Striped blanket folded over chair

The most important thing I learned from my never-ending project

I hate to admit this, but I have a problem project. It’s my never-ending project and the one that makes my eye twitch at the mere mention of it.

Flashback 4 years ago to August 2016, I’d just finished my youngest son’s granny blanket and I was looking for a new project to start. We were coming up on the 1 year anniversary of my father’s stroke and subsequent death, and truthfully, I was not in a good place. My heart still hurt over the loss of him and then in October, of our unborn daughter. In the months that followed their deaths, I just knit and crocheted my way through the grief. It helped my mind concentrate on something else, if even for just a little while, and so I made sure that I always had a project to work on.

And so, in late August 2016, I started working on a blanket for my husband. Since I’d only made infant and young child-sized blankets up until then (a crib sized blanket for both my daughter and youngest son, and a smaller blanket that was meant for the little girl we lost at 20 weeks gestation in October 2015), this was my biggest crochet project yet. My husband is 6 foot tall and wanted it to be long enough to cover him from chin to toes, with extra length so that it could be wrapped under his feet, to keep them warm during our cold Midwest winters.

Before starting the blanket, I crocheted a few test rows to check my gauge. Using that information, I planned that I would need to make it 180 rows long and 200 hdc stitches wide, plus a 1.5″ – 2″ border. I worked and worked on that thing until my fingers ached, and by the end of October, I’d finished 110 rows… while also working on knitted Christmas gifts for my nieces and a crocheted hat for my daughters Halloween costume. Things were progressing nicely with the blanket, and though it got to be a bit boring crocheting row, after row, after row of half double crochet, I honestly thought that I might be able to finish it in time for Christmas.
It wasn’t until I’d gotten closer to my 180-row goal, that I realized even with a larger border, the blanket would be nowhere near long enough.

Blue, black, silver, and white striped blanket folded and draped over chair

Ugh… so back to the designing table I went. I played around and found a stripe pattern that I liked, increasing the length of the blanket by another 120 rows. I drove back to Hobby Lobby and bought more yarn, gave myself a new deadline (his birthday in March), and crocheted until my elbow was in constant pain. Who knew that you could get a tennis elbow from crocheting!?!?! I finally admitted temporary defeat, my elbow was in too much pain to continue on, and to be completely honest, I’d gotten to the point where working on the blanket bored me. Over 36,000 half-double crochet stitches had finally taken their toll on me.

I knew that I needed to take a break, work on something else, and regroup, so I gave myself a new deadline… Christmas 2017… I left the blanket out where I could easily and quickly work on it. I knew that one row took approximately 20 minutes to complete (with multiple interruptions from the kids), surely I’d be able to work on it a little here and there, even if it wasn’t a complete row. But try as I might, I couldn’t find the motivation to grab a hook and crochet. Instead of inspiring me to finish my largest project ever, the mere sight of the blanket reminded me of my failed goals. The enormity of the work that still laid ahead of me weighed down on me like a ton of bricks. Feeling defeated, I chose not to push past the block and carefully folded the blanket, then I put it and everything needed to complete the project into a storage bag, and shoved it under my bed… where it remained for over a year.

Now, it’s not like that project bag sat under the bed, untouched, during that time… oh no, it was moved when the mattress was flipped and whenever I had to vacuum away the dust bunnies (haha), but not once did I take it out of its bag to work on it. My husband and children jokingly gave me grief, saying that it would be finished in time for him to be buried with it, and while the comments may have stung a little, I needed that break to work on other things and to learn a little more about myself.

It seems that, unless there’s a set deadline, I have a completion problem. I’ll work my tail off until the item or task is about 95% done, and then for one reason or another, I lose interest and stop working on it. This is just as true for crafted items as it is for many of the projects around the house.

The excuses come way too easily.

And, what’s worse, is that we start to convince ourselves that the excuses are the truth, when, at best, they’re only partly true.

Yes, there was no denying that I needed to take a break to allow my elbow to heal, but that break didn’t need to last as long as it did.

Yes, my daughter needed a hat for her costume, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t work on anything else at the same time.

I could have worked on my husband’s striped blanket instead of making another 3 blankets for the kids using scrap yarn.

I could have worked on the blanket instead of designing a hand embroidery piece (and then making a test piece and one that was given away as a gift).

I could have worked on the blanket instead of crocheting throw pillows.

And then I started thinking to myself… it’s not just the blanket that I’m making excuses for… it’s the projects around the house, the basket of unfinished crafts, the piles in the basement that need to be dealt with, the clothes in our closet that no longer fit, the Etsy shop, this blog, the extra weight that needs to be lost…

If anything, out of all of this, I believe I’ve learned that I need to start living life without excuses…

Either do the work or release it.

In all aspects of life.

And so… I’m embracing some projects/ideas and releasing others… cleansing, purging, starting fresh when and where it’s needed.

It’s exciting and scary and I’m going into the one or other project a little blind.

As for the blanket… I’ve embraced the enormity of the project and will continue to work on it… without a deadline, but with more consistent dedication.

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