Alright, so here's the deal. My sister always has a way of keeping me in check & bringing me back to reality (this could also be interpreted as "popping my bubble of joy") & she did just that on my Instagram post releasing the Super G hat. In all of my joy at the finished product, I literally mentally blocked out the more difficult parts of the process of creating this hat.
Like I had a FULL BLOWN meltdown over the first iteration of this hat (more details below, don't you worry) & it wasn't that I consciously chose to exclude it in my last blog post of sunshine & flowers, I literally did not remember that it happened. But then Erin reminded me (& also gave me a great blog post title, already in proper grammatical style) & now I must recount this vital part of the creative process. Because creativity includes maaany highs & lows, & I know that I am often guilty of only documenting the highs.
So as I've mentioned, Grayson gets a Christmas hat every year. This one truly is my favorite - the Super G Hat is super cool & I want to make myself one as soon as I finish one of my other million projects. It is his fourth hat (you can check out the third hat here), & each hat had its own journey as it tumbled from my brain into a full grown hat.
The first year was shockingly easy, the second was pretty seamless, the third was a disaster, & now we come to this past year. I was completely determined not only to make him a perfectly fitting hat, but also to get it to him on time. As we now live together, I couldn't really work on it at home, so I planned to work on it while I was away with my family in Montana & have it ready for our post-Christmas gift exchange when I got back.
Grayson had requested colorwork, & I had meticulously picked out a combination of colors for him to get both a Christmas Hat & some Hermine Mittens that would coordinate. I chose Brooklyn Tweed Loft & Shelter from Knit 1, which was a dreeeam to work with. I was set!
I had the whole idea in my head from the beginning - what you see above on the finished hat is exactly what I pictured (& probably even better!). But as I cast on & started knitting, I made two crucial mistakes:
- Not accounting for the tightness of the colorwork section in my gauge
- Avoiding trying on the hat while I was making it
I think I was avoiding trying on the hat because I was so worried it wouldn't fit. I REALLY wanted to have it done for when I got home to Chicago. I have a history of not finishing Christmas gifts on time, in fact there are still a few outstanding gifts from this past year (Karin & Baelee I'm so sorry, I'm the worst!). But this year would be different! I had the idea, it was coming out great, I could do this!
I finished the hat (well, the first hat) on the drive from Big Sky, where we were skiing, to Bozeman, where Erin & I were flying out that day. We had a few hours to kill so we were planning on grabbing lunch & there was a yarn store (Stix - it was great!) I wanted to visit as well. Literally as we were parking in Bozeman I tried on the hat & had the awful realization that it was just not gonna happen.
I was trying to be nonchalant about it. I didn't tell anyone I had finished it, I just slowly tried to put it on my head & felt the crush of despair as the colorwork section got stuck on the crown of my head (yes, I know this is just a hat, I am a dramatic person).
Despite my sneaky efforts, Erin saw me trying to cram the hat on my head & presumably my look of utter terror & anguish as I failed repeatedly. She started asking me about it, & then the whole car was involved, & everyone tried to offer suggestions of "well, maybe if..." & I tried to say that maybe I could block it & make it fit but deep down I knew - it was unfixable.
My dreams of getting Grayson's Christmas hat done in time were crushed, & on top of that I felt like a terrible knitter! It felt like such a rookie mistake - how could I not have accounted for the tightness of the colorwork?!
We went to get lunch & I was in a mood. I could think of nothing else but my failures as a knitter, & even the great fried pickles couldn't quite cheer me up. I think I literally teared up a few times (I always cry around my family & it's very annoying. As the youngest child you already have to fight so hard to be taken seriously. My tear ducts are overactive around those people. [I love "those people"]).
I remember going to the bathroom & feeling just defeated, & realizing that it was ridiculous but feeling it nonetheless. And then I went back to the table & confessed that I thought the deep cause of my despair was that I didn't want my family to think I was a bad knitter (I was probably tearing up here). They, of course, told me that was ridiculous, & I pretty much felt better, but it took probably a full two hours (& a trip to a yarn store) to get me out of the funk.
And then I blocked it out of my mind forever & just went up a few needles sizes & made the lovely hat the lovely man is wearing in the photo below.
And while I know this whole thing is totally ridiculous, I think it's important. Because I feel like this all the time, & I know I'm not alone! I'll make knitting mistakes or second guess my designs & feel like an utter failure. I'm having this same issue with a new cardigan design as I write this.
And this is not how it should be! No creative work (or really any work) worth doing is going to happen without making a few mistakes along the way, & sometimes it's those mistakes that can make the project so special. But knowing all of that intellectually & trying to understand that mistakes are a part of learning doesn't really help you when you're feeling all bad about yourself. But hey, maybe remembering that you've gotten through it before will! I'm so proud of this finished hat design & the important takeaway is that it would not exist without those crucial mistakes I made in the first version.
And maybe family who tries to make you feel better about your errors but also reminds you that you made them can help too. Thanks for being the realist to my optimist, Erin! Here's a photo of us shortly after the Meltdown so that people know we really like each other (She got me that travel mug with my "bloom" design on it for Christmas. It is yellow & I put tea in it & I love it. She is very thoughtful & a very good sister, just so you all know.).