Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The stole and the Sump Pipe: how a project changed my life

So. I don’t know if you remember my City Stole. Do you remember my City Stole? I tried to get a good outdoors shot for you, but, look! Look how windy it is! It’s windy all over the UK today I think, and now in Cambridge it’s raining, but I’m here on the computer with a nice cup of tea so I don’t mind.
This was the point at which I nearly had to rescue it from next door's garden
I thought when I finished my City Stole I might not wear it much, because I thought it was too long, but it turns out, it’s the perfect length, and I’ve worn it loads. It looks dramatic if I wrap it round once, and it’s just long enough to wrap round two times. The thing I wanted to tell you about it, though, is that this (portentous music – dum dum DUM) – is the stole that changed my life. No, I’m serious. It has changed how I think about things. And I shall tell you why.
Photography tip number 1: try not to do it in a gale
Those of you who are experienced/ adventurous knitters will be looking at this and thinking, hmm, a few yarnovers. That is not hard. And you are right: however, while I was knitting this stole, I was conscious that there was a point in my knitting career when I would not have been able to knit it. I would have become confused. I would have given up. There were points towards the beginning where I had to unknit quite a bit, and I managed to get back on track: once, I would not have been able to do this with lace. So while I was knitting it I was conscious that my skills were better than they had been at a point in the past. And as you can imagine, that was cheering.

The magic, however, was in the persistence necessary to knot this stole out of three long balls of string (I speak metaphorically). All my life (violins), I have had trouble sticking at things. I do not do sustained effort. I do one-off flashy feats of intense amazingness that are sufficiently amazing to compensate (almost) for the sustained effort issue. I think it is also fair to say that nothing in my life has ever particularly encouraged the development of sustained-effort skills, whereas the one-off flashy feats have always been rather popular. And this, readers, is not a great way to live. Because, there are many wonderful skills that one might wish to have, but without willpower and sticking at them through the tedious bits, the bits where you feel you are worse at it than when you started, the bits where you question why you are doing it anyway, the bits where you feel you’ve messed it up so much it isn’t worth finishing, you aren’t going to acquire them. And this is what this stole did for me. It showed me I could finish something and love the end result, even when the steps along the way are non-flashy and routine. It was an act of faith. It linked routine effort to result for me. It showed me I could stick at things. It showed me (violins swell to a crescendo now) I could change. It was like meditation: meditation in wool. I mean, where it got me was crocheting a million granny squares, but, look: I would never have been able to do that before the stole. Before the Stole Which Changed Everything.
I swear they wait and jump out at me. It's actually a bit alarming. Perhaps I'm just attuned. I hope I never start seeing goblins
The other week our washer broke and leaked water all over the kitchen (bear with me, this is relevant!). A John Lewis man came and patronised Partner terribly, because apparently we should have known we had a blocked Sump Pipe, then he charged Partner £60 for the privilege of being patronised and left. When I came home Partner told me he had been patronised, and did we ought to have known about the sump pipe? And I said, I was not going to feel bad about lack of sump pipe knowledge, because, I could knit lace and I was convinced the sump pipe man could not: and so as far as I was concerned, he could stick that sump pipe right up his bum. And then I rang John Lewis and told them off, and they refunded me £30. Because no-one is patronising a person who has knitted a City Stole (and if I had finished the epic granny square project I could probably have made them give me £60). You see, it is almost like having self esteem. I think the stole is magic. That is my firm belief.

Do you have a Project That Changed Your Life?

13 comments:

Pearly Queen said...

Well Done! On both counts...

Marie/Underground Crafter said...

I always suspected knitting and crocheting could change lives. Your post has just proved it without a doubt. I can't think of one specific project that has changed my life - but perhaps I will feel differently after this bedspread I'm crocheting is done.

Sarah said...

Gosh how wonderful that project is - I love the power it has brought you :) I can't think of one single project quite like that for me but I feel like I'm wearing some special super hero powers whenever I have my knitwear on :)

CrochetBlogger said...

Love this post! Shows how empowering crafting can be in many different ways!

henny designs said...

Hahahaha ... that post made me laugh A LOT and I identify with it totally! :-)

Where the nodding violets grow said...

I don't think I have got to that stage yet but can't wait until I do now!!
Well done for sticking up for yourself. You are right, the stole truly has magical powers.

Alittlebitsheepish said...

Congratulations, on both the stole (wich looks super) and the epiphany. Also on the telling people off and getting money back, perhaps I need to make a city stole because I have never been very good at that

Wool Free and Lovin knit said...

Hmm, when I first got back into knitting my friend suggested I knit the Tree of Life Afghan to match my Tree of Life Persian rug. I looked at the pattern and I freaked. Who was she kidding, I could never knit that. I went back to knitting scarves. About a year later I decided to TRY to knit the Tree of Life afghan. I took it one line of pattern at a time. It worked. Now, whenever a pattern freaks me out I just tell myself to take it one stitch at a time and I haven't been afraid to knit anything since. It changed the way I think about knitting forever. It taught me that really, knitting is not that hard!

Anonymous said...

Yes I do. (Have a project that changed my life). I made a blanket, so I went from a 'I wish I could do that person' into a 'I made a blanket' person. I never thought I could. It took me 6 weeks and I worked really hard. So now I know it is possible for me. Which for a while did me lots of good and made me think all was possible.

The thing is, this was last year and my next blanket is only a third done after over a year. But I know that I can. When I want to.

Otherwise, I had the same for knitting only I had never ever managed to knit a scarf as it just seemed so big and long. Well when I did, it seemed I could do whatever I wanted, so I made a lace one. For me it's the length of time I am expected to perform for in order to finish that I struggle with. I do always try to un mess up when I go wrong and now I feel secure in that. In fact my unknitting skills are much better than knitting, as I have had so much practise. Knitting IS hard though!

I love that you got back £30 after feeling so invincible.

Oh Miss West said...

First of all, that stole is seriously gorgeous. Seriously.

Second of all, good for you for telling that company off. You are not a plumber (unless you are hiding a secret identity from us, and if that's the case, I think we should talk because you could do better), and you do not have magical knowledge of sump pipes. So good for you.

Vivianne said...

So it needs re-naming from the 'City Stole' to the 'Self-Esteem Stole'. Good job on the refund, too :-)

Susie said...

Thank you everyone, and for sharing your stories too x

Wool Free and Lovin Knit, you are right, it is just one line at a time, and if you take it one line at a time, you can do anything! (I am giddy with the possibilities. This is where I start something ridiculous, I can feel it coming on).

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