Friday, December 15, 2006

Feeling Edgy

Above is the Print O' the Wave Stole from Eunny's free patterns.

As you can see, I am busy knitting the interminable triangles around the perimeter of the stole with only about 1/4 of the edging completed. This has been one of the most joyless pieces of knitting in memory for me. So in my midwinter solstice, sado-masochistic state I'm determined to not knit on anything else until this is finished. Finished will be defined by knitting only, blocking will be another project by my terms and definitions.

There are a number of reasons this project has been joyless. A few have to do with the technical aspects of knitting:
- it's a dark color yarn for lace. Something I was aware of, but I do like the deep jewel toned teal yarn.
- although I like the appearance of the shawl, the pattern is interminably repetitive. (yawn)
- the main chart in the pattern is annoying. There is a bold line at the 10 stitch mark, then a red line marking the edge vs. the center repeat of the pattern. A defect that would fool my eye repeatedly until I could "read" the knitting and ignore that black bold line.
- the border is knit onto the stole with the body of the shawl on the right hand side when the right side of the shawl is facing you. This might sit well with a left handed knitter, but is just annoying to me.
- there is an error in the edging pattern that took me a week to figure out and correct.

But I've come to the conclusion that there's more to the joylessness than just the technical aspects. I started this shawl in July of this year. From the beginning of May, life in this household has been in tumult and full of uncertainty. I believe there is something about handwork that absorbs and reflects back the emotional state of the artisan.

I remember when a friend was spending time in waiting rooms while her daughter was undergoing treatment for a severe psychiatric disorder. She would only work on items that would be donated to charity. Her reason was if she worked on garments for her family or her home, every time she saw them she would be transported back to those dismal waiting rooms.

Another friend was with me when my stepfather died unexpectedly. We had a 6 hour drive shortly after where she put down the shawl that she had been working on and picked up a child's sweater she was knitting for charity. She wanted to finish the shawl and didn't want to be reminded of the sad occassion everytime she handled it thereafter.

There seems to be some of that going on with this shawl. Usually knitting is an enjoyable and relaxing activity for me....the rhythm of the repetitive movement, the feel and smell of the yarn, and watching the fabric below the needles grow are pleasures to enjoy.....something like chocolate. But this shawl has been more like....brussel sprouts. I like brussel sprouts well enough: on occassion, in small quantities, and with butter. But brussel sprouts are bitter and knitting this shawl has been one long diet of brussel sprouts.

So I'm feeling edgy right now as we wait to see how these changes in our lives are going to turn out.

Add to that the fact that eight of my inlaws are descending upon us for the Christmas holiday. These are people who tend to melt down after a 4-5 hour family get together. I can't wait to see what they do while spending 96 hours in close proximity....with 72 of them under my roof. Perhaps I'll include brussel sprouts in at least one of the meals!

So here are my conclusions regarding this stole:
- There are a number of works in progress that I haven't touched since last spring. That was probably a good thing and I will be able to return to them with joy in the new year.
- Once this stole is finished, I will work on charity knitting until things are brighter and more certain.
- I will make no hasty judgements about the disposition of Print O' the was originally to be for me. We'll see if I care to keep it after it is set aside for awhile.

And I will dream about the red swallowtail shawl that I want to knit and own. It will be a victory shawl that commemorates the good health we've achieved in this household by eating our brussel sprouts!


  1. Print O' the Wave does look lovely in that blue, but I hear you about knitting lace in dark colors. I hope you can soon start on your Swallowtail and life becomes less stressful. I'm going to make another one but add a few more repeats to make it a bit larger.

  2. Anonymous6:54 PM

    Well, it certainly does look beautiful, even if it is bringing you no joy at the moment. Maybe rationing the edging repeats would work? Set yourself a goal of repeats to accomplish each day, then you can work on something fun? Seriously, though, it looks great. (Have you emailed Eunny about the distracting lines in the chart and the mistake in the edging?)

  3. The stole is beautiful, you will feel a sense of accomplishment when it is complete, no doubt...

    ...and at least you have not lost your sense of humor. Brussel sprouts!! I've had my share as well.

    May your red swallowtail dreams become reality soon...

  4. Anonymous10:40 AM

    What a lovely shawl. And what an interesting post. Some excellent advice there. But now, as if you don't already have enough to do, I'm tagging you with a weird meme. Click on over to my blog for details :)

    On the bright side, it will take your mind off of less weird things to think about.

  5. Love the Print O Wave - looks beautiful. Bloglines hasn't updated you recently - I was astounded to find posts I missed. The Walk was beautiful, as is the spindling.

  6. Anonymous9:55 AM

    The shawl is beautiful! And thanks for the tip about knitting lace with dark colours. Or not as the case may be.
    Good luck with the holiday family invasion. If it all becomes unbearable, I am sure that there is something that you NEED to get at the grocery store. Preferably that little one all the way across town ;-)


tie in the loose ends...