Today, while the kids were at school and Stephen was at work, I spent the day digging through boxes and bags of yarn-y goodness. It took me the entire day, but I managed to get through what I think is everything for the Needle Harvest. All of MY stuff, that is. I didn't even attempt to look for the other LusciousGraciousClans' projects. Their knitting bags scare me.
Our poor new couch. I imagine that it will look like this for the month of September. Good thing that we don't have any visitors coming until October! The sheer amount of yarn and other knitting supplies makes my heart race. I had no idea that there was this much lurking beside the bed, next to my knitting chair, and in the purse closet (AZ is too hot for a coat closet. Ours holds purses, bags, and Halloween costumes).
Before we kick off the actual Needle Harvest on Sept 1, I wanted to get organized a bit. Please note: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO ANY OF THIS TO JOIN THE GREAT SEPTEMBER NEEDLE HARVEST!! I am just a typical Type A, and was anxious to see just what I had to work with. I also had the day to myself and have been under post-op orders to take it easy. Moving yarn one ball at a time wasn't very strenuous, but I did NOT expect to have so many UFO's! Can you tell how many are shown on the couch?
I listed 48 total projects. That seems like plenty. I hope that I don't come across any more, but chances are I have forgotten something! Most are under a year old, but a few go back a few addresses. I think that there are two or three that have followed us from Indiana (pre-2004). When I opened up the bags and crates, I did a little test harvesting. I decided that I would not count some items that were in my pile as actual UFO's. You may decide on different criteria. There are really no hard and fast rules other than having fun while emptying those needles!
So, I first separated the items into UnFinishedObjects and ThingsIAmNotCountingAsProjects. These Non-Eligible (for me, remember. You do what you like) items include anything at the yarn and pattern stage, or even the swatch stage. That yarn, even if it has been earmarked for a specific project, is still considered stash yarn to me. I also set aside any project that exists only in my notebook, as a sketch on the back of an envelope, as a favorite bookmarked in a knitting publication, or as a promise to someone made in a moment of weakness. You know what I mean....your tiny niece made such a big deal out of the fact that you spin yarn just like Sleeping Beauty that you promised her a pair of socks for every day of the year. In my case, those 730 imaginary socks are not part of my Needle Harvest. At least not this year!
This probably sounds very elementary to you, but my name tag should read, "Hello. My name is Kiki. I have problems." I'm attempting to keep my organizational freakiness in check. If I don't draw the line somewhere, I will be taking notes about projects that don't even exist until next September's Needle Harvest! No matter how much I would love to dive right in, I am reminding myself that the above are only projects-in-theory. I have enough of the real ones with which to contend!
For my own records, I took some basic notes on each project as I put them on the couch. First, I divided them into these categories:
SWEATERS (15 of them)
SOCKS (8 pairs)
BABY THINGS (3 items)
ACCESSORIES (19 scarves, shawls, pairs of gloves, etc.)
OTHER (SECRETS/GIFTS/TOYS/ETC) (3 surprises).
Then I decided, or tried to decide, whether I want to finish the item, rip it out for yarn, or change it in another way. RIGHT NOW (this is bound to change, of course, as September moves on, or as I get involved with some of these projects again and remember just why I put them aside in the first place!) the results look like this:
FINISH THE PROJECT: 29 of the 48 pictured here.
RIP IT BACK: 11 items.
UNDECIDED: 7 total items. Or,
MAKE IT INTO SOMETHING ELSE: 1 item (a tiny Fair Isle mitten that could make a nice ornament if I felt it).
It was easy to decide for some of the projects. Especially the sweaters that fit wonderfully and only need a bit of sewing up or a hem. But some of the other pieces, such as the darned lace shawl that I spent 10 million hours beading, only to find that the beads don't show up against the yarn, are a little harder to categorize. Should I just rip out the whole thing? Should I turn it into a lace edge of a pillow? I hope that our fellow needle harvesting friends can offer an opinion once I photograph the items and think about it some more.
When Illanna and I first started thinking, talking, and texting about finishing a bunch of projects in September, I wanted to be brutally honest about what works for me and what doesn't. I think that after all of these years of knitting, I am at least aware on some level of what is a good use of my time and what is a complete waste. For instance, I used to finish any project that I started, even if the pattern was a disaster, I was allergic to the yarn, and the color made me look like last year's zombie! (I also used to read every book I picked up all the way through, even if I hated it after the first 2 pages. I actually felt sorry for the author). Well, NO MORE! I guess that age and experience bring some sort of wisdom, or just a new type of impatience. Mostly I think that many of us are so excited by knitting that there just isn't time to do all, or even a fraction, of what we'd like to do. We have to pick and choose. I don't know how YOU do
that, but I'd like to learn!
In order to pick and choose during this specific project (Needle Harvesting), I decided to ask myself some questions about the validity of the projects that are still a part of my life. Why do we carry around the things that we do? Is knitting baggage really any different than emotional baggage? I hope that it is more fun! That's something I'd like to explore this month. You will probably get something else out of the experience; I'm so excited about the energy people are bringing to this KAL, and it hasn't even started yet! We may not accomplish the same things, or even what we set out to, but it doesn't matter! If you do find yourself stuck with a particular project at some point in the coming weeks, maybe one or two of the following questions will help you decide which direction to take on your Road to Needle Liberation.
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN DECIDING WHAT TO DO WITH A GIVEN PROJECT
-Will I wear it? Really?
-If it's not a wearable item, will I be able to use it?
-How old is it? Will it still fit me? After trying it on, if the answer is "no", or "not really", can it be altered at this stage? Is it worth finishing for someone else? Will it fit them?
-Do I still like this design, yarn, pattern, item?
-Do I even know what it is? And do I still have the pattern and/or my notes that I will need in order to complete this project?
-Was this an example of a knitting fad? Is it outdated? If so, do I care? (Have teenage daughters look at it...if there is eye rolling, rip it out!)
-What do I remember about knitting it? Was it fun? Did I put it down just because something else caught my eye, or was it because I hated knitting on it? Were there mistakes in the pattern? Something else that slowed me down?
-Could it be turned into something else, something other than the original purpose? Could I give it away, unfinished, to someone who may like it, want to finish it, or would want the yarn?
-If I am really on the fence about whether or not to rip it back, try to imagine what the yarn could be used for that isn't this project. Would fresh, re-claimed balls of this yarn make me happier than the partially-finished project? If I can't come up with ideas for the yarn, now is the time to consult the NEEDLE HARVEST GROUP. Ask their opinions! Show pictures and beg for ideas!
-And finally, again, will I really wear it (or use it, if it is not a wearable item)? Take a breath and look again. Use those mindfulness (or Jedi Master, if that applies) skills and be honest. Will I wear it?
I imagine that I will go back and forth several times as I try to make some final decisions. But for now I feel strangely calm and collected. It was a full day's work for me, but I loved every second of it! In a way I envy those of you who will just pull out one project at a time in September and liberate your needles. But then again, I wouldn't trade my neurosis for a different set! Unless it's for a set of the Addi interchangeable needles!! (BIG BIRTHDAY CLUE!!!!!! WISH WISH WISH!!!) And I have so much to look forward to, such as adding each project individually to the Ravelry site!
Most of all, I look forward to learning more about the other members, and seeing how they manage to increase their needle inventory.
In Needle Harvest News, we officially have our first Sponsor!! Amy has joined the group AND donated four sets of her gorgeous AMYVILLE
stitch markers!! Cupcakes and sushi and breakfast, Oh My! Thank you, Amy!
If you haven't stopped by to introduce yourself on the Ravelry
site, please do so! We'll be adding different threads in the days to come. For now, we'd love to meet everyone, and find out what you'd like to accomplish during your own Needle Harvest! So far, lots of us want the freedom to start a new pile of projects! Sounds good to me.
Illanna and I welcome you all! We are thrilled to have so many members, and to learn how far-flung you are! Today we had people join from Alaska, Great Britain, Denmark, and the Falkland Islands. Wow! Maybe Illanna can make us a map, Hint Hint!
Have fun, everyone! See you at the Harvest!
P.S. In case anyone is curious, that hulking mass behind the couch covered by a green sheet is part of my fibre and handspun inventory-in-progress. Which I also did not include in my Needle Harvest count. Perhaps I'll have my own personal Fibre-Slim-Down in October.