...a philosophical odyssey
I started knitting when I was
pretty young. I don't know how young exactly,
but the first extant project of mine is a kelly-green
garter stitch scarf for my stuffed Roo. My mom
taught me, but not just the knitting part. I also
unwittingly inherited her philosophy about projects
and clutter: project = that which must be finished,
clutter = that which must be gotten rid of.
And what a set-up that was!
I learned to purchase yarn by the project and
I was pretty good about finishing the projects,
rarely having more than one on the go. But there
is that thing all true knitters and fiberholics
have experienced, where you walk into a yarn store
and MUST HAVE some of that delicious, scrumptious,
yarn. I was a teenager, I had a job, it was the
'80s, I bought yarn.
Eventually I moved away from
home to go to university. That yarn [which I now
recognize as a stash] traveled with me. For years
it weighed on my conscience, a wooly albatross
that reminded me of what a failure I was. Only
a lazy and unorganized person would have so many
unfinished projects lying around! So what did
I do? I treated the unused yarn as clutter. Some
of it was boxed up and kept, but lots of it was
Unsurprisingly, I stopped knitting.
It took years for me to pick up the needles again
and re-discover how much I loved making things.
I restarted my knitting rampage with scarves -
simple, and yet a perfect forum for experimentation.
I then moved on to socks, little animals and whatever
else came to mind. I bought the odd ball of this
and that, and began re-discovering what I already
Perhaps it was the smaller nature
of the projects I was choosing. Perhaps it was
the discovery that you can purchase yarn on e-bay.
The important part is that somewhere in there,
I made a shift in my thinking about all that yarn
I was amassing . . . it doesn't represent the
failure of the unfinished project! It represents
the POTENTIAL of new projects. The power to have
an idea and just start knitting, rather than going
to the yarn store, picking a pattern and then
having a heart attack when you realize how much
it will cost.
Currently I have at least 7
projects on the go - they aren't unfinished, they
are on the go. And instead of feeling
like I have a list that I need to cross things
off of, I enjoy being able to pick up something
that is in progress and move it along. There are
projects that are too complicated to carry around,
and simpler ones to take on the bus. I love just
looking through the growing heap of yarn beside
my couch, and I have stopped only keeping those
magazines that have patterns I want to make right
now. You never know . . . all those '80s patterns
from my adolescence are already starting to look
I knew I had made an important
step the day I went to the Salvation Army with
a friend who is also a knitter. There, recently
unpacked, for 99 cents a ball, was someone's stash.
Odd balls of various colors, some re-wound, and
one partially knitted piece of a sweater, mostly
Brown Sheep's wool-mohair blend [bulky and worsted
weight] and Lamb's Pride worsted 100% wool. After
we stopped hyperventilating, we triaged the good
from the acrylic, divided up our spoils, and took
the yarn home so we could admire our purchases
over tea. We took a polaroid of the pile to commemorate
Neither of us are quite sure
what we're going to do with it...yet.