Friday, November 26, 2010

Creative Endeavors in 2010

I am a knitter. It sounds odd to say that as I've only been knitting for two years and my mind defaults to the old thought that "I could never learn to do that".

I a process knitter. This means that I enjoy the doing of the knitting. It means I don't knit to wind up with a finished product in most cases. I like to work with interesting yarns that I watch go through my fingers. I like colored yarn and variagated yarns with long strands of color change and multiple colors or different fibers in the yarns themselves (not one solid color).  I like knitting holding two yarns at one time to make it look different than if just one was used. I like yarns that feel good in my hands and ones that have some give. I despise acrylic as it is too stiff and tough to work with. Unfortunately my kids like their hats made of it best so I do work with it sometimes when I'm focusing on making a product not knitting for the process.

I am a rebellious knitter in that I don't like to be constrained to strict patterns conceived by others. I want to adapt the patterns to my liking, change the colors, shift the shape and to do different things. I like to work with the fibers and let them tell me what they want me to do with them.

In the beginning of 2010 I was enjoying process knitting using general kind of vague patterns by Jane Thornley that allow the knitter to select their own fibers. The knitter can mix yarns of different gauge, color, and texture. How the item turns out in the end (size-wise) can vary so this is a bit tricky to get to be something that fits well or looks good on the body. (Above is a shawl in process using Jane Thornley's Feather 'n Fan pattern with yarns I selected.)

This year I had two objects that I immensely enjoyed knitting up that hit a snag in the finishing. This derailed me from knitting. Knitting got to be about problem solving. I needed to do techniques that I had not yet learned how to do. Trying to learn from  YouTube tutorials or on Internet chat lists with help from strangers was not working. I got aggravated and abandonded knitting for months, maybe six months! I was very busy living life at that time and felt I had no creative energy left in my body or mind to deal with any type of handcrft or art making. Photography done while on the fly since I travel with my DSLR camera everywhere I go was all I could muster up for creative endeavors.

I then got the itch to start again but had no time or energy for creative knitting. I made some hats. Some other items were not turning out well with the yarn I was using so were ripped out.

In late September I spotted two carpet beetle larvae in a skein of white mohair wool yarn. I freaked out. I had to spend many hours doing a process to try to kill any possible eggs or other larvae that might be in the yarn. (Carpet beetle larvae eat any kind of fiber not just wool and they also eat through plastic bags so keeping them out can be tricky. I found them eating the wallpaper custom made by the former homeowner which is silk fabric made into wallpaper and they also were on the couches with cotton upholstery and on the wool embroidered rug!)

To save the yarn involves taking all the yarn in the house and doing a rotation in the freezer and back out again, then repeating it again. I also did a thorough cleaning and decluttering in the upstairs rooms of the house where more larvae (tiny caterpillars) were found. This took about three full days which was hard to scrape together in our busy fall which had at least two appointments, seven days a week, and included five full days outside the house from breakfast until after dinner.

The carpet beetles were a scary and gross thing to deal with. Apparently they come in through the window screens when the window is open and they love to live inside old yellow jacket nests, which our shutters and window casings often have in them. The adult's favorite food is spirea which was the plant which was in front of our entire house, so first and second floor opened windows in spring and summer were an easy way for them to get in. Through Internet research I learned that the little caterpillar larvae can remain in that state for years! I think I erradicated the monsters.

I have been itching to learn to spin and have ideas for art yarn spinning which involves the use of fibers from recycled clothing. I have resisted the urge to get into this as I fear I will overspend on new materials for that new craft. I had already bought a spinning wheel (which is not really functional in its current state) and had bought books on the topic. I keep teling myself I barely have time to knit with the yarn I already own so to stay away from spinning for now!

I attended the huge New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck New York in October by myself. This let me have more free time for browsing and shopping. I may have overspent there. Well it was not a lot, we could afford it, and it was fun to splurge on it after living on a very tight budget for so long. I have enough yarn from that trip for about four long sleeved sweaters. I figured what I bought would keep me busy for about nine months. Then my husband was laid off about six weeks after that festival (something we did not suspect would happen) and I now feel badly about the spending (especially since the credit card bill for those purchases arrived the day after the lay off). Ouch.

What I need right now is some mindless knitting projects that I can take places to knit without much thinking. It can't be things with lots of chart reading or anything pretty new to me like knitting socks that needs counting of rows and lots of increasing or decreasing. I would also like a more creative knitting project to work on while I am home and am in the mood.

The only thing holding me back from deciding on what projects to work on is I need to organize my yarn after the whole freezing process. Currently it is still residing with each skein in its own ziplock bag (very uninspiring to me as I like to hold the yarn and feel it and see it clearly which is not easy with it all in bags). All the bags are then in large garbage bags sitting in the hallway. I need to get it out, look it over, and organize it in safe storage places that maybe will deter future insects. I also need to sit and sort the yarn from the knitting festival and contemplate what new projects I will make.

So far 2010 has been a busy year for me, doing things with my kids and homeschooling them. Knitting and other creative pursuits have taken a backseat to parenting and educating them. I  need to find a way to squeak creative endeavors back into my schedule while keeping my children and their education as my top priority. Supporting my husband emotionally through the job search process is also important. I know knitting and other creative pursuits will help me relieve stress and perhaps can keep worrying away. I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, I'm not on prescription medications to help my mood or anything else, and I barely ever drink, so I turn to making art and doing handcrafts for pleasure and stress relief. I think that's a healthy way to handle life's problems! I don't go to therapy but if you see me sitting with pointy needles and knitting away, that's me "doing therapy".

1 comment:

FairyLover said...

I too like to knit but I don't consider myself very good at it. Have you tried doing water bottle covers? They are pretty easy. Cast on 40 stitches. Doing an inch or so of ribbing then stockinet stitch for as long as you need for your bottle. Then knit two together after 8 stitches to the end of the row. Purl the next row. Then knit two together after 7 stitches. Keep this knit a row with decreases then purl a row until you are down to 8 stitches. Gather these up and stitch up the side seam. I make a tie and thread it around the top to keep it securely on the bottle. You really don't have to think about them while you're working. Also you could do a simple washcloth. I love cotton yarn for both of these projects.

Kathi Homeschooling in Connecticut