On changing your mind

Loon Mt Race, 2019 course map

I don’t often back out of running a race due to lack of grit, but after a late-night D&D session, followed by waking up at 4:30 and failing to link up with my carpool, I opted to drive home instead of driving the final hour and a half to get to the race. Crashing back into bed at 7, I slept another 3 hours and woke up feeling refreshed. I was planning on registering at the event, but even if I had registered I don’t think I would have felt bad skipping out. A 6.6 mountain race that I didn’t feel prepared for, I’m honestly just proud that I got out of bed and was initially planning to run it. This isn’t the first time I’ve changed my mind about running a race I was excited about and I don’t think it will be my last. Then again, isn’t that the point of day of registration? I’m allowed to make a last-minute decision on whether or not I want to race.

The same can be said about knitting. You can spend a lot of time and energy choosing yarn colors that go well with each other and then finding a pattern that complements the yarn that you’ve chosen (or the other way around), only to find when everything is put together that it’s not right. Maybe the colors blend together more than you thought they would, making the pattern not worth it because you can’t see colorwork. Maybe the pattern you’ve chosen as a lot of texture that is hidden behind a skein of vibrant variegated color. Maybe the yarn is itchy and you don’t want it against your neck. Maybe you cast on the wrong size or you don’t like the gauge – I could probably list reasons that I have started to second guess my yarn/project choice for a while.

But when all is said and done, you are not committed to the choices you have made. You can purchase different yarn or chose a different pattern. You can make modifications to the project. The only thing you need to be able to stomach is ripping your work, hopefully only a couple inches. While this can add an element of frustration, if you’re going to spend the time to make a project and then more time using it, it should embody what you envisioned.

Murphylu’s Wheat

For this reason, I grudgingly pulled 2 inches of brioche out and cast on a simple scarf. Intending on knitting one color until I ran out and finishing with the second color after seeing a similar scarf knit by MurphyLu (pictured). Over halfway done with my own scarf, I love the sharp contrast between the deep blue and turquoise. Though I’m not sure who the scarf’s intended owner is, I’m confident that the recipient will appreciate the color blocking instead of stripes. It’s also safe to say that I’m significantly happier with how the project is knitting up this time around. To think all I had to do was rip out 2 inches of brioche.

The same can be said in regards to changing your mind in other aspects of life. Want to try out a new haircut? Go for it, if you don’t like your hair it will always grow back. Want to try a new hobby? Go for it, you can always decide you don’t like it. Think you’re going to make smoothies for breakfast every morning and then find out they leave you hungry all day long? It’s ok to think you’re going to like something and then later change your mind. It’s ok to try something again later and realize that you like it.

On one stitch at a time

June 29th, 2019

It happened — my little sister married her long-time boyfriend. It was a beautiful day filled with laughter, glitter, and tears. Lots and lots of happy tears. As Maid of Honor, I was required to give a speech, something that did not daunt me in the slightest. Perhaps I would have been more nervous if I hadn’t been logging hours of presenting time between conference presentations and teaching. Still, it took me hours and a poetic friend to finally feel as though I had perfected my speech.

Things changed as the wedding drew nearer and I started running through my speech for the last couple of times before officially reading it — suddenly I couldn’t get through the speech without choking up. I had worked so hard to pack emotion into the speech so that everyone else would be able to relate to what I was saying, that my words suddenly had too much meaning for me to get through. Still, I didn’t feel nervous. It’s just a speech I told myself, no big deal. I’ve spoken in front of crowds hundreds of times, I can do this.

Fast forward to just after the ceremony, after briefly stopping traffic to capture a couple photos on a local bridge, and just after walking into the reception. I hand the microphone to my Dad so he can welcome everyone and say thank you for coming. As he hands the microphone to my Mom so she can say a few words as well, I notice tears in his eyes. My mom wipes her eyes as she hands the microphone to me and all I can think is sh!t. How am I supposed to get through a 2-minute speech when they could barely get through 20 seconds?

Photo credit: Amazon

Two lines in it happened, a lump formed in my throat and I struggled to breathe. Mutterings of you can do it came from all around me. My mom came up to comfort me and I (more politely than I remember) informed her that if she touches me I’ll cry. For a brief moment, I considered passing the speech off to the bridesmaid to my right. Then I took a breath and continued the speech, one word at a time.

As I continued to read what I had written, my words gained strength and conviction. I made people laugh and later learned that many in the room had cried with me. Giving that speech was harder than any speech or presentation that I had to do simply because I had created an intimate moment between myself, my sister and her new husband that was being shared with the world. I had accidentally made my feelings raw and real in a way that I had not mentally prepared myself to do, dropping walls that I hadn’t realized were in place and opening the room to experience with me the true joy that comes with being an older sister. 

Fiddlehead Mittens, Knit in 2016

This one word a time mentality is not something that I came up with on the fly, it’s a mentality that I have used to get myself through numerous difficult situations. It all started when I starting knitting things more complicated than a simple garter scarf. Staring at patterns that seemed complex and intricate, I was reminded by a fellow knitter than knitting is the manipulation of stitches to create a larger object. Fair Isle, braided cables, socks heels, and intarsia are all possible because the knitter makes one stitch after another. Even beautiful lace patterns are made up of a combination of knits and purls (with a couple of yarn overs thrown in here and there).

The one stitch at a time mentality transformed me as a knitter. I was suddenly willing to take on projects that were just outside my skill level and later made me more willing to modify patterns. It’s gotten me through hard races (one step at a time), heartbreak (one day at a time), a speech (one word at a time) and I’m sure it will get me through many other moments of my life. I will always strive to remind myself that even when something feels too big and impossible, it can be broken down into manageable parts.

My Maid of Honor speech:

Over the years that Sara and Ty have loved one another, many of us have been witness the beautiful moments—both large and small—that they have shared. They have both graduated high school and set their sights on impassioned futures. They have traveled together—enjoying adventures that have taken them from the sunny beaches of Bermuda to various snowy ski slopes of New England, bought a house which they have transformed into a loving home, and so much more. I have observed Ty support and empower my Sister in challenging her fears, pushing her to harness the courage and strength we have all seen within her. I have watched my sister fuel Ty’s passions, supporting and encouraging him to consider all the possibilities he is capable of.

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed in my desire for a sister. I never wavered in my pleas to my mother, and was enthralled as Sara was brought into the world. And all that I ever dreamt a perfect sister could be, stands before us. Mom, Dad, you made the best little sister anyone could have hoped for. I was brought up being told to look after my sister, to protect her, and to keep her out of trouble. And here she stand at 22—relatively intact, beautiful, intelligent, funny, and kind. And as much as I wish to take credit, the true credit belongs to her for being the beautiful human she has grown to be.

On the flip side, I did not ask for a brother—but I got one. I never had any expectations or ideas as to what a brother should be or would be like. But over the years, Ty, you have quickly filled that place in my heart and shown me what joy a brother can bring. Ty, I am so happy to have you officially take the role in my life. As your older sister, I pass the mantel to you. Look at the young woman sitting beside you— treasure her, adore her, and grow in your affection for all the facets that make her who she is. Look after her, and remember this includes holding her hand in public and taking millions of pictures together just because you know it will make her smile. Protect her, sometimes this will mean turning on a light in a dark room in case there are monsters and sometimes this will mean holding her tight while watching a scary movie pretending you’re not frightened as well. Finally, do not lose sight of why you fell in love. The years of marriage will be a journey both vast and winding—and it is by constantly reinforcing your love for one another that you will weather the storms and relish the springs.

Thank you for inviting us to see you off on this path you have chosen to travel together and I hope that your days are filled with a resounding happiness and contentment. Please raise your glasses to Sara and Ty, congratulations on your new marriage. May you have a long and happy life together.

On expectations

Viking combat demonstration

I went to my first renaissance fair this past weekend, a small newer fair that just completed its fourth year. It was a lot of fun — there were combat demonstrations, an archery contest, food trucks, handmade items, a mermaid and so much more. We spoke with a variety of vendors and touched finely crafted practice swords. I even had my first Scottish Egg.

Yet as we left the fair, four hours after arriving, I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated. Yes, I had had a great day. The weather was perfect. The people were friendly. The good was tasty and the demonstrations were informative. That being said, I had been expecting more. In my mind, I was going to be out of place by dressing in jean shorts and a sweatshirt. In my mind, I was going to be immersed in a culture that I would not be able to experience elsewhere. I had been expecting a theme park and was underwhelmed by the demonstrations that supplemented a craft fair, something that wasn’t really fair to the event (again it was fun and I had a great time).

Expectations are complicated and it doesn’t help matters that people often compare things to exceeding or failing to meet them. Is it possible to have realistic expectations? Can someone be truly open-minded whilst having expectations?

As I prepare myself to DM for a friendly game of Dungeons and Dragons, I find myself grappling with these questions. What are my expectations for the game? Will my players feel as though I’ve met their expectations as a DM? Will I exceed them? How does one compensate for expectations and how they are often unrealistic.

Completed Alaska Sweater

Over the past view weeks, I’ve been aggressively working towards the completion of The Loopy Ewe’s first camp challenge of the year. The challenge for the month of June (besides requiring that the project uses more than 400 yards): Since 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk, pick a pattern that was published in 2019 for your first project — A pretty reasonable feat considering how many new patterns have been published that I’ve been head over heels for. Thinking that my SO was heading to graduate school for the entire month, I opted to attempt to make an entire DK weight sweater in the month of June. In this case, my expectations of myself were reasonable. I finished with several days to spare and didn’t let the process completely consume my life.

Yarn for July’s Challenge

Enter July’s challenge: The challenge is to knit a pattern from one of the designer “stars” on Ravelry. Any designer who has three or more pages of patterns listed on Ravelry gets into the “star” category for this challenge (They are prolific stars!). This challenge failed to meet my expectations, why not challenge us to find a “rising star”? Why push us towards patterns that we’ve probably knit before? Not to mention every time I thought I had a good idea I couldn’t find the right color or amount in the shop, but that’s a different type of frustrating. Despite this, I feel as though I can still meet my expectation of completing a project over 400 yards in July. Especially considering the project is about half of the size of June’s.

So are expectations bad? I don’t think so, especially when you use them to drive yourself towards a goal. Other times, I think you need to check your expectations at the door and be willing to run with the punches, sometimes the things you weren’t expecting are just as good as the ones you were.