Jul 302008

last Sunday. It’s funny, and I’ve heard others who had the same experience that after the long anticipation of turning 40 last year the actual event seemed quite anti-climatic. It felt like something just clicked into place. And so the 41 felt uneventful too.

Which is good. These days I like uneventful. So, on Sunday I got up after having slept enough, made breakfast, and we had the traditional “Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte”. Well, apart from my husband who has turned out to be lactose-intolerant so he had lactose-free homemade cherry pie. We had a really nice relaxed Sunday, smoked salmon for lunch, and went out to a new Indian restaurant for dinner.

In fact the day was so relaxed that I spent hours on the computer, gazing longingly at spinning wheels. Because that’s entirely reasonable, a) to start spinning when you’re life is already bursting with things that you love to do, and b) decide on which spinning wheel you want to buy on looks alone even when you don’t have any intention of buying one. At least I didn’t have that intention until after I had looked at spinning wheels for a couple of hours. Ahem.

I also did spend a bit of time with my family. And I thought about the fact that the kind of birthday I had this year would have felt like a disappointment to me just a couple of years ago. I would have wanted to have a big party. I would have wanted to be treated like a queen for the day. But then I changed a bit and for now it feels better this way.

I did get presents though. I like presents. But I always feel a bit self-conscious writing about them in my blog. I fell like I’m bragging but then it’s just that they make me smile. Even though most of them haven’t arrived yet.

My son got me some flowers from the garden which my mother-in-law arranged into a very nice little bouquet. (He told me that he chose to give me flowers because it was less work than drawing a picture…)

My husband got me a very nice surprise:

It’s a Vietnamese cookbook that has a lot of marvelous pictures, recipes, and essays about Vietnamese culture, and history. I have been reading and looking through it daily since I got it. I remember telling my husband that I wanted a Chinese cookbook some time ago but I forgot all about it. He went to the bookstore, and this book was much more appealing than the Chinese ones. Well, as far as I have had the chance to try it I really love Vietnamese food.

My sister got me a very considerate Wollmeise gift certificate.

My parents and my mother-in-law contributed to the things I had wanted, with my parent’s present I ordered an array of pressure feet for my sewing machine (a walking foot! a button food! an overlock foot! an invisible zipper foot! (For those of you who can’t get that excited about sewing machine accessories that isn’t an invisible foot which would be impossible to keep track of but a foot for putting zippers into garments so that you don’t see the zipper all sticking out.))

In anticipation of my mother-in-laws gift I had ordered two drop spindles and some fiber, and now she has been so generous that I may even place yet another order with u-handbag and get myself a Sofia pattern. (And the Weekender bag pattern, and interfacing, and handles, and, and, and – I better put a stop to this immediately. First I’ll sew what’s already here taking up dresser space. Then I’ll place an order.)

I’m really most excited about the drop spindles because after resisting for months and restraining myself I finally gave in and allowed myself to try spinning again. And I ordered a wooden spindle for starting out again because I’ll certainly drop it a lot, and a very, very pretty one that’s very lightweight because I remember that when I first spun more than twenty years ago I was totally disappointed because I couldn’t spin finer yarn (and that was before I discovered lace knitting). Nowadays I know that the spindle I had was too heavy for that.

I can’t show you pictures of these though since they haven’t arrived yet. So, now I’m waiting for the packages… Instead I’ll show you how I look at 41:

Jun 302008

So, today the sun was shining again, and I finally managed to take picture of the finished stole. It only took me ten days… (I wrote aboug the stole and it’s transformation in another post. That’s where those of you who want to know can also find the information about pattern and yarn.)

I found the pattern when I followed a link to the Hanami stole I had seen on somebody else’s blog. It’s by the same designer. The swirls and ornaments appealed to me instantly. I wanted to knit this stole for myself.

It’s called Scheherazade, and I thought of mine as my storyteller stole. Telling stories seems to be more important to me than I have recognized in the past. So this stole became a symbol to me.

While knitting I imagined myself on stage, singing, and wearing it. Not very practical, but then.

Of course it’s a writing talisman too

Jun 202008

September 09, 2007: Downloaded pattern for Scheherazade Stole.

November 30, 2007: Wollmeise Lace-Yarn in “Campari Orange” arrived.

March 31, 2008: After ten days work.

June 17, 2008: Blocking

I have to keep you in suspense for the final result because I was to busy to take a picture today. But I promise one soon.

Jun 202008

Of course I thought I would have it all figured out by now. And I do have a job. A job I happen to like. But then, I always seem to get restless after a while. I have already written about how I feel like I’m pulled in several directions at once, how the things I like doing just don’t go together that well.

Which reminds me that I had promised you a post about the things I like. I have been thinking about it for weeks now but all I can come up with is “Raindrops on roses, and warm woolen mittens, …” (and I just found that I misquoted it, I’m horrible at remembering song lyrics) Every time I try to write a list of things I like I end up with something like this, and it feels totally arbitrary.

So. I’m almost 41 now, and I keep thinking about what to do with my life, where it’s headed, and I still don’t know. Music is important, I now know this, because without music I get depressive. Sometimes I also get depressive with music but without it I always do. I know that I want to sing more, and make up songs, and improvise, and that I want to perform again. I only don’t know how or where or when or with whom. And I find that it feels a bit pointless to hum to myself at home, and so I bought myself a new recording thingie that is sitting on my desk and gathers dust. (I actually recorded something and started to write a post about this at the end of, um, April. Well.)

Last year I had this feeling that I should become a tarot reader. I bought tons of books, and three more decks of tarot cards, bought a spiral notebook, and started learning the meaning of two tarot cards each day. For about a week or two. Because while I enjoy pulling cards and doing readings for people with the oracle cards that I have, I never can remember the meanings of the cards. I always have to look them up. And while I feel pretty good about drawing cards for people it then occurred to me that people might want to know about serious life-issues, and I didn’t feel up to the task. Also, learning while I go along might work for the things I usually teach and do but for this I felt that I needed a better foundation. I haven’t abandoned the thought, though, it’s just one of the things that is swirling around in my mind.

Then there’s the knitting. It has become quite important to me again over the past year (which you might have noticed), and so I started thinking along the lines of, “Maybe I should teach knitting classes.” or design knitting patterns again and see where that leads me. That’s my latest spleen, and so I have started drafting a plan for knitting classes, and have run into my old obstacle of not being able to promote myself. I just can’t do it. I have all these plans, and enthusiasm, and I know people would love the classes but when I put it all to paper it becomes stiff and hollow and brittle. My husband has been going over my draft to help me, and now it’s up to me again.

Then, the designing. As I have said before, having ideas is never the problem for me. (And I thank God for that.) As soon as I decided that I wanted to design something there were a few ideas popping up. I even bought yarn, and I have thought about them constantly. Now all I need is a couple of days to really do something. And, most important of all, I need some space in my head for that.

Just in case you’re wondering why I, all of a sudden, think that I can design knitting patterns, well, back in the eighties when I lived in a small town I pretty much made up all my own patterns. Not always successful but then, these days, I actually knit gauge swatches and such, and on top of that I’m totally willing to rip everything back until it looks like I want it to. The only thing I’m a bit nervous about is that in the eighties sweaters were just rectangles, and these days they are supposed to fit a bit more tightly. On the other hand, from what I see these days, baggy sweaters might be back again soon. And designing fitting sweaters only means doing a bit more math. Which, strangely enough, is not a problem, it only takes a bit more time.

I also would like to teach creativity, and work as a coach but I have this feeling that I need to grow a bit before doing that. The other thing I’d like to do is improvised music. So I’m planning to teach circle singing, and waiting for the opportunity to improvise with others.

Then there’s the writing. I like doing it but I still have to read my two NaNoWriMo-novels. (That still sounds weird, my two novels. Lately someone asked me what I had been doing, and when I told her “I have been writing more, there’s the blog, and I have written first drafts of two novels and a screen play.” it sounded really weird to me. But then, it’s true nonetheless. It won’t do me any good, though, until I do something with what I have.)

I know that this is pretty much the recurrent theme of my blog, my lack of focus on just one thing. So, I have decided that I’m unable to do just one thing, and go in all directions at once. Which is fine, only now all these things in my head keep canceling each other out. Where to start? I start each day with a plan to do one of the important things, like, “Today I’ll be working on my concept for knitting classes!” then procrastination happens, or housework, or blog reading, or exercise, or family, and soon it’s “I’ll do it on the weekend when I’ll be having more time.” (That one’s always good for a laugh.), and so the weeks go by one after the other.

So, this, of course, will be the weekend when I will be:

  1. Doing some extra thing with my son like going to the zoo, or riding our bikes.
  2. Sew a dress, and about three bags.
  3. Knit about 250 rows on Mystic Meadows.
  4. Clean the house.
  5. Do all the laundry.
  6. Design and knit a pair of socks and a men’s sweater.
  7. Finish my plan for knitting lessons, write a CV to go with it, take a new picture of myself, write accompanying letter, and mail it off.
  8. Sleep for at least eight hours straight each night.
  9. Cook something not fast food-like.
  10. Read half of “Shadowplay”, “The Mindful Way through Depression”, a third of “Spook Country”, “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames”, and re-read “Mindful Knitting: Inviting Contemplative Practice to the Craft”. (I sense a theme here with the self-help books.)
  11. Watch two games of soccer because of the European Championship.
  12. Write my monthly story for the writing group.
  13. Mix the improvisation I recorded.
  14. Record some more.
  15. Write one or two blog posts.
  16. Do yard work. (If you knew me in real life this one would be ROFL-worth funny.)

While I’m at it, I could also teach my son how to swim. Or something.

These are not really my plans for the weekend but then I might have taken on a bit more in my life than I can reasonably do. Do you know anybody who hasn’t? Which of the things should I drop? I know, the answer is housework but my husband doesn’t like doing it all alone. And I don’t blame him. So, any advice? I could quit blog-reading of course but that isn’t really an option, isn’t it?

Jun 042008

I already felt a little weird, I got my new sewing machine last summer, bought a lot of fabric, and vowed to finally make some of the projects I had planned to make for months and months. There never was time, every week I said to myself, “But next weekend…”. Then my purse broke. One of the handles has come off due to constant overload, and so, finally last weekend I started making my new purse. It’s the “A Day in the Park Backpack Tote“, a pattern by Liesl Gibson. I had bought the pattern back in July, and then ordered the fabric and notions from u-handbag. And then it all sat there for ages.

Since I now have a nice little roto-cutter and mat and have practiced using it the cutting out was going far better than I had feared. After a mere two hours or so I was done. (When I told my sister that I had a new cutter she said, “You’ll love it once you get used to it.” And I, of course, thought “What’s there to get used to it?” Well, let’s just say this time I only cut off slivers of paper from the patterns, my straight lines were actually straight. Ahem.) It’s a good thing that I spent another afternoon before that tracing the pattern pieces and cutting them all out.

The pattern, while great, has about a gazillion pieces and everything needs to be cut out something like four times. And then you’d theoretically transfer all the markings to the fabric pieces. Hahaha. On Monday evening I started actually sewing the bag, and wished for a walking foot right away. No matter what I do, the pieces a) never are of the same size, and b) never line up properly. The only thing that could change that is either a walking foot or hand-basting which is totally out of the question.

I won’t bother you with the whole saga of my sewing process, but I learned that it takes me only about six minutes to transfer my nice kitchen into this:

And about the same amount of time to take everything back. That took me by surprise I would have thought it took longer to fetch the sewing machine, chair, ironing board, sewing box, iron, extension cord, fabric and pattern from different parts of the house.

Yesterday I really threw myself into it. Apart from the little things I have to attend to like drink water, teach, do errands, and look after my son, I sew and sew. I’m always amazed at how little of sewing is actually sewing. It’s more like ironing, pinning, and trying to figure out what to do next with tiny sewing intermezzos. And in my case the sewing goes quite slowly. But then I figured out that while I started sewing about 30 years ago in all this time I did only two skirts, two pairs of pants, two shirts, about four curtains and about three bags. So I’m more of a long-time beginner.

Back to the bag. I spent about 40 minutes trying to pin the front panel to the side panel. The instructions are very clear. They say that you should make sure that the tops are lining up. That’s a very good thought, only I couldn’t make them line up. Just. Couldn’t. In the end they looked like this:

So I did what every sane person would do – I chopped the fabric that didn’t match on the front and back panels off. It was about half an inch front and back. That of course could have posed a problem with the lining. You see, it’s not that pretty when the lining is actually bigger than the outside bag. In the end it all turned out well because I had the exact same problem with the exact same amount of extra fabric when I sew together the lining. Off it came. If only I knew what I did wrong. I didn’t trace the pattern pieces wrong, and I didn’t forget to add seam allowances somewhere because they were already included in the pieces.

When my husband came to tell me he was going to bed I responded with, “Only two more seams.” but then I just went on and finished everything up. I hammered the rivets in at 11.30 at night. Thank God for a soundproof annex. Oh, and if you think of making one of these bags for yourself, go ahead, I highly recommend it though at times the thought of that many pattern pieces drove me slightly crazy, but I also recommend getting the hardware with the pattern. Really. The rivets I have were no fun to put in and they might fall out anytime soon. Other than that I love this bag.

And thanks to Joleo (because she wrote something about inserting zippers which I can’t seem to find anymore) I hand-basted the zipper into the lining and was rewarded with a nice zippered pocket for once.

I can’t tell you how happy I am about my new bag. Of course it’s raining now, not the best weather for a fabric bag but then – there will be summer days and when I wore it today to kindergarten I found it very, very comfortable to wear and I break out into a smile every time I see the fabric.

(Speaking of smiles, please remember that you have until the 7th to send me your posts or posts that you read for our monthly just post roundtables. (It’s creativemother AT web DOT de.) If you don’t know what the just posts are about you can click on any of the purple birds in the right sidebar.)

Apr 142008

You might want to know what happened to me after my regular posting about two weeks ago. Well, spring break was over. It seems that teaching makes it harder to blog and read. Also I spent several mornings at the dentist (almost done), my son was sick, again, for three days, we had friends over, and daylight savings time started.

I also spent almost a week procrastinating writing the assignment for my writer’s group. In the end I decided to write it anyway and after several people have told me that it’s not as bad as I thought I put it up at abctales, it’s called “The Man I Love” which is an actual song. (If you click on the link you can read it. Actual fiction that I wrote. Making it a love story was not my idea, by the way. It was the idea of a person who shall not be named. Well, he will have to write a story about loneliness until the next month, so I guess we’re even. Only I will have to write another story too.)

Of course, everything will change through this week, and I’ll have loads of time to blog, and make music, and such.

I know, very funny.

But then, I’ll probably get my own “connect the microphone to the computer for recording”-device within the week. And De said I should post some music.

And hope springs eternal.

Apr 072008

Today I was reminded why I’m not recording much. For months now I have been wanting to record at least some improvisations. Today was the day. Because my husband left the house for more than half an hour (which he rarely does). The recording equipment was to be mine.

So. I had lunch, and dessert, and checked e-mail, and read blogs, and then, finally, shoved myself in front of my husband’s big computer with the mixer and everything. I searched for my microphone. I looked for a suitable cable. I looked at the mixer. I pulled one cable out of the mixer and inserted mine. I pushed the little button that sends power to my mike. I opened the software. I was very careful not to change anything that my husband had recorded. I tested the mike. I had no signal. The mixer seemed dead. Ah, there was yet another switch to switch. The mixer showed a green light. Green is good. I tested my mike – no sound. I tried three or four things. Nope. I closed the software and decided to use the smaller, and simpler recording software. I already have worked with this a couple of times on my own. Opened software. Tested mike. Changed preferences. Tested mike. Still nothing. Closed software, disconnected cable, put mike back in box, shut off computer.

Right now I’m very, very frustrated. What I want is my own mixer preferably a small one because I don’t need more than two inputs at once. You might ask why I don’t just ask my husband to help me. He is very good with this equipment thing. And I would be too if I used it more often. But strangely enough I can’t seem to bring myself to ask him. I have to be all alone and by myself to record something. The recording equipment is in his room where he basically does everything that doesn’t involve sleeping, eating or a bathroom. To shut him out is a big thing. And what if I didn’t have anything to show for it later?

I find it hard enough to work on my music in my room when anybody is in the house. I’d like to be able to do recording on impulse. And I can. I have actually recorded vocals through my computer’s built-in microphone. They sound like something recorded over the telephone though.

The reason I find writing easier to fit into my life than music is that music needs a bigger chunk of time. While I can jot down a few sentences and not lose the idea for a blog post, creating music seems to require a certain feeling of free time, of being able to go back and forth, doing something else in between, coming back, trying again. Half an hour of songwriting might mean one hour of playing, and on hour of just sitting there, and staring at the wall.

No wonder that I am drawn that much to knitting these days. Two hours of knitting are two hours of knitting. In the lace stole I’m currently making that would be about 40 rows, or 12 cm of stole. When I’m knitting, even two hours of waiting, riding the train, talking with someone, or watching TV are two hours of knitting. It is as if time magically multiplied itself.

With blogging two hours of writing is one or two posts. With writing songs two hours of song writing might result in having tried a few notes, having crossed out lyrics I wrote some time before, and a bad taste in my mouth.

So I thought improvising might be the thing. But improvising just for myself seems pointless. I’d like to record some things and try overdubbing and such but that comes back down to equipment.

I have to find a solution for this. For now I’ll go off and practice guitar for a while so that I stay ahead of my students.

(Actually, I wrote this ten days ago… Since then my husband has shown me what I did wrong. As soon as he isn’t madly recording music for once I’ll try again.)

Mar 152008

I think it was Terry Pratchett who said that if you read enough books you’ll eventually start writing because all the words filling up your brain will start seeping out. That’s as good an explanation as any.

I have never thought of myself as a writer; but the first time I remember wanting to write a book was about 30 years ago. And I thought, “Well, if that’s what I want to do I better start now.”
I sat down and wrote into an old notebook. About three sentences into the story I despaired. This was no good. Ridiculous. So, obviously it wasn’t meant to be, I had no talent, and that was it.

Interestingly I didn’t really stop writing. I kept a journal, I wrote lots and lots of letters, and occasionally bad poetry. When there were writing assignments in school I loved doing them but none of my teachers thought they were particularly good. I didn’t know you could practice writing then. I thought you either had it or you hadn’t.

I gave up my dream of being a writer much as I had given up my dream of being a dancer at age 10, of being an actress at age 12, and of becoming a musician at age 16. (How my dream of being a musician came back is another story for another day.)

When I was 18 I entered two halfheartedly attempts at stories to a contest. I never heard anything back. It was only when I wrote my master’s thesis that I realized how much I actually liked the writing part of it. For a couple of weeks I’d spend every morning with it. After breakfast I’d get to the computer and start the day by writing into my journal. Then I went on to the thesis.

While writing about how jazz music is taught in German schools I had a lot of story ideas coming to me. I kept them in a folder on my computer where they sit until today. A friend told me about a book about writing screen plays. I had no intention of ever writing anything fictional but I bought the book, and started a script. Then I went back to the thesis. (I actually wrote a first draft of this script that I started in 1992 last year during Script Frenzy.)

It took me ten years to finally realize that my main motivation for going on towards a Ph.D. was that I wanted to write another book. Only after years and years of working on that did I realize that I’m not an academic.

But I still didn’t think of myself as a writer. And as of now I’m still unsure. Last year a new friend introduced me as, “This is Susanne. She’s a writer.” I had to resist the urge to hide and protest.

I might have a storyteller’s mind though. Through conversations with my husband I found out that not all people tell themselves stories all the time. That there are, in fact, lots of people who don’t invent characters and live with them for years.

So, when I first heard about NaNoWriMo in 2005 I immediately knew I had to do it. And I did. Twice. Which means that now there are two novels in first draft sitting in my desk drawer.

I’m a bit slow, I know, because only after writing for my blog for more than a year did I get the fact that writing a blog is still writing. (Do you hear me? You’re writers too.)

From all this I conclude that writing seems to be important to me. It feeds part of my soul. And my life feels richer for it. I still don’t know if I’m going to tell any of the stories in my head, or if one of my first drafts will ever get to be finished, but for now I’m very happy with writing about the things that feel important to me, and – and that’s the best thing about a blog – have people read my writing and come back for it.

Mar 052008

or why this time, for once, I should have listened to my mother.

The good news:

link to http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2293/2257148217_02fb4c4e24.jpg

I finished the brown cardigan.

The bad news:

It. Is. Too. Big.

The good news:

I can wear it with another sweater underneath. Which I’m doing all the time anyway. Because I’m always cold.

Some of you might recall that this cardigan had been almost finished in July or so, and since it was way too small I decided to frog it completely and start over again. Because I am a perfectionist and also a bit too obsessed about all this knitting stuff. I even made a gauge swatch. With three different sizes of needles. And then I knit it all over again with needles one size bigger (or 0.5 mm in my case). It wasn’t exactly happy knitting at this point. With this endless chocolate brown diamond pattern, all those irregular decreases, and the yarn all wavy because it had already been knit … (What? You mean I should have washed the yarn before re-knitting it? Very funny. Yes, I have heard that some people do things like that. But then, there are even people who have tongue-piercings.) Also I knitted a brown lace stole at the same time. There came a time when I just had to knit something else in a different color. But then, in January, I promised myself not to start anything new again until I had finished some of the on-going (or better “on-waiting”) projects on my knitting needles. I made it all through the sweater by sheer force of will, and by carnival I was ready to wash and block the finished cardigan pieces.

I washed them. I wrapped them in towels. I borrowed a rug from my husband. I fetched my pins and my tape measure. I laid the wet sweater pieces out on the floor, took my tape measure in hand, and – the pieces were too big. I almost fainted.

Apparently this wool has a tendency to spread out after being washed. Who knew? (Well, my mother obviously. She said, “But you can’t go and knit that whole thing over again. It will block out.” She sounded almost desperate since my mother would never frog something and make it again. Never.)

So, I could have finished this cardigan months ago and in the meantime finished the next one for sure. Grr. On the other hand that keeps me from spending even more money on yarn.

The next sweater already got started, it’s called “L’il Red Riding Hood” by Jennifer Stafford. As much as the thought of a red hoodie appeals to me I’m making it in green so that it goes with everything I own. This time, by the way, not only did I knit a gauge swatch the size of half a pullover, I measured that thing and then washed it, let it dry, and measured it again. Which means that right now I’m knitting a sleeve that is barely big enough to slip over my wrist. Fun! But then the gauge swatch spread out considerably after washing. Also since I had to use another yarn the gauge doesn’t match exactly. I’d need more rows. But then I’m changing the pattern to be knitted seamlessly and so the whole thing probably will get longer and longer over time.

I tell you, this sweater knitting is filled with drama. Sock knitting is so much more soothing to my nerves. Even if I have to rip out an almost finished sock (What, me? Um, yes, I just ripped the heel of the sock I’m currently knitting. The foot was to short. And knitting it again will only take 1 1/2 hours. Or so.)

This would be the socks I’m currently knitting by the way. I absolutely love the colors. It’s self-striping sock yarn inspired by a Hundertwasser painting. The pattern is called “Elfine’s socks” by Anna Belle.

link to http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3004/2312478822_fd8612eaae.jpg

So. About all this swatching. If – in my last ten knitting projects or so – I had just taken the yarn, the recommended needle size, and made it in a size M everything would have been fine. If I had just not looked at the thing I was knitting before blocking I could have just gone on and on. No problem. So for me it seems I can either knit something like three swatches using different needle sizes, wash and block them, or I can go ahead and make that thing just the same and not waste two days.

The only thing that swatching helps with is the not agonizing about whether it will block out or not, but to be frank, even though I have experienced how the yarn I’m currently knitting with gets bigger and loser after washing I’m still not sure whether the really small sweater I’m knitting now will fit me in the future or not.

So, don’t try this at home. To be a good knitter you always have to knit gauge swatches and measure everything very carefully. Do you hear me?

Jan 282008

Some of you might have wondered about the button in the left sidebar that says “SOTS ii – the secret is in the mist“. It is a knit-along where you don’t know the pattern in advance. “Knit-along” means that it’s a group of people who knit the same thing at the same time, usually it’s an online group setting goals like “Everybody will try to finish rows 1 to 70 until January 25th.” (And to avoid confusion I might add that each knitter is making her own stole or sock or whatever.) The group that I am part of is knitting a “mystery stole”, that’s a lace stole where we don’t know yet how it will look when finished. Each Friday we get the next part of the pattern and try to finish that during the week. There are more than 2,000 people in this particular group, and if we finish each part of the stole on time each one of us will have her stole at the beginning of March.

I was a bit nervous when I signed up for this. I was afraid it might turn into something like a nine-week-NaNo where I had to spent every waking minute frantically knitting to catch up. Also I was afraid that I wouldn’t like the pattern. So I decided to give the stole away if I didn’t want it for myself, and I made a firm rule not to freak out over this. If I couldn’t knit it in the designated time I’d just finish it later. No pressure.

Then there was the first part of the pattern. I was quite excited on January 18th, printed it out as soon as it went up, and started knitting immediately after dinner on that same day. And was almost disappointed because – it was so easy. After knitting for 2 1/2 hours on Friday evening the first part was more than halfway done. The pattern is very logical and symmetrical so far and so I had long stretches of knitting where I barely had to glance at the chart. Saturday morning I started knitting again immediately after breakfast (what? obsessive? me?) and had the first part finished after another two hours or so.

I almost contemplated casting on for another lace stole that I want to make on the same day, and working on two of them, but then I had to remind myself of the other four unfinished projects around the house. It seems that knitting lace makes me very happy, even though I hardly will wear lace stoles every day. But knitting lace can also be addictive. Like playing computer games. “Just one more row.”, “I just want to see how this will look…”, “If I knit a mere six rows I will have finished this part of the chart.” Never mind that knitting a row might take anywhere from five minutes to an hour.

Which I found out the hard way when working on the second part of the stole last Friday. Since the pattern seemed so easy to me I decided to knit it while watching the finale of “Angel”. Great move! While I made excellent progress for about two hours I also spent almost an hour knitting back four rows.

So, what does this have to do with being proud and such? Well, I am immensely proud that my stole looks so nice and that it’s so easy for me. But when I looked on the group’s message board and ravelry group I found that there are very few people who think like me. There are people who never have knitted lace, people who had to start over three times already, people who are in tears because they are so frustrated and they find it so hard.

I’m not here to make fun of them. I know how they feel and I’d love to help each and every one of them. Sit next to them and help them correct a mistake four rows down without having to unravel the whole thing. But I can’t, since this is an online group. Instead I have been thinking about why this is so easy for me. I found a couple of reasons: a) I have been knitting for 30 years. b) I have never been afraid to try new techniques. c) I like to challenge myself. d) I have heard that German knitters are considered to be very fast.

I can’t say, I have never thought about knitting as a race, I just do it. When Debra Roby wrote that she is a slow knitter and needs about 30 hours to knit a pair of socks, all I could say was that I know that back in the eighties when I had to take a very slow train to visit my parents I could start and finish a sock (basic, boring, very easy sock) on the train ride. That would be nine hours with time off for eating and such. But, really, I don’t look at the clock when I’m knitting. I just knit until the thing is done.

And then I found that instead of being proud of what I had done and my skills in doing it, again, I had tried to find reasons why it wasn’t a big deal and why, really, there was nothing to be proud of. And this is something I have been doing all my life with everything I do. You know, if I can do it it can’t be hard to do. And I could have done better. There surely would be a flaw or mistake in there somewhere. I’m one of those people who, when you’re admiring something they made, always say, “Yeah, but I made a mistake here. Do you see it?”

Every time I’m starting to be proud of something I think about how this makes all the other people around me feel bad. How I really shouldn’t be standing in the limelight but instead I should be there to help the others getting better. How the things I do are not important in the big scheme. How there is always someone better than me.

This even extends to happiness. Even though I know that this is not true, my inner child is firmly convinced that every time I am happy this will make somebody else unhappy. As if there weren’t enough happiness around for everyone and if I take too much there won’t be enough left. And then people would get angry at me.

This certainly is a main factor in my life, one that makes me sabotage myself and makes me at least slightly unhappy all the time. And, as everyone knows, people only like you when you’re nice and humble, when you’re not bragging, and don’t make them feel inferior by being so damn superior all the time.

So, well, I changed the pattern and I’m not sure if the change looks good, maybe I should frog it all and do better the next time over. And, really, you could have done the same under the same circumstances as I and so don’t feel bad. You totally could crank out lace if you wanted to. Go you!

Can I have that bit of leftover happiness if you don’t want it? Thanks.