Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I recently scanned back over my old blog posts a couple days ago as part of my ongoing self assessment prior to End-2011. Every year brings on a new me and 2012 will be a new Rabbit, a version 49.0, as it were.

I got used to change in the 2000 decade--changing first jobs, then careers, then locations--a new relationship, new friends, new experiences. Then things settled down. In some ways the more static life I was experiencing was a welcome relief, but in other ways, things got, well, BORING. Time advanced quickly in the face of less stress. There were a few sticky moments here and there, but mostly things were calm and good.

Then came 2011. I lost my long time birdie companion Gabriel the cockatiel after 26-1/2 years in February. My mom diagnosed with, struggled through treatment for and ultimately died in August of cancer, ending years of poor health. The stress from my mom's illness and death has taxed my hubby and I considerably and we will both be glad when things settle. My job has been stressful as well, with our facility undergoing various inspections and accreditation visits. These check are typical, I know and will increase with the changes in healthcare policy, but like cleaning out a garage after ages of using it, the first reorganization can be overwhelming. The rest of the year has been various little stresses that seem magnified by time proximity to bigger issues.

My relief has been my knitting, I will admit, which has really take off this year. I took a series of workshops in May with Cat Bordhi (squeeee!) which were eye opening and wonderful. Even after years of knitting, I learned a LOT. I have mostly knit smaller projects this year, but I have also learned or revisited techniques, played with new yarns and learned to stretch myself.

Most importantly for me, Laura and Harry of Northcoast Knittery have really turned themselves into the knitting Dynamic Duo. There is ALWAYS something going on at the shop and the events there have become a big hub for my social life. I have a group of friends, many of whom I also now connect with via Facebook when not at the store. I have always had friends, but after several years here behind the Redwood Curtain, I really feel like I belong. 2012 promises to be more of the same--lots to do, fiberwise.

So enough waxing maudlin and time to get pragmatic. In looking over my blog, I found an old 2008 post of those projects I was ABSOLUTELY going to get done that year. Frankly, I finished none of them. I won't even list them in this post. Not worth it. I know what they are. They still need to get done, but what I really want is to reconnect with the JOY of my knitting craft.

I started a shawl a few weeks ago. It was a new pattern I got from NCK, done by their resident designer. I have knitted on of her projects before, and her designs are very interesting. I am not sure yet if anyone else has knit it, so there are no errata yet. I was dutifully trying to muddle through as it was a somewhat challenging knit and just yesterday had an epiphany. 36 rows in, I ripped it all out. Frogged. Rip it, rip it, rip it. Why? Because I was NOT HAVING FUN.

Sometimes things do get tedious, such as my green cocoon, started way back in June and mentioned a couple times in this blog. Like a class paper with a due date, I have plugged along and now, I am almost done. Yes, really. I can smell the end and it will be done in time to submit to the shop. I am quite relieved, actually. I will finish something on time that I promised I would do.

The rest of my knitting is in constant flux. I recently posted on Facebook that "I have more UFO's than Area 51". It's sadly true. Some require playdates like the three bags I have the knitting done for, but need to add linings and embellishments. Some require reworking like the miserable Zarah. I now have a homemade body form of me to use. I have even looked at Zarah on it and know that I have to rip and extensively reknit the upper torso. This endeavor will also require a playdate (or more). I have another sweater that I want to redesign the sleeves and I need to finish the torso on the bodyform before I can start those sleeves--playdate. I need to do gauge swatches for new projects. finish others. I need to set up a queue of smaller things for my knitting bag; I currently have not lunchtime projects set up. In my defense in this arena, I have done all that I had set up--at least six scarves, 2 shawlettes, 2 cowls and a pair of gloves as portable projects that are all done. I am even wearing most of them. I also did a quick lace shawl at home this year. Other items I have worked on but they are part of the UFO's or have turned into "ugh" projects. Or I am just stuck. Or worse, bored with them. (can you say "Jiada"? I did actually work on that this year as well.)

So some things are good, others, stalled. I do hope to keep my focus and hit some UFO's. I really want to and I have my Ravelry project list to remind me. The are, however, other things in my queue that also clamor to be knit up. So it goes. None of this even covers my dyeing (lots to do there, too.) or the brand new spinning wheel I got recently. (Just look at the basket of roving--how cool would that look spun up??) What I really hope for is some creative satisfaction next year, projects I like and wear, that others like and wear , that I am proud of, and most of all, that I enjoyed making.

Blessings to all for prosperity in 2012 Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The End of the Year

The end of a year tends to trigger lots of emotion. It causes us to ponder what happened in the preceding 12 months. Often, we come smack up against occurrences that were fraught with anxiety. Sometime we even take stock of past glories. Many people tend to look forward as is the coming year means a giant do-over, a karmic get-out-of-jail free card, a fresh start.

I have tended to be this sort of person, and the new year has usually meant more to me than the inconvenience of remembering to put the proper date on bills and correspondence. I also admit that the onset of middle age has triggered the tendency to feel like time is rocketing by faster and faster. This year has been no exception.

As you grow older, you tend to accumulate things. Sometimes these things are material items, sometimes they are experiences, memories and wisdom. Sometimes these things are scars. The milestones change as one ages. As a child, years are marked by education, advancing through school grades, getting taller and/or bigger, growing more independent and capable. This trend continues through young adulthood: old enough to drive, old enough to vote, old enough to have sex, old enough to drink. The milestones are big, too. Graduating from school, starting to work, leaving home, getting married, having babies, getting divorced, changing careers. The material goods and memories expand: buying a car, a house, a pricey vacation, raising a family.

I have experienced a chunk of the things above. Not all, but a goodly chunk. I am not fond of some of the changes I am going through as I experience middle age: new aches and pains, less stamina and the feeling that windows in my life are starting to close as age negates opportunities. Still, I take stock of what I HAVE done both in the previous 12 months and in my life in general and I have done OK. I have a career, friends and have, in my smallish and local way, seen some nifty chunks of the world. I have seen things. I do watch out for fun, new experiences. I am not a wealthy person, but I have made decent use of my time.

One of my sadnesses of this year was the death of my mother. This is a milestone we don't tend to talk about above the tone of a whisper in this society. It's a big loss for me, although it was not unexpected. Still, Mom hadsome near misses mortality-wise and I did hope she might dodge the 2011 bullet. No such luck. I miss you Mom. I really do.

This has finally really lit a fire of "this can and will be me at some point" in my psyche. My Little Blog that Nobody Reads has chronicled mostly my knitting journey, but also has included some of my local adventures. I haven't posted so much of late for various reasons, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy.

I have finally reverse engineered a sweater I knit in the mid '90's and startedwriting up the pattern. I am very proud of this project in that it has been something I have MEANT to do for ages and never seemed to get around to doing. I have other knitting designs on the slate, but this was a colossal UFO, in that I made the sweater and never wrote it it. I can take the "incomplete" off my karmic transcript.

My project page on Ravelry has been the same way. I have more UFO's than Area 51 and it has become rather embarrassing. I am also finding that the process of digging through partly done knitwear is tedious. So too is the guilt of not finishing a handful of items promised to friends and family. The completion of my Green Thing referred to in the previous paragraph will be a huge relief. There are things I want to knit, but the pleasure is sapped by the anxiety of things I HAVE to do superseding things I WANT to do.

I have decided this year not to make a list of resolutions. Too much guilt when and if they go undone. I want to try and not feel over committed, but to take things a layer at a time, and FINISH things. I want to simplify and to reconnect with the pleasure of the process. For so many activities, if the process is not fun, then the finished project loses luster and becomes a burden--sometimes an incomplete burden--that contributes to clutter, frustration and irritation.

I watched my ailing mother struggle with being bored and overwhelmed at the end of her life. She did have some pleasure with a few friends at the end, but mostly she was ill and lonely. I know my end will come in time, but I want to face the second half of my life with aplomb and even enthusiasm. My knitting is my passion. I have learned a lot in the last few years about knitting, adding to my knowledge base in leaps and bounds. It feels good that I will soon add "designer" to my fiber resume. I can do this and I will do it. Happy New Year to all and sundry and onward 2012!