Fear of finishing – it’s something that comes up often in knitting circles. I fall prey to it, too, but not in the usual sense.
I do find sewing up seams rather tedious at times, definitely lacking the soothing rhythms of knitting. And it does need a solid block of time. Not a 15-minute-while-I-sit-with-the-kids task. Yes, the wonder of mattress stitch is indeed delightful – it can feel like a magician’s trick the way a tug on the stitches causes the seam to obediently and mannerly slip to the wrong side.
No, for me there is another side of finishing that creates a sense of fear. It occurs as the project moves from possibility to actuality. The Possible Sweater is perfect: full of all the wonder and excitement which drew me to knit it in the first place. As I near the finishing stage, it begins to dawn on me that there is a chance that what I have knit will not match the mental image of the intriguingly fashionable and yet profoundly comfortable garment I have been wearing in my imagination. There are times that my knitting actually slows. I’m no longer racing through the rows, fired with an enthusiasm to reach the end – where perfection no doubt awaits – but instead begin to dread the possibility that after the work of washing and blocking and stitching I will draw the sleeves over my arms and settle the fabric across my shoulders to find…something other than perfection.
There is also the fact that once I’ve done the knitting, my mind has moved on to other projects. Finishing seems like being told that you have to stay late when you were already headed out the door for a long weekend. I don’t let myself start a new project til the project is well and truly finished. A little bit of knitting Puritanism? Perhaps. Perhaps Puritanism mixed with a pragmatic assessment of my personality. I find the rhythm of knitting so deeply compelling that it is hard to choose finishing over knitting.
All of this plays a role in why I love to knit in the round, particularly from the top down. Trying something on as I go certainly eliminates the doubt-inducing mental process of squinting at a flat sleeve and trying to bend it ’round a three dimensional yet wholly imaginary arm.
My orange Eyelet-Front Vest from the Holiday Vogue was sewn up today. I’ve still got the crochet edging to do. It’s been waiting patiently for a day when I had an uninterrupted stretch of time, and it had to wait until we’d seen my in-laws to the airport. I haven’t knit in pieces in a very long time. It was surprisingly rewarding – three quick bits to declare “Done!” along the way. The final sweater is not quite what I’d imagined – the sleeves are longer than cap sleeves and a bit large around. Still, there will no doubt be a mental accommodation between the Possible Sweater and the Real Sweater. The fact that I get to wrap around myself the gloriously drapey fabric of the baby llama in a gorgeous orange in the form of the Real Sweater will no doubt do much to help me adjust.
I think I’ll knit the next one in the round, though.