Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Eek! I have Startitis!

…and I think it’s incurable.

I had the luxury last weekend of two days with no commitments, and realizing this, I was able to get the housework and chores done before Friday, so I could have a big block of time to work on some of those projects that need that extra time.

On Saturday, I decided to work upstairs, and go through the middle bay of the long closet, and get that organized, and set up for yarn and pattern storage. The right hand bay had been cataloged years ago, but in my haste to clean up this spring, I filled it with boxes that need to come out so I can get to what’s there. These bays are deceptive – it looks like there’s lots of space, but in reality you can’t store too much in there without making many layers. I put most of the boxes around the perimeter of the bay, and have shelves and can stack, but I like to be able to see everything without having to dig too deep.

The middle bay was partially organized, and after pulling out the boxes and bins that weren’t cataloged, I set to work. I had moved a small bookshelf in there, and a filing cabinet filled with patterns, but still had room for several totes. Over the two days, I entered over 300 balls of yarn in my excel spreadsheet. This sounds like a lot, but when they’re purchased in 8 or 10 balls for a project, it’s not so much. Well, ok, it still is a lot, but so what?

The problem with handling all that yarn, is that my fingers get the urge to start new projects. I resisted for most of the first day. After all, I have plenty of projects going, and several that were very close to being finished. That’s what I should be working on. Right?

But temptation was too much, and late Saturday afternoon, I pulled down a cone of cotton yarn and started a baby sweater. The yarn was white, with dots of pastel baby colors. I just wanted to see the colors play off each other. I worked a few inches, and it will be a nice sweater, but I really do need to get those other projects finished. On Sunday, as I continued to sort through boxes, I came across a partial ball of a linen cotton mix. It was one of those odd balls that I bought on clearance, just because it was linen, and just because it was colorful. I see a pattern here – colorful yarn gets me into more trouble where willpower is concerned. This yarn was not the nicest linen, and I was going to toss it into the charity pile, when a tiny voice said “just make a dishcloth”. So I did. Well, I started it, anyway. It’s one of my made up ideas, working from the center out, so I can use up the yarn and make a square that’s big enough, and if I run out of yarn, I can add another yarn, but it doesn’t end up looking like I ran out of yarn. On Monday evening, I don’t even remember why I went upstairs. Do you think maybe yarn sings a siren song? I must have been looking for something. Suddenly, I was pulling wool out of one of the wire storage bins. There were six or seven hanks of natural colored two ply wool, without any tags. I laid them out, and was trying to discern whether or not they were the same color. After some deliberation, I decided that I just couldn’t tell. I pulled more yarn out of the bin. Suddenly, I pulled out several hanks of navy blue wool with flecks of purple. That did it. Before I knew it, I had one on the swift, and was winding it into a ball. I had wanted to make a simple wool cardigan that I could pull on when it got chilly this fall. I swatched, and started a top-down raglan even before the swatch was dry. And yesterday, because I wasn’t sure I had enough knitting to make it through the baseball game, I had to start a pumpkin cap. I would have had plenty without it, as it turned out, but you just never know… So that’s four new projects in four days. Did I finish any of those that were so close to being done? No. Did I make any progress on any other projects? Well, yes. I worked on the baby blanket, and I worked on my current pair of socks. I made a few catnip toys. But really, I didn’t need to start any more projects. Especially since, in sorting through boxes, I found a number of other unfinished projects. This is where startitis becomes a serious problem!

I have another commitment-free weekend coming up, and if I can, I’m going to try to apply some “finishitis” to the startitis condition, and see what happens. I’m hoping to get at least three items done. And not start any more new ones. Really.

And finally, here’s Lily, happily dozing in the force field which keeps her immune from Startitis. Move over Lily!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

And the Knitting Goes Round and Round....

…and it comes out here! This is one of my latest projects, and while it’s not too elaborate, it’s the kind of mix of mindless knitting and genius construction that I love. Thanks so much to Frankie Brown for figuring this out this shaping. Her easy-to-follow pattern can be found on Ravelry. I’ve wanted to make a small bathroom rug to use up my scraps of Lily Sugar & Cream cotton for some time. This fits the bill perfectly. Even a small 36 inch leftover bit made quite a few rows of pattern. I’m trying to alternate dark and light leftovers, and let the colors all jumble together. One note: when I made the center circle, I had fewer repeats than Frankie’s pattern called for. I didn’t worry about this, I just made enough to make sure the piece lay flat. After working the first complete round around this circle, I realize that was the right decision. It now measures just over 12 inches across, and it’s still laying flat.

Being able to join the strip while knitting is great. I started making a blanket once with this concept, in a square shape. It was turning out great, but I lost interest in making a full size afghan, so it became a cat throw instead.

I will knit this pattern again. Well, I’ll use the shaping, anyway. I have plans to make a cat cushion, by making two circles out of wool, felting them and stuffing them with more wool fleece. Once the whole thing is joined together, it should be one thick and sturdy cat bed. Gotta keep the kitties happy!
I’m also going to use some finer weight wool and make some coasters. I can see where this shaping will really show a yarn with graduated color changes to its best advantage. I’ll have to root through the stash and see what I can come up with.

Thos projects are in the future. For right now, I’m looking forward to the upcoming weekend, and working on this rug. I will actually have two solid days with no commitments, no plans, no big chores to do. I’ve been working hard each evening this week, getting laundry done, and housecleaning, etc, so that come Saturday I’ll have huge blocks of uninterrupted time for the following: working on my etsy shop, continuing the reorganization of the upstairs needlework haven; cataloging more of my book collection, and lots and lots of knitting!

I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter series on audio book this summer while I walk on the treadmill. I read all the books when they first came out, but Jim Dale really makes them come to life. After I finish each one, I watch the corresponding movie. Right now I’m halfway through “Prisoner of Azkaban”. Treadmilling and doing laundry is so much easier when half my mind as at Hogwarts!

Monday, July 20, 2009

From the Daylight to the Moonlight

This past Saturday, I had to chance to see something for the first time. The Southern Pacific 4449 Steam Locomotive, also known as the Daylight, rumbled through Trempealeau pulling a train of vintage passenger cars on its way to Chicago. It was here and gone in a few blinks of the eye, but it was wonderful to watch. I can remember watching trains all the time growing up, and it’s one of those very nostalgic memories. The rail line that ran behind our house, the Chicago-Northwestern, runs no more, and is now a State Bicycle Trail. But the memories remain, and believe it or not, every now and then I dream about those trains. Another memory of another first is also occurring today. I can remember huddling with my mother and brother in front of our tv set, well into the night, 40 years ago, watching Walter Cronkite and the very first lunar landing and moonwalk. At seven years old, you knew it was important if you were allowed to stay up past your bedtime. Looking at the re-broadcast tonight of that epic event, I realize that CBS had me believing at the time that their simulated model was actually the real shape ship. I do remember vividly, going to the screen door and looking out at the moon, every night while Apollo 11 was up there, squinting really hard, trying to see something that looked like the lunar module. I squinted so hard it made my eyes ache. I could never be sure if I saw anything or not.

Times change. Locomotives are now hulking diesels; boxy things without much character. Anchormen pass away, taking part of our past, but leaving the history. Computers are smaller and yet more powerful than those that launched the Apollo missions. But the moon is still there. Still beaming its brilliant moonlight. And tonight, I’m going to squint really hard when I look at it, just for old times’ sake.