Sunday, September 03, 2006

Now where was I?

Two nights ago, I settled down to knit and watch a movie with my daughter. I picked up the needles, glanced over the pattern, and realized I’d forgotten what row I was on and what half the abbreviations meant and…well, you know. Yipes! Clearly, it had been longer than I’d realized since I worked on that shawl. And where did the time go? Surely it hadn’t been more than a week or two. Right?

Well, actually, it’s been closer to two months. Too bad I didn’t use a counter. Or write down the row number or whether I’d finished the 14-row sequence. I’m always meaning to do that. I have similar problems with my writing projects. I set aside a project for the night, I think. Then life or something like it intervenes. Weeks later, life or business or whatever slows down so I can work on that fun on spec piece. I sit down at the computer, filled with anticipation, open the file and…wow. Where are my notes? Where was I going with that subplot?

Through the years I’ve developed systems to keep the chaos at bay. Car keys are hung on the hook by the door the minute I walk in the house. I clip them to a belt loop between the house and the vehicle, and they go back to the belt loop before my behind leaves the seat. The checkbook gets balanced on Sundays. Receipts go into the little box every night. Bills are paid the night they arrive. I’ve a hundred other little ‘rules’ I follow with varying degrees of regularity. A friend thinks this behavior indicates how organized I am, but the truth is that this little habits are all that stands between me and total chaos.

When I moved last summer, a lot of my little habits fell apart. I didn’t feel any pressure to reconnect with them until last week when I realized – omigod, it’s been a year, and this place still looks like I just moved in. I need systems. I need habits. I need a notebook in the living room where I write down what row I knit last.

Is it just me? Or does time get away from you, too? Is there some sort of magic spell I can learn to make time behave and stop disappearing? Or at least, can someone tell me a sure-fire way to remember where I left off?


Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Laura, the shawl is beyond beautiful! What is the name of the pattern? What yarn are you using? Is it some of your handspun? (Yes, I'm nosy.)

I laughed at the description of your work-arounds that help you remember things. If I told you how many times I've misplaced my phone and had to call myself so I could track it down by the ring . . .

9:09 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

It’s a Children of Lir stole, actually, from the pattern in Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Watterman. I’m knitting it in a deep teal Tahki Sable, 70 percent Merino wool, 30 percent French angora - bought on clearance at a sidewalk sale a few years ago when a gal pal & I ran away to play for the day.

9:32 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

Barbara - phone, glasses, keys...I'm a walking disaster some days.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Gorgeous shawl, Laura! I did one for my sister in black, gold and silver, but I like your pattern (and color) so much better.

I page myself at least once a day, Barbara, so I can find my phone. Glad to know I'm not alone!

Is anyone else as amazed as I am that it's Labor Day weekend? Yikes! Where did the summer go?

11:04 PM  
Blogger Jamie Denton said...

I'm having shawl envy now, Laura, thankyouverymuch :::huff::: It's just beautiful.

I hear you on the life needing organized thing. I used to be so organized aka anal, but since recovering from my illness, I just seem to be floating through life day by day. It hasn't bothered me until recently, though I think I'm finally actually getting back to living life once again because I find I'm wanting everything neat, tidy, organized and on schedule.

As for remembering where you left off on a project, I've learned that I absolutely cannot leave a pattern in the middle of a sequence. I have to complete the sequence of rows. The earth could open up and threaten to swallow me, but I won't leave my favorite chair until that sequence of rows are done.

4:32 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Your entry hit home in so many ways. It's been a year since I moved too and I still haven't managed to find a place for all my stuff. Plus the little routines that I had to keep my life ordered seem to have stayed at the old place. I thought it was just me, glad to hear that moving does that to someone else. But it was a great heads up and now I need to get some routines back. Maybe then I'd get more knitting done (and remember what row I left off on).

8:49 AM  
Blogger Cindi Myers said...

OH Laura, I can so relate. People think I'm organized too -- but it's only because I'm so scatterbrained if I don't latch onto some system. I live by post-in notes everywhere.

The shawl is gorgeous! I'm so impressed. Like Jamie, I can't put aside a project in the middle of a pattern.

And I too am amazed it's Labor Day already. Where did the year go?

10:47 AM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

I learned the hard way that keeping track isn't a sign of knitterly weakness. I now keep a notebook or index cards or something near me to keep track of where I am in a pattern. Yes, knowing how to read your knitting is invaluable but there are times when it isnt enough. I have an electronic counter, one of those kachakacha thingies, the barrel counter that slides onto a straight needle, all manner of devices but plain old paper and pencil seems to work best for me.

Also, I find a strand of waste yarn is more effective than a stitch marker.

What do the rest of you use to make the job easier?

1:53 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

My biggest snafus are the times when I have to drop the knitting now to deal with an immediate problem, and then one thing leads to another. It's midnight, I'm exhausted, and life takes over the next day. (I live on a farm, there's an infinite number of causes for these sequences of events.)

Maybe if I marked the beginning of the pattern sequence with contrasting waste yarn? Notes would be good, too. I'm trying to imagine me faithfully keeping track in my little notebook that's always at my side when knitting...hahahahaha...splitting a gut here.

Seriously, it would be a really good habit to cultivate. I could do this. Really, I could. (Stop laughing!)


3:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Laura, I'm not laughing. Inside my rebellious don't-you-dare-try-to-organize-or-schedule-me soul lurks an anal uber-organizer waiting to break free.

BTW, did I hallucinate this or were you/are you working toward a certification from the Knitters Guild of America?

3:43 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Laura, that is THE most gorgeous shawl and the yarn sounds lucious. It inspires me to try a lace pattern; I always admire them but turn away in fear of failure.

7:27 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

Nancy -You knit that awesome team scarf, and you're worried about lace? Lace isn't as hard. Truly, if I can do it, anyone can. In fact, it's a lot more forgiving of variations in tension than stockingette, imho.

Barbara - I earned my Level 1 certificate from the guild several years ago and began the Level 2. And then my husband started'm just getting back to the Level 2 now and must request the new requirements list. I understand the program's been revised. Wonder if the argyle sock is still required?

10:14 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Thanks for the compliment on the team scarf, Laura, but it truly wasn't hard at all.

What's this about knitting certification? Can you get a Ph.D. in knitting? That's very cool! (Not that I would aspire to such heights myself.)

10:17 PM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

Laura, GORGEOUS! And certification--wow! Am I ever impressed!

Barbara, that's so funny about the waste yarn as a marker--and here I've been feeling inadequate because I didn't have those cool little stitch marker things and thinking I should get some--thank you!

THE Wendy, I got your book and am really enjoying it! I have this mental block about reading directions (so why are you knitting, Jean, might be the question?) and was starting to hyperventilate over the sock pattern (not your fault but clearly mine)... but instead I decided that I'm headed for my favorite yarn place, Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe ( ) this week to check out yarns and teensy dpns...with faith that where THE Wendy leads, I will follow and wind up with some of those cool socks!

Really terrific book, with interesting narrative to go along with the knitting info (love the image of the guy on the train with you, asking sock questions.) You immediately inspired me to want to knit socks for everyone I know (and I really like the idea of doing them for soldiers) I'm hoping like crazy that I can master this. Fingers crossed! (Except I guess that won't help with the knitting much, will it?;))

11:05 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Picture me slapping my forehead like in the I-could've-had-a-V8 commercials.

I've been reading THE Wendy's book at night and am love, love, loving it. Like Jean, I'm totally intimidated by those little socks we're going to make and have to trust that THE Wendy will get me through the exercise.

Very nice job, Wendy. I can tell this book is going in my keeper pile.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Okay, that does it. My Group Sox project is going to be THE Wendy's generic toe-up pattern done w/Magic Loop method and provsional crochet cast-on. I might even break out my Opal Tiger yarn for the occasion.

Does anyone else have trouble identifying the wrap? Sometimes I see it. Sometimes I think I see it. Sometimes I don't see it at all and plunge in and hope for the best.

And how to you pick up the damn wrap anyway? Twist it? Don't twist it? Move it from needle to needle? Smack it around until it confesses? I've tried everything and can never quite remember what worked and what didn't.

12:52 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Hey guys, thanks so much for the kind words about my book! I'm so pleased that you are enjoying it.

Also very pleased to drag more unsuspecting souls into sock knitting!

Barbara, I described in detail how I pick up my wraps in my March 15 entry -- I'll try to post a direct link here:

I think I'll add that info to my pattern online. A lot of people have been asking me how I pick up my wraps lately!

4:17 AM  
Blogger Jean Brashear said...

Okay, BB and THE Wendy...I'm trying to picture what a wrap is. I looked at your archives, THE Wendy, and looked back at the book...and I don't get it, but I'm a hands-on learner.

So I'm trusting that all will be clear once I pick up the needles...and hoping like heck that you'll be willing to answer questions if it's still clear as mud!

BB, you wizard you, I'm still waiting for the Magic Loop book to arrive, so I doubt that I'll be ready to try your hybrid of THE Wendy's toe-up sock...but maybe I should get over my fear of so many dpns, anyway, right?

8:45 AM  
Blogger LauraP said...

A phD in knitting, interesting idea. That's one for The Wendy, who has, I suspect spotted the pattern irregularities in the picture of my stole and is just being polite about not mentioning them. ;>

And now I must try Magic Loop. I remember reading about the technique a couple years ago and didn't follow up because I like working on double points. My hands get a more balanced workout with DPNs, and the hand therapy is what brought me back to knitting initially.

4:14 PM  

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