At the end of every year, I look back on the projects I’ve made in the previous 12 months, counting up the number of sweaters and hats, Etsy stoles, gifts and donations. It can be an interesting and heartening way to mark time: by what we’ve made.
This year I’m starting 2022 feeling reflective about my current projects. In these first couple weeks of the year, I’ve finished one and started another. I don’t always ponder Deep Things when I’m knitting, but when I do apparently I blog about it.
First FO of 2022
I’d hoped to finish this sweater by New Years, but didn’t quite make it—as you might imagine, knitting acres of beige stockinette stitch is not the most exciting thing in the world and it dragged (until the fun yoke, then it flew!).
But I knew I wanted a neutral pullover to serve as sort of a leveled-up sweatshirt, so acres of beige fit the bill. I learned a technique to be able to knit the sleeves two at a time on one needle—magic!—in fact, the technique is called “magic loop.”
It’s good to have a hobby where, after 11 years, you can still learn something new.
Don’t write yourself off. I’ve avoided magic loop for years because my lousy spatial reasoning made it seem too confusing and annoying. Finding a resource that showed it in a way that made sense to me took the fear out.
I admit I hoped I would find magic loop… well… magical. But instead I found it was hard on my hands, and felt slower than I wanted it to. It also isn’t very portable, because you have to use two balls of yarn at once. I’m so glad I learned to do it, because I’m sure I’ll use it again when the occasion calls for it. But I doubt that it’ll become my go-to technique.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to all the time. Or ever.
First WIP of 2022.
One of the projects on my Happiness List this year is a shawl made with some “souvenir yarn” I bought on our family-visiting road trip last summer. I try to pop into local(ish) yarn shops, and a shop in Tennessee I’ve visited several times over the years of visiting my in-laws had a fabulous new location and was hosting an indie dyer pop-up. Double bonus!
I was looking for some specific colors of yarn to fit a gap in my shawl wardrobe, and (of course) ended up buying something totally different. Oops.
I at least bought the yarn with a specific pattern in mind, so after I finished my Lilia’s Day sweater, I was excited to start knitting this project I’ve been anticipating since last July. And then… it just didn’t work. This is one of the mysteries of knitting (and life?):
Sometimes, on paper and in your head, things should work but then in reality they just don’t.
Matching yarns to patterns has always seemed to me that it should be easier than it is. Everything can seem right, but when you start working, it just feels wrong. It’s unpredictable, and it’s often inexplicable. Then you have choices: push through, make it work. Sometimes this is the right thing, and you find that the “block” was a mental one. Another choice: put the yarn in “time out,” let it rest and listen to it… let it tell you what it wants to be. (I know this sounds cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, but it’s a thing.)
Another choice, and the one I opted for this time: ponder and pivot. Look again. Can you get specific about what wasn’t feeling right?
I was fixated on a particular shawl pattern, one I’ve knit before. It’s a fantastic shape and size to wear, and clever and engaging to knit. But these yarns I fell in love with turned out to be too similar; the shawl pattern needs three contrasting shades that interplay. When I tried it with these, the design just didn’t sing.
I went back to the drawing board (aka Ravelry pattern search) and found another option to let these yarns shine. I could have forced them to work as a low-contrast trio, but I think I would always have been disappointed that the clever pattern didn’t show up like it should. Instead, I’m knitting up a simpler pattern that lets these colors act as a gradient rather than competing with them for attention. And I love the shifts in and out of the darker and lighter tones.
Two projects, both alike in dignity…
Okay, I know, from knitting to Shakespeare is a stretch. (Or maybe not.)
But as I start this new year finishing one project and in the middle of another, I’m struck by the differences between them. It’s one of the things I love most about knitting.
One set of skills can create outcomes that are vastly varied… and equally enjoyed.
Garments and accessories and household goods and toys. Necessities and fripperies. Cozy heavy wooly things and light bright ethereal things. Soothing and comfortable; challenging and exasperating. And it all comes back to the same couple of stitches, the same handful (literally) of movements… combined and recombined, partnered with seemingly infinite options of materials. “Knitting” may be one thing, one skill, one hobby, (one stitch after one stitch after one stitch endlessly…) but it can also feel like an entirely new thing with every different project.
What else can I approach this way: using abilities I already have to create a life of variety and usefulness? To surround myself with comfort and beauty? To engage in both challenge and refreshment?
I think that’s a pretty good place to begin this new year. Stay well, friends. 🙏🏻