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?)


57 thoughts on “Also that one by the coffee maker

  1. But if that much yarn is out already, you’ve actually embarked on the semi-annual Stash Toss. And that is entirely noble and good.

    It’s all in how you look at it. (Except for the yarn by the stove. That’s just weird.)

  2. I’ve been going through my knitting books in the hopes of purging some before an upcoming move. Today I bought yarn to make a hat before passing that one book on. It’s… fine. It’s all fine.

  3. So. I entered the state fair this year. Haven’t since 2018 because in 2020 it was canceled and in 2019 I was cruising…remember that? Travel? Seeing new places, meeting folks from around the world? Good stuff. Anyway. The most surprising part of the state fair? Not as many entries as usual!!! Whaaat? So while I knitted (a LOT!!) to stay sane, what technique did all those other folks use????

    • Our county fair nixed the midway and was a small “AG” kind of gig this year and so we wore masks and went and it was lovely. I expected that the barn where they house all the ribbon winners would be overflowing this year; people canning and knit goods and whatnot. Same thing here, very little on the enteries. In my defense, I couldn’t knit much during the height of COVID. Or read. Or do anything that required me to focus. So mindless TV it was. I just got back to knitting and reading early this spring (reading) and this summer (knitting). It’s how I know my anxiety is getting under control. It was never that bad – that I couldn’t knit or read. Ever. So I’m wondering if I wasn’t the only one.

      • Hello JustPlainBeth. You were not the only one. My focus was and still is shot. I am carrying on but the mental toll of a global pandemic/lockdown has left me feeling like a poor employee, lazy reader, lapsed knitter, and generally scatter-brained human. The upside is that I have become a MUCH more communicative daughter/sister/friend. Those relationships were a lifeline. I’ll bet you’re better at something too.

  4. I have before now taken two different sets of knitting up to bed with me (thinking all the while “Stephanie would understand”) but yarn by the stove? That’s just asking for a tragic curry-related accident, at least in my house. And while there are some colourways that can carry off a certain turmerickitude with panache, that doesn’t look like one of them.

    Beautifully artistic photo, though. Perhaps some part of you wants to create a gorgeous coffee-table book of yarns photographed in unexpected places?

  5. So, if it helps any, going through and finishing a lot of things will leave you with holiday presents (potentially). It is *much* easier to finish all the things in time when you’re not starting from scratch – you’re *gasp* cheating and gifting something that started out with a different intention. So there’s that.

    I adore the color of the yarn in last photo in the post. What is it?

  6. Well Steph you’ve just made me feel a whole lot better, I like to leave balls of yarn out where I can see them, it’s like knitting prep and sometimes they stay there a lot longer than 3 weeks xxxx it really makes me feel happy to pass them in their odd locations although I’ve not yet left one by the stove x

  7. I think it’s at least partly the seasonal shift. I keep looking at my stash and queue and thinking “oh, I’ll probably knit that next, thanks” and pull out yarn for projects that will be useful soon. I think there may be ten projects that are “next”.
    As for the stove skein…while I do like to knit a couple of rows in between stirring dinner, it generally helps if the yarn is wound and perhaps also cast on.

  8. The yarn is by the stove to remind you to knit some potholders or hotpads. Similarly, the yarn on the dining room table is meant to be a table runner or placemats. The yarn in the bathroom? Hand towels. The yarn in the garage? Seat covers for the car. The yarn on the chandelier? Your guess is as good as mine…

  9. The yarn by the stove is there for the next time you don’t know what to make for dinner, so that you can knit and ponder without leaving the room.

    I tend to gather yarn on my desk (so it can keep me company while I work?) And next to me in the sofa (so I don’t forget about it maybe?) But it’s all really a “this is where I feel stressed and so I am surrounding myself with soft squishy things.

  10. I am AGHAST at the yarn next to the stove! Not because of the housekeeping element, but because in my house that yarn would be splattered with at least three different things by now!

    “These are extraordinary times and I have been as kind to myself as I need to be”–beautifully put and a fabulous reminder to us all. As always!

  11. This is a great line – “using yarn to mitigate the emotional effects of personal and global tragedy”.
    Yes it is important to take care of oneself these days!
    Looking forward to seeing your new knitting projects.

  12. A good case of startitis just makes me laugh! It can hit so hard! It’s the endorphin rush of all that endless possibility!

  13. Funny but I didn’t see you when you were here going through my stash and planning fall projects that were quickly moved down the list when the new yarns and books began to arrive. I guess I wasn’t in my craft room when you sat at my laptop and placed a few orders for yarns that must be had. I do see the new pile of project bags you’ve stacked up, ready for the startitis relay! Thanks for the sneak visit…we’re going to have such fun!!

  14. Perfect timing, I just realized that I put eight different yarns out because I was going to swatch them “today”. While also finishing a sock, a kid’s sweater (and washing and blocking it), and knitting on a sweater in fingering weight for me. Sure, yeah, seems legit.

    Can’t wait to see what your startitis brings on.

  15. Yarn is one of the best decorations ever because it’s both soothing and inspires creativity. I say put the yarn in a bread basket near the stove and every time you cook you get an eyeful of the sheer joy its colors. I’m done and I’ll go quietly.

  16. So happy to see all the yarn out, even for just a moment. It means more lovely knitting pictures and life stories.
    Knit on – or Cast On!
    You make the call!

  17. Hmm, it seems that the famous spreadsheet has been put in the dustbin! (I won’t mention that the big winter holiday is just a bit more than 3 months away . . . or will I?) Instead, you’re knitting with abandon, or at least thinking about it. I guess September isn’t really the “get it together” month after all but, then, none of the past 18 months have been as they used to be.

  18. I dug out and finished a lot of UFO shawls and blankets in the recent cold winter. Then I draped them all over my couch and chairs, to um air.. and look cozy.. and remind me I do finish things sometimes.

    The footstool and coffee table covered with balls of yarn is .. er.. colour theory homework, that’s it.

  19. I’m missing an obvious decorating opportunity! I’ve confined all of my projects to my loveseat during the pandemic. There’s been no shortage of casting on…. At one point I had 10 projects crammed on to the loveseat, and all were either sweaters or large shawls. And there were a similar number of sewing projects piled up in the sewing room! So much for being monogamous!

  20. Love that you are back! I tossed my stash, last week and found so many WIP that I was shocked! I then started an entirely new shawl and am very happy!

  21. Knitting has kept me sane (or sane-ish) during this pandemic. Last year, I knit four blankets. (I’d never knit a blanket before.) This year, I’ve knit three vests and five sweaters. I’m midway through my sixth sweater. (I hadn’t finished a sweater in twenty years.) It seems to be what my soul requires, so I’m going with it.

    • You must know my daughter. She says, with some justice, that I don’t finish projects, I just buy more needles. Do you think she’s talking about the second set of KP double points, or the garage sale bundle of double points? Either way, I’m set for the zombie apocolipse. When it comes, you’ll be happy to know me.

  22. Oh,dear, many many disasters might require you to have a skein of yarn and needles by the stove! Last year it went out to the laundry room attached to the carport. And then I became trapped there by an angry ratttle snake when I tried to get out the door. I did nothing have my cellphone (stupidly of me), so could not call 911 for animal control. I sssssoooooo wished that I had some knitting sitting on the washer!! True story.

    • We don’t have rattle snakes in Devon UK, but I read this and thought ‘I better put a skein and some needles in the garden shed’ … just in case, you know!

  23. Over the years, I’ve managed to corral my knitting and yarn into a few spaces and keep it there. The problem is when I get Startitis and wind up attempting to outgrow my space. It’s perfectly fine for up to about 17 projects, as long as only one of them are for my spinning wheel and another for my inkle loom (but, really, you can’t really have more than one project on those at a time anyway). With school starting, there’s this…..need to organize and clean and, basically, do what you’re doing. I’ve been feeling that urge myself and my yarn closet is a hot mess right now. I need to get in there. My project corner is also a hot mess right now. I need to get in there. Maybe next week. Or this week. Whenever. I’ve got time.

  24. Aarghhh…all I want to do is knit. Yet here I am, either in the garden, the yard, the kitchen or the combine…that’s where I am right now. Waiting for the cart to get here so I can unload.

    I have a sock with me but so far I haven’t even had time to pull it out of its ziplock. Listening to all of you makes me wish I was a town girl!

  25. Someone may have already said this (I’m a little too preoccupied to read 46 comments!) but leaving yarn close to the stove is playing with fire. What if something splashes on it and ruins the yarn?! Yikes.

    Yarn all around is artwork. It needs to surround us. You are doing it right but I agree, if it has to be moved all the time to make room for, say, dinner, then yeah, maybe you need to eat elsewhere. Ha!

  26. I’d love to know the yarn brand and colorway for the last picture. The blue, green, and brown colors remind me of Earth.

    I have been good about not buying much yarn and knitting mostly from stash the last few years, but that’s because my knitting has dramatically slowed from what it was a few years ago. I can’t justify continuing to buy yarn if I’m not knitting it. I mostly make accessories and my stash is mostly sock yarn, but I’ve been using the yarn doubled when I’m knitting a pattern that calls for DK weight. Because as much as I love sock yarn, I don’t need that many pairs of knitted socks.

  27. Ah…Startitis! It hit me big time last week as there was a distinct drop in temps out here on the Alberta prairie. I thought, “Sweater Weather” is coming. Now, I knit mostly socks and shawls, but a while back (don’t ask how long) I bought 2 sweaters’ worth of heathered worsted weight wool, with patterns in mind. So last week I “went in” too — well, “down” is more like it. Jump into the Startitis Rabbit Hole with me, eh? It’s cozy… 😉

  28. The yarn by the stove is obviously a 100% wool skein there to serve as a flame-retardant aid in case of a very small, skein-sized fire. Safety first!!!

  29. What’s wrong with the yarn by the stove? That’s the one that makes the most sense to me! All those watching the water boil moments, those pototoes need 5 more minutes ones, those let’s make sure the eggplants is really cooked through… Why you could have something knitted up in no time. As long as you wipe your hands abit before you pick it up

  30. Yep. Same here. Casting on, starting a spinning project, grabbing another spindle, pattern surfing, oh,, now seems like a great time to learn to use a borrowed 4 shaft loom….. whatever I feel like doing (that’s not illegal or dangerous). Too much crap going on in the world to censor fiber projects. Trying to maintain sanity & stay distracted from said crap are my priorities too.

  31. I’m sure others have said this but as I was reading this I realized that, because of the podcast, I was hearing you say it in my head. Very pleasant surprise.

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