’m not happy with how a project is coming out. I’m not that great at crochet. I know three or four basic stitches and I’m pretty okay at making square and rectangular things. So, like, scarves and blankets and stuff.
A few years ago, I started making this blanket that I thought would go on our bed. So it had to be vaguely bed-shaped. So like, five feet wide. Which for me, is super fricken big. It’s a lot of yarn. It’s a lot of time. I got some pastel blue, green and off white and did stripes. Muted Cascadia colors. Each row took about fifteen minutes. Each stripe was three rows wide, then I switched colors. So I can see how much time I have spent working on this blanket by counting the rows.
It’s been a long, long time. I wasn’t working on this blanket “steadily.” It’s sort of a super rainy day, extra back burner project. I have a few dozen various projects going at any given time, and the blanket was LOW priority. I liked working on it, but it didn’t feel productive and it felt like it was never, ever going to end.
So the blanket has been half finished for over two years. The last time I picked it up, it had 24 stripes. That means 72 rows. At 15 minutes each, that means 18 hours, not counting the initial stops and do-overs that may have occurred in the beginning.
I picked up the blanket the other day and worked on a few rows. I unfolded it and stretched it out to see how much further I had to go. It was about three feet of stripes, which is what, a bit less than half the size of a queen bed? Sooo much further to go. It was disheartening. I checked the length and, um, huh. I had a problem.
With crochet, you don’t really count stitches. Or at least I don’t. Maybe you’re supposed to. For me, at least, it might take away some of the relaxation and enjoyment, since I’d actually have to concentrate and pay attention to what I was doing. And who wants to do that?
One side of the blanket looked “okay,” more or less a straight line. I could see some places where I may have added a stitch or missed a stitch, resulting in a wider or narrower stripe.
But the other side. The other side looked like a noodle. It was wide in the beginning, when I first started building rows. Then it shrank and shrank until it was a full six inches shorter. It had a curvy edge. Like a noodle.
Goddamnit. It wasn’t just a “little” mistake. It was hours and hours of mistake. It was me just missing an extra stitch over and over, continually shrinking the width. I just kept going and going.
And here’s the total bullshit part: I never noticed. Or I never thought to open up the blanket and examine my work up to that point, before I invested more time in it. I was paying attention to the colors, the individual stitches, the tension of the yarn. I wasn’t paying attention to the end part, where I flipped it around and started a new row.
I worked on this for hours and hours and hours. Over the course of years. And I never stopped to check if the final product was coming out okay. I just stayed on task and never questioned that I was working on a mistake.
And, boom, there’s your metaphor for life in general. See? I told you it was in there.
Haven’t we all done this at one point or another? A crap job? A not-so-great relationship? You just kept your head down, and focused on the details, and hoped the larger picture would sort itself out? Ever work at a career for years and years, and wake up one day to realize you’ve been climbing the wrong ladder? Or treading in the wrong pool? Or swimming with the wrong sharks? I can write crap metaphors all day, folks.
When I finally opened up the blanket and looked at, I had a slow, sinking sense of disappointment. How did I not notice how fucked up it was? How did I go all that time and not think to check? In this case, there was really no way to fix it. At least not with my amateur crochet skills. And I suppose I could live with the blanket being misshapen. But, um, no, I couldn’t. I couldn’t look at it every day and see that wayward edge and remember the hours of wasted time.
The good thing, if there is a good thing in this whole experience, is that I’m willing to rip it all apart and start over. I will rip out all those stitches, all those rows, all those hours, and start from the beginning. I will do it again and again until I’m happy with it. I’d rather get it right than live with that big mistake.
But just to hedge my bets, I might take up knitting.