The Voice

This post comes to you from Banff, Alberta. Joe’s been working out this way a bit, and so I flew down to meet him, and we’ll have a quick ski before I go home and he goes back to work, and then the two of us are grounded soon as we enter the “On Call” phase for Megan and the impending grandbaby.  The on call phase is quite long. I had that crazy mad dash to make it home when Elliot decided to make an early appearance, so we’re not taking any chances with this baby.  Could be as shifty as her brother.

I think this pressure, this worry that the baby will be here soon and I’ll run out of time and nothing will be done contributed to a fairly disastrous knitting week.  I’ve got the blanket underway of course, and a romper and I sort of think I could finish a onsie (if I started a onsie) and they were both going really well, if by really well you understand that there was progress, but I was having some sort of dis-associative episode where The Voice tried to deal with me.

This is one of my best tricks – ignoring The Voice. When I was a younger knitter it was easy to ignore the voice.  I’d be knitting along, and The Voice would say something like “This looks a little big” and I’d say “what the hell do you know?  You are The Voice of insecurity, of doubt, of low self-esteem. Get off me.” Then The Voice would say “You know what? You’re right, either one of us could be correct here. Good luck.”  At some point it dawned on me that The Voice was almost always right. The Voice was actually helpful.  It would whisper tips, like “that gauge looks a little funky are you sure you want to skip washing the swatch?”  Or it would humbly offer something like  “Hey, can we take a minute and connect our knowledge of the size of your bust and the size of this sweater and see if we’re still both onside with this?” Or “That increase looks like crap and you know it.”

Over time The Voice has proven that while it seems like a pain in the arse, its prime directive is really nice knitting and it doesn’t need to shush up and not talk to me. It is me. It is not my low self esteem, it isn’t interfering with me, it’s not trying to wreak my fun, it is yay verily the voice of my experience and it is trying to run quality control on my knitting.  I am interested in making things that are nice, so now I try to listen to The Voice.

(Someone will ask, the romper is the Spring into Summer Romper)

I can only assume then, that when earlier this week The Voice said “Hey wow. You’ve chosen the wrong border for this blanket, it’s going to be way too tall.” And “Yo, Steph, the gauge on that romper is bananapants that’s the size of a toddler not a newborn what the hell.” (The Voice has poor punctuation skills. Always has.) When The Voice said that – I blame the stress of the impending baby for what I said to it, which was “No, no, we’re good.”  The Voice (which counts persistence among its skills) said “No Steph, that border is wrong and the romper is huge.” And I’m pretty sure that I replied with something like “HEY C’MON VOICE DON’T PULL THIS I AM RUNNING OUT OF TIME”.

This might have worked.  I might have been able to bully The Voice, but The Voice (which is, after all, me) has a rather amazing secret weapon.  Truth.  The Voice simply replied with “Oh.  Cool.  I wouldn’t want you to run out of time for to knit substandard junk for your grandkid. Peace out.  Mwah.”

With that, I went and got a tiny skinny knitting needle, counted all the rounds back to the beginning of the border, picked up the last round of stitches before I started it, and then attached the whole shebang to the ball winder.*  When I was done, I went and got the romper (which I had charmingly blocked to try and make it smaller – protip, nope) and ran that through the ballwinder too, and pulled out the whole thing.  I even let Elliot have a go.  He must have been bothered by the whole thing.  He had a very serious face on, like he was part of some sort of sad event, and towards the end as he turned the handle at the romper funeral, looked up at me and said “Why Grammy? Why winder?”

I told him the truth.  I had made some mistakes and the knitting was no good. I didn’t do it properly. It hadn’t worked.   Elliot looked at me, patted my arm and said “It’s okay Grammy.  You can just try again.” **

Thanks buddy. Tell it to The Voice.

*I know this seems a little funny, but it is the fastest, easiest way to pull back a project with a million complicated stitches.  It’s sort of like a lifeline after the fact.  If you’d run a lifeline, this would be even easier.  Run the super skinny (like 2mm) needle through all the stitches of the lifeline, then rip back. Voila, the round is on the needles, with no chance of messing up the lace. I pull out the upper, working needle as I pick up the round below. 

**I complimented Meg and Alex for this, for working on raising a nice resilient kid, and Meg gave all the credit to MagnaTiles. 

(PS. We still have room for the Spring Retreat – details here, though I’ll talk more about it soon.)

58 thoughts on “The Voice

  1. Huh. That a pretty high endorsement for magnatiles. I’ll have to look into it for my little.

    Its terribly frustrating when the voice can alternately be insecurity or truth. My anxiety usually means my Voice is full of shit. Like when I make cookies, my Voice goes “that’s not enough. More. Much more.” I can only assume it is working in collusion with my sweet-tooth to jeopardize my weightloss goals.

  2. The Voice often speaks wisdom, but it does have to be weighed against the Voice’s experience level. Yours is quite experienced, mine still has moments of, “Naw, that looks fiiiiiiiiine.”

  3. Glad you at last listened to the voice of reason – your own. I’m sure the ball winder does its job, and Elliot is a great help, but you have to see this thing. I met the couple that makes them at a Vogue Knitting show. He started out making beautiful but very expensive fabulous swifts (I’m going to have one sometime) but they also had this at the show, and man, it is really cool. (Full disclosure – I have no affiliation with them.) They had made it as a ball winder, which it is, and one day the guy walks in on his wife using it to rip something back, and was amazed.

    • Okay – that’s amazing. I’m really bad about having “startitis” so I’d need a lot of spools but it’s very tempting!

  4. “her brother”? I don’t recall mention that it was going to be a girl previously (perhaps I missed that announcement, anything is possible when you’re talking knitting)

  5. Wait a minute. You expect us to believe that the blanket was going to be TOO TALL?? You are renowned for making baby blankets that are large enough for a baby elephant!

    However, The Voice was right about the romper. Blocking something never makes it smaller. If it does, it’s not blocking — it’s felting.

  6. Listening to the voice is indeed a good thing – helped me realize that I had misread directions and I was only 50 or so rows into the shawl instead of completing the entire 100+ row first section before noticing it. And yes, a smaller needle helped me save a 162 stitch icord cast-on -so yay! Go Elliot for already understanding the concept of trying again.

    Glad you are staying home and getting ready for the new little one, though the crazy drive to the airport to get you home in time for Elliot’s arrival will always be one of my special memories – and in a good way since you got there in time.

  7. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to the voice, but once I decide to, it’s all ok. The hard part that causes so much angst, for me, is making the decision to listen…

  8. Ugh. So sorry you’ve run into difficulties – but isn’t that always what happens when one is in a hurry to meet a knitting deadline? Good thing you knit like the wind!

  9. My Voice is an anxiety ridden worry wart and it seldom gives good advice. It constantly frets and fusses—will there be enough yarn and will it fit and if it does indeed fit is it really exactly the way I want it or should I rip back and lengthen/shorten, maybe add/subtract some stitches here or there… Actual knitting time is lost because I have to source another skein, jic, or constantly measure and try on and measure again… It matters not one bit how much experience with success I have, or that worst case of frogging an entire project has only ever happened once.

  10. I worked in a LYS with an older lady. She said you should always stop and admire your work every few rows, which will allow you to hopefully catch mistakes early. As I admired my 50 rows of cabling on Instagram recently I saw the mistake on Row 20. My lazy voice said “no one will notice but you”. My good voice said, “only if you repeat the mistake on the other glove.” After a row of them fighting it out, I removed thirty rows. Much happier now.

    • This sort of situation can be the total motivator to learn New Skills, like: only undoing the stitches involved in the cable itself, reknitting them back up, can carrrying on…Anyone else had this sort of experience?!?

  11. yeah – I didn’t know that The Voice is so widely spread
    always thought it lives only with me
    so good that Elliot is such a talented helper

  12. The Voice is usually pretty wise, and I try to listen to it, especially when it says “If you don’t like it now, you’re not going to like it when you finish the whole thing.” I’m sorry about the blanket, though I’m sure it’ll be fixed. The romper I’m not worried about — new babies are tiny!

  13. Awww – sweet Eliot – he is so wise. (and his Momma is too because Magna-tiles ROCK … has she tried them with jingle bells yet??)

  14. Adding “Listen to The Voice” to my standby, Bonne Marie Burns saying “If it seems hinky, it is hinky.” Well articulated, kiddo.

  15. Indeed, The Voice can be helpful, if one actually pays attention to it. Recently got 8 inches of the body of a sweater knit before I realized that The Voice was right, the texture wasn’t anything like the swatch. Reason? I’d grabbed the US7 needle instead of the US5 with which I’d gotten gauge in the swatch. Much unladylike language ensued while frogging. Sigh. After more than 60 years of knitting you’d think I’d have learned by now. (With the correct needle, it looks lovely.)

  16. Elliot is smart, and kind-hearted. I just loved everything in this post, and it made my crappy day better. Thank you. Carry on knitting.

  17. …I don’t have a Voice like that. I have to find out the hard way. (Fortunately, I can usually hit gauge with the needles they ask for.)
    But it’s still not fun taking out lots of rows to fix that failed decrease you just spotted.

  18. Oh, I thought I saw the blanket attached to the ball winder in the One Second Every Day video, and I thought “no, it can’t be”. But there it is.

    You can do this!

  19. I love that your Inner Knitter has changed to the Voice (also love that you formerly had exchanges like this…

    ” I’m walking around saying “What would you like to knit?” and she’s lying on her bed wearing black clothes and too much eyeliner and listening to Fall Out Boy really loud, and whenever I check in with her she just says “Whatever. Why are you always talking to me? Close the door… Wait, do I get the stash when you die?””

  20. That Eliot is one delightful little man. (And I do believe that he’s wearing a handknit too.) And now I’m off to knit a Milo vest for a stuffed alpaca….what else would I do when it’s my son’s turn to care for the class “pet” for a week?) Happy deadline chasing, Steph.

  21. The Voice is always right. I have finally learned to pay attention. Denial just meant more time on a project.
    Thank you for defining The Voice!

  22. Perfect timing, for me, sorry not for you… I’m working on the last section of an easy lace shawl and last night realized I need to take it out, again 3rd time? Maybe 4th.. The whole rest of the shawl didn’t take as long as this end part. it’s in time-out as there is no baby, wedding or birthday. It can wait a bit while I do some spinning for a few days to settle myself.

  23. “It’s okay Grammy. You can just try again.” **
    OMG. I love this so much . . . I hear YOU in that, too, Steph.
    And you have nailed it with your explanation of “the voice,” don’t I know it!

  24. Magnatiles, Duplo, Lego and Snapo all teach this magic. I love it. I have twins (8, both beginning knitters, and one crochets) and they are great at this ‘try again’ thing. It is a great thing about this type of learning toy…worth every dime spent!

  25. Took me right back to my childhood with MagnaTiles. My brother had something similar — colored clear plastic panes that you built stuff with — but I don’t think they connected with magnets. Something more fiddly and cumbersome I think. I may have to get myself a set of MagnaTiles, or maybe buy some and give them a quick test run before finding a deserving kid (read any kid) who would like them.

  26. Bless him, such a sweetie. My grandson who was 3 in November was at my house on Monday and deliberately left me Little Polar Bear tucked into my bed for me to cuddle and a copy of That’s Not My Witch to read to polar bear and myself as a bedtime story.
    Good luck with sorting the knitting and well done on listening before you’d totally finished.

  27. This post should have been published last week, when I needed to listen to my voice. Now it is time to rip back my Shifty. . . It is way too long (and too big). Sigh.
    Elliot is a wise and kind child.

  28. Baby items always end up too big because we knit our hopes and dreams into them.
    We always tell ourselves they will grow into them (maybe we’re really talking about the hopes and dreams here)…and they usually do.

  29. I heartily endorse magnatiles. I teach my little preschool clients (with some pretty significant cognitive and language delays) to shout “wipe out” when they all inevitably fall. Unknowing adults look on waiting for a breakdown, and are amazed when the kids just start building again.

  30. I feel almost spiritually better when I rip crappy knitting out that I have been trying delude myself into thinking will be fine. It won’t. Bad knitting does not become good knitting until we unravel it and have another go at it.

  31. The Voice should have pointed out that a teeny romper would be much quicker to knit. So nice of you to point out your human qualities to us mere average knitters, it’s good for our confidence. Truly. Thank you for that. As always, we’re on the edge of our seats. Keep us posted!

  32. As I was reading, I was thinking “I hope she used a lifeline.” But I’ve used that smaller needle trick more times than I’d like to admit. It really is a great way to rip back a lot of knitting.

    Now, I wish I had Elliot’s good sense. I always feel like a failure when I have to frog.

  33. yes. i have two rojects, in their bags sitting on the project shelf, that HAVE to be wound back. i start, then think – well, maybe i’ll have the fortitude to do x,y or z. thank you. re-winding is in my nearest future. i feel lighter now. Elliott is endearing.

  34. My British granny always said, “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well!”…and I always hear her
    voice when I consider frogging something – and end up doing it.

  35. Ah yes: the Voice. I have several (referred to as “The Committee” by some of my artist colleagues) who specialize in calling me out for trying to make and then — heaven forfend! — sell my artwork…but when it comes to knitting, yes, there is only one Voice, and she is much more reasonable and honest than her sisters on The Committee. I’ve only had to try the ball-winder trick once — having read of your doing it — and it worked a treat. Thanks! And all the best for finishing on time. GB #2 will arrive — undoubtedly! — on her own terms! Hugs!

  36. I know I am SUPER LATE to comment on this post, but nevertheless – the blanket is incredibly beautiful! (I haven’t read your current post so I won’t spoiler myself, but I DO HOPE you got it done on time and the edge is coming along as fast as you can wish for!)
    Have to confess that I cracked up a little over the “Why Winder?”, but I love that he encouraged you afterwards!! (Also, being able to start over can sometimes be a very refreshing thing. It’s nice if he learns this so early).

  37. Now I have a John Farnham ear-worm.
    “You’re the Voice, try and understand it”
    (google it. He’s one of our most lovely musicians). Wait, I’ll google it for you.

    And that Voice? You TAUGHT me that Voice, several years ago “How to take your project from an 8 to a 10” (still hanging out to come and do a spinning retreat with Judith, gimme another 2 years to get senior high school survived). And I’m STILL not listening to it. The current project and me = 5-0 with the project kicking my butt every time because I Sigh.
    I *can* be taught. I can!!!!!

  38. That Elliot is as sweet as he is cute! What a dear boy. I am extraordinarily good at talking back/ignoring the voice. I find I need to knit several inches (on a good day) until the voice wins. You got this.

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