You Said It All So Clean

What the hell do I do now?
– John W. Dean

Did Dean really write this memo as the Watergate scandal started to unravel? Dunno. I saw it — given as an example of admirably succinct writing — in a long-lost Toastmasters Magazine article on removing excess words.

Whether the memo is an actual quote hardly matters: It captures how I feel. My lace shawl — a project I’ve been working on since early last November — is now stretched out to dry on foam blocks on my dining room table.

Lace shawl stretched out on dining room table for blockingNot that it’s been a non-stop or dedicated effort for those nine months. It’s kinda like weather-modelling programs in the 1970s (and maybe still today, but that’s the last time I checked in on them). Apparently these models ran in the background of huge mainframe computers: When the HAL 9000 wasn’t doing anything else, it was running the weather software. Every nanosecond of every day. Weather is complicated, man.

So it was with me and this knitting project, undertaken in tandem with a friend. We both worked on other projects . . .

Collage of knitting projects

My other projects

. . . but whenever we weren’t working on something else we were working on our respective shawls, edging them ahead bit by bit.

And just as you eat an elephant one bite at a time, you knit a big project one row and one section at a time. The other night I hit the point where I had one last bit(e) to do. Sorry for the fuzziness – I think I might have been excited.

Showing the last bit to be knit on a large shawl.

Now it’s all over except the drying and the requisite photo shoot, and I feel kinda bereft. After living so long with this multi-month project as a backdrop, it feels odd to have only a done-in-a-matter-of-weeks knitting project on the go. And so I say, as Dean maybe did,

What the hell do I do now?

Professionally, I realized years ago that I was happier in project work than in maintenance. To get the anticipation of the start and the satisfaction of the conclusion, I learned to live with the undeniable wear and tear of the craziness in the middle. Now I realize the joys of a long-term project, at least one without a crazy hard deadline: It offers many of the comforts of ongoing work but also a recognizable and achievable conclusion.

And I realize, too, what I’m going to do now.

And the musical link from that Watergate era? The Eagles, of course: James Dean.


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10 Responses to You Said It All So Clean

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Well, it’s gonna be nice when you’re finished.

  2. I was stunned by the work and attention to detail in just one of those projects in your second photo panel. Your magnum opus is breathtaking. Wear it with pride and joy!

    Let me guess: you are going to going to knit a skirt to go with the shawl. I remember one in sunshine yellow boucle yarn that my mother started but never finished. Some crafts are such high art that they never go out of style.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – There now, you see, I hadn’t thought of a sunshine-yellow skirt. I’ll consider it. 🙂 I have seen a site selling vintage knitting and sewing patterns from the 1920s through at least the 1940s. If you can imagine it, it’s online.

  3. Jim Robertson says:

    Busy fingers!!! That is quite the project!! Congrats

  4. Barbara Carlson says:

    Having seen it (yesterday) actually worn by you, I will say again (here) it is perfectly lovely, as are you, Isabel.

  5. Jim Taylor says:

    If you’re ever short of 1920s knitting patterns, talk to Joan. She has them both from her own collection, and her mother’s, and my mother’s…
    If you have no other projects, I recommend prayer shawls. There’s a sense of doing something worthwhile for someone else, even someone else you’ve never met and aren’t likely to, and yet there’s an element of caring that goes into every stitch, which someone the person receiving the shawl can also feel. It defies explanation, but it’s there nonetheless.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Thanks, I’ll remember that. And I’ll look into the prayer shawl thing. I think it might suit me better than knitting hats for preemies, although it’s all good.

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