Here’s my second contribution to A Playful Day’s Love Your Blog Challenge, on “Beginnings.” Random philosophizing ahead.
So, this is kinda cheesy (and dates me), but I was living in the Twin Cities for grad school when Semisonic, a local band, had what I think is still its biggest hit, “Closing Time.” It begins:
Open all the doors and let you out into the world
Turn all of the lights on over every boy and every girl
One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer
You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here
For some reason I’ve always really liked how the song turns that “last call” anthem into a metaphor for moving forward – or back – or at least, for the idea that life keeps moving and we can’t stay in one place, however much we’d like to. We have to keep starting anew.
I need to hear this every so often because, honestly, beginnings can be kind of exhausting. They’re exciting, but can be fraught – full of the unknown, often presenting a steep learning curve. That doesn’t always sound very appealing, so it’s good to be reminded that the alternative to beginnings is just staying in place, treading water.
To stay in theme, I think this is all true of knitting as well. Unless you’re Penelope undoing your weaving each night to keep your suitors at bay, you can’t really stay in one place in knitting. Sure, sometimes you go in circles (cast on… rip back… cast on… rip back… we all know how that goes), and sometimes you decide where you thought you were going isn’t where you want to go after all (I have exactly as many frogged projects in my Ravelry queue as FOs and WIPs). But to stay in one place really isn’t to knit at all. Even if you like to knit the same things over and over again, with the same yarn, you keep learning and getting better, and you keep creating new things.
Me, I’m still new enough to knitting that much of the time, new projects require figuring out new techniques, getting used to how different designers writes their patterns, and learning the qualities of new yarns and/or needles. That’s not so unnerving as, say, starting a new relationship, or a new job, but it can still be pretty frustrating when you first try a new stitch pattern, or method of construction, and find yourself near midnight staring at a pattern you’re convinced is written in Greek. But if I want to move forward, I can’t stay here.
The other thing about beginnings, though, is balancing them with endings. It’s no good to be scared of beginnings, but it’s probably also no good to be enamored of them to the extent you never get to endings.
Knitters know this. Knitters are often a little embarrassed to admit how many projects they have on the needles at any one time; some put limits on how many they allow themselves to start before finishing something; and some truly disciplined souls only work on one project at a time (a lot of knitters seem to regard these folks with a little bit of awe or disbelief, though). I’m definitely not here to put a number on any of this – some people get anxious with more than one unfinished project, while others are happy to strew WIPs all over their living space, always having something different to turn to depending on their mood. There’s no right way to balance all the things you want and need to do. But I think knitters do think about start-itis, and what they can reasonably begin, in a way that’s a reasonable metaphor for the rest of life, too.
“Closing Time” also has the line,
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
Wikipedia tells me that this line actually comes from Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger – and I get that it’s not exactly an original thought – but Semisonic is where I first encountered it. I like this line, too, because it helps explain why there can be some sadness in some new beginnings. Moving to a new city is exciting, but it means you’re leaving another city behind. Starting a new job is exciting, but it means you leave an old job and coworkers behind. Even if I hated the old city or former job, I do feel a little bit of sadness at the closing of a chapter, the recognition of change. But you can’t let that sadness stop you from making the new start.
(I don’t know if that’s so much the case for knitting, though. Finishing a project is usually pretty satisfying… except when it doesn’t work? Do others feel any kind of sadness at the closure of a big project?)
My most recent knitting beginning and ending:
a quick project I worked up to play with some yarn. Longer post to come.