It’s Never Too Late to Finish What You’ve Started

A creative project is always worth coming back to, regardless of how it comes out.

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Posted in , Apr 13, 2018

Knitting project

Last November, I picked up knitting needles for the first time in years, inspired to turn a skein of deep cobalt blue yarn into a simple knit cap. Every evening, I worked a few more rounds, feeling gratified and excited as the tube that formed the hat’s body grew longer and longer. 

Soon enough, the project was ready to “finish off.” In this particular pattern, that meant decreasing the number of stitches over the course of five rounds. In order to accomplish this, I needed to shift the stitches from my round knitting needles to four “DPNs,” or double-pointed needles. This was crucial to being able to work in smaller and smaller rounds as I approached the finish line of the project.

I looked online at some tutorials and asked some knowledgeable friends for tips. But the fact was, I had never worked in DPNs before, and I was intimidated and confused by the whole process.

So I set the project aside. Until this week.

For months, I had walked past the nearly-finished project. Sometimes, I felt guilty I hadn’t buckled down and figured out the next, final step. Other times, I smiled at it, thinking I would get to it eventually. And too many times, I walked right by it without giving it a second’s thought.

But as spring began to crack the world open, I suddenly felt ready to finish what I had started. I would pick up my work. I would give the new-to-me technique a try. And if my attempt at a new skill ruined the work I had already carefully completed—well, then, I would learn from the experience and make something else with that soft, stunning yarn.  

The first few stitches felt clumsy and slow. As I slid each stitch from the metal round needle onto the wooden DPN, I questioned my technique, wondered if I was counting the stitches correctly. But before long, my hands rediscovered their grip. The yarn flowed through the pattern. And, as I relaxed into the stress-reducing zone of creative work, neat rows of stitches appeared on my DPNs, ready to help me complete the project. 

Perhaps I was making more than a hat. Perhaps I was recommitting to the project of infusing each day with positive activities, the kinds of things that challenge and teach us about our own powers of perseverance. The projects that remind us that it’s never too late to finish what we’ve started.

In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader

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