A Work in Progress
Well, Hello There! Welcome to “A Work in Progress” – an open diary of sorts from myself, Haley Rose, AKA Fat Betty Knits. I hope you will join me here as I work through both my various knitting and crafting Works-In-Progress, as well as my life in general, which is in and of itself one great big Work-in-Progress (get it?!) If you have happened upon this page, I can only assume you are in the “Finished the Internet” phase of your quarantine journey, and I commend you for that, and am also grateful for your presence here! My hope is that this doesn’t devolve into a personal and private blathering of my own thoughts and misgivings, but that we can grow this into a community of sorts where everyone’s thoughts and misgivings are shared and blathering’s are received with welcomed grace… Because if there is one thing you can’t get enough of on the internet, it’s everyone shouting out their problems into thin air and expecting someone else to fix it.
For reference to future societies, if there even are any, it is June 2020. I personally have been out of work due to the COVID-19 virus for just over three months. Prior to the pandemic, I was preparing to be touring for a good portion of the summer and fall with the band I work for as their FOH (Front of House) Audio Engineer.
2019 was what my future self will refer to as a “transitional year”. I left a formative job I had been at for seven years at an audio/event production company in July, and I didn’t have much of a plan for what was next for me. I had hoped that I could jump right in to touring on a more full time basis, but the timing just didn’t work out quite right, and I spent most of the fall and winter unemployed and trying to kick off a knitting business and becoming certified as a Pilates Instructor as my two main (and might I add unprofitable) priorities. Towards the end of the year, things did start to turn around. I started working as a Pilates Instructor (much more profitable) and I managed to stay busy through the holiday season with commissioned knitting projects and a holiday hoopla tour. By the start of this year, things were feeling more on track. I had tours booked for the Spring and Summer. I was working nearly full time at the Pilates studio. I was paying my share of the bills each month! I had a plan to balance my tour life and my home life – Nick and I were discussing moving to Nashville because we were planning on touring so much. And then, as it happened for so many of us in the States, it kind of all seemed to come crashing down in about the course of a week. Tours were cancelled, studios were closed, Nick made it out of England and back home by the skin of his teeth. And then this plan that I had put together just dissolved right in front of me.
Now please don’t mistake this for a complaint – I’m not complaining. I’m sad for the plans that I was looking forward to that didn’t come to fruition, but I’ve taken solace in the fact that things happen with a purpose, and the best we can do is to keep going along with it. But, you know, the plans still change. If my life were a route on Google Maps, I would still be in the “Recalculating…” phase after an errant turn. I’ve gone from being all in on tour life, to wondering if I will ever tour again, to wondering if I even want to. I have mourned the loss of a career that I’ve been working for for over ten years, that in a lot of ways, I feel like I was just getting started at it. I have wondered when and how we will ever feel safe going to concerts again. I have wondered if I can afford, physically and financially, to be in my 30s and basically starting all over again at this. I’ve wondered if I can have kids and do this job, if I want to have kids OR do this job, if I will be just as happy or happier doing something else when this is the work I have been most passionate about for so long.
And I know – I KNOW – that through the course of a global pandemic there are SO MANY more important things to be concerned about, but these things are parts of it too. I think that’s what makes this moment in history so difficult for so many – there’s just a whole lot of unanswered questions, and we’re all figuring it out together, and some of us are making it a lot harder than it has to be. But here we are.
I recalculated a bit. I decided I would focus on the one thing I could focus on being stuck indefinitely at home, which was knitting. I set a goal to keep my Etsy shop updated and finally work through my yarn stash.
This is a problem I’m fairly certain every knitter has had and will continue to have as long as yarn exists. You just collect it over the years. For me the problem starts with me going into a local yarn store without a particular project in mind. Cut to a year down the line and I have one or two skeins, some indivisible amount of yardage, and I’m stuck filtering through Ravelry looking for anything I can make with exactly 742 yards of worsted weight yarn. This has led me to institute a new rule of “Only go into a yarn store with a very specific project in mind”.
One of my stashed yarns was a truly beautiful Merino/Silk yarn that I bought at Vortex Yarns in Taos, NM over a year ago. I am fairly new to garment knitting, and I’m also fully embracing summer knits mode, so I searched through Ravelry and found my next personal project – The Katama Tank.
Problem number one for me arose when I didn’t have the right needle size to match the gauge that the pattern was calling for, so instead I tried swatching* with a needle size down. (By the way – I will save my rant for gauge swatching for another time, because I could truly write an entire thesis on how much I dread swatching, but let it be known – I do not like knitting gauge swatches.) I finished the gauge swatch and by my measurements it was not exactly right, although with some finesse, I was able to block it to the correct measurements for the pattern. And I recall saying to myself, “this probably isn’t right, but I’m going to go ahead and start knitting the tank anyway, because I will be damned if I have to knit a second gauge swatch.”
What happened next was that I started knitting and as I worked through and got about a third of the way up the torso, I began to realize that this shirt was going to be way too big to fit me. So where do I go from here? I can finish knitting it as is and gift it to someone it will look better on. I can frog** the whole thing and just try to knit down a size. Or what I really should do is frog the whole thing and re-gauge with different needles and then restart this whole process, which for some reason I dread the most. So much so that as I came to terms with the fact that I was at a fork in the road and had to choose between what was fast and what was right, I simply put my needles down and have not picked them back up in over two weeks.
This leads me to my grand metaphor. Since the shutdown, I feel like I put my life down and I haven’t figured out the best way to pick it back up yet. I think the trick though, is that there isn’t a “best way” to pick it back up – you just do and you go from there. I don’t know if I will tour forever, but I know that I will at least tour again. And if I make a decision at some point not to pursue that particular career path anymore, it won’t be because I gave up or failed, it will be because life just carries on, and you don’t always know in what direction. I love knitting and running a business, and I love Pilates and teaching it to others, so I have no doubt that my path in life will be one that is full of love and fulfillment. Some projects need to be mended or fixed in the middle. I hope that if you are having similar feelings of loss or confusion that you can find ways to embrace it and work through it. For now, If I have learned anything about knitting, it’s that this is most certainly not the last time I will have to start over and knit a second gauge swatch, so I might as well stay positive and start now.
Links and Footnotes
*Swatching – A Gauge Swatch is a knitted square piece that determines how the yarn, needles, and knitter interact, determining the stitch and row count per inch that the knitter can then use to determine overall dimensions of a given project. It is both incredibly important to do, especially in garment knitting, and also a typical source of ire for some reason that I don’t really understand the answer to.
**Frogging – In the Knitting world, the term Frogging means to rip out rows of stitches back to a point where a mistake was made. Fun fact – it comes from saying “Rip it, rip it” over and over again because that’s what your doing to your poor yarn. (See two pictures back and you will get it)
https://vortexyarns.com/ - If you ever find yourself in Taos, NM, Merce’s yarn shop is incredible!
https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/katama-tank - This is the link to the Katama Tank pattern, if you are interested in checking it out!
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/FatBettyKnits/katama-tank - My project page for the Katama Tank on Ravelry.