Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Knitting Up the Raveled Sleeve of Care

Obviously I'm not blogging much these days.  I never intended to stop blogging, since the whole thing started as a way for me to have a way to look back at the end of the year and remember the highs and lows and mundanes of the year.  For several years, I was pretty good about logging the various events in my life.  And then....

Facebook happened, for one.  It became easier to just dash off a quick note here and there about what my mood of the moment happened to be.  At first I still blogged regularly.  Then the blogging began to wane and the slapdash thoughts on my Facebook page gradually took over.

And then life got hectic.  The fire.  The remodel.  The various society (i.e., DAR, DRT, UDC) demands on my time.  I got tired, both mentally and physically.  When I get tired, I have a hard time writing.  

And when I get really, really tired, I have a hard time focusing enough to do anything.  Reading was the next thing to go by the wayside. The very idea of working on my dollhouses made the fatigue go into overdrive.  I fell into wasting my time on Facebook games and watching endless TV.  I felt guilty for wasting time, but so lacking in interest that I could not seem to fight my way out.

I desperately cast about for some more productive way of spending my time and the answer turned out to be a hobby that had been sitting in the background for years, just waiting for the right time to catch my attention.


Knitting is a great soother of ragged nerves.  I first learned to knit in 8th grade when a Home Economics teacher taught us the basic knit and purl stitches.  From there I was self taught, just as I've self taught myself other activities over the years - sitting with a manual and bull-dozing my way through the material until I understand it.  I got fairly proficient at basic knitting and made numerous afghans and a few sweaters (none of which ever really saw the light of day, but they did get made).  

My love affair with knitting ebbed and flowed over the decades.  My love affair with fine yarn never faded.  I amassed a large stash of good yarn (and a larger stash of bad yarn) and had the idea that someday I will use up this yarn.  Yeah, right.  I would get out the stash once a year, coo and admire the good stuff, and wrinkle my nose at the bad stuff and wonder why on earth I had acquired it.  Not much got made with any of it for a very long period of time, but I did enjoy my periodic visits with that good stuff.  I love the feel and smell and look of a quality yarn.

When the fire hit Bastrop County in September 2011, a local yarn store ran a campaign to ask area knitters to donate unwanted yarn to be distributed to knitters who had lost their yarn supplies.  I decided to go through my stash and donate all the yarn that I no longer wanted to the local thrift store.  I devised a way to keep track of the yarn I really loved so I would not forget I had it and could, in fact, see it daily and think about the lovely things that could be made with that yarn.

And at Christmas 2011, inspiration hit.  It started with a kit that was available at Hill Country Weavers in Austin.  I asked for that kit for a Christmas present and made myself a promise that if I received that kit for a present, I would make it immediately.  And, furthermore, I would set myself the goal to make at least one thing every month of 2012 and use up some of that lovely yarn I had on hand.  I had stumbled upon the thing I had been looking for to pull myself out of the dumps.

By the end of January, I had the Paintbrush Cowl kit completed and was on my way.

January's Paintbrush Cowl

The year's projects were heavy on the scarf angle.  I was rusty and needed to brush up on my knitting skills, and I figured that I should keep my monthly goals reasonable.  In the background I started the first shawl, hoping that I could finish a scarf quickly and get my month's goal out of the way and use the remainder of the month to work on the shawl.  As the weeks passed, I increased speed and sharpened my knitting skills and began to make more than one thing some months while some projects drifted along in the background for two or more months.

I actually lost track of what got completed in what month, but at the end of the year I had 12 completed knitting projects.

February's Flounce Scarf
March's Big Cowl

April's Long Beach Scarf
May's Kid Silk Ruffle Scarf
June's Fiesta Scarf
I even took a brief detour about mid-year to re-teach myself some crocheting techniques.

July's Queen Mochi Scarf (Crochet)

August's Shibui Shawl
September's Suede Oakley Shawl

October's Marble Capelet
November's Color Affection Shawl
December's Angora Citron Shawlette
By the end of the year, I was back up to knitting speed and was able to start and finish a shawl within the one month goal time frame.  I fell back into love with knitting.  I learned several new techniques that are of recent invention by truly gifted knitters.  I found a lovely online knitting community called Ravelry which has been a wonderful source of inspiration.  I used up some of my yarn stash that had been sitting there waiting for years for me to get my act together.  I bought more yarn - which wasn't the idea, but who can resist all the lovely yarns that are available now?  In addition to all those completed projects for 2012, I started 2013 with a half-dozen projects in various stages of progress and continue to knit happily in my leisure time.

Knitting pulled me through a rough year.  It helped me begin to re-focus my energy, although there is a long way to go yet.  Writing is still difficult and the genealogy research is still on the back burner, but I feel the embers beginning to glow brighter.

And I don't know if I would have made it through the massive remodel without the knitting to keep my hands busy with something other than strangling the odd painter or tile man.  There is great peace to be had in the rhythm of knit and purl and knit and purl and knit and purl....


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