Of late, I have mostly been posting pictures of completed items. This is not because of the illusion it creates of speedy knitting – and believe me, an illusion it is – but because I have barely had time to make that many posts. I have been meaning to change that, and now that I have just a teensy bit of extra time on my hands (time leftover now that I finally have time to do things like weeding, cooking anything ever, cleaning the toilet, and my homework), I can start doing just that.
To start, I thought I’d go ahead and take stock of all the UFOs I have taking up needle space right now.
I’ve always been pretty good about having a reasonable number of things going at once. Very rarely has the number gone above 5, and usually it was for good reason. I couldn’t abide the situation many knitters described, wherein they had UFOs in the double digits, and things hiding at the back of closets for decades. Just throw it out, or knit it, or rip it out and give it away, I thought!
Then I had a baby.
I’ve known for a while that I have rather more than I’m comfortable with, and some of them have gone into full-on hibernation while I wasn’t paying attention. I have some Very Big Things I’d like to start on soon, and before I do, I’d really like to clear the way of extraneous projects, finish big things that I was so in love with to start but have somehow earned my neglect. Knitting is my hobby, and it’s one of a very few things in my increasingly nutty life that I have pretty darn good control over (bound only by my inability to bend time). It’s time to put my foot down before things get really out of control.
As you may know, I sort my knitting into levels, but these categories have changed over time. I sorta have 3.5 right now. But my goal is to get down to one project per level, and not start any more new projects until a category is empty.
I just re-read that paragraph and realized it sounds really OCD. Whatever. I’m OCD in one area of my life so that I can live with chaos in the rest of it. That might still earn me a suite in the loony bin, but then someone else would have to clean the toilet.
Category 1: Reading/Theatre Knitting. This is two former levels compacted into one, because, well… I’m not really going to the theatre that much any more. I do go occasionally – though it’s to the drive in (I love the drive in so much!), and it’s such an event (look at us, we’re out after dark like real grown ups!) that I usually forget to cast on something appropriate. And I’m usually so tired that I just want to relax and watch the movie and not knit. (You read that right. What is this child doing to me?!)
But I do still read; since I have a class and everything, it’s one of the best excuses I have to avoid aforementioned weeds and toilet. But even the reading projects have gotten a little weird.
1a. Caroline! Oh, Caroline, I had such high hopes for you. We fell in love on a fall afternoon, probably while I should have been paying attention in class. I had the recommended yarn, a gift from Rachel, in the color shown in the sample, which is one of my favorite colors on earth. I thought I had plenty, and I thought oh-so-wrong. You just required more from me than I was capable of giving. I only haven’t ripped you out because I forgot I hadn’t done so already.
Le sigh. There’s one for the frog pond.
1b. Is a little more hopeful. Jonica gave me a shawl set from unique sheep ages and ages ago, and I’d been meaning to turn it into a Weaver’s Wool Mini-Shawl when the moment was right. Well, the right moment came, and I’ve been pecking away at it for a while. It even works as movie knitting now, since it takes me like 15 minutes to get across a row, and it’s pretty much just garter stitch. This one stays in.
1c. This is another sad tale. I had this crazy idea for a way to knit a “magic scarf” that would inspire even non-lace knitters to buy the last of my beautiful recycled lace yarn. There were going to be three, in three different colors, in three patterns that would be variation on a theme. i even finished the first one. It was supposed to be reading knitting, I made it a little too complicated for reading (turns out I can’t do K7, P1 without concentrating), and it’s way too boring and now pointless for me to move it to another category. So I’ll frog this and give it away too, most likely. But the yellow scarf is fun; I’ll probably keep it or give it to someone of a sufficiently sunny disposition (and perhaps a complexion that looks less sickly than mine when put next to bright yellow).
So far, so good. One category down, and I really only have one project in it – I just have to make myself actually completely give up on two projects – frog them absolutely, give the yarn away, and move the heck on. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I’ve always finished things, if only on principle, even if I hated them and gave them to the thrift store at my earliest opportunity. But that’s another thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent – I do NOT have time to do knitting I can’t stand. Life is too short. (See, my obsessiveness has limits! Aren’t you proud?)
Category 2: Manageably Challenging Knitting. These are projects which are not at all mindless, requiring attention for one reason or another, but they aren’t rocket science, and they are generally easily portable. Projects tend to ebb and flow in this category, but they seem to get done, because I don’t bother with them unless they are interesting to me, and there is always time for them on various car rides.
2a. Socks of the Month: this is really a category of its own, because I’m probably always going to have a pair of socks on the go, I’m going to try to motor through them at a consistent pace, and I won’t let them stop me from starting other things in this category. The other nice thing about them is that they are already contained – I won’t be tempted to start a pair before the last is finished, and they are on their own timetable. So I think I’m okay here. (These are July’s pair, “New England,” in a yarn I died myself as a test skein in a base we didn’t end up using.)
2b. This is another good idea gone awry. I realized quite suddenly at the beginning of February that I was having a February Baby – How could I let her come into this world without a February Baby sweater?! This Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern is positively iconic, and I knit the adult version for myself a couple years ago.
It was a good idea, but not meant to be. I did it with a yarn that was just lying around, and it won’t go with any of Naomi’s clothes. It’s unlikely to fit her in the fall anyway. So this is another one for the frog pond. I still want to do this someday, properly, but her birthday will always be in February – it’s okay that I missed her original one.
2c.d.e. Okay, these aren’t technically works in progress, because they haven’t been started. But they are a commission for a friend that has been waiting so long for them that I want to make sure I don’t start anything else in this category (apart from more socks of course) without doing these. It’s been so long that I don’t even remember which of the skeined yarns is going to be mittens and which is going to be socks, and I completely forget what the ball of pretty on left is going to be. That will be an embarrassing phone call.
Okay, not bad here too – Just one to frog. And those three little projects will go pretty fast, if I actually, you know, knit them.
Category 3: Spinning, and Knitting that Might as Well Be Spinning. These are things that are complicated and immobile. Spinning doesn’t travel that well, I can’t do it in the car, I can’t do it while watching TV unless I don’t care about actually seeing what’s going on, and there’s no point in doing it unless I can sit down and devote a decent chunk of time to it (say, at least half an hour. I’m pretty low-needs, but I don’t want to have to drop it if the bairn might wake up at any moment).
Some knitting projects fall into this category because they are so huge (like end-stage sweaters) or so freakishly complicated that there is no point trying to take them anywhere. These are usually also very demanding attention-wise. So it makes sense to lump them together.
(If you are thinking ahead, you will notice this means that if I want to spin, like, ever, I should keep the number of knitting projects this demanding to a minimum for the time being. I have accepted this as a stage in my life. I really want to spin.)
3a. In the portion of this exhibit called “actual spinning,” this is an ounce of black shetland that Jared gave me a long time ago when I got my first wheel. It is one of five single-ounce tops of natural shetland colors that came all the way from the isles themselves, and I’ve been waffling endlessly about how to use their fabulous variety together. (Spin them separately and do crazy fair isle? Turn them into one big nutty marled gradient?) I still haven’t made a decision, but I spun up the darkest last year at Erntefest just to play with my then-brand-spankin’-new-to-me CPW. She spun it up so fine and easily once I got her going, but I’ve hardly been spinning at all, and when I have I’ve needed portability. Erntefest is coming up again, I could spin the next ounce there I guess…
3b. This little beauty, or nightmare, depending on how I’m feeling, is sitting in an enormous pile at the back of what is accidentally becoming the fiber stash closet. It’s a cormo fleece Mom bought last year at sheep and wool and split with me. I’ve combed and spun about 2 oz of it, hoping it would be soft but naturally lanolized enough to be perfect for a soaker. Well, it’s lanolicious, but it isn’t that soft, and I’ve already made more small soakers than Naomi could possibly use at the moment (more on that another day). So this might just have to keep hibernating, because I doubt I will want to give the amount of time combing this than it would need. (My washing was apparently kind of ineffective, so combing this more-than-a-year-old fleece is unpleasant.) Every time I see it in the back of the closet I feel a little stab of guilt, then I move on with my day. That’s how it’s going to have to stay for a while. Well, maybe I’ll just ply up the 2 oz I’ve spun so far so I can feel like I finished something.
3c. This is unfortunate, but it’s going to get finished. 100% acrylic yarn, bought on a layover in South Africa before I really understood that I shouldn’t touch 100% acrylic with a 10-foot-pole, when I fell for a sale probably out of jet lag and sheer exhiliration at having gotten to the yarn store without getting in a wreck while my husband navigated our rental car on the wrong side of the road. An ill-conceived purchase turned into an ill-conceived pattern choice, borne out of a desire to experiment with crochet, in a way-too-small size (I must have been feeling optimistic when I started). I am so insanely close on this one that I will finish it – it literally only lacks a couple of seams – but I will have to find someone to give this away too. Possibly a small, sassy flamenco dancer with a wool allergy. Let me know if you know someone like that.
3d. The Sweater. ’nuff said. I’ve poured on the juice in the last week and have gotten through about 6″ of sleeve. I wouldn’t say the end is in sight, but the end is at least in the same country.
I’ll be straight – things are looking pretty dicey in category 3. The only time I really have to work on these is time I set aside especially for them and for nothing else, which is in short supply now, and will be in no supply come the fall term. If I want to plow through these in the next several lunar cycles, I’ll have to devote most of my evenings to working on them, rather than blogging about not working on them. Maybe I should go do that.
4 thoughts on “Taking Stock”
Your post reminds me of several UFO’s that have been hiding out at the bottom of baskets for years. I’ve thought about making pillows out of them. But that would require sewing. Mostly though, when I read what you have written, all I can think about is my stash. I think I need to use your categories to make it seem like I’m starting projects with some of it. UFO’s at least give the impression that you’re making progress moving the yarn from skeins to something on needles. 🙂
P.S. What is the frog pond? Where you “ripit”?
Lol yes Kathy, the frog pond is where projects go to be ripped.
Yes, i’ve categorized my stash too… that’s a little easier to face. I’ve let go of a lot of yarn to the point that I feel like I really only have stuff left that I definitely want to use, not just random stuff collecting. I’d like to actually knit with it… I’m tired of having all the baggage of physical possessions tying me down!
I love the acrylic yarn project out of that gorgeous multi-red! I think it might be perfect for Bethany’s little friend, Danni. She has that sort of personality.
I’m very proud of you for facing your UFO’s. I agree that it helps to sort of reign things in once in a while. It’s very hard to not knit and spin as much as one wants…..it’s a good thing mother-love is so powerful! You will probably barely miss it. (Can’t you ask me to come up and help again…..just as an excuse to have more time to work on a project??????????)