Bringing the Old Into the New

There comes a point when you realize, this is it – there will be no new projects this year.

I feel like it always sneaks up on me.  There is truly a part of me that thinks, “This year, I can do it.  I can finish all of the projects that I currently have on my needles AND start at least one new one before The End Of The Year!”  (That goes in caps because I can hear it being announced in a God-voice in my head.)  And every year, it hits December…and before you know it, I’m frantically trying to start AND finish all of the things I wanted to make as gifts for people, and utterly failing at it.  This year, I wanted to make three things.  The first was a Browns hat for my boyfriend, since it was our first Christmas together.  I managed to start this and finish it before Christmas Eve – score one point!

I also was driven into starting fingerless gloves for my work wife, Mabs.  Months ago, she had mentioned that she thought it would be fun to work out a bargain with me for a pair of fingerless gloves.  I kept that in the back of my head and meant to ask her if she would give me one of her drawings or paintings or any of the lovely things she creates in return…but before we could ever got to that conversation, she announced that she was abandoning me to move to Columbus.  To be fair, that is where here boyfriend lives, and I’m truly happy for her.  She’s found a great job that will be right up her alley, and I think she’ll be much happier there.  But this made me jump into gear to make her a pair of fingerless gloves.  I picked out a yarn that I think is perfect for her – deep purples and blues, which is what she usually wears.  I started them on a Sunday thinking I could have them ready for her by that Tuesday.  For those of you not in the know, this is called “knitter’s logic”.  We think to ourselves, “I want this to be done by X date.  Ergo, it shall be.”  Then, we tack on some “logic”, which sounds something like this: “Plus, fingerless gloves are tiny.  They’re quick.  Mabs has tiny hands, and I’m a fast knitter.  Heck, I bet I could be finished with these in a day if I wanted to!”  Really logical, right?  Even if I knit non-stop – which I pretty much did that Sunday – I still had to work on Monday and Tuesday morning, plus sleep and all of that stuff.

So it should come as a surprise to no one except me that when Tuesday’s meeting rolled around, I put a mostly finished single glove in the box of her going away gifts.  I was past the thumb gusset and just not sure how long to make the part going up the fingers…did she want individual fingers or an open gauntlet?  How far up the fingers did she want it to go?  It actually worked out beautifully that it wasn’t done because I definitely would have chosen to go with longer closed fingers, and she wanted me to basically stop where I was and “close it off”, in her words.  However, she did want me to make the arm part a bit longer…doh!  I decided to put that first glove aside while I considered how to do that.  Make another piece, then cut and graft that on?  Tear out the cast-on then try to knit the pattern backwards on down?  I made the second glove while I mulled over and by the time I was ready to return to that first glove, I realized that I would just have to rip back.  It was too difficult to try to knit backwards.  Better to just go back to the thumb gusset beginning, add on the extra chart repeat that I had done on the other glove, and then keep going.

I thought I would be done by now.  Really, I did.  I thought that it would just take a few days to do both gloves…and ordinarily it might have, but I had other holiday gifts to work on.  Joel’s hat was first, and then there was the one for my dad.  (We’ll get to that in a minute.)  So the gloves were put aside, then picked up again come Christmas.  I’m nearly done on fixing the first one – probably I could finish it tonight and be done, depending on what Joel and I do to ring in the new year.  I won’t say “score another point!” just yet…after all, midnight is coming soon, and then the ship has sailed on me completing the gloves this year.  So we’ll say, “potentially another point.”  That would be two out of three points.

Then, there was the hat for my father.  My dad loves hippos; the reasons for this are probably varied and too complicated to describe, but I know that he loves them.  My mother used to buy him a new hippo every year for their anniversary.  In return, he would buy her a pig.  (This had something to do with a song they used to sing together called, “I’m a Hog for Your Love”.)  Now, my mother would get mad and yell every time I gave her a pig that I thought was cute, trying to add to her collection.  According to her, the pig was something special just between her and my father.  But my dad loves hippos no matter where they come from.  For about 2 years now, I have meant to make a hat with hippos on it for my father.  I haven’t found any such pattern that suited me yet, so this meant I would have to design it myself – not a problem, I thought.  Hats are easy, and hippos aren’t that difficult to draw, even with my poor artistic abilities.  Easy street, right?

That’s what I’ve thought every year around Christmas.  And every year, Christmas comes and goes, and I am no closer to even starting the hat pattern, let alone the hat.  But this year was going to be different.  This year would be the year of the hippo hat!…but first, I had to finish Joel’s hat.  After all, I was going to do gifts with him on Christmas Eve and see my father on Christmas Day…clearly, his hat, which had already been started, was a priority.  And so it was that on December 22rd, I decided to start drawing up the pattern for Dad’s hat.  Not start the HAT, just start the pattern.  That took a few hours of sketching and plotting out.  I knew which yarn I wanted to use – this great dark blue Noro leftover and this fantastic little light grey for the hippos.  That evening, I cast on.

The next day, during the football game, I was plugging along.  I was at the hippos, nearly halfway through them, sure to finish that evening.  Perfect, right?  Except that I had not paid attention to reality whatsoever…using worsted weight yarn is fine…but not when the hippo you’ve created is about 43 stitches across.  Suddenly, that hippo was unrecognizable.  I had two on the hat, and each one would have wrapped more than halfway across my father’s head.  (Plus, the size of the hat was looking kind of big.  I knew it, my subconscious knew it but was in flat-out denial, but I knew it was looking kind of big, even for a man’s noggin.)  So I had a choice…finish the hat, but have it be half-baked and not at all what I was hoping for in terms of this gift I wanted to give my father, or hold off and create it in an appropriate size and colour later.  I opted, regretfully, for the latter.  After all, my father didn’t even know I was making this for him.  Score negative one point…maybe even negative two points for starting so late in the game!

So, it’s the end of 2012, and I’m not finished with the gloves for Mabs, and the hat for dad is totally on hold…plus, I have a sweater on the needles that’s been there since the beginning of October, but I kept putting it down because the stitch motif just started to get to me after awhile, so I would pick up other things to break the monotony.  It’s almost there – the body is officially done and now it’s just two sleeves and the neckband, plus very minimal finishing.  And then…and then, there’s this bag.  (Stupid bag.)  This intarsia felted bag that represents most everything I hate in knitting.  To start with, intarsia.  Very heavy weight yarn that you use holding DOUBLE.  Big needles.  Intarsia.  Felting.  Lots of finishing.  Intarsia.  Plus, creating a lining.  Embroidering.  Sewing pieces together by hand.  And, of course, intarsia.  This is a project I started once before, nearly finished, then hated and turned part of it into a cat bed.  (Don’t ask – it’s on my Rav page.)  I redid the front again this year and was happier, but I still just didn’t want to get into all of that finishing, even though I have all the pieces!  I was adamant that this would be the year – THE YEAR – that I would finish it and finally get that WIP off of my page.  Suffice to say, I didn’t, and it’s all on account of the finishing.

So the beginning of 2013 will look something like this – determinedly finishing this stupid bag that will be filled with bad-thought mojo for taking up so much of my life for so long.  Creating two sleeves – always a pain in the bum – and then doing finishing work.  This was NOT how I wanted this to look.  I wanted it to be all finished projects behind me, and all new things to start.  Hats.  Shawls.  Rainbow yarns.  A few more sweaters started.

But really, that’s not how life works.  Life and responsibilities has no care for the calendar or what significance we ascribe to random events and dates.  The beginning of each year is filled with pieces of what we started in days past – old friendships, new relationships, papers that have yet to be gone through, debts (both financial and emotional) that are yet unpaid.  If every year were truly new, we would leave behind everything – both the bad and the good.  We would abandon our homes, our families, our jobs, our cities and towns and loyalties.  We would burn the liens we still hold on our cars and credit cards, release our pets onto the town commons and into the woods, and just drift on to whatever comes next.  But what comes next is what always was – living.  Doing the best we can to feel that we have done the best we can.

I don’t believe in resolutions – if I did, I would have started this on January 1st and resolved to keep it up to date all year.  I believe in changing things as you see that they need to be changed.  And as long as knitting and yarn and the act of creation makes me happy, isn’t that all that matters?

Happy end of 2012, all – here’s to new beginnings, whatever those may be, and to carrying the pieces of the past that matter into that new beginning.

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