On the evening of Saturday, February 27th, I had about 24 rounds done on the beaded faggoted lace portion of Serra, my shipwreck shawl. I would need a total of 56 rounds, followed by an increase row and a bind off of 1,160 stitches. The end time of the knitting Olympics was 3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, March 1st. Considering it takes me an average of one hour to complete one round on this shawl, compounded by the need to stop every six rounds or so to spend an hour pre-stringing beads, the math of the situation was already against me. I know time is not a constant, but unless I put the whole universe in a spaceship and make it travel close to the speed of light, I wasn’t going to get any more time.
But that wasn’t going to stop me from trying to finish. This wasn’t about a shawl anymore. It’s a pretty shawl, but not worth any risk of my health or sanity. No, this was about accomplishing a goal I had set for myself, about not giving up even when things look difficult… about being an Olympian. It feels pretentious to compare my efforts to the Olympic athletes who we’ve been watching compete, but I felt like a cross-country skier who had skidded off the track and fallen early in the race. The chances for a medal were slim to none, but I didn’t come this far to lie despondent in a snow bank. I was going to give my best to what was left, for no other reason than to prove to myself that I could.
Time passed surprisingly fast that night. Midnight arrived and I had 29 rounds done – time for my first cup of coffee. We watched all of the replays that looked interesting – bobsled and luge, snowboarding parallel slalom, and other events I hadn’t even heard of. By 3:00 a.m. – the 24 hour mark – I had 33 rounds done and was feeling good. We put on the gold medal curling match, which – shockingly – kept us on the edge of our seats until 6. (Curling is totally awesome. I really want to start a curling team. Anyone want to join?) I knew I didn’t have time for things like showering, but we ate breakfast before going to church, around row 40. I drifted off in the car on the way there (darn comfy upholstry), before losing an hour of knitting time to Christian worship (I do have some constraints). Around that time my metabolism, confused without any sleep, decided to invert on itself. I really don’t remember that happening the last time I pulled an all-nighter, nor do I remember feeling so twitchy and strange the next day. I may have scared my friends, but it didn’t stop me from knitting. I was right back at it as soon as we were dismissed from the service, and I knit through a long meeting and in the car on the way back (I only dropped off a couple times). I was elated when another meeting was canceled, and after leftovers for dinner I was on row 44 or so.
The closing ceremonies party at the shop was a major hurdle. I managed to stay awake and knit in the car, but once we arrived there were just too many distractions. Even when we were just sitting down watching the events, I couldn’t concentrate on my knitting. “Bead… two… three…” I would count to myself over and over again, then realize I had been staring off into space for I don’ t know how long. “Bead… two… three… bead… two…” But it was so cool to see what everyone else was working on. Jody and Jolene sitting side-by-side with their handspun sweaters, Fjord and Zurg side by side with their [very manly] hats, Jared looking as if he might pass out at any moment as he persevered through his vest (he’d been up all night too, remember). I couldn’t help but feel a little silly as not very many people had finished or were going to finish their Olympic projects, and no one else had stayed up all night. But I wasn’t doing this for them. I was doing it for me.
We broke down and headed home when the ceremonies ended, arriving at our place around 11:30. Jared crashed, and I waffled. Should I stay up, seeing how far I can get by 3? Should I stay up until I finished, no matter what? I felt ill when I did the numbers again. I’d stopped counting up rounds, counting down instead – and I was down to 9 rounds. 9 rounds! That sounds so close! But it’s also 9 hours. Even if I went at blazing speed, doing 2 rounds per hour, I’d still have to stop and do an hour of beading twice more, not to mention the enormous increase and bind off rounds. I was looking at another all-nighter.
It was with a heavy heart that I went to bed at 11:30. But when I woke up this morning (er… afternoon) and saw what I had accomplished, I can’t help but be a little impressed.
Here you can see the whole radius of Serra – the radius beaded portion will eventually slightly exceed that of the radius of the inner portion of the shawl. As you can see, I got pretty close!
I’ve always hated the phrase “too little too late.” These four words, strung together as shown, have the capacity to take the most herculean effort and make it sound puny and pointless. So, I won’t use these words of what I did over the past 48 or so hours. I feel like Lyndsey Jacobellis, the snowboard cross racer who was the gold medal favorite, taken out near the top of the hill of the semi-final, denied even an attempt at a medal. She looked stunned as she sat there, looking at the broken flag that had disqualified her, after all the work she put in to make it back to the games. But he had an attitude check, got up and went to the bottom, and kicked butt on the consolation round. She’s my role model today as I recover and sit back down with this shawl. There’s still no reason not to do my best!