Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finishing the (metaphorical) hat...

That song from Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George has been ear-worming me recently.

So many projects, so little time! Then, in the latest Vogue Knitting (Holiday 2013) there's an interview with Esteemed Knitting Crone Barbara G. Walker who admonishes everyone to finish, finish, finish before starting anything new:  "My most basic advice to other knitters is:  Always finish your project, even if you're dying to start that much more interesting new thing."

Ipse dixit.  Okay, okay.

So I started finishing stuff.  More because of my inner Sondheim than the other guru. Socks, mostly. I don't suffer from SSS (Second Sock Syndrome). I do finish a pair at a time. It's just that I usually have three or four pairs going at once. Maybe I suffer from Sixth Sock Syndrome....

This race to the finish line, it was like wrestling with inner demons. There are about six thousand new projects I want to, I want to, I want to...

But no.  I must finish what I've started, just as BGW says. And, as Sondheim envisions Seurat, there is an appealing romantic driven intensity to the artist in thrall to his creative vision/compulsion.


Left to right, a week's finishing work:  for Caeden (18 months), for Bettina G., for moi, for Ellen (still being finished).
I'm not proud to say that pair #3, faux cables in a beautifully soft Swans Island lilac fingering weight merino took me almost two years.  The central portion of each sock was mostly done during two round-trips on Amtrak from Westerly, RI to Philadelphia, PA--ten hours per trip, in the Quiet Car where talking and all other noisy distractions are verboten.

Was it worth it? No, she said unequivocally. The socks are lovely, but confirmed to me loud and clear that I am not a detail-oriented knitter. Or, put another way, I become hysterical and unpleasant when I have to concentrate on a complicated pattern. So, never again to this pattern.

But at least I finished them....

And when the woman that you wanted goes,
You can say to yourself, "Well, I give what I give."
But the woman who won't wait for you knows
That however you live,
There's a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat...
Starting on a hat...
Finishing a hat...
Look I made a hat...
Where there never was a hat.

(Stephen Sondheim, "Finishing the Hat" from Sunday in the Park with George.)

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