It’s Only Too Late if You Don’t Start Now

I love to knit. That is not to say that I am a fast knitter or even that good at it. Mostly I make things that turn out marginally, then I tear them out and start over on something else. 

Knitting and Yarn

photo credit: Inter Urban House

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But here’s the funny thing: It’s not the finished product that I find so enjoyable. It’s the process.

It’s the gentle rhythm, the pulling of one loop of yarn through another, over and over again.

Curiously in all of knitting—and I’m talking about even the most complicated and breathtakingly beautiful works of knitted wear—there exist only two stitches: knit and purl. That’s it.

No matter how fast I knit or how slow—how intricate the pattern or ordinary, one thing is sure: I can make only one stitch at a time. And one stitch makes absolutely no visual difference in whatever it is I’m working on at the moment.

Now and then I come to the last stitch, bind it off and surprise myself by what I’ve created. How did that happen? It’s remarkable really that just one stitch at a time can bring such pleasing results.

I love the story author Jaroldeen Edwards, “Things I With I’d Known Sooner, (Deseret 2010) tells of the trip she took with her daughter one bleak and rainy day. She wasn’t that thrilled to drive more than two hours to see flowers some woman had planted. But her daughter was insistent. “You’re going to love this, Mom!” And tell me what mom could resist going along with that kind of enthusiasm.

They drove along the Rim of the World Highway, inching their way toward Lake Arrowhead through fog and drizzle in the San Bernardino mountains, north of Los Angeles, Calif.

By now, Jaroldeen was so agitated, she was certain she was being kidnapped by her daughter! Still not convinced this could be worth the trouble, Carolyn parked next to a small stone church, and announced they would need to walk along a path, through huge, black-green evergreens and over a thick blanket of old pine needles.

Just as they turned the corner of the path, Jaroldeen stopped dead—literally gasping in amazement. “There before me was a most incredible and glorious sight! So unexpected and unimagined.”

A close up of a flower field

From the top of the mountain, sloping down several acres across folds and valleys, between the trees and bushes, following the natural flow of the terrain, were rivers of daffodils in radiant bloom. Every color of the spectrum of yellow—blazed like a carpet before them.

Why? How? Her mind flooded with questions for how this could be.

A group of colorful flowers in a field

The Daffodil Garden is the handiwork of just one woman. A former Los Angeles High School art teacher, she and her husband still live on the property. Their small home (rebuilt after having been destroyed by fire two times) fits perfectly into the scene in the midst of all the glory.

A house with trees in the background

This one woman, beginning in 1958, planted each daffodil bulb by hand, one at a time. No shortcuts.

Year after year, planting just one ugly, dried up, the lifeless bulb at a time, by the time she’d planted more than 1,000,000 bulbs she’d forever changed her world by creating something of magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

A bunch of purple flowers

As Jaroldeen approached the mountain home situated in sea of yellow, she saw a sign posted by someone who was clearly tired of answering the same questions:

Answers to the Questions I Know You are Asking: One Woman, Two Hands, Two Feet, and Very Little Brain. One bulb at a Time. Started in 1958.

Sometime ago, and on a total whim, I bought up enough yarn (color: 0560 Cranberry Mix for those wondering)  to make a beautiful coat I saw in a pattern book.

Seriously, this was way beyond anything I’d ever knitted. My expectations that I’d ever finish it were low. But one stitch at a time, over and over again, it began to grow and take shape. The coat was for a very special lady in my life, so I had incentive to finish it.

A person wearing a costume

As she modeled it for me, all I could think about was that sign at the entrance to the Daffodil Garden. Mine read:  Why? How? One woman, two hands, two needles and very little brain. One stitch at a time. Started about 6 months ago.

What do you need to do in your life? Build an emergency fund? Pay down your debt? Downsize to a smaller lifestyle?

Why not get started today? Take that first step. Then do it over and over again, just one baby step at a time. You will be amazed at where you will be with that over the coming months. 

And if you don’t get started now? I’ll let you answer that question.


For 40 years, Gene Bauer opened her property for three weeks each spring, free of charge, so the public could bask in the glory of all that yellowness, in the passion and hard work of a woman intent on making the world a more beautiful place.

Bauer said the people who flocked to her home each year were generally polite and respectful. But she’s 88 now, and preparing the property for visitors has become too much to handle. In 2009 she posted signs around her house saying the Daffodil Garden was closed forever.

It still is, but now Bauer has filled the void with a different offering of beauty: her collected artistic works in the book Botanical Serigraphs: The Gene Bauer Collection.

More from Everyday Cheapskate

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A green fire hydrant sitting on the side of a road

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14 replies
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  1. Bookworm says:

    I love the coat! And it’s timely for me — I spent the last month knitting a cape, using 7 balls of yarn. But when I tried it on, it was too small — even after I had meticulously done the math to make sure it would fit. So I pulled the whole thing out and started over last night! One stitch at a time, I love knitting, but the same thing works for a lot of things that I don’t like doing! Thanks, Mary!

  2. guest123 says:

    your the only one im following right now lol if that tells you anything….well my father but he isnt on twitter…actually doesnt even have a computer…we are talking really old school….

  3. greta says:

    What a wonderful message !! Thanks for your inspiration in our checkbooks, but more importantly, our HEARTS !! a BIG HUG to YOU, Mary !!

  4. Sharon says:

    I read your columns every day, and follow stories on your webpage, especially your home renovations and moves to new places. So I don’t know how I didn’t know something your other commenters knew: who the lovely recipient of the knitted Einstein coat was! Since you posted the answers to common questions you expected to be asked, you ought to add that one: That’s my mom, folks!

  5. Ruth says:

    A wonderful message – this really touched my heart, Mary. The timing is perfect for me. One step at a time. Thank you so much.

  6. Richard says:

    Mary, Your mother was a wonderful woman. I don’t know how people who knit do it, my youngest daughter in law knits, but that coat you made for Gwen was a tribute to love.

    • Guest says:

      Thanks! My goal is to make one for myself someday. Maybe I’ll start today. For those wondering, Sally Melville, the designer of that coat, calls it the Einstein Coat because she says, when you finish you’ll feel like a genius. It’s true. I did 🙂 For those of you who knit, you won’t believe how easy it is.

  7. Eve says:

    I am inspired! I did learn about baby steps when I decided to declutter my house 27 items at a time, once a week. I now have an almost clutter free home but I haven’t applied that principal to anything else. Starting today I am going to start a project, maybe a quilt, hmmmm, all hand made, one block at a time. I’ll bet you have inspired a lot of people today. Love your blog~

  8. JuanitaS says:

    I like today’s topic. As I have gotten older and faced with a huge task or lots of tasks at once, I have developed the tendency to let myself be overwhelmed from the start by just thinking about what I have to do. I have learned to take a step back and mentally tell myself – just get the first step done or pick one spot, focus on it and get started. Your coat turned out very beautiful – love the color. Did you do the multicolor scarf she is wearing too? I started learning to knit a little over a year ago (friends & family got scarves knitted in straight knit stitch with Soft & fuzzy yarn on Size 13 needles last year. Working on my first afghan now.) The knitting is soothing and knitting while listening to music or an audiobook is a nice way to end the day.

    • Guest says:

      Overwhelm, taking that first step. I can so identify with you about how the hard part is getting started. Yes, the scarf is the pattern book as well.

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