Sunday, March 20, 2016

The vernal equinox: halfway to somewhere.

Happy Ostara!

Today is the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the day on which we supposedly have equal minutes of daylight and darkness. (Although as the Capital Weather Gang explains, that's not strictly true.)

It's also the first day of spring -- or at least, most Americans think so. Meteorologists believe spring began on March 1. And the ancient Celts considered Imbolc, February 1, to be the beginning of spring, based on the lengthening hours of daylight.

I expect it's warmer in February in Ireland and Scotland than it is here in the mid-Atlantic. Even March is feeling a tad chilly; we basked in 70-degree days not long ago, but some parts of our region actually got a dusting of snow last night. This is a lot more like the spring weather we had when I was growing up in northern Indiana.

Regardless, spring is definitely here. Daffodils are shooting up, and the cherry trees in our neighborhood seemed to bloom overnight last week. Which means my favorites -- the redbud trees -- won't be far behind.

I think I've mentioned that I'm in the process of making seasonal table toppers. I settled on the Olympic Forest Baby Blanket pattern for my spring table topper, but of course I couldn't leave well enough alone. Instead of just knitting the trees in a springlike green, I decided to do the picot edging in lavender, and add redbud blooms to the branches by lining them with French knots in the same color.

I'd hoped to have the project done by today, but as you can see in this photo, I'm still working on it. The edging is done (although it's curling under -- I still need to block the project) and I've finished just over half of the French knots. You can see the finished ones on the right side of the photo. The green expanse on the left side is the part I still have to do.

It's taking a long time. Every now and then, I sigh, thinking about how much I still have to do. My daughter Amy told me today that she thought I was a little crazy when I told her I planned to do all these French knots. "I'd almost rather do neeps," she said. Then she explained that a neep involves wrapping your yarn around the needle six times, and then knitting all six wraps together at once.

"Thanks, but no," I told her. "I'll stick to French knots."

But it's a lot of French knots, and I'm a little discouraged right now. It would be easy to stop, in fact, and say I never meant to finish it -- that the all-green side is part of the overall design. No one would know but me. (Well, and you guys, since you're reading this.) Or I could set it aside and work on something else -- something with a more immediate reward. I'm really good about finishing projects. I'm sure I'll come back to this one. Eventually.

You're waiting for my point, aren't you? Well, here it is: In any project, being half-done is the most painful place to be. Starting is easy -- the idea is fresh and you can't wait to get going. And the last bit is also easy -- the finish line is so close you can smell it. But the middle? Ugh. You know exactly how much work you've already put into the thing, and you know you need to do it all again.

It's not just true of knitting, of course. It's true of writing, too, and of every other creative endeavor, as well as some not-so-creative ones. One of my favorite parts of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is the story that explains the title: her then-ten-year-old brother had put off doing a big school project that required a report on each of several birds. It was the night before the report was due, and he hadn't even begun. And their father put his arm around the boy and said, "Just take it bird by bird."

The boy hadn't yet begun, and I'm halfway through, but the result is the same: letting yourself dread the work ahead isn't going to get it done. So I'm going to keep plugging away at it, French knot by French knot, and eventually it'll be done. (I'll post a photo, I promise.)

Here's a thing that's nearing the finish line: Spider's Lifeline. The final edits are in, and I'm aiming for publication in the last week of March. Keep an eye on your inbox for the date.

These moments of bloggy perseverance have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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