I’m not normally as balanced

Sometimes, when I sit down for a nice knit-a-thon, I feel guilty.  I like knitting more than almost anything else I could do in a day, and left to my own devices, with no responsibilities or work, that’s pretty much how I’d choose to spend it.  I know I might be a little unique here, but I think my guilt is a useful emotion.  On some level,  I’m grateful for  it.  After I’ve been knitting for a while, this voice in my head will start whispering about a balanced life, and work, and laundry and it will say things like “Knitting doesn’t answer emails” and “knitting isn’t exactly the kind of exercise you could call cardio” and “you can’t eat knitting for dinner.”  Eventually it’s the creeping pangs of consciousness that can get me to get up and do something other than knit.

lousblueyarn 2014-02-20Don’t get me wrong, I think knitting is totally productive, and that it’s doing a lot of really great things for me, like helping protect my brain as I age, keeping my hands and mind nimble, and probably helping to make sure I don’t wind up in prison with a room-mate nicknamed Biter – but as much as I think it’s valuable and I should be doing it every day – rather a lot,  it’s not a ton of fun to knit while you beat yourself up for the other stuff. I love knitting too much to let it get screwed up by my feelings about being the sort of person who has an trashed bathroom.  This system works pretty well for me. Well enough that I’m at the armholes for Lou’s sweater, and the kitchen is clean enough that I don’t have to worry about spores of any kind.

lousblueyarnbody 2014-02-20

Pattern: Lancelot, Yarn: Klickitat Hand-Dyed wool from the Artful Ewe.

Now. I’m going to go scrape whatever the hell that is out of the bottom of the fridge – and then I’ll start a sleeve.  Got a favourite way to make knitting time?

PS. Thanks so much for the warm words about the book and the tour.  I too think a perpetual book tour that took me every single place each one of you lives would be a gas.

PPS. The astute among you will note that I said the kitchen was clean, then said I was going to clean something revolting out of the fridge, which would sort of mean that the kitchen wasn’t clean, but that’s not how it works here. Here, for the kitchen to be clean, it just has to look clean. There’s no frakking way I’m ever buying one of those fridges with a clear door. 

95 thoughts on “I’m not normally as balanced

  1. I am so glad I am not the only with those voices in my head. And like you, if it looks clean, than it IS clean. Knitting is my calming factor in this crazy world. Nothing matters when I have sticks and fiber in my hands.

    Love the sweater pattern. Perfect for an active little one.

  2. Yup, that’s my kitchen, too! Only my fridge is pretty good and my oven is kinda bad. I would love a glass door on just the part of my fridge that showed the fruits and veggies, because that would remind me to use them more often. Not however, on the cheese etc. drawer, or the shelf with my glass jars of soups and planned overs. Or ugly egg cartons.

    I like the way you work, and I do it too. Something I like to do and then something that has to be done. All gets taken care of in time.

  3. I agree, it can “look” clean. As for the grungy stuff in the bottom, I try not to think about it, and knit. Knitting takes priority over housework, unless the dust bunnies are threatening to carry the dog away. How do I carve time? I get to work 45 minutes early, and knit there with my coffee before the rest arrive.

  4. I think I actually get more housework done when I’m trying to sit and knit. Knit a few rows, put in the laundry, knit a few rows, put away the dishes, notice you have an extra yarn-over, put down project in disgust and vacuum the floor. Yep, its a little strange but it’s how I roll.

    • That’s how I do it, too! A fair amount of both housework and knitting get done this way, and I’ve gotten my ‘fix’ so I can stand to be around other people.

  5. A fridge with a clear door? Perish the thought! I have a kitchen that is clean enough. For me. And my one grand rule of housekeeping is, if you don’t like dusting, don’t move the ornaments.

  6. I’m so enamoured with my current project that I’ve been knitting three or more hours each evening. And for me, that’s a lot.
    Am now seriously considering driving to St Louis to get my book signed and wish you well!

  7. First – congratulations on Canada winning gold in womens hockey. (I pretty much mean it but it’s also a good sportsmanship thing. And I really mean it when I congratulate your womens curling team!) Second – I took my Trekking 550 sock out on the road yesterday to the dr’s office – and did not get any gasps! In fact, a woman came up curious, thinking I was doing all that pattern work myself! I showed her that the yarn was doing all the work and she was impressed. After that, I took it to a meeting where it got oohed and aahed by someone allergic to wool. She still had to touch it. I admit that I was surprised by the reception – but maybe North Dakota is more visually liberal than I thought or maybe we’re all tired of this whiteness that is piled in mountains everywhere around us. Thanks for the heads up on the yarn. It became 1/2 of my Olympic knitting.

    • Yes, Congrats to the Canadian women’s teams! Well done. I love the levels of clean, but for me, anyone who is welcome to stay overnight here needs to be comfortable with the “Level 2” clean..
      I had a lovely afternoon, I wandered into my LYS and actually helped someone who had picked up a project from 15 years ago.. (lopi yarn cost $5 USD, is how we dated it! were we close?)
      She gave me faith that all my knitting will get down eventually… Time spent knitting is productive for sure, but not always what you necessarily needs to be produced at that moment!

  8. I’m with you on all the above re knitting guilt. I don’t really feel guilty, it’s just that I have to have things done so that I can knit undisturbed. My ideal Saturday is to have the house & laundry cleaned and put away, my cardio done, showered and to be parking my butt on the couch with movies dvr’d and knitting….with a HUGE glass of chardonnay or merlot. It hasn’t happened yet, and maybe if I didn’t pour that much wine, I wouldn’t have dosed off. Interesting post though, as I just heard on NPR as we get older our bucket lists really consist of how we like to spend our time, not so much with travel and daring events. That would be me. I’m happy just knitting, but my workout regime has suffered and so has my Facebook responses to relatives. Why? Because it’s time taken from my knitting. Most of my upper body workouts consist now of going through my stash!! I’m getting better at this though. Beautiful sweater! Looks like its already blocked.

  9. The sweater is adorable and no, I don’t feel guilty when I am knitting. As you said in one of your books, we can clean when we’re old but we will NEVER get this knitting time back.

    I have, however, roped my sons into doing the cleaning… they want hand knits (they like them… they pick the color and pattern, i pick what yarn i want to work with) so they do the housework that needs doing while I work on their items… it’s a win-win and serves a secondary purpose: It increases the likelihood of no girl being good enough for them…. they cook (really well, this is also a source of fighting for them to the point I had to assign nights because they enjoy cooking), they clean, they do windows and floors… they even change diapers..

  10. I am utterly charmed by that diamond pattern. Does anyone know if it’s a ‘known’ design or if (as I assume) it’s something the pattern designer came up with?

    My LYS offers a ‘design your own cardigan’ class and I would love this design on a cardigan for me…

    • As far as I know, stitch patterns are not copyright. Anyway, that one looks a lot like the patterns in early 19th century German stockings.

  11. Feeling guilty? Maybe for a minute or two. If I can be confident nobody will die after eating something from my kitchen, I call it knitting time. But please don’t open my refrigerator. That would be like using someone’s bathroom and going through their cabinets. Some things are better left behind doors.
    Happy Knitting.

  12. Oh my, I love those slip stitches. I’ve had that sweater in my queue for ages… if only I could get my son to put on knitwear! He won’t even wear a hat. With your encouragement, I’m off to knit now, although there is definitely quite a bit of tidying up to do around here…

  13. I always feel guilty..literally the only way I ever get anything done, knitting or otherwise. Never open my fridge if you don’t want to see sticky yuck everywhere! Looks like my toddler got ahold of some juice and a blender and just…let her rip!!!

  14. Sometimes my sweetie gives me a gift of knitting time. It’s the best kind!!! And, I agree, as long as it looks clean, it is clean. I have learned that the kitchen looks a lot cleaner if the light is off.

  15. HA! Usually, I feel guilty that I’m not knitting more! Which is to say, I have a two-hour daily commute, full-time job, and a small farm which my husband and I are in the process of moving; sometimes for downtime I just play Settlers of Cataan on my Kindle Fire–which makes me feel guilty that I’m not working on that colorwork birthday present for my younger niece. Or that cabled birthday present for my aunt. Or that sweater for my grandmother that has a bunch of “at the same time” shaping at the neckline. Someone please send me a TARDIS or a time-turner, stat.

  16. I hear ya. I’m a college student who spends too much time knitting (not enough time knitting) and not enough studying/doing homework. I make knitting time by knitting in class. Lecture classes (and there’s a lot of those for freshmen) make EXCELLENT knitting time. And it helps me focus in class too, especially when it gets boring. Double win! 🙂 Love the sweater pattern by the way!

  17. There are 3 levels of “clean” in a kitchen:
    1. – good enough. the dishes are mostly clear, though there may be some in the drainer. The floor has been swept, and there are no major smears on the stove. The counters are mostly clear.

    2. – Company clean. All the dishes are washed and put away, the floor has at least had the big smears washed off, the stove is clean, the counters have been wiped down and the table is clear and wiped.

    3. – Overnight guests clean. Everything for level 2, plus the fridge is clean, the cupboards are more or less straight, and the oven is clean. The sink is shiny and you wouldn’t die if someone opened the cutlery drawer.

    Fortunately, we have company at least once a week and overnight guests every couple of months, so my kitchen does get dealt with often enough! 🙂

    • Emily–You forgot my current nemesis, “Please-buy-my-house clean.” We’re trying to sell and it’s a royal pain keeping everything spotless all the time! Fortunately, no kids, no pets and my current yarn doesn’t shed too much.;)

  18. Wow – love the color of that yarn! My cat hair dust bunnies are threatening to take over the house, therefore, I get knitting time by not vacuuming (i.e. only when company’s coming…one of the benefits of living alone!) I do feel better about my fridge though after reading the comments 🙂 Weekends are my knitting time with a good DVD and some bubbly. Plus I taught a co-worker to knit and thereby gained knitting time during lunch hour. Proselytize, people, proselytize!!

    p.s. – how come I fail the human test first time even though I’ve moved the correct icon????

  19. In the past three years, my children moved away from home and my husband passed away. Now, the kitchen is easy to clean, I have a whole lot of time to knit and I would give anything to go back to the way things were before…
    Life is messy, enjoy the mess while it lasts!

  20. If it looks clean it is clean enough. I do my little chores every day: the house looks tidy, the kitchen is passable, no one will be poisoned by any food in my house, the bed is made. If anyone drops over and digs deep enough to find dirt it’s their own fault.

  21. I’m just glad I’m not the only one with gunk in the bottom of my fridge and who pauses knitting just long enough to get one thing done that needs to be!

  22. Having just spent most of the productive hours of the day cleaning my house, I feel your pain – my inner voice kept whining something about letting the knitting bag out of the spare room. But tomorrow . . . ah, tomorrow will be all mine! Maybe it’ll be worth all the cleaning.

    • That’s what I’m talking about!! That is how I fantasize a perfect knitting set up,next to mine of course. If you have to spend the whole day cleaning, then payment or reward for services rendered should be a whole day of knitting.

  23. Yep, “cleaning the kitchen” and “cleaning the fridge” are two separate, unrelated activities.

    When I start to have doubts in the middle of a massive knit-a-thon, I just remind myself… Netflix isn’t going to watch itself.

  24. Spending all day cooking, or all day cleaning house, or all day answering emails would get you the same messages from the same little voice. Everything in moderation, right?

  25. I forgot to say – if one had a clear-door fridge, the contents would have to beautifully arranged. But what if it’s all leftover Chinese take-out? Mine would be be really ugly almost all of the time. Not an accent piece.

  26. I currently have maybe 10 science projects in my frig pushed to the way back, but here I sit knitting. But, I do feel the guilt which is why it takes me many months to knit a sweater…..oh well. I guess I’ll go make some dinner…

  27. I LOATHE cleaning the fridge. Really. So, I just do one part of it once a week….clean a shelf, or the veg drawer, or wipe and organize the stuff in the door. That way, it’s always almost passable and there’s one spot that looks pretty good! Then, I celebrate my discipline by sitting down to have a little knit……

  28. Wow … missed the human verification test first time through … paged back and what I wrote was gone.

    outsmarted by 5 little pictures

  29. I don’t think that I want a refrigerator with a glass door, and I have mixed feelings about my cabinets with glass doors.

    However, I would like food items or storage containers that came when they were called. I have to quash feelings of guilt when my husband is rooting around in the fridge and cursing because he can’t find the _ _ _ _ _ because it is one item back on the third shelf behind the _ _ _ _ _.

  30. I have a bunch of waiting time in the week, mostly with my kid’s gymnastics class. Four hours a week of knitting time! Then there’s waiting at the physical therapist, or the orthodontist. And at all of those places, I get the classic “wow, how do you find time?” or “look at you being all productive”. I just smile, and knit on. Favorite for confusing people is knitting washcloths while taking a walk, even if that walk happens to be at the zoo.

  31. Nor will I ever have glass-front cabinets in my kitchen. And if I’m too short to see the top of the refrigerator, then it doesn’t need to be cleaned.

  32. Robot vacuum – best way to score more knitting time yet. It makes you keep things tidy or contained enough that the vacuum doesn’t get hung up on things. Then you just press a button and sit down – with your feet up, no less – and knit while your house gets vacuumed. No guilt necessary!

  33. Funny how you think you’re the only one in the world with a problem until someone else is brave enough to publically discuss it, lol! I assuage my guilt by taking care of whatever’s nagging at me, then promise myself some knitting time. If it’s too much to clean at once, I do it in increments: knit for an hour, clean for an hour, or whatever time period I set for myself. I at least consider getting up from knitting after 30 mins of it in order to give my wrists & hands a break, stretching & shaking them to help avoid carpel tunnel. The fear of that usually helps me talk my obsessive knitter personality back into the straight jacket long enough to clean.

  34. I’m glad I’m not the only person who does that! My apartment is small, so I sit down with my knitting, stare at something messy while knitting until it bothers me so much I have to tidy it, do the tidying, go back to knitting, and repeat.

  35. Maybe I’ll be a human on my phone, ‘ cause I’m not on my computer. I never “clean the kitchen.” I break it into smaller chunks and reward myself often with breaks.

  36. I think knitting is self-care. Everybody needs a little extra self-care now and then. With your travel schedule, I’d need at least a week of it every time I came home.

    That’s when I make the decision to name the larger dust bunnies and think of them as immobile pets I don’t have to feed and pretend they aren’t there for a little while.

    There is a lot of social pressure (ie, media pressure) to have a perfect house all the time. Every now and then you have to look at your kitchen, rule it not quite a health-hazard and be okay with that.

  37. I love to knit and could do so all the time but the guilt and full time work do take time away. My favorite way to knit is after a full day in the office, walking on a piece of exercise equipment while watching the news – I love it! When the days get longer I take my knitting with me around the block and get quite a lot done.

  38. My attitude toward cleaning the refrigerator is that it needs cleaning if: 1.) stuff falls out every time I open the door; 2.) it starts smelling like road-killed skunk on a hot summer day; and/or 3.) something growls, roars, hisses, snaps, or claws at me when I open the door. Works for me; might not work for you.

    Love the color you picked for Lou’s sweater. He’s going to look mighty handsome in this one!

  39. NEW BOOK!!!! 😀 *happy dance

    Okay, now that I have that out of my system, great work on Lou’s sweater. He is going to look adorable in it!
    Second, you’ve been knitting socks for your Joe for a long time, right? What’s your favorite sturdy and soft yarn to use for them? My husband wore a hole in the sole of one of his and the toe of the other, in just over a month! I used Cascade something, can’t remember the exact name right now, and reinforcing thread at heels and toes. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • I asked her the same question some time ago, because she mentioned he had big feet. I need to knit for a person with big feet. The first pair I turned out for my son was with Cascade Heritage, which has silk in it. Was that it? BTW for big feet, it was not a good choice, at least with color/strand knitting. Not as much give on it. I’m going to try to incorporate EZ moccasin sock so that you can remove the sole and re knit the bottom if they wear out.

      • Moccasin sock! Excellent idea, and I’ll be sure to use it for his next pair. In the meantime, I’ll darn them until I run out of yarn to do so or I’m re-darning the original darns.

  40. Fridges and cupboards with clear doors are for magazines, not for normal people. I’m still trying to strike the RIGHT balance, but I do put the knitting down when the guilt starts niggling.

  41. Guilty feelings here, too. I started knitting again after 40 years, at age 66 (and am now 69, just to be clear) and I’m enjoying it more every week. But…I didn’t start knitting because I had nothing else to do. I write books; I have a house, a husband, an adult son with autism, cooking & cleaning & laundry, a horse, some acres that need work…and yet when I sit there knitting, I feel connected in some mysterious and wonderful way to my mother who died 24 years ago and my grandmother who died when my mother was young, and her mother, and…all the way back through history to the women who made things with needles and yarn. I never knew them…but I know them by the way my hands move, the fact that I’m making useful things the way they did, one stitch at a time.

    And yet I have to get up and put supper on, wash the dishes, gather up the laundry (but I don’thave to build a fire and put the wash pot on, or stir the wash with a stick, as my grandmother did.) Hanging it on the outside line, though, is kind of like knitting, in making a connection. I have a dryer; we use it only when nothing would line dry for days. Which is rare where I live.

    So thank you for your books and your blog and for both the talk about knitting and the talk about how it interacts with the other parts of life.

    • I have exactly the same thoughts about my knitting! It connects me (quite literally, with a piece of yarn) to my mother and my grandmother. AND to my adult daughter, who knits for her children and friends just as I do. It’s that invisible line that binds us together, women of all ages, generation to generation.

  42. I fit knitting time in every nook and cranny possible. I have two very small kids, so in addition to knitting on my train commute to work (and refusing to even think about a job that would eliminate that train commute) you can find me knitting during bathtime, knitting while making block towers, knitting in the car, during breakfast, and always if there is any time left in the day for evening TV.

    Your chapter in Knitting Rules on teaching your girls to knit via pure exposure when they were small, knitting everywhere so that it was basically ingrained in their souls, is basically my approach.

  43. I’m with UPTOWNKNITTING…clear cabinet doors, refrigerator doors or open shelving in the kitchen are just crazy. Most of the things that live in the kitchen (I mean dishes and spices etc) aren’t that homogeneously pretty to be seen in public. Close that door! lol

  44. As I have a “house husband” who is supposed to keep the kitchen and rest clean while I work, I don’t have much guilt about the housework. But is it wrong to be doing rain dances at the weekend? All I want is to stay indoors and knit instead of going for walks. So I guess my guilt is about not exercising enough…

  45. I love the sweater! Especially since I’m knitting the same one for my son. I did a double take when I saw the photo because I’m at the same part of the pattern. It’s one of those “manly” little sweaters that look so handsome on little boys. Happy knitting!

  46. On the rare occasion that I get gobs of free knitting time, I set a timer – 15 minutes to work, 45 minutes to knit. If I have a whole day, it only takes a few 15 minutes sessions to get the house clean enough that I can just spend the rest of it knitting.

  47. My favorite way of making knitting time is to ignore those guilt voices in my head and knit instead of working, cleaning my house, feeding my family, etc. 😉

  48. I knit for a few hours, then do something else for a few hours, then knit for a few hours. That way I make good progress on knitting, but don’t feel like I’m neglecting anything else.

  49. my dear friend/fellow knitter annie has arranged to visit in two weeks! so:
    tomorrow, ds is to come and carry downstairs the metric crap-ton of recycling that has piled up since before christmas, stash it in my van, along with items to donate to a local women’s shelter, jump the battery and follow me to the shelter and the recycling center in case the van dies. (in my defense, our weather has been crappy and i’m of a certain age.)
    if i’m lucky, he’ll come back next weekend to help with heavy cleaning. if not, i CAN do that myself,i just prefer not to, and he owes me money so he’d be working off his debt.
    meanwhile, i’ll be sacrificing knitting time to do the part only i can do — attacking the clutter monster! if i could ever slay that critter, life would be a breeze. but there’s a reason they call it attention deficit disor — squirrel!!
    don’t feel guilty for a minute, stephanie — the sweater for lou, who just has turned two, deserves priority. if anyone at your house is upset by mess/grunge, s/he can take over that job.

  50. Love Love LOVE the color of that yarn and the pattern.
    Re: justifying knitting time, I work outside the home full-time+ and when I pick up my knitting in the evenings or on weekends both my husband and still-at-home-being-a-student-adult daughter gravitate to wherever I am and start to chat about all sorts of things from worries to events to where we should take our next vacation. I think knitting is conducive to things like that because it’s not like interrupting reading or a favorite TV show or whatever. So, knitting = family time!
    Also, I justify a cleaning lady 3 hours every other week to do the “heavy” cleaning (mainly bathrooms & floors) because I hate it so much and it’s worth every penny to me!

  51. Several large stores here in the States have a line of travel clothes. Pack able , wrinkle resistant, and they’re all coordinated; basic colors like black, navy, grey, chocolate… Some bright accent colored tops you’d be set! Chico’s, Land’s End, Eddie Bauer, L.L.Bean, Coldwater Creek to name a few. Next time I travel…!

  52. If you knit with the right stuff, you *can* eat your knitting for dinner. You just have to knit up some noodles, embellish with veggies, and then whole-garment dye it in an appropriate sauce. Yum.

  53. I hope Mr. Washie is in the book. I really liked the Mr. Washie years with family, knitting and the old house all jumbled together. Any sweater made for little Louis will be darling because he is so darling.

  54. Pre-ordered my, I mean your, book today at my local, exciting stuff.

    I have daily knitting/cuddle time with my youngest. It’s usually the highlight of my day. It comes after my morning chores but before the after school/before dinner insanity that we call family life.

    Lou’s sweater is tantalizing, a perfect little big man knit! The colour is so handsome, too.

  55. If the comments are any indication, I feel much better knowing that the majority of people don’t have spotless fridges like my MIL. She could do a clear fridge door, but I’ll pass. Like someone else said, who would want to see my half empty jar of salsa?

    I broke down several years ago and hired a house cleaner so that guilty voice comes out much less often now. Yes, I’m sacrificing yarn funds, but if I’m busy cleaning instead of knitting I would never have time to knit the extra yarn. Now I knit while watching sporting events, so I feel like I’m accomplishing something while being doubly entertained!

  56. Stephen Beer wrote “Mrs. Patch was a perfectly incapable housekeeper, and thing in her house was generally dusty when they wasn’t sticky.” I have been known to identify with Mrs Patch.

  57. You just described what happens to me every time I sit to knit. It’s very frustrating.

    I’m glad I’m not the only who encounters “Knitters Guilt”. Someone’s got to find a way to gag that bad boy.

  58. And they say guilt is a bad thing. Not always. Knitting is the only thing that keeps me from sticking to a dirty kitchen floor. I can’t enjoy my knitting when I’m stuck to the kitchen floor, so I mop and then knit. I hate mopping the kitchen but love my knitting so I listen to my inner self and get it done.

  59. I do the same thing – do something not so great, then knit for a stretch, then something else not so great. Looking forward to the knitting makes the not-so-greats not so bad.

  60. so I have been lurking here for a very very long time…..today I couldn;t help but comment.
    oh my Gosh! They make a fridge with a clear door!? How long has this beast been available….because you know what happens….soon they will discontinue the regular normal fridges and we will have no other choice….you know like how we no longer can have the normal dial phone. Must go yard saling and flea market hunting for used fridges to store up and sell to poor souls that didn’t see this coming.
    NIce blog….thank you for taking the time.

  61. Around here, the thing that needs done the most is sweeping. I figure as long as the dust bunnies aren’t big enough to have teeth, then the house is clean enough 🙂

  62. I wish I were less OCD and could actually take the time to sit and knit as I do love it so (and spinning, and doing watercolours). Thanks to my self diagnosed OCD I cannot do anything until the house is relatively clean.

    Which is *ullshit! No one cares that any of it is done. No one comes home and dons a white glove to ascertain what I have done all day on my days off. No one cares but me! If I don’t make dinner no one goes hungry, they are after all old enough to make themselves something and indeed for the the family for dinner.

    WHY can’t I sit and do something I love to do?!? Guilt. Guilt sucks big time and must get over it *ammit!!! Knit on friends!

  63. A fridge with a clear door? invented by a man obviously. there are two kinds of clean in our house. Clean and grandma clean–which means my mother is coming or I have lost all my marbles!

  64. Pingback: Further Reading 2/28/14 | Knit York City

  65. “Here, for the kitchen to be clean, it just has to look clean.” Ha! That’s exactly how I feel about my bathrooms.

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