Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Catching Up

At the beginning of the summer, I had no energy or interest in doing anything new with knitting or quilting. I knew exactly why: I was on complete overload--or should I say, need-to-complete overload. I decided to fix this.

I made a list of all the projects in my closet. And it was long--well over 40 projects. No wonder I was feeling so burdened.

I have spent the summer tackling them. I've gotten many, many of them finished, and I'm starting to feel out of the woods about the whole thing. I don't have to be completely done to start new things in the fall, but I wanted to feel that I had accomplished enough to have some creative energy.

I divided my project list into several categories:

Super-Urgent Projects
Urgent Projects
Things that are Bugging Me
Leisurely Projects

I started with the super-urgent projects, of which there were three. I tackled those. And every time I finished one super-urgent project, another project seemed to become super urgent. It seems as if three is the magic number of projects that one can concentrate on at a time. I had determined that several years ago, and the same thing happened by happenstance this summer. I think we need to remember this lesson.

But the project I am actually here to tell you about is a sweater that was on the list. I had started it about 7 years ago. It was called Silver Belle, and it was a gorgeous thing. It had a skirt that was cabled from large cables at the bottom to small cables toward the waist.

Now as a sidebar, I have to tell you that when I finished the skirt part (years ago), I bound it off and discovered that it was way too big. Not a big deal. I steeked it (sewed it and cut it), and then continued on my way.

The top of Silver Belle was supposed to be seed stitch, but I knew that on my figure, it would be disproportional. After stewing about this for months and months, I decided to make up my own patterns for the top. I looked in a number of stitch books and combined a bunch of highly complex cables.

And so the journey on the magnificent sweater continued. Year after year, whenever I had some spare time, I inched my way up the sweater. And by this summer, I had gotten almost to the neckline.

One day, I got it out to continue on. I happened to notice that one cable was crossed wrong on the back of a sleeve. It was crossed under a raglan decrease, and while I am pretty brave about taking out most things, I knew that it wouldn't be worth the risk. I decided to leave the cable.

I kept the sweater out, and Kevin walked in the room. I told him about the cable, and as I lifted the sweater to show him, we both saw a major problem at the same time: a dyelot difference. A big dyelot difference.

"You have to rip that out," said Kevin.

"I know," I said.

And for one of the few times in my knitting life, I was depressed. It would probably take me 2 months of fairly hard knitting to get back to that spot, and the charts, which were spread out on about 8 pieces of paper, would be a horrible pain to figure out.

I kept looking at this sweater.

Then I had an idea: What if I would get rid of the top part, and turn the lower part of it into a capelet. It would be cute! And it would be easy because I had already bound it off at the waist.

The next day, I took scissors to it and cut off the top. I held the capelet over my shoulders and decided it would work.

So the day after that, I picked it up to put a buttonband and collar on it.

And that's when I noticed a hole from the steeking.The yarn was merino and a bit slippery. I thought that I could probably repair it or at least kind of hide it.

But suddenly I realized that I didn't care about this project anymore. I didn't want to knit on it at all. Nothing was working. I had the feeling that wearing the capelet would just remind me of the problems. And you know what I did next?

I threw it in the trash.

And I instantly felt a great wave of relief crashing over me.

The sweater was finished.

I not only crossed it off my list, I deleted it from my list. I deleted it from my Ravelry page. And that was that. It is a gorgeous sweater whose design I will always love, and Debbie Bliss is a genius. I still love, love, love the way the sweater looks--but this one just wasn't working for me.

Here is the moral of the story: If you have a project that is not going well, and if you love the feeling you have when you throw it in the trash, and cannot visualize ever wanting the thing for any reason, and the yarn or fabric will not rip out well, then you have my permission to throw it in the trash.

Throwing away Silver Belle has given me more motivation than you can imagine. As soon as I did it, I was free to work like crazy on other projects, and I have accomplished unbelievable amounts. I finished many things, including....

A baby blanket I designed for Made in America Yarns.

Another pair of mittens made using my top-down mitten pattern (and I finished writing the pattern!):

My new quilt pattern, Checkers, made from 2 1/2" strips of fabric: 

The design was Kirsten's, but I finally got the pattern written for Antonym, a double-knitted scarf:

I have the ribbing for one sock left on a pair of toe-up socks that had languished for a few years. I made a paper-pieced cat table runner that is adorable. I wrote up final versions of a number of beginner quilting patterns.
I also finished a couple of things that need to wait before I can show them to you. I made a hat that is going to appear in a book sometime this fall. (The publisher kept my original hat.) I thought it would be sad to have no hat to show the design in person when the books arrived in the shop. So the hat is now done ahead of time, ready for whenever the books arrive, which is a rather lovely feeling. 

I think you'll like the hat.

And finally, I'm almost finished piecing my Black and White Block of the Month. I am so excited about it! It is a little different from what I was initially planning, and I think better. But sorry--you have to wait till December to see it in the Big Reveal! 

I still have a number of projects I want to finish--you know, a couple of sweaters, some cowls, and maybe another pair of mittens--but I no longer feel overwhelmed. 

And I'm starting to get excited about some new design ideas that I will work on this fall. Who knows where this all will lead, and what I'll come up with. Wherever it goes, I look forward to the journey. 

I have my mojo back.