With Ease is my first project from Sylvia McFadden‘s Gentle Armour. This shawl was exactly what I thought it would be. It was interesting, but not so hard I couldn’t indulge in conversation. It also had me thinking about my life as I worked on it. That’s an unusual reaction to a knitting pattern, but this is from an unusual pattern book. If you’ve seen the first two episodes of my podcast or my Vlogmas, you know I’m obsessed with Sylvia’s book and all the designs in it.
Details: I used size US 6 needles and Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter (yeeee! first time and I love it.) in Faded Quilt to make this. The only modification I made was to knit another pattern repeat as it looked kind of small. Now, she instructs to block it aggressively, which I tried to do, but I had the yarn so I decided to add the repeat as a precaution. One knitter on instagram told me she added three repeats to get a generously sized With Ease. I decided to just add one, but was appreciative of her mentioning it to me because it gave me confidence to add on.
Now I need to say, one more time, how great Gentle Armour is. The whole inspiration of the collection sounds, to me, like taking care of yourself- making healthy choices, creating good, gentle boundaries.
So, as I worked on this shawl, I considered what things I have learned to do with ease. One of the biggies is saying no, and learning to live with displeasing people. I don’t think that happens too often, but it still can. I used to want to make people happy. I felt like if I was physically capable of doing something they wanted, I should. As if my seeing the need was the equivalent of a calling to fill it. It was like I was made to make other people happy. When you’re mostly around people who are decent and kind, that seems to work out great. But, it can’t always be a nice, safe, little bubble of like-minded sweethearts, you know? What if they aren’t satisfied? What if they see me as a different sort of person than I believe I am? The anxiety this used to give me was all internal. No one would’ve known it was there. (Hopefully, my children didn’t pick up on it and carry a similar tendency because of it.) However, it definitely impeded my happiness. I couldn’t totally relax if someone hated me. How could I be happy if they thought I was… (insert a negative adjective).
That’s when I really struggled with how difficult it seemed to get along with certain people. I was okay with giving things like control of the conversation, access to my strength, more respect than received, etc. But I was started to feel emotionally depleted, physically worn, and angry about it. On top of that, it never really soothed anyone. Eventually, boundaries had to be drawn. It took me a while just to identify how unhealthy my attitude toward making others happy was. I was created to make God happy, and last I checked, He didn’t require the weird things that were being asked of me. That’s when my frustration that they wouldn’t just be satisfied was exposed for what it was- too much focus on myself to avoid conflict. It was actually prideful to think I could take care of things in such a way as to resolve conflict. I mean, a true absence of conflict wouldn’t leave me seething, would it? So, I started stepping back and trying to look at scenarios through a balanced perspective- whatever that was. Slowly, I started to see where I should and shouldn’t act. This was all accompanied by lots of prayer. It felt wrong at first, like trying to get de-programmmed from a cult. It felt so awkward to know someone was annoyed with me and to do nothing about it. I imagine people coming out of codependency feel much the same way. After a few months, the change in my sense of calm and my clear headedness were undeniable. I have tried to make sure I stay balanced and still be willing to “give in” when it’s good to do so. Maintaining this healthy boundary, one that is healthy for everyone involved, has gotten much easier since then.
The only thing I can add to all of this deep, pondering, is: Look at this pretty yarn!!!!! You know a yarn is special when an 18 year old boy says flowery words like, “Yeah, that is neat.” instead of the usually grunts from where his head is buried in his elevensies snack plate.
I love the little flecks of bright blue in it. Isn’t Faded Quilt just the perfect name for this shade of blue? And for a shawl that wraps around me like gentle armour?! It makes me think of a much loved, family heirloom that’s been washed a lot, but still had some of it’s old luster shining through. Like a quilt my great-grandmother might have made, if anyone ever actually took it off the rack and used it.
I want to be Brooklyn Tweed’s biggest fan, but I can’t justify more until I knit through all of my stash of good, but budget, yarn. I do have another few skeins for Quill’s Arrow, though. I think an entire sweater in Shelter or Loft would be so luxurious- in the way rustic, woolen-spurn wool can be a luxury.