Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mama Guilt

I know it will come as a shock to hear me say this, but -sometimes- I hear voices in my head. It's alright. Just get up and get back in your chair and I'll be big enough to ignore your laughter and mocking. After all, you couldn't make me feel any sillier than I just did when I erroneously typed 'Mama Git' in the title bar. It feels good to laugh and laughing at one's self is very liberating. In this context, I am a rich and free person!

In the real world, though, I'm not often considered 'rich'. Okay, never. It bothered me a little in my abundantly energetic and optimistic early twenties but then I got over it and did what any sensible person would do - choose a lifestyle that ensures this will never be your goal. Stay home mom? Sure! Farmer? Absolutely! Teacher? The highest paying 'real' job I've ever had! Homesteadr/off-gridder/fiber thingie? I say, pick up your shovel and dig! It's a troubling trend - those of us who live life backwards and refuse to wait until we're well into our retirement to realize what we really wanted was to spend more time with our kids, make life an everyday adventure, love while we still had the energy. But, dare I say it - I think the pool is getting more diverse - it seems I meet a new fish every day.

Another troubling trend is my sock knitting 'signature'. I mean, I'm not being too hard on myself about the first few pairs of socks I knit. Of course, they sucked - but that was the 'journey' part of the venture. Now? Well, now I seem to be in the 'birthing' part of the venture. This is how it seems to go:
Step 1 - make A sock. Love it beyond any faults that may be readily apparent to even non-knitters. As luck would have it, those will be the ones who will point out with near malice, "hey, is that supposed to look like this on the heel?". You will want to hurt them but, instead, continue loving your sock.
Step 2 - knit the second sock. Slowly, you begin to realize that for some crazy reason, you are trying to avoid the obvious - which is that you HATE sock #1. With the 'winky socks', it was the horribly mutated heel that my inexperience+bravado = hard lessons learned. Ripping it back inspired me to start all over and knit a patterned cuff. Defeat must be met with steel guts.
Step 3 - Rip all or part of both socks off, go at it, again, with a more realistic eye - and (fortunately) end up with a sock or two that you love enough to repeat, rinse, and start over again.

thing 3I do not want this to be my 'sock signature'. Yet, I've just done it, again! The 'Moccasin Socks' in my Knitter's Almanac were going 'great' well into sock two. Okay, okay, so the heel on sock one was laughable, and the overall construction didn't really appeal to me. So what. Did you hear that? The overall construction is what I had a problem with but I still knit two whole socks before realizing that this masterful woman would likely have whacked me on the head with this soft and lovely book if she'd known I was willing to keep on knitting something in a way I didn't like, for someone whom I knew would not wear it, etc. etc. I whacked myself upside the head, ripped out both feet, and put on a turned heel and 'normal' foot. I'm thrilled with the result and more that thrilled that the first of my billionty holiday knitting projects is complete. Two socks. Exactly alike. It's a slow change, but if you look real hard, you can start to see it.

Yes, that's a book you see in the background. My lifestyle choice has forced some changes that were harder than I expected. One of those was the ease with which I used to shop. I don't have a vast collection of knitting books, but I am starting to understand that this is far more wise than I deserve credit for. Too many can be too many - and you lose these great patterns in the monotony of a bookshelf (maybe this is just what I tell myself). But a couple of weeks ago, a book I have coveted pretty much since the moment I successfully completed a lace knitted project, became mine. I justified the purchase by dyeing up more lace yarn and starting three shawls. My logic, I know, is astounding. So, I'm ripping away on the moccasin socks - telling myself all those inspiring little anecdotal things one says to herself when she's totally botched something - like 'the experience has been a valuable teacher' or 'you'll grow because of this'. Grow what, I cannot publish here. I turned heel # 1 and felt a flush of excitement when hubster walked in (minds OUT of the gutter!) with the package containing the book. I tore it out of the package and opened it like a kid opening a birthday present. Total excitement. Hubster was maybe considering bringing knitting books home more often.

I started to read, to look at all the luscious patterns, to salivate about what I will knit when I'm not knitting all these Yule gifts - still maintaining that slender grasp on reality that says 'three sweaters, two socks and a hat from now - I will knit you, and you, and you'. Somewhere in all the fog that is my thought process, I totally lost control. Needles, cords, and a notebook with balls of lace yarn SOMEHOW got into my lap and knocked the sock onto the bed. I swear I didn't mean to. I sporadically gained control, ripped out new swatches and swore I'd never knit anything other than the things X-mas presents until they were done. Then, I noticed that the ball of Wood Elves sock yarn that I saved for thing 1 because she has loved this colorway for such a long time and I'd planned to make the simple but beautiful Marigold Socks for her with it, was laying adamantly on the book.

"No, No," I said to it, "I'm knitting a simple, elegant sock pattern with you and that's all there is to it." But, it persisted in its taunting. To dispel this wicked encouragement, I moved it over and thumbed through the socks in the book. Nope, don't like that one. Nope, that one's too hard. Birch Leaves? Surely, you jest!" This went on and on. The yarn taunting, and me explaining to it that even if I did know perfectly well that the Birch Leaves Socks were something Thing 1 would adore - they just weren't rational. They are hard. They have cables, lace, all manner of 'this is not your friendly knit whilst you have your first cuppa' project tags. Then, she came in. You know her, I know you do. She's Mama Guilt. She reminds you that you wimped out and set your sights on a simple pattern for Thing 1's sweater (even if part of your reasoning was that the hand-dyed yarn she liked would look better in a less complex pattern) instead of knitting the tangled yoke one that she squealed over. She shows you the Arwen Sweater that Knits must have made just to taunt you for you cable idiocy - another one that got a squeal from dear Thing 1. She gently reminds you that you couldn't afford those Irish Clog Dancing lessons this year and your pony fund is still sorely lacking. She's the root of all evil and, yet, she seems to own your very essence.

You try to fight her with logic and go to your expandable file of free patterns, yank out the Marigold Socks one (noting with a pain in your side that you found it immediately which is a sure sign that astral forces are at work, here). You waive it in her face, yelling scrant about how hard that one is, the gauge issues, etc. She winks her terrible, knowing wink, and points her warty ole finger at the gauge on Marigold Socks. You crumble because, deep inside, you already knew they were the same. You stomp. You resist. She shuns you with THE LOOK. You know, the one that your track coach used to give you as you passed the mark to enter your last lap on a long distance race. A smidgen of doubt - to keep you on your toes, a dash of intimidation (you know a REAL mother would do it) so you feel all pained and wrenched on the inside, and a raised glance of daring - just to awaken the fight in you.

thing 1Apparently, I am knitting the Birch Leaves Socks next. And, finally, she goes away and I am all alone, again. Just me and my impossible WIP basket. Woe! Woe! And, if my sock signature is fast in tact and cannot be changed by my devotion to achieving sock perfection, nor my steadfast love of all yarn - at least hubster has offered to make a german chocolate cake for dessert tonight.