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Embracing Imperfection

This is a tough one for me. I’m pretty sure I was born a perfectionist… born first, of course. I can spend hours, even days, lamenting the smallest of mistakes I’ve made. And even when I’ve been able to adopt a wider perspective and accept that life is full of both good and bad, joy and heartache, it’s still the hope of things becoming better, or more perfect, that gets me through the tough times. But what if sometimes what is imperfect, full of “mistakes,” is really the very best thing? I’m currently having this epiphany because of a spinning project I’m working on. I’ve been experimenting off and on with the undyed suri baby alpaca I bought from Woolgatherings when I first started learning to spin, but now that I want to use the rest for a secret Christmas project, it hasn’t been cooperating. Or maybe it has, but I haven’t been happy with the results. I tried spinning it worsted with pre-drafting, like I’ve been doing with the merino, and it looks good, maybe even close to “perfection,” but it feels pretty dense and tight, and doesn’t at all do justice to the wonderfully silky, soft raw fiber. So I started to play with it, open it up, muss it up in my hands, spin it this way and that to see how to best achieve the maximum amount of softness. I settled on spinning it from the fold, to acheive a bouncier, semi-worsted density, and I just mussed the heck out of it, before and during spinning. I let it go pretty much wherever it wanted, with lots of slubs and thicker and thinner parts. I tried to channel my daughter by delighting in the “fuzzy” parts. I then tried several dyeing experiments with it, wanting to find the “perfect” color for my project, but none of them seemed quite right, so I guess it just wants to stay its own “perfectly” natural creamy white.

Here is the result… completely imperfect, and incredibly soft, warm, light and silky. It’s been a joy to knit with.

handspun baby suri alpaca yarn

So here are my thoughts about how this relates to my life, and the Christmas holidays in general: So many of us long for perfection in this season. We all want the perfect presents for everyone, perfect decorations, perfect family dynamics, perfect peace for all. But in reality, this season is always VERY imperfect. It can have its magical, joyful, loving moments, but it can also be melancholy, stressful, lonely, and full of pain and longing for those we have lost. In my experience, there have been many Christmases surrounded by loss, and many people I know have been surrounded by sadness and loss this season as well. Our family is not immune. This morning, I sat wrapping Christmas presents next to the cage of our remaining guinea pig, Tornado, as I watched her life slip away. She has been sick, but I wonder if her immune system was also weakened by loneliness after the loss of her sister a couple of months ago.

It seems appropriate that today is the shortest day, the longest night of the year. But, as my Mom reminded me this morning, there is also hope in knowing that the days will start to get longer from here on out. My favorite Christmas songs are those that capture that feeling… of sadness, longing, hope and joy… all in one. My favorite band, Over the Rhine, put out a Christmas album several years back called “The Darkest Night of the Year”, and this year they are giving away a digital version of their latest Christmas album, also full of this kind of music (possibly my favorite Christmas album ever), “Snow Angels” to their supporters and friends, so I wanted to share the download link with you, my dear readers and friends, in the hope that their music can help you embrace whatever you may be feeling and experiencing this season… both the darkness and the light… and in so doing, your hearts might be warmer, more imperfectly perfect, and filled with peace.

Merry Christmas to all.

christmas tree angel


10 thoughts on “Embracing Imperfection

  1. Wow! I love the angel photo and your yarn looks beautiful to me. I can so relate to your lamentations over mistakes and imperfections. I once heard a story (I don’t know if it is true) about the Amish, who make perfectly beautiful quilts, but they always make a mistake in them intentionally to show that only God is perfect. For some reason when I was told this, it made me feel better about all my mistakes. 🙂

  2. Perfect is not judged with a micrometer, but by the love with which we face life. Only in (His) love, can we hope for wholeness. You’ve ALWAYS been perfect in my sight! 🙂

  3. I’m sorry to hear about poor Tornado. I hope she is doing well at the moment. It’s awful when these things happen, especially around this time of year. A few hours ago we got the sad news that one of my Uncles dogs had to be put to sleep only this morning, due to old age and not coping well. Poor thing 😦
    If it helps, I think your yarn is beautiful, and you’re right, if you had put some colour into it, it could have spoiled it. I think it is such a pretty colour in it’s own right. Your spinning is coming on in leaps and bounds! I’d love to see what else you spin.
    I love this time of year, but it is sad in so many ways too. I look forward to seeing family, presents, the massive dinner, the togetherness, but at the same time I miss my brother who is with his partner this Christmas, and my two dogs both of whom were taken too soon. It makes us appreciate what we have even more. Lovely blog post today 🙂 x

    • Thank you so much! Tornado passed away last night, as the kids were holding and petting her, so it was very sad, but also sweet that they were able to do that for her. And I’d like to think that now she gets to be with her sister for Christmas, at least. I also really appreciate your perspective of how remembering what we’ve lost helps us to appreciate what we have. I’m very thankful for all of my wonderful family and friends that I do get to be with this season, so thank you for that reminder! As far as the yarn goes, I’m actually amazed that it looks as good as it does… it was quite a mess as singles. The 2-ply really helped even it out, and so will the project I’m working on. 😉

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about Tornado and hope that everyone is doing ok with her passing. She was lucky to be a part of such a loving, kind and sweet family.

    You yarn is beautiful!! As for being a perfectionist, I can totally relate to everything you just said. As I was reading, I was thinking, that you were describing me to a T. Maybe that’s also why I’m drawn to spinning. It is about letting go and embracing things other than “perfection” (usually defined as “even and totally smooth”). And as someone reminded me, if you want a “perfect” yarn, then go buy a commercially produced skein. Now, I think of handspun yarn as a “perfect” record of the dance between my hands, feet, the fiber and my wheel. Sometimes we speed up and sometimes we slow down, but every movement is recorded in the kind of yarn that is produced.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Wow! That’s a beautiful description of spinning! No wonder I’m loving it so much… very good for the soul. Thank you! The kids seem to be fine after Tornado’s passing. Christmas has been a good distraction. I honestly think it was more stressful on me… but that’s how I wanted it it be anyway, and I’m glad she’s not suffering any more. Merry Christmas to you and your family as well. 🙂

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