Friday, March 11, 2011

Listening to Yarn Whispers...AND your inner voice.

Generally I consider myself in tune with my inner voice.  I hear it when I'm cooking, when I'm overdue reconnecting with family and friends, when it's time to return library books, and heed it well.

Not so much when I'm knitting. 

Recently there was an episode where my inner voice was completely blocked out by yarn.  I was in fact cooking at the time, and foolishly knitting while food was on the grill.  That ended with tall flames, ribs that looked like they'd been cremated, repairs to the grill and a hastily made dinner substitute.

Yarn has a whisper all its own, and it's strange what it can and can't block out for you.  For me it often overrides my inner voice or even acts as a personal negotiator, telling my inner voice that "I won't be that late, it's just one more row." Sometimes it dulls the screaming terror of the horror movies my husband watches while I knit, making even the worst movies more palatable.  The siren call of soft wool can make a plane trip seem to go by in half the time, a weekend seem only hours long, and all the world's worries much easier to handle.

But the yarn whisper is a fickle friend.  Oddly, when you rely on it to soothe you and you try to tune in to the whisper, the yarn whisper can disappoint. Today it utterly failed to block out the screaming of a child getting his hair cut while I knitted and waited  over a hour to get my own cut (I really needed a haircut!)

Sometimes the whisper will guide me to spend too much money, or to find the perfect unnecessary gift - "You'll never get this good a deal on alpaca again." "Ohhh look at that color, it'll match her eyes!" - again, overriding my inner and more commonsensical voice.

This month I've been really blocked.  I have a new design on the needles and one or two in hibernation/incubation - all of which are slow going.  Usually I have an excess of creative flow.  Not now, and I've been really frustrated with this - it's the equivalent of writer's block in my mind.  Finally it dawned on me - it was the yarn's fault.   The yarn whisper and inner voice have been in conflict.

As a designer, and a super perfectionist Type A personality, I want everything to be PERFECT.  Not just right, PERFECT.  I want the perfect yarn, in the perfect color, for the perfect stitch to become the perfect design.  (I'm really not asking that much, am I?)  Sadly, my stash has been trying to comply.  Whispers come from all drawers "Make me into this." "Don't forget me - I'm new and shiny!"  Then I realized the inner voice had been trying as well "You need to get this Christmas gift started." "What about that deadline?"  "That swatch was supposed to be done last week!"  The inner voice and yarn whisper had joined!  And they were ganging up on me, sort of.  Yes, I need a travel project I can take to work for my lunch break.  Yes, I need another to take to knitting group that isn't so complicated as to get screwed up while we laugh.  Yes, I made a resolution this year to get all Christmas gifts knit before October.  And so, I grab something and cast on, only to have that yarn whisper at me some more "This stitch clashes with my colorway." "You should use me on a felted project." "You won't have enough of me for this pattern."

Now that I'm aware of the problem (and admitting that I have a problem is half the battle - right?) I can work to correct the issue.  I'm returning to my design roots.  I'm making lists - un-prioritized, this is all I need to do in no particular order lists.  I'm listening and opening myself to a harmony that is both inner voice AND yarn whisper.  I'm letting the yarn whisper to me and tell me what it wants to be.  I'm casting on, and when They - the joined voices - complain about the stitch or pattern or whatever... I frog it and listen again, then I start fresh under a new course, rather than letting the perfectionist take over and wrestle the yarn into some illfitted failed design.  Yes, learning to listen is hard, and I've cast the same yarn on for the same project, only to frog it four times before heeding to the chorus. (Friends on Ravelry concur - knitting and stuttering controls are located in the same area of the brain.)  Bearing on to get it done when you hear the discomforting nag of your inner voice fighting the yarn whisper about the failed match is simply foolish.  Smile when you frog, and move on.  Perfect is out there, but sometimes you need a happy playdate between your inner voice and your stash to get you there.