Sometimes You Have To Be Brave

I’ll be honest. I have an irrational fear of paddling (read: I am occasionally paralyzed with fear when in a canoe). When we first met, my husband and I had both done a fair bit of paddling in canoes & kayaks and I was cautious, but loved it. Over the years there have been a number of unfortunate events that have eroded my confidence. There was that time we decided it would be all right to kayak up a relatively big river with a strong current. And then there was an incident when my husband tried to prove we could canoe into a riffle after I specifically & emphatically asked him not to and we totally overturned (perhaps caused by me panicking). And then last spring, I had a full-on one-for-the-record-books panic attack on a local river in spring. I’m not proud to admit there was a lot of loud sobbing involved and we ended up getting out barely downstream and walking back to the car. I kind of thought Mr Knitting Sarah might divorce me for that one — he is a patient man, but it was pretty bad.  Thankfully he didn’t, he just wasn’t very interested in ever being in a boat with me again. You get the picture though. It has been a steady downward spiral.

Since the last incident, I have been trying to over-regulate the environment in which I paddle. Little to no current. Little to no wind. Me in a kayak instead of canoe where I have more control over my own destiny. Basically speaking, I made a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t be in a boat. Earlier this week Mr Knitting Sarah suggested we go for a paddle and I set out on listing off my rigid set of guidelines. He cut me short and explained — as only he can — that this was irrational and I needed to face it & get over it because he had no interest in coddling my irrational fear. I cried. I was angry that he was so not understanding of what I thought I needed to get my confidence back. He was telling me I simply had to be brave — to face the ‘danger’ even though I was scared. I was not ready to accept that. I made arrangements to start paddling with a friend who was excited to do some low-key paddling to make an effort to get back on the water (and have a good excuse for some time with my friend) and figured I’d eventually get to where we could boat together again.

Then yesterday afternoon my husband had off of work and he informed me that he wanted to go canoeing with the kids after school. He said I could come or not, it was wholly up to me. He was not judging, but I could see from his face that he was not going to accept any irrational panicking and if I was going I had to commit to being a good, calm example for our kids. At first I said no — he was planning to go on a river (with a current) and there was a little wind out, occasionally gusting to a shocking 10mph maybe. I was pretty scared that I wouldn’t be able to hold it together. It only took a few minutes to realize that I didn’t want to miss out, though. I could still take my kayak while the rest of the family canoed, so that was something anyway. I officially changed my mind and we loaded up my gear. And the craziest thing happened…

sarah kayakI loved it. We drifted down following a Bald Eagle all the way to its nest and got to see a number of beautiful Blue Herons and Wood Ducks and Orioles along the way. The kids had a blast, my husband was happy, the sun was out — I just loved it.

I won’t say it was totally uneventful. There was that point in the very beginning where the current was a little stronger and I found myself somehow going backwards directly toward a big rock. Then there was an incident where I was struggling to get enough speed to get up a swift spot because I was only in about 6″ of water so I couldn’t use my whole paddle. When I said I was stuck, my husband actually grabbed my boat from his boat and threw me forward to force me to make it happen (and so I wouldn’t cause them to overturn). Somehow though, I managed to not panic and I got back to the put-in spot. No, save for a blister on my thumb I felt great. Who knew that would happen?!

Another thing I’m pretty terrified of is spinning stand-alone singles. When making a plied yarn, I always feel like I get a second run at my yarn before it’s done — an extra shot at correcting any over-twisting. Singles are just spun & done. It scares the you-know-what out of me. It feels like walking a tight-rope with no safety net. When I touched the Finn Top from Louet’s Canterbury Prize Wool Group though,  all I could think about was a gorgeous squishy, slightly thick & thin single. Finn Top — also called Finnsheep or Finnish Landrance — is known for being very merino-esque, but with a slightly longer staple length which makes it a little easier to spin. As with the paddling, I hesitated ever so slightly and then just went for it.

20140523-080050-28850260.jpgI cannot express in words how soft this fiber was. Imagine the softest thing you can think of, but fluffed with air.

20140523-080051-28851451.jpgAt this point, I was so pleased with how the single spinning was going and so addicted to to the fiber itself that I was glad I started when I had a block of open time. I knew it would be tough to stop.

20140523-080052-28852711.jpgAnd thankfully I didn’t have to. This happened in the span of an afternoon with just a few spots of over-twisting — a real win for me.

I let it rest over night and then onto the niddy-noddy it went.

20140523-080054-28854174.jpgSee that little pink reflection? That was the light of sunrise. I could not wait to see if/how this yarn turned out!

I did the cold/hot/cold/hot/cold baths to shock and set the single. And then a good 5 or 6 thwacks (my very favourite technical term in spinning) on my back porch. And then I let it dry…

20140523-080055-28855801.jpgWith the help of some Hunt’s tomato sauce. I rotated it on the post every couple hours to help it dry faster and to be certain I was getting the twist thoroughly set throughout the skein.

The result?

20140523-083919-31159865.jpgYeah. I’m not even kidding. If ever there was a time I wish I could enable you to reach through the screen and touch some yarn, this would be the moment.

20140523-083918-31158768.jpgIn the end I have about 250yds of a slightly thick & thin worsted weight yarn. It is exactly what I envisioned — very reminiscent of a skein of Malabrigo Worsted. It simply could not have turned out better, could not be any softer, and could not make me any more proud & happy. This Finn Top from Louet — I am officially a HUGE fan.

All in all, I have to say that when you face your fears head-on the rewards can be pretty darn amazing. Sure, you could end up floating by your PFD with an overturned kayak while giant carp thwap you with their big gross fish bodies. You could end up destroying some beautiful fiber. Failure is always a possibility. You might, however, have a great time eagle & heron watching on the river with your family. You might wind up with an absolutely dreamy skein of yarn. Sometimes you have to face your fears. Sometimes you have to risk failure. Sometimes you have to be brave.

19 responses to “Sometimes You Have To Be Brave

  1. how true!
    glad you gave them a go and enjoyed 🙂 women can be too much on the cautious side at times (me included)….
    well done! the yarn looks fab

    • So true — and I have gotten so much more cautious since having my kids. I will say having my kids there definitely made me stronger though. A good lesson to remember!

  2. Great transitional theme from paddling to spinning. Loved it! I know nothing about spinning — is “thwack” really a technical term? Really? 😉

    • I don’t know how officially official ‘thwack’ is, but I’ve had a number of skilled spinners all use it when discussing setting singles, so I’m going to go ahead and say yes(?). LOL! Glad you enjoyed the story!

  3. As someone who has recently faced my biggest fears in a grand fashion, I REALLY like this post. While in it, I wanted to cry in frustration. Frustration at the fear of heights, frustration that my bike skills weren’t so fabulous that I could be confident I wouldn’t tip myself off a ledge and die, frustration that there was only one way off that mountain, and that was to keep moving forward. Meanwhile the entire time I was thinking “If I had chosen NOT to do this, if I’d turned back while I still could, if I’d KNOWN what I was getting myself into and chickened out, I’d be missing this amazing experience and all these amazing views, and THAT makes all the frustration worth while.”

    • I’ve had that same feeling hiking a particularly steep mini-mountain. Totally scared of heights, totally pitched a fit at a steep drop-off, totally had to go down on my butt half the time — but totally worth it.

  4. I love singles! They’re not as durable as plied stuff, but boy are they pretty. Yours turned out just beautifully, I can almost feel the smoosh through the screen!

    • True, and yet there a lot of those projects where the less durable yarn works just fine. And yes, the trade-off is usually worth it for a really good single!

    • Thanks for the link! I guess I’ve never overtwisted *that* much — I’m usually right on the line and tensioning it with weight while drying usually does the trick. I will definitely keep this in mind though!

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