Upon entering college, I had to take a foreign language placement test. I did not expect much as my high school French classes were taught by a very tiny, very old nun and were comprised of multiple readings of The Little Prince, occasionally interrupted by picking up The Count of Monte Christo. Of course we studied grammar & pronunciation and all that, but suffice to say I was not on the road to becoming a native speaker. To my surprise, the results of my placement test landed me into 4th semester college French which had the option of class that was an introduction to literary analysis. Now I knew my abilities and I knew this would be a tough slog, but the system was set up so that if I managed to earn a B or better in this class, I would also earn credit for the 3classes that came before. I was savvy enough to know that not only would I essentially get 16credits for the price of 4, but the extra credits would push me higher up in the lottery for class sign-ups as well as open a lot of doors for upper level classes earlier in my college career. I went for it.
The first half of the semester I did pretty well. Languages have always come pretty naturally to me. Granted I am not the best speaker, but comprehension & reading always came easy. As the semester wore on though, I started to get bogged down. The material got tougher and there were more required presentations which were a challenge for me, not to mention I was taking 3 or 4 other courses at the time. I got behind. When the final paper was on the horizon, I procrastinated. The deadline loomed and I continually put it off. The day before it was due, I had started but was no where near where I needed to be. That night, I did not sleep. I pulled a classic collegiate all-nighter. Through the wee hours, I typed madly. In French.
It. Was. Awful.
This night was so horrific, it is etched in my memory and influences me to this day. When I work on a deadline now, I actually add in a personal deadline that is usually a week ahead of the actual due date. If I am promising delivery of something — be it writing or knitting or an item from the honey-do list or a project for the kids’ school — I almost always only agree to a date that is a few days beyond when I know I can complete the task. It’s not that I can’t work on a tight deadline, I just don’t like it. And I will go to great ends to be ahead of schedule whenever humanly possible.
Enter holiday crafting.
I don’t normally commit to much in the way of holiday knitting & spinning. It is such a busy time of year — my husband works long hours and has a ton going on and the time we have free can be short notice. The last thing I want is to be worried about an uncomfortable deadline — I just want to be enjoying the season with my family. We still spend a lot of time outside, but today we woke up to a blanket of snow and are expecting an acrtic blast promising highs below freezing for a week so I will not be knitting outside serenely as the kids frolic like I did this summer. I value my fingers more than I feel compelled to give all my loved ones handknits — sorry everyone. While I still do knit & spin a lot, I just don’t commit to more than maybe one or two small projects. Oh, and I buy a skein of sock yarn to give to my husband. I used to try to knit the socks before Christmas, but always came up short so now I just wrap the skein and put it under the tree for him. It’s our thing.
This year, however, I kind of got a little overly ambitious. First I promised to spin two skeins of gradient yarns for my mom. Then I thought it would be awesome to really knit socks for my husband. Like, actually have them finished. Then I thought I could get crazy & knit a bunch of socks for him. I finished one project and a quarter of the spinning & thought, ‘Hey, I should knit sweaters for the kids. They’d feel really special.’ Then my husband asked me to knit a couple hats for him to give as gifts. And then he asked for a hat for himself. What started off innocently optimistic and achievable has quickly gotten a little out of hand.
I am making progress though.
I finished these in a few days.
And I have the singles of one of the spinning projects done as well as a little under half of my husband’s hat complete. It is fingering weight & a 1×1 rib, so it is slow going. I am tempted to pick up the projects my husband asked me to make for him to give as gifts as they will be quicker than this hat, but so far I am just staying the course and focusing on one project at a time. It seems to be keeping me a little more grounded and a little less crazed.
While the stage is certainly set for me to become a stressful little ball of nerves and relive that horrible night of French term paper writing over and over for the next 32days, I am not knitting myself into a frenzy day & night. Instead I am thankful to be able to back off my initial projections for my holiday knitting. 16 credits don’t hang in the balance and my son & daughter won’t notice that there are no handknit sweaters under the tree for them. I could give them each one in January and they’d be just as happy about it. My husband probably won’t mind getting his traditional skein of sock yarn instead of actual socks. Most of all though, I am determined to enjoy this season with my family. Whatever expectations I set for myself, whatever knitting hopes & dreams I have, I am at peace with the fact that I am not a last minute person in anything, especially my knitting & spinning. I will do what I always do — I will get done what needs to be done early and the rest will just move at the pace that is appropriate for my life and my family. And thankfully all of this will happen in a language in which I am fluent.