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Skein of thought

Deciding when to frog

Monday, March 19, 2018           by The Purl Box

This past summer, both Anita & I took a wee holiday from the shop.  Sort of.  She went north with her fam & enjoyed the glorious Qld sun & swim life for a bit.

I stayed home & had my holiday from here - not exactly a Staycation though, as I still was at work at my day job.  But in the after hours I took a mental holiday.

I thought I'd get heaps & heaps of knitting done and make some serious inroads on my WIP mountain.  But in truth I read a lot of books, watched a bit of cricket & drank one or two G & T's on the back lawn or on the couch under the air-con.  I felt a bit like I was having one of those endless summer holidays we had as kids, when the next school year felt like aeons away & you fought with your siblings over who got the cola versus orange flavoured Sunnyboy.

This mental & physical break from my knitting gave me a couple of benefits I didn't really recognise until recently.  

The first was in properly recognising that I had too many WIPs.  So many I was beginning to flounder under the weight of them.  And I was dreading the beginning of February as I had every intention of starting at least one, if not three new projects - one for the KangaKiwiKAL, organised by the lovely Karen at Woolgathering Australia,  a birthday Vest for my Dad - whose birthday was in the middle of Feb & a circular Pi shawl I was planning on making for a blanket for another KAL (the #nodeadlinekal) dreamed up by a fellow knitting friend.  And a cursory inventory of my notions showed I had no appropriate needles or cables spare for pretty much any of it.

So there I was, in January, reading books & not knitting much of anything.  As you do when under the pump.  I somehow think my knitting mojo went to Qld with Anita to hide from all the pressure knitting needed to get everything under control & some projects finally off my needles.   

Then February happened (as it is wont to do, following the completion of January), and the socks I was planning on making for the KangaKiwiKAL stalled just after I wound up my wool.  I had no needles free to knit new socks on - as they still held an incomplete Low Tide sock somewhere in the midst of its heel flap.  (And as that particular project was commenced for the 2017 KangaKiwiKAL, I clearly don't rank socks as fast knitting & wasn't likely to get it done overnight to cast on the next pair) 

Clearly I needed to make some decisions about my project plans.

Real decisions.  Or more accurately Realistic decisions.

I had the yarn, the pattern & with some judicious swatch juggling, the needles free to start on my Pi blanket.  As the pattern I'd decided on was the High Country Circle by The LaceEater, & my yarn was our own Oyster Yarns Bounce, it happily fit the project requirements for the KangaKiwiKAL.  It's a beautiful pattern & I was really looking forwards to working on the project.  But, its a Blanket.  A big one.  And given my ability to make a pair of socks stretch over more than a year, one I was never going to make fit into the 6 week time frame for the KAL.

So I decided to  be okay with that.  To not feel guilt for having no intentions to complete the blanket in the time of the KAL.  And that decision was very freeing.  I could cast on, knit what I really wanted to knit & participate in the KAL on Ravelry.  But I did not need to finish it by the end date.  I know I will finish this project, as its a beautiful pattern & the colour is (if I say so myself) divine.  And when it is done, it will look lovely on my couch & be so delicious to snuggle under come winter time.  Even if it is Winter 2019 or probably more likely winter 2020 or 2021.

Making this decision was very freeing.... and led then to the next benefit of taking a break from my knitting - assessing my WIPs with an open mind.  

I've now gone through my half, quarter & third done projects & come to some conclusions about them.  It took me a bit of fortifying to begin with as I was mentally preparing myself to frog, frog, frog.  Or knit, knit, knit.  Some of these projects have been on needles for over two years... some for well over three.  Which is a little embarrassing really.   And well, there's the odd theory abounding that if something's been hibernating That long, then they should probably be frogged as I clearly don't want to complete them.

Kind of like applying Minimalist editing principles to my knitting.  

Except I personally don't hold much truck with Minimalism as I still have big wardrobe cleansing regrets from past efforts (red jersey dress, silver wool coat I will ever miss you). 

In the interests of honesty about my WIPs, I currently have on needles 5 sweaters, 2 scarves, 3 lace shawls, 1 lace wrap, a cowl plus my aforementioned Low Tide Socks & the High Country Circle Blanket.  Dad's vest is still not Cast On, despite his birthday being 4 weeks ago...  

Once I made that list, I needed restorative tea & chocolate.  It was a little confronting.  And no wonder I've been floundering.  Well over half of these have sat snugly in the cupboard(s) without being worked on for more than 18 months.  Issues with minimalism aside, it was probably past time to be Realistic about what was & wasn't going to be completed.  

So I've now made a list of things to frog.  Both scarves - an easy decision as for one, the pattern looks good but is annoying to knit, & with the other, I'd made so many cable crossing errors from inattention the intended flow is totally lost.  One of the shawls - the pattern is beautiful, the yarn is lovely, they look great together, but.... its fiddly, not overly intuitive & I just don't enjoy knitting it.  And sadly, three of the sweaters.  This last is the hardest to face.... and something I've really only made my mind up about as I've been contemplating this post. 

It takes generally takes me a long time to knit a jumper.  Unless I've got a deadline, I'll just plug away at the thing between other projects that take less time - like hats & ... well hats ... being the only thing I seem to finish with any sport of speed (note how there's none of those languishing on my needles!).  And ordinarily that's all good with me.  Only sometime in the past few years my body decided to change shape.  And now those sweaters that I started on, back before that magic birthday where the cake made my breasts (and everything) grow, will likely no longer fit.  I've known that for a while, but I really do like those sweaters & would like to wear them.  But my body shape has not changed back and a cropped, fitted, high necked jumper will now just make me look like a frumpy sausage.  Which rules out two of them.  The other, a more boxy, lacy version, would still block to fit my new shape.  It's a beautiful drapey yarn & a glorious colour that looks good on me, and there's no real reason why its been sitting in my cupboard ignored for so long.  

 Except, having taken this mental space from my projects, I can finally acknowledge there is a very big & real reason why that project will never get finished.  I began working on it whilst in the throes of a relationship breakdown.  I will in all likelihood never, ever wear it because of the awkward & bittersweet memories it will always be associated with.  This one decision was the hardest to make.  But acknowledging why I will never finish helps to dissolve the guilt I'd associated with letting the sweater languish.  Because it really is lovely - and yet I will never love it.

So a'frogging I will go.  Just deciding that has taken away some of the mental weight of my WIPs, even if I've only just started pulling the stitches.   Admitting to oneself something isn't going to be finished, regardless of how much you may love the yarn, or the pattern, or want to wear it goes a long way towards clearing the mental decks.  Letting a project go is not about giving up, is not enforced minimalism, but sometimes, just being plain old, boring realistic.  And moving on.

In consolation, there's some mighty fine patterns just waiting in the wings to help clutter up my needles once again :)

Happy Knitting,



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