Saturday, April 08, 2006

And why DO I knit?

I learned to knit about 50 years ago, when children still rode the bus home from school and most mothers stayed home. I learned from Mark Cameron's mother, Beverly. Other teachers were Carrie Lunstead's mom, Jenny and several of my 4-H leaders, who also, patiently, taught me how to cook and sew. It was a different world back then. Girls fully expected to work for a few years and then stay home, raising their children, filling the hours with canning, knitting, sewing, gardening...a life much like my mother's, only easier.

Reality is that I work at a demanding job, drive 20 hours a week to get there and back. In my spare time,I keep the books for three businesses, so I'm on duty somewhere between 60 and 80 hours a week. The little time I do have, I like to use in a way that enriches my life; that somehow makes all those minutes count. I am process oriented more than project oriented (that means I like the doing part!)

I'm not a giant yarn pig; I have probably enough yarn to make perhaps five baby sweaters with matching blankets. I tell myself that I have this yarn on hand so I can whip up a gift for one of my daughter's many friends who will, in the next five years, start their families. When my children were little, I always had something on my needles because they always needed something..little mittens, little sweaters, little socks to replace the ones the washer ate.

Here is my list of ongoing, in-process projects, in no particular order: a cashmere Aran cardigan,story blue, for Darling, my husband and a soft garnet red ballet style sweater for my daughter.

The cardigan is just the teeniest bit too hard for me, but, ever the optimist, I believe that I can conquer the pattern, with it's intricate cables and twists and yarn overs. It's for my husband, after all. It needs a sturdy pocket or two, since we are a family of hands-in-the-pockets.

The ballet sweater has it's own challanges; my daughter is willowy and tall, so it has to be long enough to come to her hip bone, plus she has a long torso, so it had to be made longer in the body and she is also long from the armseye to her shoulder-another alteration. Her arms are long also, so the sleeves had to be made both longer, slimmer and the cap had to be altered as well.

I try to have only two projects going on at a time, so I have a chance of finsihing one of them or at least making signifigant progress on it if given enough idle time in the car. I learned my lesson when I bought lucious sunset red chenille for an afgan for my mother in law. It took TWO YEARS to finish..and it was a simple basket weave...and the casue of a huge fight with my husband, complete with me flinging the whole thing on the floor and snapping "I'll finish the effing thing before we get there!" on the eve of a two week road trip thru Canada and then down the intermountain west to Arizona. One of the things I pride myself on is NOT swearing at my husband and not swearing about a gift I am making...bad karma.

I'm not a true yarn harlot, someone midway through one project who gets seduced by that cute little ball of yarn and abandons the first project in order to start a second, or a third, or a seventeenth. I lust and covet. I like to cruise the internet, looking at patterns and yarns with no thought as to budget or time constraints. I have, roughly, about 500 years of projects bookmarked with such optimistic titles as "I love this!" or "WOW! Raspberry!" I truly believe that one day, I'll be able to start finish and wear a sweater every 20 days.

So why do I behave like this? I make lists of DVDs, whenever I read about one that strikes my fancy. I have several books going on a downstairs by the TV, one in the car, one in each bathroom, one by the bed at home and one by the bed at the beach house...and I can keep them all straight in my head AND I have a reasonable expectation of finishing them all.

I am a perfectly normal, rational human being.

I justify my lust toward the idea of multiple projects several ways. First, there’s the boredom factor. No matter how excited I am about a new project, somewhere around the first sleeve I find that I can no longer stand the stitch pattern, and I desperately need to take a break. OR maybe the pattern requires too much attention to detail. Or consider socks: one week I am totally fed up with that tedious round and around and around on tiny needles, but two weeks later I’m seriously jonesing for a pair. Perhaps it reflects a limited attention span, or, on a more positive note, a need for variety.

I would never dream of being unfaithful to my husband. But remember how great it felt to fall in love? You can experience that same feeling, guilt free, with yarn.
I don't have a real local yarn shop...just Michaels. So I troll the internet for lovely colors and scrumptious detail. Nowhere is the copy writer more masterful than when descibing yarns. And then, all of a sudden, one of those yarns will call out to me, or a pattern will suddenly appear bewitchingly out of nowhere. Perhaps I’ll notice the arrangement of certain colors on the page. Then a stitch will suggest itself, or an image of the completed project and in my brain, I can see me competently working with and on it, complacently knitting away.

There are far more detrimental things on which I could be spending my time and money: I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, I’m not a compulsive shopper, I don’t engage in risky behavior on the Internet. No, knitting is my martini at night, my drug of choice.

And sooner or later, I do actually finish each project; some may take a few weeks, others a couple of years, but they do get finished, all the gifts get given. And I cast on and count, I think of all my loved ones that at any given moment are being surrounded and cuddled by stitches of my own making.

And that is why I knit.


Paulie said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed yur blog tonight. You had me laughing and crying at the same time! I used to have the same problem when I was earnestly doing counted cross stitch projects. I now wish I had done some of them for ME!

When I am not at my computer, I think of several things to write about on my blog. Then I get home and forget what I wanted to write about. Maybe its heimers???? If it comes to me in the middle of the nght, I wll sign on and blog away! lol More than likely I will have nightmares as I owe so much for social security that my school did not pay and I have to now. sigh Probably no blog for me tonight again.


Paulie said...

I can spell your. . . really!

Novel said...

Wonderful writing! I love knitting too....and the way we knit probably DOES say a lot about us. You are definitely someone who likes a challenge and variety. That is reflected in the way you post on TNet (just as enjoyable to read there too). I like to complete a garment, down to the sewing in of the ends before I even contemplate another project. Don't want to guess what that means...would be too sad...:o)