Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Knitting

For me, the New Year has started in much the same fashion as the old one ended: with food traditions and knitting entirely more than is good for me. Each New Year's Day, for luck in the coming year, we eat black-eyed peas. (I don't know why they're supposed to be lucky, but it's a Southern tradition. You don't question some things.) We may have already taken care of the luck part with the fried oysters on New Year's Eve, but there's no such thing as too much luck!

On the knitting-too-much part, it's so easy and comfortable just to settle in with whatever's on the needles and placidly knit away for hours. (Maybe pausing now and then just to give the hands and wrists a break, get a drink, make a meal.) On a holiday, OK, there's nothing wrong with that. But what I have to guard against is letting it take over too much of my time on ordinary days when there are things I should be doing. Despite its many wonderful aspects, knitting can also be an insidious way to procrastinate. It's something I can pick up, thinking I won't spend a lot of time, thinking how satisfying and productive it is, just enjoying myself for a few minutes and then a few more minutes.... And I might just keep on doing it for much too long as a way of putting off something I'm not as eager to do. I also get very determined to make it to a stopping place, a milestone point like finishing the sleeve or turning the heel, before putting down the needles.

So, while I'm not a big resolution list-maker, this year I'd like to be mindful of when I choose to knit, for how long, and why. I don't subscribe to the "knitting with an attitude" rhetoric about abandoning housework, haircuts, and what-have-you to make more time for knitting. (I doubt if even those who do say those things really want to live that way.) I'm looking for balance.

I'd also like to reduce or reverse the growth rate of my yarn stockpile. Yarn should make me happy, not crouch in great piles in the corners of my sewing room making me nervous. I've acquired quite a lot in the last couple of years, some as travel souvenirs (as Mary points out), some from getting comfortable with ordering from on-line suppliers, some from festivals. And some from my new spinning hobby! All of this has been jolly good fun, but at this point, I'd really like to bring more of the many sweaters, socks, and shawls-to-be to fruition. I enjoy them in my imagination, and I'm looking forward to enjoying them in real life.

So I'd like to make that a priority this year. I'm not setting any rigid rules for myself, of not buying yarn at all or until some certain number of projects has been completed. I'd just like to be knitting more than I'm buying for a while. I've actually been doing reasonably well on that lately, at least since returning from my vacation in November. I've mostly been giving my local yarn stores a breather. For Christmas presents, I focused on coming up with patterns to show off the beautiful yarns, instead of the other way around. That's the spirit I want to continue with for a while. I have so much yarn that I really love; there's no reason to keep eclipsing it with new yarn coming in.

I think it might be a good goal to make most of my projects from my already-on-hand stock of yarn from now until the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May. (I can hardly believe it's already less than six months away!) I'd like to be able to browse joyously through the panoply of things on offer there and find something wonderful to bring home, instead of feeling guilty all the while about overdoing it.

For a little comradeship and encouragement, I've signed up for the Burnin' Up The Stash 2008 group that Knittin' Diva has organized over on Ravelry. There seem to be plenty of people there with giant yarn stashes in need of drastic reduction. It makes me feel very mild-mannered by comparison.

So now I can congratulate myself on making progress on the Feather and Fan socks not just because they're fun to knit, not just because I'm looking forward to wearing them, but also because I'm virtuously using up a skein of yarn I already have.

Happy 2008 to all -- I wish you a happy and healthy year of balance or excess, each according to your own druthers!

1 comment:

Knittin' Diva said...

Welcome to our Ravelry Group! I must say, I thought my stash was out of control, until I saw what some others have....I suddenly don't feel so bad. We're having fun though, coming up with ideas to burn our stash. Glad you've joined us. The socks are beautiful, by the way. What yarn is that?
Here's looking forward to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival :-)