Making something really great

My little sister bought me a skein of yarn that was very bulky, and not much of it. Beautiful colors — colors that I love. “Make something really great with it,” she said, blissfully unaware of how many skeins of yarn a person needs to make something ‘really great.’


Arrogantly, I (I start so many sentences with ‘Arrogantly, I . . . ) decided to use the existing skills I had at the time to invent a hat. La la laaaaaaaa.

Skills I had:

  • knitting flat
  • knit & purl, both of which I’d used for:
  • seed stitch
  • ribbing
  • increasing & decreasing

Equipment I had:

  • The small skein of very very bulky yarn piled with enormous expectations
  • #7 straight single-point needles

Anyone with even marginal knitting skills reading this just winced. Note the lack of ‘a pattern’ in my equipment list.

Some traumatized people anxiously make sure they have researched thoroughly, gotten all the equipment, practiced, and mentally prepared themselves for tasks. Some leap in sideways, fists up, because thrashing through is the only way they have ever known how to do things.

I’m the second type.

So, I decided to start from one side to the other: decreasing until I came to a point and then increasing, then sewing the edges together in what knitters call a ‘mattress stitch.’ This always looks great in the YouTube videos and is utterly impossible to do IRL.

Here’s my first step:

IMG_20180706_002336052 (1)

Here’s what I created: a boat, the tightness of a carpet, to put on my head!

I texted it to my little sister in jest.

“Cute!” she replied, because her childhood taught her to always worry about other people’s feelings and to avoid any and all potential conflict.

“Um no,” I replied, “I have to frog it and start over.”

Then, came the blissful frogging. Oh, frogging how I love you.

I pulled it all out — the whole overly-tight, hideously awkward thing.

Then I looked up a pattern on Ravelry, got the right equipment (properly sized needles with a cable to knit in the round, in this case) and then started more slowly. And I learned a new skill — knitting in the round!

Also, I made an actual hat. It has flaws but not enough to frog. I think it’s beautiful, and it will be very warm in Minneapolis this winter.

Every time I wear it, I will think of my sister’s beautiful gift and how I was able to change my approach to a problem and fix a mess I had created through hubris and haste into a real hat with new skills, the right equipment, and calm enjoyment.