Nearly there…so very nearly, but just not yet. In years past, I would have stayed up until 2 AM to get to the end of a project that I was so close to finishing, but a few years ago, I began to forsake that habit. I’m not saying that I don’t still stay up late working on something…but the older I get and the more experience I get with knitting things, the more I know just how long it will actually take me to complete something, rather than the amount of time my brain thinks a thing will take. Just hit the decreases on a hat? Brain time estimate: 30-40 minutes till the end. Real time estimate: Probably no less than 2 hours or if so, just barely under. Only need to do 6 rows of a button band that runs the length of the sweater and bind off? Brain time estimate: Maybe an hour. Real time estimate: At least double that, probably more. Binding off a shawl with 500+ stitches on the border? Brain time estimate: 15 minutes. Maybe 20. Real time estimate: The rest of the night.
Part of me not staying up until 2 AM is my age, I’m sure. I realize more and more that I can’t do what I did in college – functioning on just a few hours of poor sleep. When I miss a good night’s rest, it can sometimes throw off my sleep for the rest of the week as I try to readjust. But part of the switch is also that I noticed such a difference when I began to get about 7 hours of sleep at night. I noticed that I had more energy during the rest of the day, woke up in a better mood, had more an appetite for breakfast instead of skipping it. I know that these are all “duh” things that we’re told over and over again by everyone who has ever spent any time looking at the human body, brain, and sleep connection – this is certainly something I’ve told clients repeatedly over the years. But to actually feel the change it made was a wonder. There’s a reason why most of us make the same mistakes we watch other people make – we are primarily experiential learners.
But oh, this little scrappy diagonal scarf…I can just feel that tomorrow night will be my night to finish it, hopefully while watching How I Met Your Mother. (This current season is AMAZING and totally making up for last season, which was such a disappointment that I’ve forgotten most of what happened in it.) I’m right on the brink, right at the point where I’ll start decreasing until there’s nothing left. But the thing is, right here at the end, I ran out of mini-skeins. All of those little bits of yarn I had set aside especially for this project? Gone. Used up. I thought several times about ripping back and starting the decreases early…but I was on a purl edge and wanted the decreases to be part of the knits. So I went until the yarn was just inches hanging off. Then I set the little scarf down and thought. We have a guest tonight in the spare bed that’s in my fiber studio, and there was no way I was going to go blundering in looking for some odds and ends. Then it occurred to me – I have a little pouch where I keep yarn scraps. A lot of them are just the bits that hold the skeins together when you first receive them. I have a tendency to hang on to every little piece because so often they come in useful for tying something off, a bit of scrap yarn to hold extra stitches, or something to use for a crochet cast-on. But a few of them were a yard or so of leftover yarn from other project. Too much to throw out or put in the ornaments that I use to hold my “year in knitting” collection, but far too little to use for any other project. Except this one. I pulled out the lightweight scraps, but the heavy yarns back in the pouch, and then sorted through the pieces by length.
Now, when I come back to the little basket I’ve been using for this project tomorrow night, I can just start using the remnants of beloved projects past, try to work as many in as possible. I love things like this, hitting the end and needing a little bit more but wanting to come up with a way of doing it that isn’t “Let me go upstairs and use up an eight of a skein for this”. Nothing goes to waste – not ever. Or rather…maybe it would be better to say nothing is waste. It all can be used, all has a purpose, all has a function. My father has told me endless tales about Buddhist monks proving this sort of thing on a daily basis by taking the results of the tasks they are doing – just raking the yard, for example – and using up every bit of everything that they come across.
Here’s to you, lovely little scraps. I see you for the opportunities you are.