Along with about 20 other women, I’m participating in a 2-month long knit-a-long at Knit and Caboodle, my favorite fiber/yarn/knitting/crocheting/spinning shop; the project for November/December is a sweater. For the past three Thursday evenings, I’ve enjoyed seeing what everyone is making, the beautiful yarns they’re working with, and the various techniques they are using. This past week, a lady at “my” table mentioned that she needed to do a bit of tinking.

I’m fairly new to knitting (only recently returned to it and moving beyond basic square and rectangular items) and the only things I know how to do are knit, purl, increase, and decrease, so I figured I needed to pay attention. I looked over to see what she was doing and saw that she was taking out some of what she had already knitted; I realized that “tink” is merely “knit” backwards!

The following evening, I dropped a stitch. Because I don’t know how to fix a dropped stitch, I had to stop for the evening and planned to take my sweater to the shop to get some help. I realized this would be a good time to slip my stitches on to waste yarn (extra yarn not being used) so I could try it on. Ten minutes later, my slipped stitch was the least of my worries — my sweater was too snug!

Saturday morning, I took my sweater into Knit and Caboodle and tried it on for Connie, the shop owner and one of the most patient, gentle people I have ever met. She agreed with me that it was a bit too snug (somehow, my gauge swatch assessment was incorrect), and we discussed various options. She pointed out that I had purchased good quality yarn and was creating a garment that would last for many, many years. I knew that even though it would be painful to unravel 3 weeks of work (about 1/4 of the body was complete), I wouldn’t really be happy with the sweater unless it fit correctly.

I went home, fixed a cup of tea, and began tinking. Before I knew it, I could hear Kenny Rogers in my head:

       You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
       Know when to walk away and know when to run.
       You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
       There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

I’m not sure about those last two lines, but I do know the old gambler was right when he said a person needs to know when to “fold ’em”, when to simply scrap something and maybe, as in my case, start over from scratch.

I know there have been times I stayed with a project or situation too long. The friendship gone toxic, a work situation that became unbearable, a craft project that was beyond my skill level, just to name a few. Until a few months ago, I suffered until the very last page of more than a few books that either didn’t turn out to be what I was expecting or that were poorly written.

But in the past year or so, my perspective has changed. Oh, I haven’t been quitting things right and left. I am, however, abandoning books with one-dimensional cliched characters and horrible plots. I’ve also thrown away 2 half-finished projects — things I started before I had to box up everything when we put everything in storage to build a new house and that don’t fit with the colors in my new home or my current style. It felt wonderful to cross them off my “projects to complete” list; I didn’t realize until I threw them away how guilty I had been feeling about those unfinished projects sitting in my craft room!

I’ve also walked away from a few relationships. I gave up on a friendship with a person who rarely returned calls, who was happy to get together if I was driving a couple of hours to see her but who cancelled any plans that involved her doing the same. I simply stopped calling and leaving messages; when she never contacted me, I accepted the fact that the friendship meant more to me than it did to her.

Instead of finishing a horribly-written book, I’ve spent more time on my own writing. Rather than finish projects because I feel guilty, I’m spending my time creating things that bring joy to people I care about and to me. Giving up activities that I was doing out of habit — turning on the television as soon as I walk in the house every day, for example — has freed up time for new, enriching activities such as a daily walk, journalling, Bible study, and blogging.

Tinking my sweater wasn’t much fun, but I didn’t feel all that bad as my sweater was replaced by 2 rewound skeins of yarn. I’ve knitted a new gauge swatch (I’m going to have Connie check my count), and I’m ready to start again. I’m also ready to do some more tinking. I’ll keep you posted!