Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dealing with less than perfect

Peg wrote about dealing with frustration and getting back to work. She asked her readers to write about how we overcome frustration and resume work. Then today Tien wrote about the roots of frustration. Both struck home with me.

I have been knitting the Princess shawl for over a year now and very close to the end line I came across the terrible designed corners. People say it will block out and all will be fine, the designer says its OK to fudge. I have not been able to overcome it. I wanted a perfect lovely Shetland shawl that I had knit with all my love for lace. It has been sitting in a bag for a couple of months now. I have to confess I have even thought of giving it away. I know its not that big of a deal, but for me it is. In my heart it was my master piece, the piece that would demonstrate, to me at least, that I am an experienced lace knitter and I can do it all. The pieces I have designed and people have loved did not count. I wanted this shawl. Tien has the perfect explanation of why this happened, in her blog she writes:

"One of the things they taught us is that clinging lies at the core of suffering. Clinging, or attaching to a specific result, causes pain when the result doesn’t happen. The degree of pain, of course, is related to the degree of clinging. The tighter you cling to a desire, the more pain you feel when the desire does not happen."

Well there it is, all out. There was/is way too much clinging on my part to this piece. Nothing else mattered, I was blinded with the end result I had in my mind and did not exist. Not even the prototype of the shawl is anywhere close to what I had in my mind. Maybe now that I know it is less than perfect I can move on and finish it. It is after all a shawl like any other I have knit and will knit. The perfect master piece might not exist and if it did, do I want to suffer through it? The definite answer is no, I want to enjoy the process and admire the final piece.

The best part of it all is that in the process I have learned several lessons. Knitting and life lessons alike.


Alette Siri Ane said...

your thoughts are what we go thru every day in different ways ,thankyou for putting it in writing.Have a good day!

fleegle said...

Oh, Laritza, I am so so sorry. I do know that feeling well. I don't want to trivialize the time and trouble you put into the piece, but it is only a shawl. There will be other shawls that are better designed. Don't finish it if it really bothers you. I've had pieced like that and I felt liberated when I tossed them in the trash or finished them and gave them away.

I am angry on your behalf at the designer, who couldn't be bothered to work out real corners. It's not so difficult. I take all of her patterns as a preliminary blueprint now. I don't want to end up with another Sprng shawl (the upper corners didn't work there either).

Laritza said...

Fleegle: perhaps what make me really angry about all this is the "fudge" and block it away part that the designer suggests. Then she calls it a master piece. Well those two don't go together, at least in my mind. She says that the original Shetland shawls are that way...I have a hard time believing this after seeing the pieces that Alice Staremore so gratefully created in reproduction of the original Shetland knitted pieces. I will probably finish it and block it, if it does not block properly I will be probably told that my blocking technique is not correct :)
There is no winning here.

Cheryl S. said...

Tien's insight is perfect, and a good lesson to keep in mind. I think we often set up expectations for ourselves that are impossible to live up to. Some things are simply beyond our control, no matter how hard we try or how good our skills are. This is especially true when we must rely on other people's work to achieve our goal.

But explaining why we experience such pain doesn't change your frustration and disappointment. You've every right to be upset that a pattern like that has such a problem, especially for what it costs, and when the designer calls it a masterpiece. But you've realized a very important thing by understanding that ultimately it's your vision of perfection that is the root of your pain. Hopefully that will make it easier to get past it and move on.

If you finish the shawl, it may not be "perfect", but it will still be beautiful, and the lack of perfection will be no reflection on your lace-knitting skills (and blocking may indeed do magic!). Hopefully you will be pleased with the outcome, and can look at the shawl with pride, and perhaps as a good lesson learned in life. But if you will always look at the finished product with disappointment and regret, maybe the answer would be to give it to someone special in your life who will love it without caring if the corners are perfect - perhaps she would see it as the perfect masterpiece you envisioned it to be. Because after all, there is no "truth" - only our perceptions.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Laritza, thank you for sharing these thoughts and feelings. I am so glad that Tien was able to find the words you needed to hear.

Laritza said...

Life is a journey, fiber artist just tangle it up with a bit of yarn!

ColetteS said...

It is frustrating that you've committed so much to this shawl, only to feel disappointed. It is just a shawl and you should finish it only if you want to.

I think every creative person experiences these feelings. I know that I go through it daily. We should always strive for perfection but would we know it if we actually achieved it. What would we do once perfection was achieved? For me, the fun/challenge in the striving.

I think you should finish the shawl and move on to the next challenge.

Leigh said...

Interesting post, Laritza. I am often not able to match my end results with the expectation in my head, so I can relate. Excellent insight on your part however. Regarding the design, it's a shame to publish a pattern like that.

Jane said...

It's heartbreaking to knit such a monumental piece of lace only to discover it has a fatal flaw but anyone who has shared your journey as you knit it can only admire your fortitude. I've knit a lot of lace but never finished even one of MS Millers so I can't advise you how to proceed. Whatever you decide I will root for you!