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Archive for December, 2009

Thoughts on the Yarn Stash

I love yarn. I love the feel of a soft alpaca yarn, the texture of a good wool yarn, the funky colors of a cool variegated yarn. Yarn is a beautiful thing, and it’s a huge part of the lure of knitting for me.

I know lots of people who go out and buy yarn just for the sake of buying yarn. Often it’s bought with thoughts of what it may become, but I think a lot of times people just buy a yarn because it’s pretty or on sale. As a result, they end up with loads of yarn in various plastic tubs, sometimes filling an entire closet or the better part of a room. By buying a little here and a little there, they end up, over the years, spending an obscene amount of money on yarn it would take five lifetimes to knit up.

I don’t have any problem with these people; many are among my closest friends. I appreciate that these folks are often very generous with their yarn stashes. It’s just not how I operate. At all.

My yarn buying is on a project-by-project basis. I myself have difficulty justifying the purchase of a yarn without a project idea in mind. I don’t know that I’ve ever bought yarn without an end in sight. This has the effect of being kinder to my often strapped wallet, as well as keeping clutter from invading the small apartment that I share with my family. I don’t have the money or the space to just go on yarn-buying sprees. Last Christmas I inherited a big bag of yarn from a relative, and I literally don’t know what to do with it. My wife has made some hats (her favorite thing to knit) but my queue is so backed up with other projects that I can’t even think of using it.

I guess for me the project has to come first. Other people operate differently, and that’s okay. We each have our own unique way of doing things. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be as much fun.

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Christmas has come and gone, and it was a good one. The presents, the relative peace while the kids play with said presents, the lack of peace while they argue over whether to play with Barbies or play in the snow…it’s all good.  I did very little knitting, due to my close ties to the kitchen most of the day (I love the holiday cooking) but I got to listen to a couple of episodes of my favorite podcast, Sticks and String, on my new (product)RED iPod Nano, so I was all set.

As knitting goes, this Christmas was all about the socks for me. First off, my gift knitting was all socks. I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to go overboard on the Christmas knitting as I did last year (didn’t start my sister’s sweater UNTIL Christmas day), and that my daughters needed to experience the sheer joy of wearing hand-knit socks, so I just committed myself to knitting two pairs of socks. If you’ve read my previous posts, you will have seen them in various stages of construction, but now I have them finished and on my daughters’ feet. They both love their new socks, and wore them pretty much all day.

Waves and Piers Socks

I think the Waves and Piers socks I made for my older daughter have got to be the most fun socks I’ve made yet. I loved the lace pattern, and just how funky they turned out. I’m thankful that they fit. She loves funky socks, so I thought these were perfect for her.

Yoga/Dance Socks

My younger daughter has been begging for these Yoga/Dance socks for months. They were a quick, easy knit, as they did not require knitting heels and toes. She had some difficulty putting them on at first, so I was afraid they didn’t fit. But once she got them on she loved the fit, and they were easier to get on and off later in the day.

And of course, I received a gift to help further my sock knitting growth. My mother-in-law gave me the book “2 At A Time Socks” by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. At first glance it looks like a print version of a bad late night infomercial (“Revealed inside…the SECRET to knitting two at once on one circular needle! Works on any sock pattern!) but the technique looks sound, and I like that it’s spiral-bound, so it can lay flat while I work from it.

Now that the fridge is full of leftovers and I don’t have to cook in the foreseeable future, I think I’ll go work on finishing that baby blanket I’ve been knitting.

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Common Bonds

After the busiest two weeks of the school year, this week I decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for years. The day after my last concert (for those who don’t know, I’m a Middle School choral director by profession), I took a personal day.  I decided to go up to Maine to visit old friends. I moved to Massachusetts a year and a half ago, and though I have visited Maine a few times since then, due to similarity in days off I rarely got to see the people I spent the most time with, the teachers and students I worked with. So I went and visited the schools I used to teach at, which was a very important thing personally, but also professionally as it really helped me to refocus my teaching.

It was a wonderful day. See, in those schools (I visited 3) I am pretty much a rock star. Being a high-energy music teacher, the kids treated me like I was Justin Bieber or something. We even had 5 kids miss the bus because they wanted to see me. It was a beautiful thing.

In visiting with my friends on staff, though, I noticed that the people I spent the most time with were the knitters. I had told one secretary beforehand that I’d be coming, and was ordered to bring my knitting. I spent a good bit of my day sharing knitting with my friends and in one case seeing what somebody else was working on.

I spent a large amount of time with one of my dearest friends, Kelley. Those who follow the blog may notice that she comments on many of my blog posts. Kelley and I had been friends for the entire 6 years I worked at this particular school, occasionally discussing religion and homeschooling, two areas in which we were both searching. Kelley is a die-hard knitter. The type that always has a pair of socks in progress at work. She knits during lunch, staff meetings, and between classes. Basically, a woman after my own heart.

So when I picked up knitting around December 1st of my last year there, it ramped up our friendship big-time. We suddenly had this very strong common bond, because we were both addicted to knitting. I had someone I could go to when I needed advice, suggestions, or just someone who spoke the language. And now that I’m 2 states away, she’s one of the people I miss the most.

But knitting does that to people, doesn’t it? I mean, there are those who knit every now and then; a scarf for Christmas and then don’t touch the needles for a couuple of years. And then there are those of us who are obsessed. And this is our club. Our community. It becomes one of the most important things in our lives. As we’re knitting yarn together in intricate patterns and funky colorways, we are doing the same thing with our knitting friendships.

So Kelley, keep those long comments comin’. I look forward to them, because it’s always great to hear from a good friend.

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Productive Time

As I have stated in the past, I do take my knitting just about everywhere with me. Restaurants, church, meetings, park benches, everywhere. I take the knitting with me because it helps calm me. It eases my mind, heart, and soul. It’s kind of a zen thing that centers me and helps me to stay focused on whatever is around me, as long as I’m not doing too complex a pattern. As a guy with diagnosed ADHD, this has become a very important way to keep me from getting bored and fidgety.

This week I have fallen into a couple of separate conversations about this with fellow knitters that I had just met. We talked about knitting in these particular scenarios, but both conversations went in the direction of productivity. Essentially turning wait time, down time, into productive time.

This, I must admit, really bothered me.

Yes, knitting is about making something. This is why I hate swatching…I rarely make swatches. But for me, it’s about relaxing, stepping back, and just concentrating on one stitch at a time. It’s about simplicity. I am afraid that we as a society have become a bit obsessed with productivity and I am a bit disturbed by that. There is no real down time. We have to find ways to be productive.

Sometimes I just want to be, and that should be enough.

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Knitting Emergency!!

I thought I had time to finish the baby blanket I’m knitting for a pregnant co-worker. The baby isn’t due until January 21st, so I figured I could easily finish it in time, especially with the impending knit-fest that is Christmas Vacation (oops…we’re not allowed to call it that anymore!).

But I was sorely mistaken.

The faculty/staff baby shower is on December 16th. Yup. 2 weeks from now. YIKES!! I’ve been working on this for a month and am only 1/3 done with it. So essentially, I have two options:

1. Knit like a lunatic for the next two weeks in hopes of getting it done

2. Give the unfinished product to her at the baby shower and then ask for it back so I can finish it. Seems tacky, but this is most likely the path I will need to take.

The good news? It’s a really cool looking blankie and I’ve already gotten rave reviews from those who have seen me working on it.

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