I took up knitting again just after Christmas because I find it soothing. I made a couple of mistakes in the first few rows, but decided to carry on regardless and make the hat (nice pattern from Woman’s Weekly) and hope no one else noticed.
I can hear my mum’s voice at this point when I tried on a jumper she’d just made me. “Take it off!” She’d spotted a tiny mistake in the complex pattern on the back and wanted it back. She wanted to unpick it and do the back again. The thought of undoing all that work gave me the horrors. I said it didn’t matter, I hadn’t noticed and to be honest I couldn’t see what she meant and I didn’t think anyone else would either. “But I would,” she said. And so she had it back and redid it.
The mistakes I’d made in the hat bugged me despite telling myself it gave the thing character and I knew that practice or not, I’d always hate the finished article. Then I dropped a stitch. I can’t pick up dropped stitches. I’ve never been able to. So I had no choice but to unravel the lot and start again.
Sometimes we have to do that with our writing. We know something is wrong way back at the beginning, but starting over again is such a pain and hard work. Worth it though. All that knitting I did before I had to start again was practice, getting back into the hang of it, getting the tension right.
That is why it’s good to write regularly, so you stay in the swing of it and it becomes easier to pick up and put down.
My mum was an expert knitter. She always said she wasn’t at all creative or artistic, but I would tell her what sort of jumper I wanted and she would adapt a pattern or not use one at all and produce exactly what I’d asked for. And my dad, who couldn’t read music, played the piano beautifully – with both hands I might add, something that I never managed (except for the one my dad called The Monkey’s Wedding*). The words “You hum it, son, and I’ll play it,” could have been spoken by my dad, if I’d been a son and inclined to hum.
A knitting pattern or a piece of music is like a plot isn’t it? It’s all there, the beginning, middle and end and it all hangs together nicely – as long as we put it all together properly. There should be no holes in the knitting, no missed notes in the music.
Anyway I finished the hat. I made the bobble far too big – perhaps I should have used a flattened cigarette packet like my mum used to for the pom-pom template instead of a flattened mince pie box (well to be fair I didn’t use the whole box!). I’m not happy with it. If it was a story it would have been deleted.
I’ve put it down to experience and hope that the next thing I knit will be better. Same with writing. Always strive to be better even if it means going back and starting all over again.
So does it have to be perfect? As perfect as you can make it, yes. My hat has received compliments, but that is people being polite, trying to spare my feelings. My mum would have been honest. So be careful who you ask to give an opinion on your writing. Don’t ask someone who will tell you what they think you want to hear.
Which is of course another subject altogether – showing your work to other people. I’ll shut up now.
*The Monkey’s Wedding. I have no idea what the proper name for this is and I’ve tried Googling it with no joy. I can’t even hum it to you. All I know is that it isnt the tune that goes with a song I've found on You Tube called The Monkey's Wedding. So if anyone out there knows what I’m talking about……