Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Perfectionism and the Embossed Leaves Socks

For the past, oh, six weeks or so, I've been working on a particular dissertation topic. You see, I thought I had found my "love in the archives". Everything was going along so well - except for a nagging doubt that the sources I was looking at really didn't specifically answer the questions I was interested in. But maybe it would be OK, I thought, so I trudged along, digging in archives, hoping, writing.

The process, in fact, looked something like my progress on my Embossed Leaves socks: everything was going along really well until it seemed I would run out of yarn, a problem that fast became a reality: I didn't have enough yarn.

Not enough yarn!
Pay no attention to the library-pale toes...

I faced several choices: knit the toe of this sock in a different color (which wouldn't have looked good), try to buy more yarn and probably fail, given the number of colors Koigu has, try to swap for yarn that might not quite match, and finally, unknit the first sock and give both socks a bit of toe in the right color and a bit of toe in a different color.

Coffeeboy repeatedly, these past few weeks, has likened my perfectionist difficulties with my dissertation topic to my perfectionism in knitting - and in this case, the two coincided in time, as well. Last night I decided I needed to change my dissertation topic as well as undo the first sock and reknit it. Besides, I'd messed up on the pattern.

Ready to unravel
All ready to unravel!

It wasn't so bad, after all. I got all the stitches back on the needle of the first sock and prepared to finish the toes. For the dissertation, I realized I didn't need to go back to the drawing board, either. I haven't finished the proposal yet, and the topic I've been focusing on for the last few weeks is very, very close to what I'd ultimately like it to be, so I just need to sort out what works of that topic from what doesn't. Some of it might even fit as a chapter in the reworked topic.

At the toes
Ready to reknit!

With that good base to work from, I redid the socks. I also opened a new Word document and started to write things down. Suddenly, just like fixing the socks - and with a little help from my friends - really figuring out the topic seemed as possible as getting going again on these socks.

Embossed Leaves socks
(The color here is pretty true.)

Maybe reworking the socks even quite literally helped me regain my confidence regarding the dissertation. I'm not sure. I do know, though, that by the end of the evening I had a pair of finished socks, ones I am quite happy with! I just hope their recipient is as happy!

Pattern: Embossed Leaves socks, now in Interweave Knit's book of 25 Favorite Socks from their magazine
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, obviously from a color and dye lot I've long since forgotten
Needles: size 1 bamboo DPNs
Time: 6/3 t0 6/26

Embossed Leaves detail
Leaf pattern detail

Thoughts: I really enjoyed knitting this pattern. While I didn't quite memorize it, it was quite easy to follow and worked well for TV and group knitting once I got the hang of it. I'd definitely like to knit it again with a full-length sock! As it was, I had only one skein of this Koigu and decided to use it for anklets. Since the yarn was green and blue and brown, a leafy pattern seemed appropriate.

Up next on the needles: MONKEY SOCKS! I'm actually jumping on a popular sock bandwagon at the same time as, well, virtually everyone else on the internet, it seems. And I promise you, I have some very pretty yarn for it as well, yarn I've been saving for something special:

Yarn in the color "Autum Moon" from Woolbearers


The_Add_Knitter said...

Way to roll with the punches!! Indeed changing your topic early is part of the redefining process--many people get really dead set on a certain topic early on which ends up hurting them later on. Recently I read that most fatal knitting mistakes happen at some point during the first 20 minutes of a project, the same is so true of a dissertation as well. Take your time now and you will have a topic that will take you far. I speak from personal experience!! I was in a rush to move along and ended up with a topic that wasn't quite right and had a very difficult time finishing.

schrodinger said...

Looks like your perfectionism really paid off, great socks - and much happier with your dissertation topic.

You'll soon see what's so cool about the banndwagon, you're going to love those monkeys.

cathy said...

Nice fix for you socks.
I love that "Autumn Moon" shade. Soooo pretty :)

Diane said...

You picked some gorgeous yarn for the Monkey socks! It's a shame you just barely ran out of Koigu for the Embossed Leaves, but the fix fits in with the rest decently well. My feet are jealous of your feet. :)

jwolcott said...

I once ran out of a yarn--got through the beginning and the middle and then the pucnh line didn't match...

Cute rework, though! At least you'll be warm in the library--if you take them along. I usually have a shawl in my should bag in Panama for when I go into a theater or mall. And last night in Ashland I would have frozen if not for the extra layer while we watched "Romeo and Juliet" open to the Oregon skies--wonderful.

Saw a book review in the Times last week (or was it the week before?) on a new book on marriages of seven literary couples 1910-1936 that looked interesting...

Is there a special knitting project for NC?


Zarzuela said...

So knitting really *does* mirror life huh?! ;) Glad you are finding solutions to all these challenges. :)