#BlogElul 24: End

#BlogElul 2013I finished knitting a sock yesterday!

It took me a couple days of pretty intense knitting sessions (mostly undertaken to avoid dishes and laundry, I suspect, but that’s neither here nor there) to get from casting on the cuff to working that kitchener-stitch magic at the toe. That’s pretty quick for me.

What a sense of accomplishment there is in reaching the end of a knitted item! I’m always rather chuffed when I finish knitting something. I mean, using pointy sticks to turn string into wearable items is pretty amazing, when you think about it. Or at least it is when I think about it; I may be biased. Either way, I started with raw materials and wound up with a finished object. Go me!

I finished a sock!

Woohoo! I’m done!

As soon as I finished weaving in the last loose yarn ends, I was sorely tempted to stop there. (“Sorely” is literal — I’d been on a knitting hiatus for a while, and my fingers were tender from unaccustomed manipulation of small-diameter double-pointed needles.) Hadn’t I achieved enough? Surely I deserved a break to sit back and admire my work.

The trouble is, one sock is only half a project. It feels like a thing complete in and of itself — you cast onto your needles, you knit (and knit, and knit…), and you bind off. Done, right?

Huh. Half my toes are cold. Something's missing...

Huh. Half my toes are cold. Something’s missing…

Not quite. Unless you want to alternate warm and chilly feet, you’re not there yet. You have reached an ending, but it’s not the end.

Knitters have a name for that feeling of being done with a project at that first, deceptive ending point: Second Sock Syndrome. Making the second item in a pair is not nearly as exciting as making the first one. The newness of the yarn has worn off, I’ve already learned the pattern, and I can’t shake that feeling of “Again? Didn’t I just do this?” — probably because I did just do it. The allure of a completely new project is strong. Couldn’t I just start one of those and come back to the boring second sock later?

And that’s how some first socks never get their mates. There are always fresh projects in the queue, much more exciting than revisiting the sock project that felt finished already. That’s Second Sock Syndrome.

I have learned about myself that I must, absolutely must, make myself begin the second sock the moment I finish the first. I need to take that sense of accomplishment and use it to jump-start the next one. When I take that ending energy and feed it into another beginning, I can get over that hump and keep going until I reach the real end of the work.

Sometimes, life feels like an ongoing series of second socks. We reach a lot of “endings” that aren’t really endings; there is always still work to be done. If we’ve figured out how to take those feelings of culmination and use them to galvanize ourselves to begin again, though, then we have learned something worth knowing.

A beginning and the ending that gave me a push.

A beginning and the ending that gave me a push.


#BlogElul, the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, invites participants to chronicle the month leading up to the Jewish High Holy Days through blog posts, photos, and other social media expressions.

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