It’s the perfect season for scarves at the moment.
A warm barrier against the pirecing cold hands reaching to clamp themselves around the bare-necked. The very best scarves are thick and sumptuous and hand-knitted with love.
I have some very fond memories of knitting.
Well, no… I have some very fond memories of learning to knit.
… And of learning to sew, or learning to scrapbook, or learning to make anything requiring patience and particular skill.
Of course, it was never the learning that was the problem, it was the follow-through. Actually seeing something to completion. I would always quietly lament to myself after yet another unfinished project that I was just… no… good.
My older sister, on the other hand, possessed a craft box of magical qualities, a veritable treasure chest, churning out seemingly endless quantities of teddy bears, scrapbook albums, and all sorts of intricate and time consuming projects which she would see through from start to finish with great joy and commitment. I still marvel at her ability to devote her time to various creative pursuits (here, here and here!)
I must have started knitting something at least a dozen times, probably more. I always had the grandest of intentions. My most recent foray into knitting involved some cut-price “wool” and the most jumbo pair of needles I could find (bigger needles meant I’d be finished quicker, of course, and the ‘holey’ look would make dropped stitches and imperfections less noticeable, right?). I had visions of a long, luxurious, bohemian scarf that would draw gasps of admiration from people as I regaled them with my tales of MAKING IT ALL BY MYSELF.
Ten to fifteen rows in, I’d given up.
I was somehow more inclined to add stitches rather than drop them, until my not-scarf was nothing but a tragic trapezium made of cheap, synthetic, and garishly multicoloured yarn.
Boredom, monotony, patience, precision. I wanted to do something else. I wanted the fresh excitement and promise that comes from embarking on a new project. Ever the idealist, my visions of perfectly handcrafted artisan wares went consistently unfulfilled.
For so long I viewed this tendency of mine as a terrible flaw. One which I would either hide from people, or make fun of in an attempt to downplay how much I was bothered by my failure to diligently plod on and finish a task that once held such lustre and excitement. I was ashamed that my passion and drive were so fleeting. I longed to have the tenacity of some of my beautiful girlfriends: like Pennie, with her quirky button-necklaces and embroidered fabric brooches. Or Jemma with her intricate hand-drawn typography and graphic designs. Or Emily who creates the most wonderfully detailed and magical children’s parties you could ever imagine.
But embarking on somewhat of a journey of self-discovery recently, I have had to face some very plain and solid truths about my own personality. The perfectionist in me wants to excel at everything I put my hand to, but these are things I have striven for because I thought I should be able to do them. I thought that they were some kind of right of passage, and that to not do them would mean I have missed out, that I can’t be part of the secret club.
That there will be something I’m not good at.
(I find I often come back to that base fear, of not being good enough – this is the drive of the perfectionist. If you know one, go and reassure them of the reasons you love or admire them that aren’t based on performance. I can guarantee you, it will be a salve.)
But it turns out that what I thought were flaws are just part of the way I have been knitted.
And I’ve been trying to add stitches, and I’ve been getting myself bent out of shape.
I’m learning that there are no shortcuts. I can’t just buy the cheapest yarn and the biggest needles and hope that no one notices the flaws. I owe it to myself, and to those around me, to be authentically me. To believe that I am worth the hand-spun, natural-dyed merino.
And to not be afraid of a dropped stitch here or there.
Because my friends don’t need me to learn to crochet.
And my kids will cope just fine with a mother who abhors scrap-booking.
Those who are closest to me need what I can offer freely, wholeheartedly, with passion and the full intention to follow through: they need my words, my time, my ears, my hands.
And the best thing is, it’s no longer about ‘making it all by myself’. Because I can’t, and nor do I want to. I was knitted to be who I am, and you were knitted to be who you are. And we are meant to be knit together.
So now I am knitting something new. I am writing! It is exciting, and it is hard work, and it requires commitment. But I can do it, because I am doing something I was knitted for, and it brings warmth and comfort to my soul.
And now is the perfect season for scarves.
Have you ever tried to add stitches to your scarf? Do you have any ‘personality flaws’ that perhaps might not be? I would love to read your comments, experiences and stories.
Do you think or read much about your own personality? Are you slightly obsessed with personality typing, like I am? If you’re interested in finding out your Myers-Briggs type, you can do a free, short test here.
And here you can find some more detailed descriptions of the types. The MBTI is not the only personality typing I have used – there are many more and I could spend literally hours poring through the various websites, but I try to contain myself!