A game of patience

5 Dec

The inspiration for this post was my rather splendid new Christmas jumper, which you can see in the photo below. Christmas jumpers have become a bit of a thing in recent years (I know they were around before that, but they were mocked rather than mandatory) and I didn’t have one last year, so I decided to make one for this Christmas.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

As you can imagine, it took a very long time. I can’t even estimate how many hours work went into it. I did work out that an inch of ribbing (on the cuffs, collar and base) took about ten minutes, so those of you who are hot at mathematics can probably make an educated guess about the area of the jumper, divide it by square inches and come up with the answer: lots.

I’ve got another couple of small crochet projects I’d like to get through this month, and then next year’s project is a temperature blanket. That’s a blanket where you crochet (or knit) one row each day, and the colour of the yarn corresponds to the temperature that day. In the end you have a record of the year in the form of a lovely blanket.

I know there will be days that I won’t want to do it. Possibly there will be times when I will be unable to do it, either through illness or because I’ve run out of the right colour and have to reorder. Sometimes I’ll be travelling and won’t want to take my half-finished blanket with me, so I’ll have to catch up when I get home. And I will hate having to catch up, and will regret ever starting the rotten thing.

But here’s the point: when I finish (which I will – especially now I’ve posted about it publicly) I will be so glad I did. I’ll forget about how annoying it was sometimes and just feel proud of my achievement. Like many worthwhile things, it will be easier to appreciate that it was worthwhile after I’ve done it.

There’s a quote I like by a guy called Earl Nightingale:

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway.”

I think it’s pretty good advice. It depends what you want to accomplish, of course – not all goals are laudable – but if there’s something that’s important to you, something you want to achieve or to be able to do, then just start. You’re not getting any closer to your goal by fretting about how time-consuming it will be.

My friend Tanya Lyons has written a book called The Gifts I Never Knew I Had. One of those gifts is taking up a hobby, partly because it gives you the opportunity to be bad at something again – something we are unfamiliar with as adults – and then to get better. There’s a real joy in achieving mastery of a skill. In fact, it can even lead to that elusive state of flow.

But this is getting a bit too blossoms and butterflies now, isn’t it? And even though it’s sparkle season, I feel the need to include a bit of the dour Scot. Advent is traditionally a time of sombre contemplation, believe it or not, and not all of our soaring intentions come to fruition. So pick your goal, practise patience, and you’ll probably get there. But remember the much-attributed words:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point being a fool about it.

Anon

(If you would like to make one of the lovely snowflakes from my jumper, the pattern is from Every Trick on the Hook.)

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