Monday, July 30, 2007

A Yarn Tasting

So, what's new with you?

A couple of weeks ago, LAWoman and I went to a "yarn tasting" at a knit store other than my LYS. I must say that I felt like she and I stuck out like herpes. Every yarn store attracts a certain clientele and that shop didn't attract clientele like LAWoman and me. I felt very uncomfortable. But not uncomfortable enough to leave. Or to avoid spending money on yarn that I don't need for a project I won't be able to start until sometime in 2010. Or to resist spending TEN FRICKIN' DOLLARS on a Lantern Moon tape measure (for the record, it really is has a cake crocheted over the thing and you press the button on the bottom to retract it...well, you've just got to see it). All I can say is that I am unlikely to cheat on my LYS again. Those are my people.

I am finding that I don't have enough time to knit and it's making me a bit twitchy. I am tired. ALL THE TIME. I think about my pretty wrap sweater from Fitted Knits and how much I'd like to be working on it rather than avoiding starting my workday (now, I am sure that you would like to see this WIP, right? Yeah, well, my digital camera has resigned from its position with me (read, it doesn't fucking work anymore) so I have to buy a new one). I keep skulking on yarn/knitting websites getting my fix of knitting porn. I'm still not satisfied. It's like I'm getting all the buildup with no badabing at the end, you know?

More than anything, I'm a little bored and a little lonely. I try to remind myself that "kisses aren't contracts" and "company doesn't mean security," and I'm desperately trying to "decorate my own soul" (just read that poem "Comes the Dawn") but right now those platitudes just sound hollow. Am I destined to be the lady who lives ALONE in the house covered with laundry (dirty and clean), knitting afghans in front of reality television? I hope not.

But with each passing day, I'm losing hope.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Competitive Knitting

I started knitting as a way to relax: it was supposed to be something to do with my hands when I got anxious about life. And, for a while, knitting was just relaxing and easy. I loved feeling the yarn between my fingers. I loved how clearheaded I felt when I was knitting. I loved feeling like I was just BEING rather than DOING something.

But, being a classic type-a personality, that feeling didn't last for long.

In recent times, I've looked at knitting as yet another thing at which I could fail. I kept challenging myself...more complex patterns, exotic yarns, color changes. I refused to knit something unless I thought it was going to be difficult. Because I felt like I failed at marriage, I used knitting to prove to someone, anyone, that I was good at something difficult.

I realized how bad it was when I was knitting my lacy wrap sweater from Fitted Knits. It wasn't enough that the pattern was moderately challenging. No, I made it more difficult by selecting the thinnest, scratchiest yarn available, and knit it on big needles to boot. It was like knitting with thread. While I was still happy because I was knitting, I was not enjoying what I was knitting. Instead, I looked at that project as another something I had to do, rather than something I wanted to do.

Adding insult to injury, my wrap sweater was knitting up much too small (lest you chide me for not knitting a gauge swatch, I did). For some reason, the yarn was not cooperating. My mother was the first person who told me that the sweater looked really tiny. I insisted that she was wrong, that she just wasn't seeing it the way I saw it. Unfortunately, most people who saw my project tended to agree with my mom: they liked the yarn and thought it was beautiful, but they also told me that the sweater looked really small (when nearly everyone looks at your project and asks if it is for your 22 month old daughter, there's a problem).

Despite the majority's doubts, I stayed with the yarn for a while, doggedly insisting that it was fine and that everything was going according to plan. But, in my head, I was really worried: I was almost at the end of the pattern, yet the sweater was only reaching the middle of my back (and it was not a shrug).

Then, something weird happened. When my LYS was closed the other day, I visited another knitting store called Unwind. It was so different from my LYS: different neighborhood, different people, different yarn. There I realized that even though I had tried really hard, my wrap sweater was simply was not going to work with that yarn. The yarn wasn't meant for the pattern. And, I decided that while I liked the pattern, I didn't like the outrageously-expensive-itchy-yarn in which I was making it.

The fix was simple: start the sweater over again with different yarn. But, as easy as that sounds, there's a lot of emotion attached to abandoning a project midway. I had spent a lot of time knitting this thing and it was in vain. But it just wasn't meant to be. So, I swallowed hard, and selected new yarn and started over again.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

I couldn't help but notice how this particular knitting experience paralleled my life at this moment. I am in the middle of a divorce. I really tried to make my marriage work, and because of this, probably stayed in it longer than I should have. Nearly everyone likes my soon-to-be-ex, but nearly everyone thought that we just didn't match each other. And, as hard as I worked at my marriage, as much as I wanted it to work, it just wasn't meant to be. While this really sucks, it is what it is, and I just have to start over again.

Luckily, I'm not starting my life completely from scratch. I do have two children who are beautiful, intelligent, and funny. So, while I won't be married anymore, I still got something really special out of the relationship. And, if this divorce is the price I have to pay for my beautiful babies, then that's ok.

So, even though I'm starting over (with my sweater and my life), I feel pretty good. I LOVE the new yarn I'm using: it feels good, it's in my favorite color, and the sweater is knitting up beautifully. I'm confident that this will be a really pretty sweater when I'm finished.

Here's hoping my life continues to parallel my knitting experience.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Problem With Perfectionism

Hey all - it's been a minute since I wrote. Let me update you...

I finished the dress from hell. I received a number of compliments on it, but me being me received them while thinking, "They don't mean this. It's hideous, but they can't say that." My mom (who I lovingly refer to as "Knittingmaster") even liked it. She made a point: that we are always most critical of our own work. I wonder why that is: I can see someone else's project and find all of the beauty and magic therein, but can only see the crap in mine (i.e., "what was I thinking when I let that woman talk me into this color?," "there's that mistake - should have ripped it out," and "why is this dress so shapeless anyway???"

Little Momma (my darling daughter) LOVES the dress. She hugs it and calls it her knitting or her lovey, interchangeably. And while that makes me feel good, I still think, "Eh, she's 20 months old...what the hell does she know?"

But maybe, just maybe, that's the point. Yes, we should all use our own voices as guidelines for what is right and wrong for us. But if that inner voice is too critical, too demanding, or just plain mean, maybe we should rely on the advice and counsel of others. I'm not talking about relying upon the guy who spray paints himself silver and performs at Venice Beach. No, I'm talking about turning to people who we know and respect...people who we love. I mean, if I made the dress for my daughter and she loves it, then shouldn't that be enough? now I am starting on a new dress for my daughter from a vintage pattern book. The dress is very Kennedy children attire at JFK funeral: it's regal, it's classic, it's elegant.

It is going to be a royal pain in the butt: teeny tiny needles with fingering weight yarn. I don't plan to give this to her until Christmas. I am a glutton for punishment.

I'm also working on the wrap sweater from Fitted Knits. I'll have pix soon, but my digital camera and I are fighting. Seems that it thinks that it doesn't have to take clear pix of my projects, while I maintain that it is an important part of its job description and I can fire it at any time.

I am also going to start a Log Cabin Blanket for my friend Gloria and her fiancee Smith. My friend Mary started hers on Saturday, and I loved the blanket from the moment I saw it. I wanted to give them an interesting shower gift.

And then there are the various and sundry incomplete projects that I may finish one day: the instarsia poncho for my daughter, the alpaca sweater for me (which I am thinking of ripping out to make a Rowena Cardigan), the cable sweater from Vogue Knitting, and the sweater on the cover of Interweave Knits summer edition.

I am doing all this to keep me busy/sane in the midst of my divorce, unemployment, and rearing of my 3 year old and 20 month old. More on that in another post.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Starting Over?

So I'm still working on the dress from hell. Everyone who has witnessed the pained expression on my face as I knit this dress for my darling daughter has told me to stop, make the dress a cute babydoll top, and move on. I've compromised: I am working on other projects, but I am still determined to finish this stupid dress.

But on Saturday, as I got the yarn for my new project (Fitted Knits wraparound sweater), I couldn't help but notice how happy I was as I began to start a new project...even though I had unfinished business in my wake.

And at the risk of sounding too deep (which I NEVER want to do), I think that the joy I find in starting a brand new project mirrors my enthusiasm at having some sort of change in my life: I am a thirtysomething. soontobeexwife, and motheroftwokids. I don't get many
"do-overs," so when the opportunity presents itself, I leap at it. There's something WONDERFUL about starting the new project, with the new yarn, and the new pattern. Continuing to work on the old project to the exclusion of the new projects is what got you in this boat in the first place.

can anyone relate????

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Am I Done Yet?

I love knitting. When I'm not knitting, I'm thinking about when I will be able to knit. I dream about knitting. I'm obsessed with knitting. And, with the exception of my darling children, knitting is my favorite thing in the world (and, as an added bonus, my knitting never whines, hits my other knitting projects for no reason, throws food on the floor, or draws on the walls).

Anyway, have any of you experienced what I call "knitting malaise?"

I'm working on this baby dress. I got some beautiful yarn for the project: Rowan Handknit DK Cotton. It's bright pink, which is going to look terrific on my gorgeous daughter. I LOVE pink - I never get sick of looking at it. The pattern is so cute: feather and fan skirt, picot edged sleeves.

Yum. You knit it from the top down on circular needles. It's supposed to knit up quickly and you can actually see your knitting becoming a dress! And, because it knits up quickly and my daughter is growing quickly, I decided not to work on any other projects while I'm working on this one. That's how dedicated I am to completing this project.

Am I done yet?

I've worked on this dress forever. For at least the past two weeks, anyway.

I have so many other things I want to be working on - do I really have to work on this project to the exclusion of my other 7 projects?

And did I tell you how loud this yarn is? Pink is an understatement: this looks like Pepto Bismol. My poor daughter is going to be laughed at.

The pattern was way cuter than the way the dress is actually coming out.

I am sick of looking at this project.

And my daughter will only wear it for a spit second before it's too small.

That's the malaise. When I feel myself beginning to think that way, I try to make my fingers go faster. I put those negative thoughts out of my head and imagine how cute my daughter is going to look, however briefly, in the dress. And the color is going to be terrific on her, and I love little girls in bright colors. Plus, it's cotton, so when she spills something on it, I can just wash it! These thoughts make me go faster, and faster, and faster! Slip 1, Knit 1, PSSO...I am so fast! I am a master knitter! I am amazing - everyone is going to see this dress and demand that I make one for the little girls in their lives. And that will be fine because I can make them so quickly! They will pay me to make these dresses. And they'll tell a friend about my knitting, and that friend will tell a friend, and so on, and so on, and so on. Yea, me! I can go at the speed of lightning when I think this way.

Except I was so super fast that I skipped over various parts of the pattern. I don't have feather or fan. I have a big mess.
Which is why I will have to rip this sucker out...again. Yeah, I am a master knitter.


Am I done yet?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Inaugural Post

Hi, I'm Andrea, and I am a compulsive knitter.
now you say: "HI, ANDREA!"

My mom taught me how to knit when I was a teen, but I was not at all interested. I suspect that it was because taking knitting lessons from my mother required me to listen to her, and what teenaged girl wants to do that?????

I came back to knitting in September 2005 - what a different experience! Initially, I was a bit embarrassed that I was so taken with something that seemed so fundamentally "uncool." I got over that quickly, though. I became obsessed with knitting, with feeling the yarn, contemplating new projects, mastering (or at least learning) new skills.

One of the most rewarding things I found about knitting, however, was that by being a knitter, I became a part of a community of people who share the same passion for yarn and creation. I've met the most interesting people through knitting at my local knit shops and I can't begin to describe how much I have learned from them, how much I admire them, how much I care about them. And what's amazing about being a part of this local community is that there is a larger knitting community all over the world! I hope this blog becomes a place where members of that community will share their wisdom, insight, frustration, and secrets...

I'll post as I can, and hope that you will do the same. Until then, knit on, baby, knit on!