For the first few years of Peyton Manning's career with the Colts, the sports announcers never tired of saying, Peyton is such a student of the game. The camera would focus on Peyton on the sidelines, head bowed over a sheaf of photos with the results of the previous drive. You can play "smash-mouf" football (Steelers) and you can play without completely understanding all the rules (Hi, Donovan!) and still make it to the Superbowl. Sometimes. But you can also make the effort to be not only a good player but a smart one.
I was thinking about this analogy while struggling with some new knitting techniques (new to me, not new in general). A tackler can do just that - tackle hard and tackle well - or he can also attempt to strip the ball away from his prey, in which case his team has a chance to recover the resulting fumble and turn the tide of the game. A knitter can do just that - knit a gorgeous sweater - or she can knit a sweater with horizontal one-row buttonholes or afterthought pockets or even poetry. There is nothing wrong with being a good tackler or a good knitter, but learning to extend one's craft can be very rewarding.
And painful. The February Lady sweater has three buttonholes. In the course of producing three buttonholes, I actually knit at least seven. I lost track of how many attempts I made at Charlene Schurch's short-row toes before deciding I would try another way to cast on toe-up socks. There are several more challenging projects in the queue, but I can take only so much frustration and agony at one time. That is why I am so true to February Lady, not wanting to work on anything else until she is done, because right now, I am past the yoke and in the zone. At least for a while. Eventually the body will end and I will have to pick up some stitches and add the sleeves. But that shouldn't be too hard. Should it?