Sometimes when you start to knit something, say a sweater, you think you know how. And maybe in a way, you do. You follow a pattern. You choose the right needles. You try to do it right but for some reason it doesn’t quite work. The pattern, you find out along the way, is all wrong. It’s too boxy. The neckline will look misshapen. It’s longer than it should be. And you can’t see all this until you have knitted two-thirds of it. The yarn is still good. And you still have that vision of what you’re after. But you need a different pattern. Maybe no one’s actually got that template all ready for you. You need to make it up.
Welcome to the work of unraveling. That is to say, revising.
My work in progress is similarly two-thirds done, and today it needed unraveling. Not completely, I’m happy to say, but in at least two large chunks. It takes nerve to pull out that first thread but once I did, it was magical. I could see what was left behind so much more clearly. The shiny yarn, the heft of it in my hands, the feel of those rows of stitches waiting once more to be formed. All the stuff that drew me to knitting in the first place.
Loving the work is what makes it possible to yank it off the needles and pull that yarn loose. If you’re afraid of revising, maybe you don’t love the work enough.
Only unraveling it lets you see the qualities of the yarn, the potential that made you dream of working with it.