Our yoga teacher training places great emphasis on applying yogic principles to daily life. Our practice is not isolated to the studio; we are given exercises to bring mindfulness to habitual actions.
As a result, Something is changing in my attitude towards basic things. I am attempting to choose my words carefully, to avoid unnecessary speech (that's a tough one for me!) and to watch, rather than be pulled along by urges. Rather than react, I am making the effort to Act. The past few months find me undoing half-finished projects, rather than finishing them hastily or ignoring them. A tapestry which has languished on the loom for several years calls to me. (I haven't answered, yet.) Items I have been content to deem, "Good enough!" tell me, "You can do better."
Last year, I knitted at sweater to take with me to Olds Fibre Week 2012:
It was pretty enough, warm enough, fit well enough. I never enjoyed wearing it. At first, I assumed it was because the sweater had only an inch or two of ease; I like loose-fitting sweaters. As time passed, I realized that this wasn't the only problem with this sweater. Somewhere along the way, "Good enough!" has become no longer enough. A few days ago, I realized that I'd had enough. Something had to be done.
That something was a mindful meditation on sweater ravelling. For the first time, I decided to undo a sweater, rather than act on my usual impulse to give the thing away. Over the past two days, I've been using the process of returning sweater to yarn as mindful meditation:
(The white rectangle at the top right of the photo is my yoga teacher training manual. I forgot to remove it when I took the only picture of the sweater coming undone. Mindfulness is hard!)
I discovered, or remembered, some things as I was rolling the sweater back into yarn. I'd forgotten that I'd joined in different colours in an effort to transition colours more smoothly. I had double stranded some yarns and added a non-descript texture pattern in the chest area above the sleeves. These things made my efforts more difficult; as a result, I lost approximately 50 metres of the yarn and had many, many knots in my ball of yarn. I ended with this:
Notice how kinky the yarn was after ravelling. The usual thing would be to skein and wash the yarn; however, I could see that this yarn was underplied. I was unhappy with all the knots. I decided to re-ply the yarn before I washed it:
I knew this was risky because I would have no way of judging how much plying twist to add, but it was a chance I was happy to take, because the yarn was just not right as is. I counted treadles, made sure my plying zone was consistent and away I went. The hardest part for me was letting the yarn rest on the bobbin overnight. Usually, I just want to get right at it, but again, I allowed the urge to flow past me and let the yarn stay where it was for 24 hours. When I did skein the yarn, this is the result, 366 metres of tightly plied, highly elastic BFL yarn:
|This is an accurate representation of the yarn's colour.|
Although I had rather hoped that the skein would retain this elasticity so that I could play with the plying twist, I suspected that the severe washing and fulling treatment I was about to give it would straighten things out. I shocked the yarn in repeated hot and cold baths and then gave the skein a mindful whacking on the side of the bathtub, which tamed the twist. This is the finished skein, sans knots, changed in the ravelling and plying, no longer a sweater, but ready to become something else:
It will never be a really good yarn. Many of the yarn splices have drifted, the twist, is improved but still inconsistent and the refinished yarn is not as soft as the original sweater. Still, I think the yarn is preferable to the "Good enough!" sweater. Its value rests in its process from un-becoming a sweater and what that process taught me about mindfulness, attention to detail and the value of accepting changes.