Years ago I heard someone say that they had to do something about their home because it was suffering from Chaos. That sounded about right to me, but it really resonated when they said it was actually CHAOS,  an acronym for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.

That’s where my house is today. In any contest between people and things, I come down on the side of people every time, and so over the last few months the limited time and energy I’ve had has gone to supporting people – and I’ve given the house a lick and a promise so many times that you’d be an idiot to actually lick any part of it. I spent yesterday at my desk, catching up on a million things that were burning my work life to the ground, and today I’m trying to find the house, one room at a time. Part of that is the knitting that’s piled up around here in really weird little piles of hopes and dreams. Some finished, some unfinished, some knitting that needs fixing, some knitting that’s just yarn, there’s even a nest of circular needles arranged atop the piano like I’m the strangest of all possible birds.

Do you know that thing, where you’re going to go over to someone’s house  and they say  “Oh my goodness” (or something like that) “I suppose it’s ok to come, but I’m warning you, the house is trashed” and you get there, and their house looks better than your house does when you’ve just cleaned it top to bottom – you know that thing?  This is not that thing. This is actual disaster. Dust bison roaming the living room, if they could roam around the stuff I’ve placed in their way.  There is even a dresser that came from Amanda’s house to mine four weeks ago, standing with the drawers out and stacked by the chesterfield, right in the middle of the living room. (Well, it’s sort of off to the side, obstructing access to what used to be the dining room, before I started keeping yarn, mail, camping crap and laundry in it.  People, we are talking trashed. We are not talking about a failure to dust here. There is some heavy lifting here before I could get down to dust and be left with just that, so today I’m working to get it down to a level where I can consider opening the door instead of just burning the thing to the ground and moving into a tent in the park. (Note to self: move tent from dining room before burning house down.)

Still, atop all of that there float a few finished objects, mostly simple things that I’ve completed over the last few weeks when my brain was mush and my time limited. First up – I finished my Peace of Wild Things shawl.  This was my “just before the rally” knitting, a simple chart, big needles, worked a few rows here and there and still finished anyway.  (It was a fast one.)

The pattern’s linked above, and the yarn was a single ball of Berrroco Ultra Wool Fine – it’s a good yarn, cheap and cheerful, only $12 a ball at WEBS (though my ball was swag from Berroco, sent to be a treat at a retreat.)  It took almost the whole ball, with maybe 20 metres left at the end, but that’s an economical knit anyway you want to slice it.

Even with the pattern, that’s a completely reasonable Christmas gift, as long as you don’t add in the time – and I don’t.  I put knitting in my entertainment budget, so if you figure that took maybe 10 hours? (Maybe a bit more, I didn’t count.) It’s …. about $2 an hour of entertainment, with the pattern.  You can’t beat that – and into the Long Range Planning box it went.

Next up – I was casting about the house for something simple, but entertaining that I could putter away at without really needing a brain or to keep good track of a pattern, and I remembered that I had the pattern and yarn for Goldstream in the stash. I was a member of the Gauge Dye Works club a few years ago (am now, too, for the record) and this fetching little number arrived in the mail, and I was enchanted from the get-go.

It’s a neat concept, the club – yarn dyed specifically to go with patterns – they work together, and I loved the idea here- you knit back and forth in garter stitch, following the rules for a half-pi shawl, but every time you get to a bit of yellow, you make a little short row leaf. That’s it.  They show up randomly.  This, my friends, hit my brain in the exact same place as a self striping yarn does.

I was enchanted entirely – and enticed to knit a little bit further each time just to get to another hit of yellow. The yarn’s Gauge Dye Works MCN (Merino, cashmere, nylon) so a little hit of soft and cozy didn’t hurt either.  I trucked this around everywhere – finally finishing up at the cottage.  (I was knitting it while Elliot played at digging – it might have gotten a little involved, but cleaned up fine.)

Another lovely thing, and off it goes to the Long Range Planning box as well.

Pattern: Goldstream, by Andrea Rangel, Yarn: Gauge Dye Works MCN, Goldstream. As an aside, if you click on that yarn link, you will see that for once, even though it has been two years since that yarn landed at my house, it is inexplicably and suddenly available anyway. (It is either a miraculous co-incidence, or the Catherine or Andrea spotted it on my instagram. Amazing, either way.)

We won’t discuss the state of my August Self-Imposed Sock Club Socks, they’re not done, but almost. Can I distract you with a question?

How, I ask you – how, is it possible that after this long photographing knits and posing them all over the yard, and local parks, trying a million ways to figure out how to stretch a shawl out entire to show it off,  how is it possible that it only just now occurred to me to use the clothes line?  I’m putting everything there from now on.

(PS. Two days in a row!)

71 thoughts on “Chaos

  1. commendable….that two days in a row business. I have to ask the ‘blog’ because I’m stymied about something. I love seeing your finished shawls, and love the idea of knitting one because it seems very satisfying and stress-free….. but who wears them? I’m really not wanting to offend, but is that a thing? Am I the only one that doesn’t? Because I don’t know anyone, family or friends, that ever reaches for a shawl. So I don’t feel it would make sense to knit one. I did knit one once, to be honest, and gifted it. It was never seen again. So y’all, do you wear shawls?

    • I used to love to make shawls but not love to wear them until one chilly morning I decided to wear one to WEBs . What better place, right? It was chilly, but might not be in a couple of hours when we would arrive. It was still a bit chilly so I wore it inside and when another customer asked me if I made it, she commented she loved to knit shawls but never wore them but now she was going to. Since then I have worn them more often and discovered their usefulness in the car (easy on and off without struggling with the seat belt), in a restaurant (less likely to punch in the face the person seated next to me), walking on the beach (easy to tie around my waist when it gets warmer)…the functionality goes on and on. I am a convert.

      • I knit and wear shawls all the time, unless it’s over 80 degrees F [yes we’re still on F in Michigan]. I have light ones for summer evenings, warm ones for spring and fall, and super big cuddly ones for cold winter evenings. Love shawls.

        • Reply to myself! I prefer Faeroe style shawls as they stay on my shoulders, and “old faithful” has I-cord strings at each corner so I can tie it behind my back and not dump in in the loo when I’m cleaning the bathroom.

    • I hear you – shawls are beautiful and fun to knit but they end up either looking like a rag or a blanket on me!! Call me “shawl challenged!”

    • I don’t wear the big lacy ones, but have knit a lot of asymmetrical ones and if you treat them like a wraparound scarf, they’re wonderful in cool weather or AC. And easy to take on and off…

    • Yes, I wear shawls for all the usual reasons: extra warmth, pretty accessory, etc. Now I have a new one: there are no short-sleeved maxi dresses any more. I love maxi dresses in the summer, but I don’t like sleeveless. So now I need light shawls to wear with sleeveless maxi dresses.

    • They are really great for car trips, and if you are like me and have an astonishingly poor internal thermostat, they’re nice because you can mess with them to improve airflow and they’re less fussy to take on and off than a jacket or sweater. I also have a couple of large ones which I wear on days when I feel like wearing a blanket but need to look like a functional human at work.

    • If I call it a shawl, no. But I constantly wear wraps, cowls, and scarves. Brilliant for working in schools, large buildings or anywhere with inconsistent HVAC. But I never wear them like a ‘shawl’…

    • I wear them if I can use them sort of like a cowl or fixed scarf. If you look at the pattern picture for the garter stitch shawl, the model is wearing it around her neck with the ends tucked in and it looks great.

    • Like others, I tend to wear shawls as a scarf more than a shawl that goes around the shoulders. The shapes that work best for this (IMO) are crescent, asymmetrical, skinny long triangle, and rectangle (which could be considered more of a stole than a shawl). Cowlettes are fun too. It’s a like a shawl that is a cowl so you get the best of both worlds. I’ve knit a few circle and half circle shawls and I never wear those.

    • I love to knit ‘small shawls’ and wear them like scarves. When I hit the ‘hot flash’ stage I REALLY fell in love, because they were so easy to whip off when a hot flash hit, and were all I needed to keep me warm enough the rest of the time. Amazing how a little wool around the neck keeps you warm!

    • I wear/use them all the time- house, car, bed. Any place where my back and neck get chilly– BUT- I am probably way older than you

    • I wear them all the time. They dress up simple outfits while allowing me to customize the warmth factor. I can even throw one across my knees as a small blanket in a cold office. Or when I don’t want to close the window. They double as scarves in the winter under my coats. I find like many things, practice helps. Overtime I have learned how to wear different shapes on my body.

    • I’m not much for the lacy ones, but the curved, garter stitch shawl that is Color Affection is my go-to scarf in winter. It is gloriously warm, soft and squishy, looks good near my face and against my coat, and can do for a hat/face wrap/whatever when it is Polar Vortex time and I’ve got a train to catch. Or just look like a pretty scarf when it’s only regular-cold.

      • thanks everyone! Good ideas. Part of my problem is that as much as I love scarves, I can’t wear them because I get a brutal headache every time. Just that bit of pressure on my neck. But I like some of your other ideas!

    • I have knit 2. One simple triangular shawl when I was first knitting and had already knit like a half dozen scarves and wanted to learn something new and one gorgeous (if I say so myself) large black lace rectangular “fancy” shawl. I don’t really wear either one regularly. Around the house or running out and about, the ends tend to get in the way (plus, the black one is a huge wrap, so not great if you need your hands much). But for going to the theatre (whether live or movie) or somewhere nice where it might be a bit cold, something around your shoulders is great. So I’d say, think hard about if you really would wear one and then be very choosy which one you make.

  2. Sometimes the obvious is the hardest to see! I experienced this for myself this week.

    I have to have that shawl and yarn – love the leaves.

  3. You need to get a cleaner! My boss actually gave me a great explanation for justifying it. Nowadays, most couples both work FT, and most scramble and spend the weekend cleaning. My father told me I was being lazy, but I told him that I didn’t have a wife to do it all, like he did….

    Anyways, if you spend 8 hours a week cleaning (which is insane, I have never spent that much time cleaning) and then multiple that by what your average salary is, you get what your cost would be for cleaning – Let’s say 8 hours x $20=$160. Maybe instead you hire a cleaner, who charges $75/cleaning. Doing this, you’ve freed up your time (to work more, or perhaps to have a better quality of life), you’ve hired someone and helped them too! You’ve gained back so much time, and removed so much weight hanging over your head. I loathe cleaning. I get so much joy out of coming home on cleaning day! It keeps me sane. You should really consider it.

    • I got my first ever cleaner this year (I’m 65) and I should have done it a long time ago. It’s so freeing not to have to do something you hate! And not only is it worth the cost to me, but I’m helping someone else to have a job. Win-win

      • A someone who generally lives in CHAOS and who is frequently recommended they get a cleaner .. the problem is the mess not the dirt. Once you’ve got a handle on the mess, cleaning is the easy bit!

        I’ve been sacked by cleaners because they can’t get at the house to clean it.

        This month is different. My house is on the market and there is tidiness everywhere (except the cupboards) it takes about half and hour to “clean” it in this condition. How to make this the new me?!

        • Look into Dana K. White’s books. One is called How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind and the other is Decluttering at the Speed of Life. Don’t worry, this isn’t KonMari (whom I actually love but is generally not a good fit for lovers of abundance). Dana lets you keep your things while helping you figure out how to keep the wheels on the bus.

          As an added bonus, she has the ONLY approach to decluttering/tidying I have ever seen that 1) doesn’t have a “worse before it gets better” stage, which therefore 2) allows for life to interrupt without making things worse than before you started.

        • Also check out on in line The Fly Lady. She is the popularizer of the definition of CHAOS Stephanie gave above, which was actually coined by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, the SIdetracked Home Executives.

          • Thanks, I will do, but wanted to say I LOVE the Dana K White approach (basically, but amusingly: stop making excuses and just do the washing up). So far so pretty good!

  4. Happy to see your beautiful knitting! Both shawls are gorgeous. I second the getting someone in to clean. I did for a while. She came every other week, just to dust and vacuum. I do the kitchen and bathroom daily. We have dogs, and one husband. It was lovely for a while to have that done. I wish I could again! 🙂 Maybe…

  5. Even when your life is on fire because you are literally saving lives, you accomplish far more knitting than me. I’m going to just admire you for it. (And since I haven’t actually done any knitting in weeks because one WIP is a sock, when I have realized I don’t like knitting socks, and the other is a sweater I messed up and have to take some time to calmly fix…)

  6. Haha. My house is also a CHAOS because a beloved cat is dying. Test results are crappy, but we haven’t told him because he looks so chipper and is a sweet lovable thing. Vacuuming depends on where he is and if he can tolerate sound. Well that is a good excuse. I am sleeping in my office at night to be near him and during the day all the bedding is dumped on a chair in the living room so I can try and work. Thank goodness there is knitting.

  7. That “simple chart”, “brain was mush” blue shawl looks absolutely exquisite to me.
    I tend to stumble at anything more complicated than (YO, K2tog) even when my brain is in what passes for Full Working Order. As per your advice, I stay well away from anything marked “heirloom”!

    Yours is definitely not the only house with CHAOS (stepping over piles of random stuff to get to the fridge? guilty as charged), although being in NZ I have dust moa rather than dust bison.
    Have you considered one of those signs which says “here to see us? come any time! here to see the house? MAKE AN APPOINTMENT.”

  8. I’m so glad you are back. What you did the Rally was amazing and impressive and I know they needed you. But you came back just in time to brighten Sept which is off to a rough start. Thank you!

  9. I love them both in such different ways!

    Good luck unearthing your house. If you’ve got any strategies, let us know will you? For… a friend… yesss… a friend…

  10. Blog entries on two days in a row! Will wonders never cease?

    Seriously: The shawls are lovely. Glad you found a new use for that rope in the backyard. Get a leaf blower to herd the dust bison out the door. As for the August socks, well … the September socks will just have to be Elliot’s size!

  11. CHAOS – I love that. Definitely applies at mine right now. Stuff piled up to allow window fitters access.
    Then, it needs “re-piling” to allow different access for the re-wiring.
    Am sat in the front room surrounded by stuff.
    Feel like Robinson Crusoe .
    But I have spinning and knitting. ❤️

    • “Re-piling” is a fabulous concept, which I shall be using as I try and work through stuff in the cupboards (hidden from people viewing the rest of the house to buy it!).

      Thank you!

  12. Ooh, love the second shawl….and Helen, the designer, is Australian! I’m off to buy the pattern…support local small businesses that you want to keep, I say.

  13. I hope the house pick-up will go well and perhaps you’ll discover some fun things along the way!
    Thanks for the posts! We’ve missed you.

  14. Those shawls may make me rethink the fact that I never knit/wear shawls!

    Easiest – and most fun – way to clear up clutter and a messy house? Good friends! I’m moving, so a friend came over and helped me go through all the piles of things (and my closet). Good points – everything got cleaned, I spent quality time with a great friend, and lots of donations to Green Drop and items for a yard sale. Bad points? I now need to go shopping – she vetoed most of the clothes in my closet!

  15. Beautiful shawls. I love to knit shawls and I’m learning to wear them more often – both for warmth and as an accessory. I was a ‘scarf as an accessory’ gal long ago so it should work for me. BTW the yarn from Gauge Dye Works is no longer available in any color – the power of the Yarn Harlot!! I can wait til they have more 😉 . But I’m going to stash dive for the first one – It’s a lovely shawl and I have many single skeins that are looking for a one skein shawl project!!

  16. Yep. I tidy and the dirt is revealed. I clean and the shabby manifests. But you said chesterfield. Bless you, every time we’re in Canada my husband hopes for someone to say chesterfield and they never do. We’re stopping by next time.

  17. I love that blue shawl. Thanks for the links. It’s the kind of basic that would get worn all of the time. I am also struggling with some messiness in my home. I need to put two or three hours a day into organizing and cleaning. I tend to avoid the paperwork, and it’s piling up quickly. I always enjoy your posts…

  18. Brilliant idea! Except I don’t have a clothes line… Maybe I need one! So nice to have a blog post 2 days in a row as well!! Good luck with CHAOS!

  19. Shawls haven’t appealed much to me historically, but the Goldstream one is spectacular–thanks for bringing it to my attention (I just bought both pattern and yarn!).

    Thanks for your recent posts. This feels a silly understatement of appreciation for your beautiful articulation of some big, important points and experiences…but my 18mo is tugging at my leg, and my older kids are hungrily awaiting dinner…so understatement is what I’ve got at the moment.

  20. You know that thing where or when an experienced knitter says “it was a quick and easy knit” and you look at it or buy the book, before you wise up and you say, oh yeah this is a lot like when people say their house is trashed and when you see it you say no come to my house for a lesson in trashed?” Beautiful knitting, though. Even more beautiful grandson.

  21. The reason you have a friend help with the de clutter? they have no emotional connection with the stuff.
    A robot vacuum cleaner did more for removing my dust bison colony than anything else. It scuttles about sweeping things into its maw and beeping sadly when it gets lost under the couch. My floors have never looked so good. Even when my main floor is hosting two sound systems stacked in traveling containers, the robot cleans up a huge part of the mess. The best part of this is that for the most part, it needs no supervision past removing work gloves and bags of hardware from its maw, and emptying its container when it asks.

  22. Thanks for updating us and glad you are back! Love shawls — they double as scarves and add variety to the long cold season in MN.

  23. I’m so happy you’re back! I certainly understood the reasons that were keeping you so occupied and as usual I am totally in awe of all the good you do through the Bike Rally.

  24. So lovely that you were able to have family time at the cabin post-Rally! Though it’s behind you now, are there more Karmic Balancing gifts to come, or have you wrapped up for this year? I don’t know how many gifts are offered up each year and if you’re able to get to them all, but mine are still very much on the table if you’re still doing drawings =)

  25. I love love love this goldstream shawl. The leaves make it so interesting, while at the same time they make my logical mind a bit uncomforyable, the way the garter swirls around them instead of in lovely curved lines. But then I realize the garter stitch flows around the leaves like a river flows around rocks and I’m in love! Brilliant idea, whoever designed that yarn and pattern. Wow! And beautifully knit by you of course

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