Hit or Mess

As I continue on these simultaneous and co-dependent paths of Knitting Things and Also Designing Things That Other People Might Want To Knit Too, I am learning that sometimes there is a fine line between creativity and frustration. Sometimes I get hit with five ideas at once and I love them all to bits and pieces and want to cuddle them and make everyone love them as much as i do, but then I don’t have time to act on all of them at first and then the ideas Must Wait and then I get Impatient. Other times I find myself having nothing to knit that does not involve making a set of decisions before progressing forward, or ripping out and re-doing, and the Creative Process starts to look a lot like Walking Around With A Black Raincloud Over My Head. (Or, that could just be today’s weather. Whichever).

This weekend was such an occasion/process for me. This month I assigned myself the task of knitting a Fair Isle Yoke cardigan from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s instructions, knowing that it involved relatively quick worsted weight knitting and that I had the yarn in my stash all ready to go, and therefore that this should be pretty easy as far as my knitting life was concerned. But of course, because my knitting brain tends to reject things that seem too easy, I also assigned myself the task of inserting a fair isle panel near the cuffs on the sleeves, even though this wasn’t in the original instructions. I was also motivated to do this in the interest of saving yarn – I have a limited amount of the dark brown (main colour) in use for the body and sleeves, and so inserting other colours onto the sleeves is a way of extending the lifespan of the dark brown skeins.


Of course, this also meant choosing fair isle motifs to go on the sleeves, AND front-loading the decision about what colours to use for said motifs (rather than waiting until after the sleeves and body were done, and making said decision after having started the yoke). I procrastinated on this step like CRAZY. I let the sleeve cuff sit there, barely started, for a week. I gave myself 9 different shades to choose from, even though I only needed 4-5, which of course only made it harder for myself. And then when you add in the voice that says “make it better, make it more than that, dummy,” even simple tasks become challenging. I got there in the end, after a few tries and after convincing myself that it really is totally OK if it’s something fairly simple and not seven different kinds of complicated, but truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have agonized over it so much if I wasn’t also agonizing over other things.


Take this wee mitten cuff, as Exhibit #2. It’s almost half a mitt, even, and I was really enjoying working the motif on it, and I also rather like the colour. But the more I kept knitting it the more I started to re-think it, and am not entirely convinced of the stitch count for the fit, the complexity of the motif, or even the matchup between the pattern and the colourway.

So, another thing that feels like a mess is going to get ripped and restarted, and I’ll start again and it’s going to be better the 2nd time around, but by the end of Sunday I was really starting to wish I had some knitting to turn to that didn’t involve the entire fate of the project being left to my decisions. And then, I realized that I do! I do have such a project. I have the Pi Shawl. Which is stockinette and easy, and, um, also now in the five-hundred-and-mumblety-mumblety number of stitches phase.


And now I’m not sure if I don’t actually prefer the mess.
Go figure.


  1. I think some people just work better with mess! I know I do! Have fun!

  2. All hail discordia? Maybe not. I really dig the colorway on that mitten, too. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    I keep thinking I should make a pi shawl or afghan, as a part of my knitterly growth, then I think about those later rows and decide that it can wait until tomorrow. Or next year.

  3. That’s gotta be the ‘Happy Goth’ color, right? *drools* I’m not sure you could DO bad/wrong with that yarn!

    I do hear you on the “must make this even MORE difficult!!!!” part of handwork/craftwork/needlework. I’m doing a (relatively) simple Halloweeny pumpkin cross stitch pattern — shhhhh, it’s for next year, and uh, I planned it that way. Yeah — and just because it wouldn’t be hard enough the listed way, I decided to do it on 18 count fabric instead of 14 count. Totally forgetting that my eyesight is “maturing” and 18 count is actually kind of tiny, even in Aida fabric. Oh, and I only have the chart to go by, because it was a freebie, so there is no color picture and the chart is in b&w symbols. Actually, black on *orange*, because the printer was being cute. 😛

    /thread jack. :/ I’m just sayin’, I get it. If there isn’t an Overachievers Anonymous, we should really start one. 😉

  4. Well, um, how big does a pi shawl really have to be? Isn’t it done when you declare it done? (I’m afraid to start one myself, but I know that it’s one of those rites of passage that should be done.)

  5. Liz Van Pay · ·

    I just came upon your blog and let me say – I love it! I have been captivated for the better part of an hour just looking at everything you can do, and hope to get as good as you at some point!

  6. The colours you are using are all divine. I hope the muddle gets cleared up soon and you are able to progress and get these things finished. Also 500+ stitches just about made me faint even though I’d love a Pi shawl!

  7. I sometimes do the same thing and procrastinate on making decisions in both designs and regular knitting. Then my list of knittable projects gets smaller and smaller until I have nothing left to knit and have to make some decisions.

  8. I suffer from paralysis when I have to make a decision or I’ve reached a point at which I have to pay attention. These projects often get saved for the weekend, when I have time to read the directions and concentrate. I definitely like to have a collection of projects going: easy-peasy, interesting but flowing, might need concentration, and something I’m creating out of my own head.

  9. This doesn’t sound crazy to me at all. Doesn’t everybody design and knit this way? 😉

  10. You look like you are experiencing the perfect storm of WIPs! Chalk it up to seasonally-related knitting paralysis?

  11. tinebeest · ·

    Ah, grass, greener, other side. You know,… stuff… 😉

    It all looks very pretty and I don’t understand how you manage to pack all the designing in; with a relatively light teaching load, I still have less time than ever to knit after existing patterns, let alone figure out how to do it. Mind sharing your secret with us?

  12. I love your fair isle motifs 🙂

  13. Aren’t choices wonderful? Don’t they make you crazy? And next week, you’ll be wondering what was the fuss? The process is fun, yet I get caught up in the fervor to finish. Savor it. (Too bad I’m not a poet… I’m sure there’s a haiku there somewhere.)

  14. I’m always amazed at how much knitting/designing you accomplish each year. My pi shawl is about half-way through the 500+ stitches per row phase, and I hope to finish it by the end of the year.

  15. Funny post! I think we all have those ADKD (Attention Diverted Knitting Disorder) but you just take it to the max!

  16. OK fine. I’ll say something more helpful.

    I grew up around Robert Bateman…a realist painter who paints incredibly detailed paintings…not unlike the designs that come out of your brain. I remember someone asking him if he ever gets bored with his paintings. He told us that about 10% of it is really great, creative and fun. The rest? BOOOOOOORRRRRRING.

    It’s all part of the process. There’s that creative spark…the idea and the exploration…and then there’s the execution. If you want to make a living, or even part of your living doing something creative, the trade-off is that there is a large chunk of the process that’s a slog.

    **warning…any references to me being all logic-y will be auto-filed in the appropriate folder. 😉

  17. What a gorgeous plum -e shade :}

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