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April 01, 2019 2 min read

Earlier this year I was in Seattle visiting my daughter, Elizabeth, and her fiance, Andrew.  They were trying to buy a house. It’s a hot market in Seattle -- new listings have several offers in just a few hours.  It’s crazy. Elizabeth asked me to go and look at the two townhomes they were considering. One was newer with granite countertops, hardwood floors, and a large pantry. Its one car garage meant that either Elizabeth or Andrew would have the challenge of finding street parking every day.  The other home was a few years older, and although it was completely remodeled, there was no pantry and only one master bathroom sink. However, it had not only a garage, but a driveway, giving them effectively two parking spaces.  

As software engineers, they approached this as an optimization problem.  Optimization is a mathematical process that allows you to evaluate a range of choices in a particular situation and determine which would be best.   In other words, knowing that you can have anything you want, but not everything you want, how do you decide? 

We knitters face optimization problems all the time, and we solve them without even thinking about it.  Choosing yarn for a sweater, we have nearly limitless options. :Do we choose the beautiful hand wash cashmere in his favorite shade of blue, or the easy care superwash merino that’s more greenish?  Are we optimizing for color or ease of care?  Do we choose the fine gauge merino that will drape so beautifully but take forever to knit, or do we go for the chunky that will work up sturdier but be done to in two weeks?  Depends on our priorities. There are a million decisions we make every time we choose a yarn or even a pattern, and I haven’t even gotten to the pesky matter of budget.

Whether it's a house, a life partner, or something important like yarn, choosing is hard.  There's always the feeling that we're sacrificing something.  We probably are, because there's no such thing as having it all.  But that's okay.  What is important is that we are active in the process, that we make a conscious decision and take ownership of our choice which makes us feel more empowered and ultimately happier with what we have. 

What do you think? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and to seeing you in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.


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