Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Yearning for completion

I have frequently asked myself why crafty creative projects so often remain unfinished and, as I stand in yarn shops in a queue of enthusiastic, hopeful knitters, I find myself speculating how many of these skeins and balls will lose their little paper tags, and how many will be knitted up into fabric.



I wonder if any of the marketing departments of yarn companies have done research into the destiny of all these fibres, so very full of potential. Or perhaps they don't really care - as long as they keep selling these little twists and bundles of possibility, does it really matter to them if these purchases have any long-term consequence?


Is it significant that casting on is so much more fun than sewing up? Or even that reading through knitting patterns, and pondering over books full of tantalizing pictures of this world of eternal and infinite perhaps, can be even more absorbent of time than actually producing finished items?



Why do I postpone picking up stitches until the light is good, and the table free, and the atmosphere just right, when the darkest, coldest evening will find me ferreting in the gloom of my secret yarn store (just like Narnia some of the most magical excess is hidden behind a welter of coats), and comparing colour and ply and tone in the half-light?



 And why is it that the present of a gigantic ball of candy-pink yarn, which may well never come to anything, is capable of dismissing winter gloom, with its impossible ice cream colour, and crazy perfection as an object in itself?



To some of life's most profound questions it seems that there is no answer, but like the improving effects of regular piano practice (Princess Bunchy, are you listening?), a discipline of twenty minutes a day has given me world enough and time to work my way to completion on a number of constructive fronts - all accompanied by a strict austerity programme whereby I have promised myself that all projects undertaken must use up materials from my not inconsiderable stash, and be from patterns which do not involve cash outlay.

Which, to be honest, is a spur to creativity. The thought that I must not buy any yarn until I use up what I have is enough to impel me to knit day and night for however long it takes - even down to candy-pink welly socks.


And thanks to Marmalade Rose's initiative, and my steely and determined fixity of resolve, not to mention austerity plan, I have finally completed a fetching little tank top for Princess Bunchy. And such is the success of this little bit of motherly love that Princess Bunchy has pronounced it 'much better than she expected it would be'.

Which considering that she gave prior approval to the pattern, and personally chose the yarn (Sirdar Snuggly DK, which I think is probably for babies, but that would enhance its attraction in the eyes of Princess B), is perhaps a little less than an adoring, industrious mother would hope for. But she then modified her comment by adding that she was only referring to the sizing, as she thought she would probably have grown out of it, because it had taken such a long time to finish (it had come to temporary halt at aforesaid picking up and sewing up stage, unfortunately, whilst I had been sidetracked by playing with yarn, aprons, etc, and, of course, the obligatory casting-on of several new projects).

But I must admit that I am feeling quite pleased with myself, especially as the pattern (Sirdar 8752) was obtained for only 20p in the sale, being an ex-display copy. Now there's a thrifty mother for you!


And here for your delectation is one I made earlier: my very first shawl, completing which I feel is quite a momentous rite of passage. I am now revving up for Gabriel's Wings, Ishbel, Multnomah and Forest Canopy, which I feel are all significant steps in the life of a knitter, perhaps not quite up to the skill level of the Clapotis scarf, but hey, at twenty minutes a day, I am sure that I might be able to make Princess B a Clapotis for her graduation ceremony.


Now please don't look too closely at the stitching, as I am sure you can find mistakes in the yarnovers if you allow your optics to linger long in that direction (I have always wanted to use the word optic, just like Charlotte Brontë). And also the eagle-eyed among you might have noticed the bits of fluff, which is because I have been wearing the shawl almost daily since I finished it. After the trauma of the odd-armed jumper, which was rather too disturbing (I blame the Big Wool), I have only knitted myself socks, so to make such a success of a shawl was really quite encouraging.


My lovely sister has commented on the Little House on the Prairie effect inherent in the wearing of such a garment, one which is only enhanced when accompanied by my second-best wellies and bargain skirt with the petticoat hanging down (even more of a bargain), and slightly reinforced by turning up to a meeting with the accountant with my pinny still on (I was in a bit of a rush), but the books are very entertaining so I feel quite taken with the idea of adopting the persona of a character from a book recounting life in the last century but one. Personally, in my head I feel a bit more like a character in Adam Bede, but unfortunately am far too old to be Dinah, and what is even sadder I have a good few years on my heroine, Mrs Poyser. I think I am more Old Feyther Taft, now, more's the pity - read the novel and tell me what you think.


But I digress, to borrow a phrase from my dear papa, the Commander-in-Chief, and in case you, too, wish to adopt my style of dress, I will give you the technical details for the shawl, which is a good one with which to start your shawl career, being a very simple pattern by Laura Chau, called quite appositely Simple But Effective Shawl. I used just under one skein of Skein Queen Enchant, in the dreamily-named shade Lazy Swells, but any sort of sock yarn or 4-ply will do.

I am sure that, when I started writing, there was a point where I intended to end up, but somehow in the process I have lost my thread, but finding it would involve rummaging in the yarn cupboard again, and I really must get on to the macaroni cheese.

But I did want to make a public information announcement first - I don't know how many of you have noticed, but Blogger have been up to their old tricks of mystifying us all, and if you look at the comments for posts between mid-December and mid-January a great many of them have disappeared from the Dashboard and the total at the bottom of the post, although if you click on that disappointing little '0 comments' they are still there in the ether. You can register your complaint here, and perhaps if enough people do, then the darling little elves who operate the system might get on and fix it.

And with that I depart for the macaroni cheese, and hope that in the hurly burly of life you can hang onto your own threads, and perhaps even work your way to the end of a skein.

39 comments:

Jak said...

Lovely post as ever. I particularly like where you met the accountant in your pinny, lol, rather like going to ASDA in one's slippers. The shawl is lovely and looks very cosily soft.
Jak x

LOVE STITCHING RED said...

I don't know the answers to all the questions but I wish my knitting were as neat as yours and now I'm heading over to my dashboard to see if I was billy no mates over December and January lol ;o)

Floss said...

Oh Pomona, how rewarding to be getting these things finished! I am not a completer-finisher (a phrase I learned on some management course for teachers). The shawl is beautiful. I found one in a charity shop bag my friend passed me, and wore it in the cold weather, thinking of you! But it was nothing as soft and elegant as yours. Today I was accused of looking like an amiable Jane Austin character! Sadly, I know I'm Emma, really... So long as I avoid Mrs Bennett, I think I can live with it (but sometimes when I was ill, I thought I was going that way).

Sarah said...

Oh sweetheart I did enjoy that post. You write so well I felt I was reading a wonderful book. Perhaps you could possibly write one in your ample spare time?

Your shawl is perfectly perfect in every way although I really couldn't wear one myself. Doesn't it make you feel old? It's been a good while since I saw one in action over here I'm afraid.

Now I'm not surprised that Princess Bunchy fell in love with her new vest. It really is quite something! Very nice style. Well done super thrifty Mama!!

andamento said...

Love the tank top, just wish I could knit!

wonderwoman said...

i love you shawl so much it has inspired me to have a go at making one! Hopefully i can now find the right yarn in my stash - i feel a bout of startitis coming on!!!

xxx

Sue said...

The shawl is lovely and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog.

dottycookie said...

A lovely post, and a lovely shawl. I've been resisting the shawl route but I think you may just have convinced me to cast one on ...

Cottage Garden said...

Love the colour of your shawl Pomona and the pattern is so pretty and delicate.

I noticed that comments had gone missing on mine too - how weird.

Hope you are now getting some spring-like weather down there in deepest Kent:-)

Jeanne x

A Bun Can Dance said...

So much of your post has made me smile, Pomona!
Poor Miss Bunchy wondering if her item would ever fit... arriving at the accountant wearing your pinny... I love it all! And I am a big fan of Laura's "Little House" recounts- I spent several years wanting to be Melissa Gilbert in the TV programme ;-)
Congratulations on finishing your projects - I wish I could be so complete with my own knitting projects.
Happy days to you
D x

periwinkle said...

well I think your shawl is just lovely - I have yarn hidden all over the house , even in the boot of the car lol -- hub has now banned me from buying anymore until I use some of what I have.... I just need to find the time to knit now

cathleen said...

Everything is so pretty, Pomona, especially the pink! Thanks for your caring concern recently.

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

Over the years I too have abandoned many a project finding that the outcome did no where reflect the beauty I had transpired to.
But I've also realized that in our throw away society that should not be the case.
So here's to the completion of Miss B's sweater, your beautiful shawl and oh yes I think the pink socks will be perfect in your wellies...
Susan x

Lalabibaby said...

Lovely knitting Pomona .... I like to knit but being an impatient so and so I soon get bored because it takes so long to reach the end result .... hence bags stuffed with UFOs !!

Florence and Mary said...

I really enjoyed reading this post!

I can't wait until I have finished all the tweaks in my new home and can focus of putting together my craft room and actually doing some crafting.

Victoria xx

Bobo Bun said...

It all sounds perfectly perfect Pomona. I read each and every bit as your words flow along making me laugh and think aa I go. I think it's the knitters illnes to be seduced by yarn and new projects. I'm trying to be strict to finish the endlessly long sleeve I'm knitting for eldest bun's cardi, knowing when I get there there's one more to do. So your 20 mins a day sounds a good focusing idea.

By the way the pictures of your B & B look so inviting.

Lisa x

Frances said...

This was a delight to read. I was with you every step/stitch/word of the way.

When I was a teenager (in the very early 60's) I had a summer job in a then trendy yarn shop. Part of my job was to finish up the projects that had some up short in the enthusiasm of those knitters who'd begun them. That was ... long ago. I usually do eventually finish my own projects, or find a way to turn a sweater/jumper into a hat.

Lots of our human endeavors start out with enthusiasm. It's always that middle or late middle bit where the test arrives.

Your shawl is beautful! xo

Louise said...

I'm in awe of your knitting as my attempts have always had more holes than wool! I can cook though, and make a mean home-made macaroni cheese. I always enjoy this favourite of mine, I hope you enjoyed yours. x

Sarah said...

The shawl is so pretty. Em, finishing projects - as much as I love starting something new, I hate finishing off so I really try to be strict with myself and complete first, something new second.....
I too have had problems with comments disappearing. Thanks for the link.
x

melanie said...

I love the tank top Pomona, it is so lovely! xxx

Chrissie said...

What a great read! What a tactful girl PB is, to be sure!
And thank you so much for your technical guidance with Firefox etc - we're going to investigate this at the weekend.

Gina said...

Lovely post and your shawl is gorgeous... I do find that untouched ball of pink yarn very appealing too!

Kate said...

Loved reading your post and I don't mind telling you I had a little guffaw or two. Lucky Princess Bunchy, I would love one of those tanks too so you can tell her I'm most envious of her and by the way, I was looking at the 20-Mins flickr the other day and you have produced some beautiful stuff!

Kate x

Itch2stitch.com said...

Good questions Pomona! You sound a bit like me in that department, trying to figure everything out. Love your projects, the shawl is just gorgeous! You have a lovely way with words, do you ever consider writing a book? you should you know! Re your question on my blog... Yes George does get to read my blog, he reads every Friday! Poor thing! He is a good soul. Suzie xxx

Menopausal musing said...

I so want that ball of wool and the bamboo needles....... I would just have to start something else (wrote the woman with at least five unfinished projects on the go at any one time).
:O)
Incidentally, I love the idea of a shawl............

Pipany said...

Such a fab post Pomona. Made me laugh and nod agreement in equal quantities. Totally relate to the shawl and welly wearing which also makes me think Little House style thoughts, though less so on wet days if I am honest where 'oh bugger it' thoughts are more my style! Have a great weekend and continue the knitting too xx

rockinloubylou said...

Hi Pomona. I thought you might like to see your apron on my blog. The instructions were very clear and any failings were my own!
Louise
http://sunshineandroses-rockinloubylou.blogspot.com/2010/03/country-mouse-is-snowed-in.html

elizabethm said...

Oh love the shawl. I must resist the lure of making a shawl. I am just on the verge of trying to learn how to make socks on two circular needles. Look what you have started now!

Cathy said...

If you met your accountant in that lovely pinny I am sure he was very impressed...lol. Loved your post and I so agree with the knitting. I have knitted very few things in the past but some of them are unfinished 20 years down the line. Sad...! Your knitteds are beautiful btw.

I have heard lots of people say Blogger is playing up lately. I see they have cut down the number of posts per page.

Kelly said...

It really feels good to get thing completed doesn't it! I'm not surprised you are pleased, theat tank top looks gorgeous!

Polka Dot Daze said...

Lovely post! I love that shawl, you are very clever. Knitting is just something in the too hard basket for me. Although I have to confess to big bag of Debbie Bliss wool that was meant to be a crochet blanket for my little boy - I don't think it is going to happen.

skippinginthemeadow said...

i love your writing and your beautiful shawl and the uplifting ball of pink wool :o)

xxx

sumea

MILLY said...

I love the writing on the label. To sew it in the finished garment, knowing you knit every last stitch, a really good feeling.
Hope you sew them in the socks too.

Barbara said...

Your knitting is beautiful and I love the candy pink wool. Could just imagine using that tomake something for my granddaughter.

Yours is the second blog I have read this week talking of not finishing craft projects. I think we must all suffer from that. Can'tcound how many I have given away for someone else to finish and keep!

Our daffodils are just about 3 inches high so no idea when they will bud.

bad penny said...

Hi - thanks for letting me know that Ernest has arrived safe & sound - hope he behaves !

I'm not a knitter but love to see what you all get up to !

Felicity said...

im the same with wool and patterns, i love curling up on the sofa and just looking and planning, your tanktop for your daughter is so lovely, im making socks at the mo, my husband cant understand why! Id love to do a shawl one day, i need to improve first!

thanks for your lovely comment about my neighbour hopefully things will improve, they already have a bit so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Fliss xx

Amelia said...

absolutely love the things you have here.

Amelia.x

Charlotte, Cottontails said...

Hope you are feeling better? Did a post yesterday saying that Ernest had arrived okay...
Charlotte
x

anna said...

hello, i'm sorry it's taken me so long to visit your blog, but here i am!
i love the shawl - it looks beautiful in 'enchant'. i have a skein stashed away... but maybe it's one of those destined never to be knit with, i don't know!

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