Perpetually Pursuing Perfection

Like most of my family, I am an over-achiever. If I do something, I don’t want to be pretty good. I want to be an expert.

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When I was a journalist for Indy Car Racing Magazine and essentially lived at the Speedway the entire month of May, I could tell a Lola chassis from a Penske from the other end of the straightaway, and even the model year. I could identify a Chevrolet engine from a Cosworth the second it fired up.

You’d think this kind of obsessive, determined, perfectionist nature would make me a great athlete. I guess it could have, but I dislike perspiration, and competition makes my stomach hurt.

My brain needs to be busy all the time, learning and perfecting new things. Editing is the perfect job for me, because I learn something new with each manuscript, whether it’s a fact learned from the story itself, or a better way to structure a sentence.

Which, as I described in this post earlier this week, is how the whole knitting thing started.

I’ve crocheted since I was a kid, meaning I have 40+ years of experience. I briefly experimented with knitting maybe seven or eight years ago (probably longer, since I’m old and even 1990 doesn’t sound like that long ago) but never pursued it.

Now I’m back at it, and the over-achieving perfectionist in me is getting mouthy.  “I’ve been knitting for almost an entire week! Why is this not perfect? Why can’t I knit intricate cable designs yet?”

Never mind that I can’t change colors yet, add or decrease stitches, or any of about a million other skills I still need to master. I want to know it all. Right. Now.

Why can’t I make these yet? Why??????

I’m purposely, against everything I stand for, moving slowly in my knitting evolution, trying to refine basic skills before tackling the next thing. As you can see from the images below, the white stuff being some practice swatches and the green one being my first soon-to-be-completed piece, I’m working on straight, flat, single-color skills at the moment, nothing more than knits, purls, and casting on and off.

The green thing is allegedly a dishcloth, according to the pattern. I don’t understand why anyone would spend hours making something so pretty just to scrub melted cheese and congealed grease from a plate, though, so this is something else. Not sure what yet. Maybe a hot pad or trivet. Or the first item in Lori’s Knitting Museum. I also didn’t use kitchen cotton yarn. It’s regular old acrylic.

I went to the craft store a few days ago and bought a beginner’s kit. It has a couple different size metal needles and a lot of little gadgets and gizmos of which I do not yet know the purpose, but I’ll get there. I also got a pair of bamboo needles, in case I decide I like them better. I have a full set of bamboo crochet hooks, which I have never used. They were free, though, so I don’t feel too badly about that. Who knows? Maybe knitting needles are different.

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One thing is certain. There are zillions of needle options. Metal, plastic, or wood. Long, not-so-long, double-pointed, circular, in sizes from itty-bitty to bigger than a broomstick. I just know every new project will involve new tools, because it’ll be a while before my knitting kit is as comprehensive as my crochet kit. Anybody have old knitting gear they don’t use? I will accept donations! 🙂

I’ve learned this all by myself, using website diagrams, YouTube tutorials, the book that came in my knitting kit, and trial and error. Which means I’m probably doing a shit-ton of things wrong.

I was texting my friend Jess, who is an experienced knitter, a few nights ago. I need to get her on a plane to NC to tutor me. She asked me if I was an English or Continental knitter. How the f*** should I know? What does that even mean? 

Sigh. Google.

Turns out I’m a Continental knitter, using my left hand to handle the yarn, which is an easier method for crochet people to learn. And then my brain was happy because I learned something new.

The pattern I got has three “dishcloth” patterns, which could be hot pads or place mats or scarves, depending on how long it takes before I get bored and want to make something else. I’ll make one of each, then move on to something with another challenge in it. Color change, adding or decreasing stitches, something pretty or fancy.

I need to hurry up and become an expert knitter, though, because about five years ago I bought a set of Tunisian crochet hooks and two books, tinkered with a few basic stitches, but sort of lost interest. Now I want to be an expert at that too.

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