Knitter-versary

I learned to knit in August of 2007 to have something more to do while I was recovering from my unexpected laparotomy. It was unexpected because I’d been scheduled for an exploratory laparoscopic surgery to confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis. I was told I’d be out two or maybe three days if they happened to find endometriosis. I had so much endometriosis that they had to open me up to burn it out.

Surprise!

My two or maybe three days turned into six weeks of recovery and my single crochet project to pass the time turned into learning to knit to keep from turning into a total TV junkie.

Ten years later, I’m staring down the barrel of a total hysterectomy. I’m more than a little afraid of the whole idea of it, but we’ve hit the end of the line with what we can do with trying to treat my fibroids. I’m lining up ideas to work on while I’m recovering, playing yarn, and trying not to worry too much about things beyond my control.

I’m trying to keep to easy, repetitive projects that I won’t mess up in the early stages of recovery. I’ve got about two weeks to finalize my plans and get everything ready. I’m not sure that’s enough time to narrow down my projects.

Updated: The sweater list

As I’ve been cleaning out the sweater queue, I’ve started putting together the sweater list: things that I absolutely want to wear and thus find worthy to make. As I’ve been putting together this list, I’m following a few rules:

  1. The pattern must be one already in my collection, custom-fit (since I have the subscription) or available for free. I’m watching my budget and I have the blessing of an extensive library of things to knit.
  2. The yarn must be something already in my stash. This is in part because I’m watching my budget, but it’s also because I have lots of great yarn just waiting to be sweaters. I’m worthy of using it now.
  3. It must be a realistic style for me to wear. This is both a style and a weight of the sweater issue. If it’s not my thing, I won’t wear it. If it’s too heavy and I could only wear it as a coat, I won’t wear it, either.

It’s proving more difficult than I originally thought it would be. I’m doing a great deal of searching through both my stash on Ravelry and my Ravelry library. So far it’s not going well, at least from the “something to blog about” standpoint. I have a lot of “I didn’t understand my most usual colors” and a lot of “that’s a cool pattern, but not practical/flattering/reasonable to think I’ll actually make” to sort through.

It leaves me with a lot of questions about what I’m going to do with this yarn if I’m not going to make a sweater with it, too. I need to get serious about figuring out that problem, too. Some of the yarn I have, I still want to make other things with. Some of it, however, would be put to better use sold to another knitter/crocheter or potentially donated to somewhere that could do some good.

Some of the yarn I have, I still want to make other things with. Some of it, however, would be put to better use sold to another knitter/crocheter. Some other skeins I have would be better donated to somewhere that could do some good and I have a venue in mind for that.

I’ve been questioning my lists a lot lately. I keep looking at the time available after I leave the Day Job all the things I have on my lists. This blog. The knitting. The stack of books on my nightstand. The Craftsy classes I own and haven’t taken. The gym I’m not going to enough. The story writing that goes in fits and starts at best. Each of them silently judging me because I have so much on my plate and so little progress on any of them, especially the gym and the story writing.

I’m just wondering, is doing it all unrealistic for me at this stage in my life? Do I need to let go of a few things? Or do I just need better priorities and more efficient use of my time?

I can’t listen to an audio book when I’m at The Day Job due to the nature of my work. There are too many interruptions. What if I go to the gym and walk on the track and listen to a book on Audible, will that let me do more?

Should I knit and watch TV when I get home from The Day Job to unpack my brain after a long day?

Do I give up the blogging time and trade it for time directly on my novel? Is this even worth doing? If it is, do my general ramblings make the most entertaining reading or should I put a timer on my blog time and use a writing prompt related to what I’m trying to write about in my stories to help prime the pump?

Idea Log: Norwegian Star

Fueled by my relative success at wardrobe curating, I’ve started cleaning out my Ravelry queue of things that I will never make, either because they don’t fit my style (Classic with a Twist) or they just aren’t practical. That practicality thing is killing me.

It absolutely pains me to throw  Winter Traveller Sweater by Julie Farwell-Clay, but I will never wear it. That enormous graphic Norwegian star speaks to me. I love the graphic quality of the huge star dominating the background. I want this sweater in my life, but it’s just not practical for me, even in Iowa. I find I’m too warm in pullovers on all but the coldest of days.

A big plain Norwegian Star motif, very much like this one I found on Gripping Yarns.

Cardigans are the best way to go for me. I can unbutton or unzip them as needed when I get too warm. I can button them up when I’m cold. A nice cardigan is what I need. Maybe something with a zipper, so I can minimize interrupting the motif and just let it flow across the field of the sweater. More thought is needed.

Great minds don’t really think alike

I’ve thinking about my Baroque Violet Hanten and how to steal a few more hours in the day to work on it and get it finished. Right after I started that, I was reading Fringe Association and Karen’s latest idea log, where she talks about her gorgeous indigo fabric and wanting to make a kimono jacket out of it. Then my Pinterest feed was brimming with Japanese inspired jackets and straight up traditional Japanese clothing. 

It stuck me how many times it seems like when you’ve got a new idea that idea seems to be cropping up all over the place at the same time, as if there’s some universal unconsciousness feeding everyone. That sensation is the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (aka: frequency illusion). Simply put, you’re seeing it everywhere because you’re more aware of whatever it is in the first place because it’s been on your mind.

Before I learned about it, whenever I had a creative idea that I was mulling, if I saw something like it anywhere else, I’d abandon the idea completely. I’d really beat myself up over it. What a stupid, ordinary idea it must be, I’d tell myself. It’s everywhere. It’s already been done to death.

But it hasn’t.

The thing is that while I might be thinking “Blue Japanese Inspired Jacket” and someone else is thinking “Blue Japanese Inspired Jacket” how I go from idea to execution will be completely my own.

The same is true with writing. You could give a room full of people a random, three word, writing prompt (bar, diver, lipstick), tell them to write about whatever comes to mind, and no two people in the room would write the same thing. You could give a more specific writing prompt like “Start with the first line ‘The snow is my business partner.'” and there would still be no two stories alike. 

Life is complex. Each of us brings our own unique experiences and worldview to the table. One person writing might be a gun-toting, vegan with a passion for live-tweeting Project: Runway and see through that lens. Another might be a trans-man, Christian, hoping to move to the Caribbean and start a dive charter business and see through that lens. 

Tapping into what’s unique in each of us is where the real originality in any creative effort lies.

Hanten Mantra

an older progress picture of my Hanten by Cheryl Oberle.

One of the hardest parts knitting for me is sustaining interest in projects. As a product knitter, I want the result of my knitting. Unless the knitting itself is engaging, I have difficulty maintaining my focus and dedication on the work until the end.

I want this sweater.

I know my Hanten will be a favorite once I finish it. I can already tell that I will reach for it again and again because I like its organic nature. I like its imperfections, and it’s simple shape.

I want this sweater.

It’s the right color. It fits my aesthetic. It fits my style, Classics with a Twist. In this case, two twists: It’s kimono – traditional Japanse clothing vs. a straight up western piece -, and it’s knit, which is not usual for this kind of piece at all. (I’m not sure that it’s actually a hanten in the strictest sense of the word, but it was inspired by the shape of the hanten, and that’s the name of the pattern, so that’s what I’m calling it.)

I want this sweater.

I just need to finish knitting this sweater, and that’s what’s proving problematic. My subversive instinct isn’t working in my favor for self-motivation. I need to kick it in on myself. I’m bucking “The Man” by finishing this sweater. Big Fashion doesn’t want me to succeed. They want me to give them money for a sweater that’s their vision, not mine. This is my sweater, my vision.

I want this sweater.

I just really kind of want it to knit itself and be magically finished already. Oh, for a pair of self-knitting needles, like Mrs. Weasley had in the Harry Potter books and movies! Now that would be an excellent gift.

Christmas Scarf Watch: 20161224 –  Completed

I made it. The scarf is now drying after it’s initial washing. No scarf IOUs will be needed this year.

The roommate documented the measurement for me. I ended up being slightly short on my count. It actually took a full six tomatoes (three hours) to complete the last of it. I’m unsure if the deviation was just that I slowed a bit as I went due to my hands hurting, or simply knit faster when I was timing myself to try to figure out much longer I would need to finish.

I felt so accomplished that I gave myself the rest of the evening off from knitting and watched the roommate play her new video game: The Division. The storyline of the video game is good because how could it not be good when it’s based on work by Tom Clancy.

I’m still just a little disappointed at the lack of zombies in the game. Thugs? Yes. Bioterrorists? Of course. Zombies? Completely missing. It’s so sad. I think it’s a tragically missed opportunity for zombie Knicks fans.

At least the game is educational. I’ve been learning lots about New York. The game maps are actually based on Google Maps for the city. I’ve even been to Virtual Madison Square garden, which makes me want to go visit the real thing.

The most important thing I’ve learned from the game so far, though, is that pretty much everyone has military grade weapons stashed around their apartments for you to find once they’ve been evacuated because of the Dollar Flu. I’m surprised that more New Yorkers aren’t just climbing up onto their rooftops and camping out in lawn chairs with their sniper rifles and machine guns and picking off passers-by for fun while they wait out the whole Bioterrorist plague thing.
I would have expected the roommate to do more sniping, like she’s done in Fallout and other games, but The Division doesn’t seem well set up for solo play and many of the scenarios seem to need to be seriously over-leveled in order to play them out alone. Because of that, there haven’t been as many opportunities for her to find a good spot to set up and head shot mobs.
I made the roommate (read: pestered the roommate to do it until she acquiesced) pick up her free holiday hat for her character. It’s a nifty red and white holiday themed fair isle stocking cap complete with Norwegian Star motif and Deer. It screams holiday cheer as she’s mowing down AI opponents with her AK-47, so at least there’s that.

It will take a miracle

Let’s not talk about how far behind I am on the scarf. I keep telling myself that I can make it, that I can finish it before Christmas Eve. In a fit of starry-eyed optimism, I even put a tomato on it before work this morning.

In my saner moments, I keep hearing this scene from the Princess Bride in my brain.

I want to succeed. I just don’t know that there’s quite enough time left between now and Christmas Eve, especially if I leave time for trivial finishing things like “blocking” and “weaving in ends” and “sleeping.”

Finishing and sleeping are overrated, right?

Enough stalling by writing. Back to knitting.

 

 

The days really ARE getting shorter

The Christmas Scarf rolled up around it’s cake, because I’m now desperate enough to try to transport it.

Scarf watch: length 49 inches of 78 inches. (does not include another four screwed up rows because I tried to knit in a room too dark for the yarn color).

Tendonitis report: Still an issue. Icing when I’m not actively knitting.

Tomatoes behind schedule: 1.5 (adding a half a tomato for the second round of knitting fail that I need to fix.)

Odds of finishing before Christmas: Not good.

Desperation level: High, bordering on all out panic.

Christmas Scarf Ribbing Mishap of 2016

Productive knitting is knitting that goes forward, not backward. See those four rows on the right hand side, near the tip of the needle that look like ribbing? That was not “productive” knitting. That was four rows of congressive knitting (congress being the opposite of progress.)

It’s knits and purls. How hard can it be? Apparently harder than I thought.

What. The. Hell. Fingers?

The Fingers would like to point out that this is not their fault. They’re not in charge. Ask Brain, they say. Brain is “the boss” and “in charge.”

Brain disavows all involvement in the incident. Brain was engaged in obtaining a status report from SCIENCE! about the long promised instantaneous caffeine delivery system. Brain says that fingers can take care of such trivial knitting as double seed stitch without constant supervision, and besides, the update from SCIENCE was full of important data.

Instantaneous caffeine delivery is still “under development” and will be available “soon.”

Toes suggested they could easily take over since Fingers obviously couldn’t handle a simple job, to which Fingers replied, “Shove it in your sock, shoe dweller.”

Rather than listen to such partisan ad hominid attacks, I ignored them and set about figuring out what my options were. Ultimately I had two choices: Frog back to the last good row and redo the last four rows correctly, or successively drop down each of the 10 stitches involved in the Christmas Scarf Ribbing Mishap of 2016 and fix them in situ.

Recalling the Great Sleeve Mishap of 2008, which lead to both an entire sweater walking the long green mile to the frog pond and my current lack of status as a “sweater knitter,” I decided to fix the stitches in place, even though I knew it was likely to take a whole tomato.

It actually took 20 minutes, so most of a tomato.

I think it looks pretty good. Now if I can just find a few more hours before Christmas that aren’t already scheduled.