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Musings: On Self-Perception, Dating, and Knitting

I’m a single woman of an age where, according to some schools of thought, I “should” be married and have had at least one child and probably own a house as well. These people are generally not people with whom I associate, and also clearly haven’t seen my stash of LEGO sets. Or maybe they have and they think I do have at least one child. I’m not sure; these people are not my people.

And while I am mostly okay with not being married, not having had children, and not owning a house (don’t get me wrong, some days I’d love to own a house but do you know who has to fix everything that goes wrong with a house when you own it? Hint: not the management company), I do get lonely and some days I do really wish I had a partner, someone I could come home to and have an actual conversation with that didn’t involve sassy meowing.

(That’s code for “I have a cat,” not “I live with Catwoman,” though now I’m picturing Catwoman as a roommate in this apartment full of yarn.)

Being the somewhat proactive person that I am, I signed up for an online dating “service.” I opted for their “six-month guarantee,” in which they promise that by having a completed profile, including pictures, and message at least five people each month for six months, you will find True Love or they’ll give you another six months of their obviously competent program for free. I sound bitter because I am a little bitter—I’m three months in and the results are not promising.

So now I’m doing what any sane person would do and turning this into a social experiment. The question is “What happens if I change small parts of my profile?” The first step was changing my “body type” from “full-figured” to “a few extra pounds.”

I consider myself to be a relatively realistic woman. I am also not a small woman. My body distributes mass in ways that I can fool most people to believe I don’t weigh what I do. I can shop at stores such as Old Navy and Target but have to stick to the upper ends of the sizes on the clothing racks. And most days I’m okay with this—though I am working to lose weight/fat and not a small motivation is the potential for saving money on yarn for sweaters.

Seriously, I envy you people who can get away with buying quantities of yarn amounts listed near the front of the parentheses.

I suppose it’s a semantic debate—I don’t think I qualify as “a few extra pounds” but it is also really difficult for us as women (and likely also most men, but I don’t usually have this conversation with dudes), or at least most women I know, to objectively see ourselves. And I’ve uploaded photos showing most of my upper body (I don’t have a lot of full-body shots, and I will also say that there’s a lot of knitwear in these shots), so I guess it’s also up to the gentlemen to decide if I fit their definition of “a few extra pounds” (if they even look at these things). That’s not the point.

The point is, not only am I seeing if I get a different reaction from members of this site, I guess I’m also seeing if shifting the way I think about myself—if having “a few extra pounds” changes my self-identification of being “full-figured.”

Believe it or not, this thought process led me to thinking about knitting. And how many, many knitters frame the way the think about their knitting skills. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve heard or read someone say “Oh I couldn’t possibly knit that, it’s too difficult.”

What would happen if those knitters instead shifted their outlook just a bit? “Oh I’d like to knit that, even if it might be a bit of a challenge.”

There was a Twitter-based discussion recently about the “dumbing down” (my words, not those of anyone involved to my knowledge) of pattern writing. Kate Atherley summed it up from a designer stand-point and Angela Hockabout wrote down her thoughts from a purely knitterly view, so I won’t go into the whole discussion. Instead I’m adding another layer to it.

What if in a sort of “meet-in-the-middle” kind of way, we took it upon ourselves as knitters to rise to the challenge of a difficult technique in a pattern? I am not saying there aren’t some incredibly frustrating patterns out there—I’m dealing with one that kind of makes my head hurt right now, even though it’s completely accurate and the project itself is lovely. And there should be, and are, credible, thorough, and most of all, helpful resources for those times when we can’t wrap our brains around a thing.

Maybe all I’m saying is that instead of being afriad to try and fail at a thing, whether it’s knitting or dating or rocket science (caveat: theoretical rocket science is always better than practical rocket science using combustibles if you’re outside a classroom or otherwise monitored setting), we just go for it and see what happens. Sure, we may “waste” time, or money, or yarn (not the yarn!), but we may also amaze ourselves in our hidden abilities.

I’m serious about the rocket science.

Categories: musings


7 replies

  1. I love this post so much! First off, I’m a gal with, let’s be real here, more than a few extra pounds to spare, so I totally feel your frustration with the pattern thing. 🙂
    Secondly, and more to the point, I couldn’t agree more with your overall theme. For the longest time I knit rectangular one colored scarves because that’s all I knew. I ‘couldn’t’ make something beautiful like a sweater. Then one day I decided ‘screw it, what’s the worst that could happen?’ and decided to knit an easy tunic pattern offered for free from a yarn company. I failed spectacularly (lesson in gauging and test swatches) but I had broken out of the rectangle. That extra confidence, mixed with the occasional help from Youtube with new stitch concepts, has opened whole worlds to me! Knitting in general has taught me that the worst case scenario is only ripping everything out and a chance to start over. That’s a small risk to take compared to the benefits of the alternative. 🙂

  2. Lossing weight for needing less yarn for a sweater, that must be the perfect motivation!
    And I really agree with you, if you dare to try something new, you will always learn and get better. The only way to improve!

  3. I love everything about this post. As a woman, as a teacher, as a knitter, as a small-time designer…you are currently my favorite person! Hooray for realism, hooray for loving yourself, and even more hooray for realizing all the awesome stuff you really can do if YOU decide to put in the effort.

  4. Very well thought out. I am with you in changing the thinking about tackling a “challenging” pattern. Since I began blogging a few months ago, reading blogs and seeing people’s projects have inspired me to take on more challenging knits. Now that I’m in the midst of them, I realize, yes, it takes some brain power and maybe a few rows of ripping and re-knitting, but I am doing it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

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