Generally speaking, I’m not monogamous in my knitting. When it comes to patterns and yarn I just haven’t been able to commit to one project until completion in a long time.
If we’re making a quick run into Tulsa – usually one project is in my knitting bag. But the instant it becomes an overnight trip the bag is loaded up with two, three, or maybe even four projects. Most of these are likely to be already on the needles and in various stages.
One project is the mindless type — for which I’ve already memorized the lace pattern or maybe a simple sock that needs no thought. These are great for times when I’m expected to carry on a conversation or there’s a lot of environmental distraction and I may need to put the project down from time to time. This project is great for a knitting night with friends or when wine or beer is consumed.
Also in the bag is a slightly more challenging project — or two — that requires the pattern to be handy. With these projects I can still listen or manage to answer questions. Usually the stitches are readable and I can keep track of where I am even if I have to stop in the middle of a row. Sure I prefer to finish a row before I have to put a project down but that’s not always an option. This type of project is the bulk of my knitting life.
There is often an extra already wound ball of yarn, with a pattern, and the appropriate sized needle in the bag. This I consider Emergency Knitting. You just never know when you’ll be stuck somewhere and finish what is already on the needles. Or maybe you’ll get bored – or drop fifteen stitches and need concentration to surgically repair the project before continuing.
At home there may be a project that doesn’t travel. It’s either a new design or seriously intense lace knitting.
I wonder sometimes when I heft my knitting bag onto my shoulder and walk out the door if I’m more than a little obsessed with having enough projects with me. When I’m carrying around three or four projects in-progress, what is the likelihood that I’ll finish anything anytime soon?
This past weekend I finally finished my Cloisters Wrap. This lovely shawl was the first new project I cast on in January of 2011. Last month when I thought (laughing is allowed) that I’d join my friend Kat’s challenge of Frog or Finish or as she called it S*%$ or Get Off the Pot I pulled out this half complete shawl and was determined to finish it. There were some slight distractions along the way but here I am six weeks later with a finished project.
As you know I’ve been dithering for weeks over which yarn to use for my Magpie Shawl. It’s a gorgeous pattern and I want the yarn to be just right. I’ve actually cast on twice and decided the yarn wasn’t the right thing. So Magpie is on the back burner for now until the perfect yarn calls to me.
Currently in my knitting bag are two projects and one book. One project on the needles and one not yet cast on (Emergency Knitting). In progress is Bridgewater by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed fame. The first time I saw this project on Ravelry I queued it and bought the pattern. I was that smitten.
The body is a HUGE garter stitch square knit from corner to corner – beginning and ending with one stitch. Garter stitch for days. Weeks likely. Mindless and hypnotic garter stitch.
Then stitches are picked up along the four sides to create the knitted on lace. This is the part that blew my mind. I’ve done minor amounts of picking up stitches, but not a full-on-hard-core-pick-up-and-knit project like Bridgewater. The sweet thing that I keep telling myself is that when you pick up along four sides – you’re knitting in the round – and not the purl-across-the-wrong-side-game. Surely that means it’ll go faster right? Purling stitches require more time than knitting stitches. Now, to be honest, most of my lace projects are in the 400-800 yard range. Bridgewater calls for 1500-1800 yards. That’s a lot of yarn!
Initially I planned to knit Bridgewater using the light silver/gray of the Hearth colorway in Oak Barn Merino. It’s the perfect weight for the pattern and there were so many lovely gray finished Bridgewaters in Ravelry. But – my skein was a little shy of my comfort zone at 1440 yards. After querying several people who’d finished the shawl I decided to dye two skeins of new yarn. I looked at all of the finished shawls on hand and gave some heavy thought to what color I didn’t have but would likely wear. This thought resulted in a new colorway for Oak Barn – Red Earth. A rich deep burgundy with red and brown undertones.
I’m very happy with how Bridgewater is coming along. There are over a hundred stitches on the needle (this after starting with just one). Sure it’s all garter stitch but I feel no pressing urge to cast on another pattern. This is a pretty weird mindset for me. I’ve had a few strange flashbacks in the past two days. I remember the days when I first began lace knitting and was completely monogamous. Admittedly this was before Ravelry, and before the barrage of stunning shawls that I see whenever I check the 11shawls2011 forum.
So I’m asking myself – will I be monogamous with this project? If so, why this project?
Part of the answer to the second question may be timing. In just over a week we’ll be taking off for a few days on a road trip to New Orleans. One big project for car knitting sounds pretty serene to me right now. I have no expectations that I’ll finish the project on the trip. I want to enjoy The Crescent City, the sights, the smells, the music, the food – my friend Jessica and her husband Chaz, and Chris’s friend Elliott with whom we’ll be staying. Jessica has shared all sorts of fabulous suggestions for restaurants, museums, music venues, and even yarn shops. We’ll be in NOLA for Voodoo Fest and Halloween. It’s going to be fun…
While downloading a few quick snapshots of Cloisters blocking I discovered an additional photo taken at a recent show that I think you’ll enjoy. This lovely dragonfly landed on a finished shawl.
I was quite charmed by its presence.