Friday, April 12, 2013

jumping the fence

There are fences we walk along. People tell us we should jump to the other side. But we hesitate. Doesn't yet feel like the right thing to do, no matter what others say: not ready, too much work, may mean a loss of control . . . whatever the reason and despite all the advice we are given, we're not goin' there.

What am I talking about? Here's an example. Get a cleaning service! People tell us that as working women, but we think
  • I can't spend the money,
  • I can do the work,
  • I'd have to do all that stuff before they take over!
This was me. But OMG, once you jump that fence you wonder what you were thinking that you waited so long! Major head smack!!! Once you cross over you are not goin' back. And you are now the one giving the advice to others: jump that fence!

There are other fences to be jumped that are kinda the opposite--where we don't give up the work to others but take on the task ourselves. Again, we think we're not ready, that it would be too much work, but this time the fear is that we don't have the skills. And so we walk the rut along the fence line, wearin' it down.

I was reminded of this yesterday when Nicole from Victoria (Hey there, Nicole!) wrote the following:

I just purchased the Kindle version of your new Knitting Pattern Essentials (and it’s nothing less than fabulous, as are all of your books), but I have a question about something that wasn’t addressed in the book.
I have a notebook full of design ideas, and I have several knitting design books, but I’m having a very hard time finding anything that specifically addresses large collars, particularly portrait-style collars. I used to do tailoring and dressmaking for a living, so I suppose I could buy a sewing pattern and use the pattern pieces as a template, but I would really like to have a resource from a knitting pattern designer who’s already worked out the bugs.
Any possibility you could point me in the right direction?
I answered. 
Nicole, I don’t know any more than I wrote in the book, which is the following.

  1. There’s a section on collars that includes the collar stand (or not) plus the increases that have to happen at the center front.
  2. There’s a small section at the beginning that explains that everything is simply horizontals and diagonals—number of stitches and numbers of rows.
My advice would be that YOU CAN DO IT. Find the model of one you like (on a blouse, in your head) and then work it out! Do understand that you WILL rip as you do this, but the good news is that this is JUST the collar, just part of the finishing, so ripping won’t be a big deal.
Remember that she said she had a book full of design ideas? So I continued.

When you have a book full of design ideas, it means you want to design. When you are ready to design, it means you are ready to explore a vision—definitely not always a vision someone else has written a template for! So this tells me that it’s time for you to have the confidence to do it. Don’t assume you must rely on others exclusively: get what you can from them, and then move forward yourself. You will be SO happy with yourself when you make that leap!!!!
And then, trust me, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to do this, and master it, and feel justifiably empowered!
She wrote back. (I was curious for this, not sure how she would react to my advice to jump that fence!)
I knew exactly what you meant – and boy, can you read me like a book!

I have totally been waiting for someone else to hand me all the answers, so I could just knit up my designs without a lot of trial and error. Sheesh.

I’ve literally looked at hundreds, if not thousands of designs, and not come across a single one that was exactly what I was looking for – that’s got to be a message, eh? There’s a whole design esthetic that I want that doesn’t really exist, or at least not my version of it.

You’ve convinced me…time to get off my butt and accept the challenge with passion and energy!

Thanks, Sally – you rock.
Sometimes jumping the fence means doing the work ourselves! And what a happy-dance day when we do! A whole world opens up, and we rock!

So what fence are you walking? Ready to jump?


  1. Yup. I jumped the fence and am happily romping through the field on the other side :)
    Thanks so very much, Sally. I'll be blogging about my adventures from this day forward!
    Cheers, Nicole

    1. Can't wait to see the results, Nicole. And thanks for letting me share your story.

  2. Very well said, Sally.

    Sometimes it's really nice to have someone holding your hand while you jump. You did that for me when you suggested I run a Gray Cardigan (from Mother-Daughter Knits) Knit Along at our shop. Knowing you were in the wings with advice and support gave me the confidence I needed to give it a try. And the "knit alongers" then got the support they wanted from both of us. So far, we have about 10 beautiful, finished sweaters, several more still in progress and knitters who have grown in confidence because they jumped that fence.
    Thanks for all you do, Sally!
    Little Red Mitten

  3. Thanks so much, Joan. You have a lovely store, and it was a privilege to teach there. I hope to see all those sweaters on a return trip!