Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Handwork teaches you about yourself.  For instance, it's become undeniable that I have a problem with finishing.  The last few minutes it takes to complete a project and place it firmly in the done category, are minutes I will procrastinate on for days, weeks, months.

For many knitters, finishing means sewing pieces together.  I often wait a little while to do that, but usually not very long.  Because an item that is still in pieces or has gaping holes under the arms or whatever needs seaming is demonstrably not finished.  It is still far from being finished; it doesn't even look like the item is supposed to.

No, I don't have a problem with sewing.  In fact, as I told a student this afternoon who expressed her hatred of "making up," I have gotten over a paralyzing fear of seaming and now wield my needle fearlessly -- well, almost.  Once I get started, I remember why.  Mattress stitch, the method most often used to connect pieces of knitting together, is a magical thing.  It works like a charm and requires few judgment calls.  Almost as automagical as knitting itself.

What I have a problem with is sewing on buttons.

I've had a baby gift done for a month. The baby is due any day.  I was supposed to mail it last week.  But the buttons -- buttons I bought back in August -- are still not attached.

Two weeks ago I finished major knitting on a cardigan that I hoped to wear on some of the first cool weather days this fall.  Those days are already here, at least a week's worth where I've pulled out a sweater to wear to work, and where is the cardigan?  That's right -- blocked, seamed, ends woven in, but buttonless.

And you could outfit a whole other family with the clothes sitting in my mending pile, fine except for ... missing buttons.  Many's the year when the whole season passed and the clothes were outgrown, never receiving the five minutes per item it would have taken to put those buttons back on and make them wearable.

So I have a button problem.  I don't hate buttons, I don't mind sewing them on, but for some reason it takes an effort to get out the needles and thread and get it done -- an effort I can happily go for weeks on end without making.  What's the one little detail that you can put off indefinitely and keeps those projects on your pending pile?

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