Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Writing Ghost of Christmas Past

I started knitting and writing at about the same time, which was at age 13, around Christmas when I got both yarn and a small typewriter. Back then, I would say I was equally bad in both crafts. My first knitted item got some teasing, enough that I exchanged my knitting needles for a crochet hook for a long time and didn't show anyone my writing until I got to college—where I got horribly criticized by one persistent classmate for writing romance. It didn't matter. I still kept writing.

In my early twenties, I finally got back into knitting. By age 33, I was making elaborately cabled women's sweaters, but only from patterns. They looked pretty good except maybe the gauge was a bit off. Also that year, my first two romances were published. They were also pretty good, except they didn't exactly catch the world by storm either.

I gave up knitting again for the next several years as I pursued my dream and had six more romances published. Then I had to take a break from writing for family matters, and I took up knitting for babies in need to cope with the stress. By 2007, I got skilled enough from all that practice to make my first projects without a pattern—two v-neck, knitted from the top down, women's cardigans, with crocheted shell trim. Finally, when the hubby retired, I was able to make a come-back with my ninth published romance, and a sale for my tenth book—a personal milestone.

Looking at history like that, I can see my progress in both writing and knitting. I've come a long way, despite setbacks. In almost all respects. Today, Christmas, 2008, I sit here wanting to design from scratch a wonderful sweater with elaborate cables and a hood that people will oooh and ahhh over. But I'm doubting I can pull it off. I'm worrying I'll end up with the front too long and the back too short and two cables on the left front and two and a half on the right. (I'm sure writers can relate to that, too.) And it's silly, I know. But that thirteen-year-old ghost of Christmas past, that Flo who showed her baby knitting to the world and got teased, is visiting me. She's the one making me doubt.

I'd banish her, refuse to cave in to the uncertainty, tell her to GO AWAY, but I can't. I hate the doubt, but I like that Flo, the young girl with huge dreams. She's the one who wanted to get published, told everyone she was going to do it, and refused to give up, no matter what obstacles came—and there were pretty big ones and still are. She's also the one who took up knitting again and refused to give up until she made something nice. The memory of that Flo and how much she wanted to be a writer, no matter who scoffed at her dream, reminds me now that it's okay to keep dreaming of being better than I ever was before. To keep hoping for it. To keep striving for it. In knitting and in writing. If I forget what I once was, I might not become who I could be.

The doubts? I don't get teasing or scoffing any more, so I think the doubts might just be there to replace them and keep me humble. And believe me, they work.



Blogger georg said...

I shake pom-poms at you! You will neither fail nor have a fantastic sweater if you don't try it. I do strongly recommend a large swatch to see how much your cable pattern sucks up the yarn and what kind of gauge you will get, and then draw it on paper if your brain works that way before you knit.

I'm in the middle of designing a scarf. It's really cool.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Danita Cahill said...

Don't we all have those ghosts from our past, Flo?

You bet we do. And I think they keep most of us writers, and possibly knitters, humble.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Alli said...

"If I forget what I once was, I might not become who I could be."

That cannot be more true, Flo. Thank you for an insightful post.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Barrie said...

What a thoughtful post, Flo. I'm totally butchering this expression, but it's something along the lines of:
"If you try for a dream, the worst that can happen is that you'll fail. If you don't try, you'll never succeed." Oh my goodness, that is completely a mess. But, your post reminded me that we have to try. Thank you!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Welcome to RTY, Flo! It's great to have you on the blog. You'll have a lot of help with banishing your ghosts here, as you can see. Some of us are terrified of socks (that would be me who had a bad experience with my first attempt), and others of lace, but with the help of all the amazing Yarnies here, we get through it.

Your post reminded me of another great quotation by George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Flo Moyer said...

Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. Georg--I will definitely try a swatch of the cable pattern for the gauge. This is precisely the type of thing I need to know, as my first two sweaters w/o pattern were straightforward stockinette.

Nancy--thank you for the welcome. I actually made a lace pattern in a fancy scarf once. It was sport weight yarn, but it was white sparkle (you know, with a silver thread running through it), and was so pretty when it was done. Oh yes--that brought back another memory--I made a Barbie doll dress where the skirt was a very lacy pattern. Wow, that was a long time ago. I gave the dress away--how I wish I had kept it now.

As for socks--I love working with double point needles. I do a lot of sleeves that way, as I hate sewing.

And Amen on the Santayana quote.

2:51 PM  

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