Give me your answer do

I knit the thumb of those mittens last night. Actually- so deep was my shame at abandoning them so close to the end that I knit it pretty much the minute I was finished posting yesterday. Then I washed them, and laid them in the back garden to dry. This morning I went to collect them from where they were laying in the sunshine, and the cicadas were singing and it was hot out, and I briefly thought to myself that it had been rather dumb to rush to finish up mittens in this heat. I mean, who needs summer mittens.  (I am Canadian, but even we only have spring, summer and fall mittens.) Planning ahead is one thing, but it is a bit (just a bit) early to have real enthusiasm for mittens, isn’t it?

Then I looked at them – there in the garden, and I had an idea.

I am rather ridiculously fond of these now. It took only a little while to embroider them and I think now that they are rather sublime mittens to have knit in the summer.

I bet I’ll love them even more in February when there is snow all around, and I’m dreaming of daisies, and tansy and wee wild aster.

 

I think there’s still room

I got up this morning and started hunting up WIPs, and do you know, it wasn’t even that hard? I forgot that I had a major culling of the herd at the beginning of the pandemic, when Charlotte had just died and we were locked down and I was possessed of a sudden urge to fling a great many of my things in the bin. (While a terrible time overall, it was a great time for de-cluttering and streamlining. Not many objects or projects seemed particularly important at the time. I have no regrets.)  I looked in my cupboards and baskets and bins and I know there are probably a few more lurking in the stash room, but the semi-annual tossing of the stash is next month, and I’ll worry about stragglers then.  I found plenty for now. Here’s what I’ve got on the needles.  (Please note, I have not listed Ken’s sweater because I am legit working on that and you just saw it – it has two new sleeves now and other than being a little wider they are the same. I’ve also not included the purplish striped sock that’s currently my purse sock. I’ll finish it soon. It’s a purse sock.) This is everything else.

Project: Northern Sky socks.  Reason it stalled: I have no idea, these are totally fabulous and I love them.  They deserve better.   General sense of its destiny: I’m putting them at the top of the queue – they can go into rotation with Ken’s sweater and the purse sock. I honestly can’t imagine what skein waggled its little label at me to make me put these down.

Project: Sea Tangles, knit in Habu stainless wire.  Reason it stalled: Oh, so many.  I love the idea of this project and the way it fits into the “post-apocalyptic matrix my-clothes-are-all-rags but I look fabulous anyway” look I aspire to, but a few things went wrong on my way to greatness. First, this is not a lot of fun to knit. The wire has no give and it’s really tiny and you have to pay attention all the time. Also I think my gauge isn’t right (although how ever could you tell)  and I suspect that while it’s not exactly a fitted garment,  it’s going to be shorter than I like.  I’ve got the back knit, and I’m a few inches into the front and have a had a lingering feeling that I should go up a needles size and make it longer for YEARS. General sense of its destiny: Screw it. I’m going to rip it and start again. I still love it.

Project: Tulips MittensReason it stalled:  I have no idea except maybe it got warm and mittens seemed stupid?  General sense of its destiny: Considering how far along I am I’ll just keep going. They’re pretty, aren’t they?

Project: Some rando pair of mittens.   Reason it stalled:  This is just embarrassing. Do you see that I am 10 rounds of a thumb away from finishing these? What sort of a person gives up then? While I cannot possibly explain why I stopped right then and didn’t finish, I suspect that the fact that there are only three needles present may have played a role. General sense of its destiny? Yeah, I’ve got to find that needle. Winter is coming. I’ll finish them today.

Project: I cannot remember the name and the pattern isn’t with it. Reason it stalled: I think I got really sick of stringing beads onto the yarn. General sense of its destiny: None. I might still be sick of stringing beads and I still don’t know the name. This one isn’t really calling to me this minute – though it is a third done, so I hate to walk away. Maybe it needs a longer time out, and for me to remember the name.

Project: Graphic baby blanket.  Reason it stalled: It’s a little too heartbreaking. General sense of its destiny: I love it, but it’s getting tucked away for now.

Project: Some plain pair of socks for someone big. Reason it stalled: I likely turned on it during midwinter bleakness. Look at that. I ripped the needles right the hell out of it so I could knit something else. Harsh.  General sense of its destiny: I think the world is still a little too bleak for those. They’re getting a ziplock and a shelf.

Project: Rainbow socks! Reason it stalled: It’s not totally stalled, I had them with me at the cottage and my Mother-in-law worked on them a bit.  I’m just really not feeling the toe up thing. General sense of their destiny: Oh, I’ll knit them. Just not…. now.

Project: One of the Colour Stacking Cowls from the Patreon make-along. Reason it stalled: All it needs is an i-cord bindoff on one edge and it will be finished and gorgeous.  You know how sometimes when something only needs a little bit of work you keep putting it off because that doesn’t seem like much and you could do it anytime so you don’t do it at all? General sense of its destiny: Excellent outcome predicted. I’ll just do it. Right after the thumb thing from those mittens.

Project: Autumn Lace. Reason it stalled: I hate it. It was supposed to be fantastic and the pattern and knitting is, but I chose the wrong contrast colour for that green at the outset and have hated it since. I knew it was wrong in the yarn shop and I can’t believe I let it get this far.  It’s 2/3 done and I hate it. General sense of its destiny: I am going to rip it back as soon as I figure out how to rip back brioche lace mohair. Both of those yarns deserve a better future. (Assuming I can rip it.)

Project: I have no idea. No pattern, no nothing.  is it a sleeve? A sock? When did I start it? What was I thinking? Reason it stalled: See above. It’s nice though.  General sense of its destiny: If I don’t know where I’m going I don’t think I’ll get there.  Nice knowing you….whatever you are.

Project: Okay fine I don’t know what this is either. A shawl. That much I’m sure of. Reason it stalled: Again, I have no idea. I remember starting it, and I remember buying the wool, but then the whole thing sort of dries up in my memory. General sense of its destiny: Poor outcome predicted. Unless I can figure out what the hell I was making I’m going to rip it and make something else. Maybe a shawl would be nice.

Project: Some paper and silk jacket thing from Habu. Reason it stalled: Like so many Habu projects I want the garment but knitting the stuff is weird and tricky.  Also it’s a Japanese style pattern so I’ve really got to think about the instructions. General sense of its destiny: I can’t tell.  I thought about ripping it back but honestly it’s half done and I know I’ll like it when it’s finished, won’t I? It’s paper – that’s so cool.  Sigh. I think I’ll knit it and while I do I’ll examine my relationship with Habu stuff since that’s two projects in this roundup that are stalled out in a multi-year way.

There. That’s it. That list (together with Ken’s sweater and my purse sock) means I have 15 projects on the go, which frankly is quite a few less than I was expecting to have to own up to and seems completely civilized and reasonable as long as you start with my world view, which of course, I did.  I’m going to leave all these out on the table for the rest of the day and see if having it all in front of me helps with the startitis. Surely it should scratch some of the itch.

And I’m going to knit that thumb.

Also that one by the coffee maker

At first, it just felt like I was getting organized, and that made a lot of sense. September is a “get it together” time of year for me, maybe some weird holdover from when I had to get all my ducks in a row for the kids to go to school, or maybe it’s just a response to the end of the more relaxed systems of summer, but planning and getting thing orderly in the fall has always been my modus operandi, and like I said, at first it felt to me like just the start of that.

It was little things in the beginning.  I started paying a little more attention to what people were knitting on instagram.  I followed a few new yarn makers. I scanned the “hot right now” pattern list. I watched some knitting podcasts and thought about joining some knit-alongs.  Just planning my knitting, you know what I mean? That makes sense. It’s about to be fall. Then I started taking yarn out. I didn’t really cast anything on, I just thought “oh I should knit a short sleeved summer sweater, and then I went into the stash and pulled out the yarn for that, and then put it on the table downstairs. Then some yarn arrived in the mail and I didn’t put it away.  I put it on the kitchen counter by the stove – just… so it could be around or something? I can’t explain it.  Then a yarn club came and I put that on my desk so it would be handy, and also I brought down a sweater quantity of another yarn to consider and positioned that on the dining room table. The next week I thought that it would be a good idea to think a bit about socks, and so I put a skein of self-striping next to my laptop and also one extra one in my bag so that if I went somewhere I would have it.  Then we went away with the family and I inexplicably brought a yarn store with me, along with most of my needles, and when we came home I didn’t put any of it away.

Today I looked around and realized that I really do need to get organized. The whole house is in a tip (and slightly sticky, thanks Elliot) and if the winter is coming I suppose I should get this all sorted, and as I started to clean up, I realized that a lot of what I needed to clean up was yarn. For the record, I stand by every previous statement I have ever made about my believe that yarn is beautiful and ornamental and that having a bunch of it around isn’t really problematic, but I also think that you should be able to do things in your house without having to move yarn every single time, and that some degree of tidiness is good for the soul. Now thing is,  when I put my hand on the first skein of yarn to put it away, a part of me said “Oh it’s cool leave that there, I’m going to knit it in a minute.”

I pulled my hand back and reached for another, and that same knitter in me said “No, leave that too, thanks.” I looked around and slowly it dawned on me.  Without a shadow of a doubt I have the early symptoms of an absolutely raging case of startitis and that would be okay if I hadn’t just spent a year and a half locked in my house using yarn to mitigate the emotional effects of personal and global tragedy.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it was smart and I highly recommend it, knitting is enormously helpful when things are difficult, and knowing this, I haven’t limited my access or made any rules about it at all for the last while.  If I get a hankering to knit a pair of socks I have simply cast on and gone with that urge, even if there are other socks on the needles. If I want to buy yarn and I can afford it, boom. It’s in the post to me. These are extraordinary times and I have been as kind to myself as I need to be in order to maintain something that remotely resembles my own nature. (Related: my current relationship with cleaning and pants that aren’t elastic in the waist. Whatever gets you through the night, baby.)

Still, at some point I feel like it stops being therapeutic and starts being… well. A mess really, and I realized the other day that as I rifled the hanger for a missing circular that I am not “low on needles.” They are just all… in things… and that means that I need to get a few things done before I add more, so before I start anything else I’m going to go through all my little hidey holes and figure out what exactly is lurking around here.

Buckle up.  I’m going in.

(PS it is the one by the stove that really gets me. It’s been there for 3 weeks. What emergency do I think I am preparing for there?)

 

Sometimes it takes two

I am home again, and we really did have the loveliest time. The only thing that wasn’t quite right was that we couldn’t have Pato and the Worlds Top Knitwear Model with us for this trip, but if there’s anything that I’ve learned in the last 18 months it’s that things are seldom perfect, so I embraced what good it had to give me regardless.

Speaking of learning, I just had a really epic knitting fail. The biggest one in a long time. Behold: Two sleeves that I knit for Ken’s sweater.

(I know they look a bit rugged, but the yarn is Holst Garn Supersoft (held double)  and it’s a bit stiff and raggedy looking before it’s washed and blooms into something lovely, haloed, soft and even.)  Those sleeves also don’t exist anymore, because they were too narrow for Ken’s arms.  I’m knitting “Oshima for Him” and despite the absolutely admirable act of knitting a swatch and washing it, and then knitting another swatch and washing that before I settled on needles and was rather sure I had gauge, the things came out completely inappropriate for his arms. Ken is not a big guy, but his arms are more than twigs sprouting from his chest, and those just weren’t wide enough.

The amazing thing is that I knew this. I knew it from the moment I cast on.  I looked at the little cuff and said “That’s not big enough” but I had done my math and wanted so badly to trust it that I kept on going.  It nagged at me so badly through the whole first sleeve that before I knit the sleeve cap I actually took the sleeve off the needles, washed it, let it dry and then jammed it on Ken’s arm before I went any further, and then smooshed it around on his arm so that I could say it fit and keep lying to myself.  Then I knit the whole other sleeve, and the whole time my inner knitter was screaming at me.

Now, I often say that your inner knitter? They’re the voice of reason. They’re the one that’s not super invested in progress, and doesn’t hope for things or give any sort of a snot about your deadlines.  That voice, the one that says “something is definitely not right here” is the voice of your knitterly experience and it’s exactly like waking up in the night and wondering if you should get up to pee. If you just went to the damn bathroom the first time you thought “I wonder…” you’d be back in bed in no time with less time lost to considering it.  It’s like that and I know perfectly well that if I’d have listened to that voice the very first time I wouldn’t have two sleeves to pull back, I’d have merely yanked a cuff and have two correct sleeves right now. I have no explanation for why I let it go on so long, except that sometimes hope springs eternal, and sometimes you really just want to knit, and sometimes lying to yourself on a sunny day while you lie on a dock is exactly what you need and it takes the shock of two whole wrong sleeves to snap you out of it, which is exactly what happened.

I’ve reknit the first one the next size up.  My inner knitter is now smugly silent.