Not sure why, but for an optimist I sure can be a serious pessimist. Most of the time, probably 95%, I am the one that always finds the rosy middle in things. I know every cloud has a silver lining and that I can do anything I set my mind to, unless it involves me loving math. Because that will never happen.
So why do I always take years to tackle a new skill. I have the ability to completely convince myself that a new stitch, new style, new craft is impossible. Far out of my ability range and nothing I will ever be able to wrap my brain around. It all seems so complicated.
For years I had grandmother's and friends trying to teach me to crochet. Seriously, the easiest of all the skills I have. It was simply incomprehensible for me. I was not quite 18 when I finally decided I could do it. I had the ability to use one needle and wrap some yarn around it and boom, I made an afghan. I wanted a special Christmas present for the guy I was dating, and this one didn't seem too overwhelming. A few chain stitches, a few singles and a few double crochets. How hard could that be. Well, he claimed to love it, I will admit now, almost thirty years later that it was hysterical and seriously defective. I sure got creative making that puppy into a rectangle. I don't know what became of that afghan, maybe his mother has it, or heck maybe my daughter does. After all, that guy was her father. He passed away many years ago. Heck it might have ended up at Goodwill.
It was a learning curve. The next one I attempted, I can still see it in my mind. It was a complicated pattern, it was supposed to be all white. This was before I learned about dye lots. Oh my. I didn't know anything about yarn, and even less about dye lots. I decided I was going to tackle that pattern though. In fact, if I were brave enough to look through my oldest pattern books I am sure I still have it. Although I know I will never, ever make it.
I lovingly purchased a huge bag of white yarn. At least it was all the same brand. And started working. Oh dear, half way through (and this was for a queen sized bed) spreading it out to look at my progress I discovered the color didn't look right. Moving it out into brighter light, a good two weeks into it, I discovered the dye lot issue. This was long before the internet was a common go to place when encountering a challenge and I lived in Germany, further complicating things. That beautiful white afghan became my first UFO (un - finished - object). Something tells me that it would still be lurking somewhere if during a serious fit, the recipient (not understanding the devastation one feels at putting that much work into a project to have to tear it all apart) angered at it not being finished, took a pair of scissors to it and destroyed it completely.
I didn't touch anything craft related for a good year after that. At that point I'd decided to start quilting. My eldest was on the way and I wanted her to have all the traditional goodies... mind you no afghans - what a disaster! Quilting never evolved into something I dreaded. Quilting and sewing simply seemed intuitive. Like the skill and the knowledge had been deposited in my bloodline, my DNA, by all of my talented ancestors so far back down the family tree.
Over the course of the years I have tackled many complicated patterns. No one told me they were complicated until after the fact, so needless to say by the time I learned that I wasn't nearly skilled enough, I had already completed the project.
Needlework was another thing all together.
When my baby girl was young, we were pretty darn poor. An E-3 in the military does not make a living wage and with a young one at home the cost of daycare and only having one car made it difficult to work outside the home. And for a momma that is most happy in blue jeans and sweatshirts or a long skirt and sweater one would never have expected me to have a burning desire for my little doll to have beautiful, stylish clothes. Only problem, I couldn't afford them.
Me and the Wal-mart scrap bin and reduced aisle became best friends. I made her so many clothes. I guess I ended up being pretty good. My ex entered a few of the items in the county fair and I won ribbons. Yet deep inside I was dying to knit. In junior high one of my classmates knew how. I had watched her mesmerized as her fingers flew, and that beautiful scarf started flowing. Sadly I hadn't been able to make my unskilled hands complete the task. Convinced I would never learn.
I bought knitting needles and yarn. And after each crochet project, and boy did I make a lot, I would get them out and give it a try. Most every one directly related to me has a sweater or two, hats, scarfs, slippers, pot holders, pretty much anything but afghans, has at least one or two that I have gifted them over the years. If it was crochet, I was a speed demon with an insatiable appetite to try everything.
I remember the day I learned to knit. I am self taught in most things I do. Not a fan of the classroom setting, definitely not a fan of public failure. Knitting was no exception. I had found the cutest little vest pattern, with a band of little owls at the top, it was on clearance and I knew that I could afford it. Couldn't make it, it was knit, but I could afford it. And I was sure my little blonde haired, blue eyed cherub would looks so pretty in it.
Sitting outside my townhouse, baby girl napping inside, soaking up some sun as I sat on the curb out front looking at the murky swamp they were "mowing" something they did every fall. Praying that no gator's or cotton mouths decided to make a run for it away from the biting teeth of that big swamp mower (yes I am sure it has a real name, just as I am sure I have no idea what it is).
Armed with two needles, the long metal kind that you find at every Wal-Mart and that I wouldn't be caught dead holding in my hands now. Some blue yarn, acrylic and a bit scratchy. A how to knit book, this was long before the days of the "for Dummies" series. And that beautiful pattern. I have always had a passion for cables. Those unattainable knitted cables. Something clicked. Something all the sudden made sense. It wasn't Greek to me anymore. It only took me a day to make that little sweater. The cables made perfect sense. I was past that hurdle.
Oh it wasn't perfect, their were many skills that I didn't learn until years and decades later. But it was functional. And it made her pretty blue eyes sparkle.
Over the next few decades I dabbled with all my "hobbies", crochet, quilting and knitting were my mainstays. I added cross stitch, wood working and painting as time went on. I never really struggled with the others, but knitting remained the one that caused me fear and anxiety. I understood the construction of the others, that is what made it easier. Knitting was just darn intimidating. Basic hats, scarfs and sweaters were within my grasp.
Socks, mittens, color work, and complex cables. Well... nope, I wasn't skilled enough. I wasn't good enough. And two needles were my maximum. The thought of using four needles just about sent me into fits of panic.
I was content, until I moved to the Mid-west. The desire and passion for socks, made by me, and to use more colors only intensified when I learned to spin. Another skill I had always coveted, but had never been brave enough learn. I quick trip through the farmers market that fateful day, staring intently at Andrea's hands as she used her spinning wheel to make that beautiful yarn she was selling started a whole new path.
She coaxed me into trying a drop spindle, she was selling them and I am sure she wanted a sale, it was kind of slow at the market that sunny Saturday. Evidently, another thing I needn't of feared. I was a natural at it. It was calming and I was able to get my tension right from the start. Hubby wasn't letting me leave without it. A short while later a spinning wheel joined my collection. And I discovered a passion for the buttery softness of Alpaca. Again no one told me until after the fact that it was an advance fiber and I shouldn't be able to spin it... so I did.
Two hand surgeries stopped me cold in my tracks. I couldn't crochet, and I couldn't quilt, I only had use of my finger tips. And I was BORED!. After checking with my doctor, who assured me that knitting would be amazing therapy to get these old hands cooperating again, and another fateful trip through Wal-Mart, I was ready to tackle a pair of socks. Armed with four metal needles now, and another ball of Red-Heart yarn (this time a self stripping worsted) I decided I could make socks (dorm socks to be exact). I didn't know what I was doing, but Google, Knitty and a few other websites, and the fact that I had a lot of free time on my hands (3 different six week recoveries) led to many, many, many socks! I am still passionate about socks and usually have a set going on a pair of needles. I have taken them with me to work on while traveling to Europe and Brazil. I am never without a pair of socks in progress.
Until two days ago, my attempts at color had been extremely limited. A very basic attempt at a sweater for my son (which I now know wasn't done quite right) and using self-stripping yarn were the extent. Those beautiful patterned mittens, hats and sweaters. Fair Isle, argyle and the like all seemed impossible. Wow, I sure can convince myself things are impossible...
My beautiful Evergreen Lake mitten is coming together so quickly. Sure it's taking me a bit to learn the English style of knitting, holding a yarn in my right hand and "throwing" it over the needle. I am a Continental knitter, I "pick" the thread from my left hand. I am using both, so the process is slow.
My excitement really can't be contained right now. Each row is more exciting than the last. I am learning so many new techniques. So many doors inside my "closed" mind seem to be flying open. I am amazed. I am already planning another set, using my own hand spun alpaca... I may need to move further north...
F.E.A.R. False, evidence, appearing, real. Yep that sums up my journey. My pessimistic side needs somewhere to show off I guess. Life cannot always be sunshine, roses and rainbows... but geez... I guess my self talk is pretty scary.
Next up... I ordered all the stuff to make my own bra's and I feel I will tackle a seriously difficult cable pattern in the very near future. I don't want F.E.A.R. to define me!