Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Taking Back the Knit

Last Thursday night I rather tearfully told my friend Jenn that I thought I could be done with knitting. I had barely touched the needles in almost two weeks, and none of my current projects or planned projects held any interest for me. I just didn't want to knit, and I felt as if it could be permanent.

I've been knitting since I was about eight years old. I'm not sure who taught me - mother or grandmother - but I do remember that it came easily to me as with most handwork. Years later my mother would become my knitting teacher through 4-H, and I would master the basics. Throughout high school and college I knit periodic blankets in Gram's feather and fan pattern, although knitting was far from my only - or even my primary - craft at that time. (I was a tatter and a spinner, but those are stories for another day.)

All of that changed shortly after the Princess was born. I walked into my office one day and took a serious look at the closet full of craft stuff. I knew that there was just no way that I was going to be able to do it all, and so I decided to get rid of anything that I didn't truly love. The time had come to focus.

And so I ditched everything except for my knitting, and for the last five years it has been my passion and my obsession. In a very short amount of time I had a stash and a shelf full of knitting books, I had joined the local guild and had discovered the joys of yarn shopping. I was in heaven. Knitting fit perfectly into my new lifestyle and it gave me something to focus my OCD tendencies on in a positive way.

Which leads me back to Thursday night and my conversation with Jenn. She and I slogged through the whole mess, trying to figure out what was really behind it. I came to see that I had been fighting my funk since I broke that finger in January. Most of it was fueled by the mommy burnout that I had been fighting for months, but recognized too that I had been soured by some painful drama in the local knitting community. I also realized that I am just not a person who knits when stressed, and the last week had been particularly stressful.

Jenn told me that she just couldn't imagine me setting aside the needles forever, and she came up with a bunch of great ideas to help me move on. I went home in a very pensive mood, weighing some of her suggestions carefully.

With that in mind, I pulled my yarn bins and baskets out the next morning to give them a good toss. Everything was dumped out on the bed so that I could begin from scratch. I pulled all of the leftovers (of which I have a ridiculously large amount) and then set to work. All current projects and their yarn went into my lined Lantern Moon basket. Sweater yarn and handspun went into one bin and sock and lace yarns went into the other. I was determined that everything would fit under the bed into those two bins, and although it is tight it now fits. I immediately felt a huge sense of relief that the yarn for all of my planned projects was no longer sitting in the corner of my room, reminding me of what I "needed" to do.

Then I threw away my Knitting Inventory List. I've been keeping that list for at least the last four years. Comprised of both KIPs and Planned Projects, it could have kept me busy for several years, and I've been doing my best to stick to it. Sometimes that meant slogging through projects I had lost interest in just because I had committed to them, sometimes it meant doing presents that I really didn't want to do, and sometimes it meant setting aside new patterns because I felt like I needed to finish the stuff on the list first. Jenn had pointed out that I had trapped myself by planning out too much and leaving no room for fun, and she was right.

When I woke up Saturday morning, I knew that the burden was gone and that I was ready to start over. Undeterred by my cat's interference, I have been working on the Pixie's sweater since then and have really enjoyed it. When I got tired of it Saturday night, I started the Rona Lace Shawl - which is not a pattern I had intended to use anytime soon, but is rather what struck me as being fun for right now.

In two simple steps, knitting is suddenly fun again. Instead of having a list and an overly organized stash, I now have a simple goal to knit what I feel like knitting without thinking too much about it.

The Green Woman is very, very pleased.


Jenn said...

Yeah!! Glad I could help you bounce around ideas and I'm glad you've come to your senses! ;-)

Shelda said...

Sounds like good stuff happening! I think those kinds of feelings are messages of a sort, and it sounds like you figured out just what they were telling you. Good deal.

Paula said...

Welcome back to the Knitting World, Friend! I'm so glad you worked it out with your friend.