Friday, December 29, 2006

Taking "The Vow"

I have to admit that when I read Wendy's Knit From Your Stash 2007 I felt like old Father Time at the end of the year looking at the New Year's baby about to arrive--sort of the bemused and jaded old timer, who'd tried the same path and only too happy to someone else pick up the challenge. For you see, I made the exact same resolution a year ago. (Though not with the sock yarn exception--mine would have been more of a really cool shade of Manos exception.)

I had planned to blog about my grand experiment for a year and be infamously stashless by the end of the year. Well, I think I went yarn shopping about the 4th of January, and the blog didn't get started until about October. So much for good intentions. Basically, my grand decision to Knit the Stash (hereto forthwith to be known as "the Vow") was a failure, completely and utterly.

But maybe not.

Because after reading Wendy's KFYS, I found myself reflecting on my own resolution and why I found it so hard to keep. One thing I know for certain, I took The Vow for the wrong reasons. I was looking for a unique edge to blog about, something different, but what I should have been examining was why I stash, and what those hoarded skeins mean in my life. Seems sort of an odd thing to ask yourself. Why do you stash? Most people can espouse at length why they knit---but why do you stash? Now that one is really hard.

Stashing is like the deep, dark side of knitting. You have all these really cool yarns, tucked away in secret hiding places, that you look at only rarely, taking them out to smile at them, remember the ______ (insert project here) that you intended to knit, and then back they go into their hidey hole until the next time you are feeling a bit nostalgic, or can't find the size 4 circs that you left on some forgotten project.

I think like everyone else, I fall in love with a project I see in another blog, or hanging up in a yarn shop, or in a magazine and I HAVE to HAVE it. I MUST knit it. And so the yarn gets bought, or snapped up on eBay, or right there on the spur of the moment, much to my LYS's delight. But what I have learned over the past year is that I have more projects than time to knit (or more projects than sense, is probably a better description). A good portion of my stash is like the Island of Lost Toys in Rudolph. Sweaters I was going to knit for the kids, presents that sit unfinished, sock yarn that was too pretty to pass up. Yes, even I am susceptible to a pretty ball of sock yarn. And I have a box of them to prove it.

My stash is the undeniable evidence of my lack of impulse control. Honestly, I didn't need a blog to quit buying , I needed a 12-step program. My name is Elizabeth, and I buy too much yarn. Lots from eBay. The big bag from a garage sale at the bargain price of $2 or the thrift store grab bag that promised to yield gems. The discount basket in my local shop, the yarn because I am on a business trip and I want to remember being in LA--really the excuses I can come up with! But the more I thought about it, I realized it was more about the having, than the knitting. If anything in the last year, I began to feel a sort of embarrassed discomfort with having too much yarn.

It is the having and not using that has struck me the most in the past few days of reflection. I look at the yarn I do have and feel a sense of loss for what hasn't been knit. Like anything that is uncreated, with its potential untapped, locked away in an under the bed box until it is brought out into the light to that "Oh, yeah, I remember that skein," spoken with a bit of wistful regret. I think what I've learned is that yarn should be knit, loved, adored until it finds a new life as a sweater, a hat, a scarf, even a pair of socks, not stashed away like troll's gold.

Wendy has the right of it--knit up your stash--for your yarn's sake. But if you do take The Vow understand your reasons why. You may be surprised at what you find in those closets.

So go ahead, confess. Why do you stash?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Day After . . .

My husband said it best this morning, as he sat on the floor trying to put batteries into yet another "batteries not included" toy--"I love the day after Christmas, because it is over." I have to say that I agree this year. Christmas Day was lovely--the kids were starry eyed, the dinner great, everyone got along, and the day ended with me finally getting a chance to swatch and cast on my Central Park Hoodie. Best of all--my gauge came in spot on, and I love the way this yarn looks when knit up. And yes, there was a huge sigh of relief as the day ended. Gads, please remind we (with a brick attached to it, if necessary) that I don't have to knit something for everyone. Gift baskets are just great.

This year seemed particularly rushed--Christmas seemed to come right on the heels of Thanksgiving and with the power outage that stole a complete weekend I'd set aside for Christmas preparations, all of a sudden the big day was here and then gone. And my knitting? Well, that was the first to fall to the way side.

Yet earlier in the season, I had vowed that one tradition that we'd let slip past for too long was going to find its way back into our lives. Years ago, my DH and I would pick a weekend in December and escape. I say "would" because this was B-4-Kids. We took long weekends in Leavenworth (a charming little Bavarian-like village in the Cascade mountains) or a get away to a B&B in the San Juan Islands. Lovely weekends of quiet time and far from the craziness that can be Christmas. And then the munchkins started arriving and, well, you all know what happens.

But this year we were determined to try it again. Somehow, some way, we were getting a night away. Just one little night of no interruptions, a late dinner and well, no interruptions. And when you are persistent and really, really want something, the stars usually align. So it was that we got our night away. It wasn't like we went far--downtown Seattle, like twenty minutes from our house--but we spent a delightful afternoon and evening enjoying the lights and decorations, the bustle of Pike Place Market. I even found some decorations that were more woolly when I wrangled some time at So Much Yarn, a delightful and friendly shop in Belltown.

Now I know I'm not really supposed to be adding to the stash, but I couldn't resist. I fell in love with this ball of Filatura Di Crosa 501. It might say December on the calendar but this ball of yarn just screamed "Spring" to me. So I gathered up every ball they had and some others in some great shades and indulged in a little stash building. I'm thinking of doing a slipstitched sweater--haven't quite worked it out in my mind yet, and may need to go find more of the purplish color. But I want to do something that will wake up the gray days ahead as we close into the real dark season that is winter in Seattle.

With Christmas now officially over, I am starting to plan my New Year knitting. Anyone else starting to think of resolutions as to what projects they will finish? Try? Rip out and bury in the backyard? I'll put mine together and post them New Year. See you then!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Time Flies . . . And a Whole Lot of Excuses

When you have Christmas racing at you and then you loose your power for four days. Yikes! I haven't gotten all that much knitting done, what with trying to finish up revisions on the next book, it being dark as sin at night--I don't know how people knit in candlelight--but then again maybe they weren't trying to knit a black scarf! Which is almost done, except for the ruffles and bind off.

But I did get these done-- a pair of Lions Brand Cozy Slipper Socks. I made a bunch of these last year for Christmas and still had some of the Lion Brand Boucle leftover. They couldn't be easier to knit--and quick! Really quick. These are for Matthew's OT, Chris, who is a wonderful young woman and loves funky socks to wear to work. Since she never wears shoes in her line of work, these will be perfect for her. I had to be sneaky to find out about her shoe size, but we were in her office one day and I commented about how cute her shoes were (they were cute!) and held my foot up to them to gauge the size. Then she volunteered she was a size 9 and I had my information. Ah, I should have been an international spy.

Well, since I know I won't get to post until after Christmas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope the weekend is full of love and family and good cheer . . . and of course, a little knitting.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Spy . . .

Something that isn't quite right. Yes, this is what I found after setting my knitting down to go answer the phone. I came back and found my best pair of 7s snapped like twigs. He-who-is-feared-by-knitting-needles-everywhere had struck. We'll just call him . . . say, Matthew. The size double points that ended their career last year with a decorative addition of teeth marks over them--well, I could live with that, but this, well, this just bites. No pun intended.

I should be in mourning over the loss of this pair. They were part of my grandmothers' sets that I inherited over the years as they stopped knitting and then eventually passed away. They were an old pair of plastic Boyes, but they were worn wonderfully smooth from years and years of use and they just felt great in the hands. And now they are landfill bait.

I could get furious with Matthew, but he wouldn't understand. You see he has autism. And when things get broken, (which they often do in his excessive exploration of the world around him,) you just have to count to ten. Worst of all, he is convinced that Mom's knitting, when left unattended is a prime target for unraveling all over the house. Believe me, his middle name should be "froggin."
But yesterday was also one of those days that mom's who have special kids find remarkable. Because at 5 and a half, Matthew drew his first picture yesterday. Buzz Lightyear, to be exact. He was quite proud of his accomplishment, and carried it home like a prize.

The knitting needles? Well, they held sentimental value--but I will never forget as long as I live the moment I looked in the rear view window and saw him gazing with unabashed pride at HIS picture. Now that's worth holding onto.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What Was I Thinking?

Usually by this time in December I am humming along on multiple knitting projects and just clicking along. Okay, I confess, this year the It's-Christmas-Knit-Everyone-A-Special-Gift Mojo is about as much alive as the neighbor's string of lights reindeer. I just can't get real excited.

I finished another pair of wrist warmers and decided to give myself a change by finishing the black scarf. But what's so fun about a 2x2 rib and row after row? I'm going to finish it, and I think the next one I'll do in a basketweave just to go wild. :)

You'll even see my lack of enthusiasm in the picture I took of the finished wrist warmers.

Then I realized I had the ends all poking out everywhere and they looked horrible like that. So, there I am, tucking in all the threads and tidying them up for the big debut on the web and I felt like a Fluffer in a porn movie. (Don't even ask how I know that expression--one of those sad, odd facts that just sticks in the brain.)
So here they are, ready for their close up, Mr. DeMille.

I think all this knitting malaise is because I have too much on my plate right now. Revisions on a book due, trying to keep my page counts moving along on the one due in April, the kids' schedules, all the various holiday interruptions. And of course, my wrists decide to start bothering me again. Sigh. Too much writing on my Alphasmart and editing in pencil--instead of writing with my ergo keyboard and being careful not to hold the pencil while I'm just reading the edits.

I'm back to wearing my wrist guards at night, and waging that nightly battle as to how much I can knit before my thumb starts buzzing and my wrist tweaking. No, it's time to start cutting my losses. Finish the bare minimum of what needs to be knit--another two pairs of wrist warmers and a scarf and a half, and then call it quits for the season.

Time to take a page from Tiennie and start knitting for myself. Call me the Grinch Knitter this year, but who can blame me when I've got a bag of yarn that is just begging to be swatched and turned into the Central Park Hoodie, or a box of Knitpicks Andean Silk in Hyacinth to make a Bristow Sweater. I don't want to wait until January. And you know, I don't think I'm going to.

Wine Country Gift Baskets here I come.