Thoughts on Finishing (and Muddling)

My Haruni shawl is blocking today and will soon be sent to a friend as a just-because surprise.

What Jennifer Chen said about the immediacy of baking in her Seven Questions interview on Monday really resonated with me.

I’ve always thought of knitting as a perfect companion to writing, much the way she talks about baking. With yarn and needles, the fabric grows. Progress is visible. Mistakes show up and can be tracked and fixed. There’s the release of binding off, being absolutely positive that this one piece, this one heartfelt work of art, is now done.

A completed item can be judged, whether it’s a baked good or a shawl or a story. Pick your metaphor. Did it rise? Is it the right degree of sweet? Are there way too many nuts? How’s the tension? Does the pattern hold up throughout? Which thread dropped and how can it be caught before the whole thing unravels?

Truth be told, I let fear get in the way of a scene this week. When I finally gave myself permission to write it messy, something unexpected happened. Something I didn’t plot. And that’s (potentially) great. But now I’m stuck in the muddled middle of this scene, 100 pages into my historical novel, trying to judge whether or not the fabric I’m in the midst of creating has a dropped stitch I just can’t see yet.

So today I’m giving myself permission to write. To keep going and see if a decent pattern emerges. If this chunk of the manuscript turns out to be wonky, I can start over. And I won’t feel too bad, because at least I finished one thing this week: a Haruni shawl, made as a just-because gift for a friend, with Tosh Merino Light in Byzantine.

Haruni was a delightful knit, but the best part was watching that big central flower bloom. It was there all along as I followed the chart and trusted the designer, Emily Ross. But I couldn’t fully appreciate the intricacy of the pattern until I finished, soaked the fabric, then blocked each loop out with pins. Beautiful, isn’t it?

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Fiction, Knitting, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thoughts on Finishing (and Muddling)

  1. Beautiful shawl. And nothing is nicer than a just-because present, rather than one you have to give because of what it says on the calendar.

    And, yes, if something in the writing doesn’t seem to be working, it’s good to push (gently) forward. As the saying goes, the only way out is through.

  2. I’m looking forward to mailing the shawl and surprising my friend. As for the novel, I’m still grasping for a way into the next scene, but as you mentioned, I’ll end up somewhere new as long as I keep moving forward.

  3. kjwinston says:

    That’s exactly right – you can’t appreciate the beauty of this pattern until that central leaf motif bloom – an apt metaphor for your writing, I hope!

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