My New Year’s UnResolution: What I learned from Crocheting 12 Blankets
I have never kept a New Year’s Resolution. NEVER! I used to make them every year. However, as Maya Angelou always said, “when you know better you do better.”
I know better not to make resolutions anymore.
I believe New Year’s Resolutions carry a lot of pressure to be a whole new person and set a person up for failure. I also don’t think that January 1 is the time to make any life altering decisions. Most of our pants are too tight from holiday eating, everyone’s winter blues is setting in, and if you’re like me New Year’s Day is one of the only days of the whole year where my family and I have literally nothing to do but spend time together. I am not going to spend that day trying to fit into tight clothes and do a workout that is much too hard. I am also not going to choke down fist fulls of kale, read War & Peace, meditate, and clean my closet.
It might be a new year, but it is the same me.
New Year’s Day is my reward for what I did accomplish the previous year. I will be snuggling on the couch and playing board games and watching old movies.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not above personal growth. I grew up watching Oprah, after all. I am always working to be my best self. I make goals and I follow through. I just don’t think I need to be on some finite time table to do so. I just view New Year’s Day as the day I need to switch my calendar, and that anything I need to accomplish this year is more like a marathon of small goals that I have a whole year to sort out.
I am less in the camp of resolutions and more in the camp of let’s just try and do better.
This brings me to January of 2018. I had just finished crocheting a blanket that I had spent a year working on. My kids were in love it with it. It is heavy and cozy and big enough for all of us to fit under when watching a movie. The accomplishment I felt after completing it was similar to when I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2001. Doing something little by little and then having something to show for it in the end was kind of exhilarating. And didn’t end in blisters and shin splints.
In addition to my lack of pain, there was something better about the blanket. It didn’t just benefit me. It just wasn’t just my creative outlet or my need to constantly be making, it benefited someone else too.
As I would show off my handiwork to everyone, people would automatically say to me, “How did you do this?” or “Make me one, please!” or “This is so gorgeous!” and this gave me an idea.
I would make a New Year’s UnResolution. Like a fluid goal for just being a better person.
I decided that over the course of the year, I would make something, anything, by hand and give it away to someone who I love or someone who needs a little extra love. I would do this 12 times. I figured a blanket might be too difficult every month, but I could make a scarf, or make a meal, bake some bread, make a handmade card…In essence, do SOMETHING with my own to hands and give it away.
It was kind of a loose goal and less of a finite resolution. As long as I did something 12 times it was complete. No strict rules were applied. I literally could make anything for anyone twelve times. Even if that meant 12 hand made cards next December. That could be “future Erin’s” problem.
Since I was already in a crocheting frame of mind, and the first person I decided to gift with my handmade item was my Mom. I made another blanket.
Soon, I became addicted to crocheting, and my unresolution. I also found that crocheting fit into my rigorous life schedule and still allowed me to catch up watching Netflix and listening to podcasts.
Over the course of the year, one blanket turned into 12 blankets.
Like all goals, I learned a few lessons along the way not only about the art of crochet, but also a little about myself.
- A little preparation goes a long way. Making sure I had everything I needed and watching a YouTube tutorial from start to finish a few times always made the process a little smoother.
- Sometimes you have to unravel a row or two. Sometimes, swearing and unraveling a mistake doesn’t mean the end of the blanket, it just means you caught a mistake and want to make it right.
- Imperfections are really character. A skipped stitch unnoticed until the end, or a wrong count on a basketweave are barely noticeable in the grand scheme of the entire blanket, also imperfections are what make this particular blanket special, unique, and one of a kind.
- Goals can be fun. As the year wore on, I was surprised at how I had not grown annoyed or frustrated. While working on one blanket I would already be thinking of color schemes or patterns for the next and who it would be going to. This goal wasn’t grueling or troublesome or annoying, I was actually enjoying myself. Not everything has to be a rat race of grueling hard work and misery.
- Practice really does make a difference. I have to say, the more I did this, the better (and faster) I got. The beginning of 2018 blankets look way different and took way longer than end of 2018 blankets, but they are all pretty gorgeous.
- Motivation can come from anywhere. For every stitch I did, the motivation was different. Sometimes it was to see the final product, sometimes someone’s birthday was approaching and I wanted to have their blanket finished in time. Sometimes a new season of Schitt’s Creekpremiered and I wanted to not move and watch it.
- Make sure that everything is tight before you cut the yarn. Crocheting can be kind of a fragile thing, if the ends or starts of new colors are not woven in just right the whole blanket can come unraveled. I learned to take a few extra minutes to make sure that everything was woven and tied correctly. This made sure the blanket would last.
8. Surprises make things just a little more special. Not a lot of people knew about my little quest I was on, and it made gifting the blankets that much more special for the recipient. It is always more fun to receive something unexpected.
9. It’s ok to walk away for a little bit. Not every single moment was pure bliss, there were times when I had to unravel several rows, start over completely, or even used the wrong color in a pattern. It was ok to walk away, clear my head (eat a cookie and curse), and come back.
10. Flexibility is key. The more blankets I made the more I realized I didn’t have to be so tight with my stitches. In fact, if I gave a little slack or flexibility the yarn was a lot easier to work with and a bit more forgiving if I made a mistake.
11. Speaking of forgiveness…It’s ok to go easy on yourself once in awhile.Not every blanket I made was perfect, not every blanket I made came out at a once a month interval, and once I kept one of the blankets for myself. I learned that going easy on myself is ok.
12. The true gift is giving. My Mom said when she received her blanket, “To think you had been thinking of me the entire time you worked on this blanket is gift enough.” The mere fact someone feels more loved, more appreciated, or it even puts a smile on their face was reason enough to do this.
My unresolution for 2018 evolved into a life altering project. I learned, I grew, I got out of my comfort zone, and I truly believe it made me a more compassionate person and taught me a few lessons I will hold on to for a good long time.
I guess some would call this a resolution.