Feb 2023


Last week I decided to knit a sweater, choosing an organic cream-colored hand-spun super chunky wool which knit up with great texture. But as I worked my way through the first twenty rows, I realized that the completed garment would be so warm that I’d swelter. So I unraveled what I had started and opted to make a poncho instead, figuring that the open sides would allow for more breathability.

After about three straight hours of compulsive knitting, I noticed I made an error in the cable pattern towards the beginning. It was a big error, something everyone would see.

Again I pulled all of the stitches off my needles to rip out the work above the mistake and fix it. But before I did, I laid the flattened form onto the table to see whether I’d want to make any other changes after the repair. Looking at it, I realized that the poncho would have been a great fit for The Rock, but it would look like a TeePee on 5’ 4” me.

I ripped the whole thing out again.

The “old me” would have finished the first super bulky sweater just to finish or ignored the cable pattern error in my second attempt because my tendency is to get things done quickly rather than get them done well. The old me would have been frustrated, maybe even to the point of setting the project aside forever.

Luckily, I’ve changed a lot.

The new me recognizes that the process, not the product matters most.

(Nod to T.S. Elliot’s, “The journey, not the arrival matters.”) Now, I get it.

There is something incredibly soothing about the journey of knitting. Maybe it’s the rhythm of the needles or the feel of the yarn between my fingers. Sometimes I knit as I watch TV or listen to a book. But mostly, I let my mind wander.

It feels like an important cleansing and a time for my subconscious to rise into consciousness.

Of course, I love having a completed project to give to my granddaughter, one of my daughters, or to wear myself.

But the final product feels superficial, while the flow of the process remains peacefully with me.

I find it soothing to create garments and equally soothing to undo something that wasn’t right and start again.

I used to think that ripping out a knit or a sewn mistake was a sign of failure. But now starting again to become better or different or happier has been crucial to my growth.

* * *

For example, when I began the divorce process from my first husband, the undoing was painful. But it got easier as I went along, and the clean slate allowed me to think about what I wanted in a future relationship and to work towards it. (Thank goodness I have found it with David!)

Moving out of my career in advertising was a similar experience: unwinding years of work where my self-definition, measure of success, and gauge of happiness were based on “what I did for a living” rather than “what I wanted for a life.” Even though it wasn’t my choice, leaving allowed me to think of (and create) the kind of community I always wanted but never found.

That community is now Parlay House.

Ripping myself away from New York/New Jersey as my home base and broadening my definition of “where I live” to include San Francisco was yet another slate-cleaning time. I now find peace in a bi-coastal life where I can enjoy the best of both places.

Many of us are in transitions at the moment.

We’re letting go of what was to make room for something better. By starting from scratch, we open ourselves up to new experiences, different patterns, and infinite opportunities for growth.

So, if you are like I am and tearing out the old to make room for something new, I support you.

As you watch the old stitches unravel, remember that you are setting yourself up to create something beautiful. The last chapter was good practice and gave you experience and insight to do things differently as you move forward. Now you might change the fiber, the stitches, the pattern, or the tension.

Yes, we take a deep breath before the undoing, but the exhale is long and freeing.

As was true with my knitting project, making a mistake the second time around isn’t much different from the first – it’s another chance to start again, evolve, and enjoy the process that unfolds.

I hope your unraveling does the same for you. There is joy in new beginnings.

* * *

If you’ve unwound a piece of your life to try something new, I’d love to hear about it!

Share it Small: Tell your inner circle about your process of releasing the old and beginning fresh. I’m guessing they’ll give you support and let you in on their own transformation.

Share it Big: Most of us think that we are the only ones making a big life change, yet 30% of us are in a transition at this very moment. If you can be open and public about what you’re leaving behind as well as what you hope to find, you’ll make someone else feel less alone as they go through their metamorphosis.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your power.