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.