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Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Too many items on the needles. Too many papers to grade. Too many items to read, review, or write for my degree. Too many WIP's in every part of life!

I shift from being excited by all I am doing to being overwhelmed by all that I've started.
I'm working on the little moss-stitch dress from "Special Knits" for my niece. I've got my Shoalwater Shawl partially done, but can't figure out how to include the yarn with bits of color that I wanted to carry along intermittently. I can't get it to look right.
I've pulled out a top that I'd very much like to finish (started last fall) but I need the time to pick out my errors in the neckline and work my way back into the pattern. I've started a lovely ribbed shell (from Chick-knits) and need to get back to that, but want to finish the dress first. [sigh]. I am, perhaps, a little impatient at the moment. Just nameless gnawing anxiety. But this seems to be one of those periods in the pattern of life that has me running so fast I'm in serious danger of forgetting to enjoy what I'm doing!

So I've scheduled time for myself -- both structured and unstructured. I've also started to limit my "multi-tasking" -- sometimes it's NOT better to work on two things at once. Allowing myself to concentrate on ONE task at a time, for fun or work, brings some of the joy back to it and removes some of the needless "frantic flavoring" that I've been tasting in all tasks of late.
A friend from KR wrote me recently about her vision of heaven as a beautiful puzzle, in which she had to be herself and maintain her proper shape to fit her section of the puzzle, but there were people on the other side, completely different from herself, whose edges would not fit with hers, but who were just as essential to the puzzle, and to the beauty of the picture as she; they too were required to keep their shapes to fit in their portion of the picture. And though we could not see it, all is necessary for the whole.

It's a lovely picture. And I've been contemplating it as I knit, wondering if life at large, and my life specifically can be represented that way. I think so, if the puzzle is extended through time. I am not who I was, though who I was, was necessary to my life at the time. My shapes and soul have changed, my mind, my responses, my ideas of myself and others. I'm learning not to try to force myself to accept those whose edges don't match mine, but at times I feel like a child's learning puzzle, with the edges curled and worn, rounded and peeling with learning and struggle. With all my WIP's, I feel fragmented and distressed by it. But sorting is necessary. I've never liked working on puzzles much, but I do it by assembling chunks as I find the bits that match. Eventually I can recognize how the sections go together. But I still have a child's unholy glee at crumbling the picture into pieces again; and as a child I preferred to re-make it as I wished once I've seen what the designer did. This makes for awkward bits and odd combinations, to be sure. But it was fun!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Stitch Markers

While I was finishing up Ene's Scarf/shawl, an interesting exchange took place on KR about trying to use stitch markers for this project. Unfortunately, for the bulk of the lace of the body, stitch markers didn't work because the double decrease kept shifting its place in the pattern repetition.

Finished Ene's Scarf

This makes for the lovely "organic" mesh rather than clearly defined columns or chunks of pattern. I really enjoyed working on this section of this scarf. But others talked about continuing to use the stitch markers and just shifting them back and forth, while a couple of other people used the stitch markers for seven to ten rows and then "knit without the net" and took them off.

At the same time this was going on, other interactions in my life have had me wishing life came with stitch markers! Well, it does -- some at least. Family. Obligations. Loan payments . But if life came with stitch markers, which ones would they be and how would you use them?

Stitch markers come in so many different designs. I tend to collect the solid ring markers -- the plastic ones in different colors, the bulky white ones, the small black rubber ones. But there are other stitch markers out there as well. Split markers that can be taken on and off with no hassle. Coil-less safety pins that stay put with the safety of a ring, but can still be taken off and shifted. And of course, the dangly beaded ones that I covet for no useful reason other than that they make me smile.

My next question parallels the discussion on KR. When should stitch markers be removable and when not? How to select different markers for different pattern breaks? Can you change half-way through an item? What if you forget what the marker means? When are "social" stitch markers a luxury and when must they be kept firmly in place? And when markers travel down the knitting, when do you shift them up? Every row? Whenever you need to see them? More often to help you keep your place with less effort?

Do some people need/like stitch markers more than others? In knitting and in life? How to negotiate the conflicts between the fact that in life, most of my stitch markers are split and easily shifted, but others seem to want THEIR stitch markers to be solid rings in the pattern. It’s a sticky issue.

In knitting it's much easier. I choose and use to suit myself. I'm currently knitting a ribbed camisole in the round and not using any markers at all. I'll need to put some in when I get to the neckline and the arm-holes. But not before. It never occurred to me to try to use stitch markers with Ene's scarf, but with the stole I'm designing using several patterns from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury, you can bet those solid little rings will be right there telling me which panel I'm working on at any given moment. I'll probably even color-code.

There's no set answer. But there are days when I wish life DID come in a knitting kit complete with needles, yarn, and color-coded markers all picked out. Some days I just don't want to have to choose or to deal with the frogging that comes with not picking the right way to go! Hmmm. Do you think I could find one on-line? Nothing like fair-isle of course but . . . . ah well, back to the top.