So, many of you are aware that I’ve moved. I’m in a different house in a different state, and still unpacking and organizing after almost four months. My studio is a mess, and I don’t want to start trying to make art until I can find my paintbrushes and glue. One of the ways that I organize is via what I call “project bags”. I contain all the materials I need for a particular project in a (usually) canvas bag that I can hang to a hook on the back of a door (if we’re lucky) or over a doorknob (if we’re not so lucky). My new abode has very few doorknobs (It has door latches, but that’s another story.) So, along with boxes in various stages of being unpacked, and stuff that has been unpacked but not put away (mainly because I don’t know where to put it away to yet), the studio floor has accumulated a lot of project bags. I recently decided the next best thing to do in organizing the studio was to deal with some of the unfinished projects.
What I found in a couple of the bags were what I consider “failures” from earlier on in the days of Heart to Hand. One bag contained a partially finished garish tribute to the 4th of July that came under the category of “what was I thinking?” I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, it didn’t take long to unravel it and put the yarn back in the storage boxes for another project. The second bag contained a shawl that was completely knitted and bound off, but no fringe had been attached. That was because I took a good long second look at my project. This was a combination of yarns that worked in theory, but not in practice. Yes, the colors all went together, and the textures were interesting, but in combination…well, they should not have been in combination. I had had the good sense to stop and not waste any more time on this particular bad idea, but there it still was, taking up space in a project bag that was taking up space on my floor. Time to deal.
I’m pretty sure I hadn’t unraveled it because unraveling is so much less fun than knitting something new (and more attractive). It took the best part of an entire day to unravel, too. I had used novelty yarns that split easily, and in several cases I had split the yarns, making it impossible to just unravel without getting things pretty tangled up. Also, as it turned out, I started unraveling from the bottom up because the novelty yarns were so fuzzy I couldn’t tell the difference.
All this untangling gave me lots of time to contemplate the nature and function of one’s “failures.” I hate thinking of them as “learning experiences”, but they are, in so many ways. I learned a lot about my knitting technique, and ways I can improve. I also learned about the wisdom of just pulling the plug on some projects and starting over—you don’t always have to finish what you start. You can stop as soon as you recognize that what you are doing is not the best idea you’ve ever had. There will always be another project.