Saturday, January 3, 2009

Taking Stock

I don't know about the rest of you, but I seem - in spite of all my best efforts to make things different from all previous years - to run through the holidays like a comet. Really breathlessly fast and with my backside trailing flames. It always feels as though I heave a giant sigh somewhere about the second of January, and feel all my limbs just to make sure everything is still there.

It's a great time, therefore, to take stock of my knitting life. For me, knitting is a major portion of my life: I'm either teaching knitting, writing or blogging about knitting, photographing knitting, or - knitting. Okay, sometimes I stop to eat.

First, and the most satisfying part that paves the way to make the difficult bits easier, I like to stop and take a few moments to look back over what I have produced in the preceding year. I make a point throughout the year of photographing every project that I make. Sometimes there are photos of the process, especially if there is a technique that I am using on the project that I want to blog about later. But I always take photos of the finished project. If I have been really good throughout my year, I have also been keeping a written knitting journal. Here I'll make notes about the pattern used, the needles used, I tape in the ball band and a small bit of the yarn I used. If I make any changes to the pattern, I note them here. It always amazes me at the end of a year to stop and inventory just how many projects I have done, and what I have learned that has helped me to grow as a knitter during the year. This is the 'Pat on the Back' section of the knitting inventory.

The flip side, of course, of all this self-congratulation is to take a good long honest look at my UFOs for the year. All those projects that for one reason or another, got started but never got finished. My photography professor, lo those many years ago, gave us a good bit of advice. He told us not to spend a lot of time analyzing the art we liked, but to spend lots and lots of time really picking through to the elements of the art pieces that we didn't like. Break them down into small facets and spend time figuring out why that piece didn't work for us. You learn more from analyzing the things that don't work, than you learn by analyzing the things that do. Because at one point, you were so excited about this project that you bought the yarn and the pattern, and you took the time to sit down and cast on. Take a good hard look at the UFO and analyze the basic elements. What went wrong? Was it the yarn? Does it split, did you decide that you hate the color, do you not like the feel of it? If so, think about starting again with a yarn that suits you and the project better than this one does. Maybe it's the pattern - is it too complicated or not explained well enough? Then go get some help from your friendly neighborhood professionals at Kiwi to get your project back on track. Did you decide that you don't really like the pattern after all? Frog the UFO and look for another project that will suit your yarn. Is it not coming out the way you had pictured? Spend some time learning new techniques that will help you to get the results you want. And either put those UFOs to rest, or put them back in the queue for finishing.

Now go over to your yarn stash and take a good honest look at what you have. Some of the yarn in your stash was probably purchased with very specific projects in mind. Bag that yarn together and label it with what it is meant to be. You can always change your mind later, but at least assign it a reason for being now. Put that project in your queue for the new year. Other yarns in your stash were probably purchased just because. Just because they are beautiful, just because they were on sale, just because you had some time on lunch break and were feeling a bit down and wanted to reward yourself. Take time with each bit of yarn and think about how you would want to use it - maybe for a lace scarf, perhaps for a sweater or even some wrist warmers. Now have some fun, pull out the pattern books, and find the pattern that works for your yarn and your needs. Put it in your queue. There are always going to be yarns in your stash that will make you wonder why you ever bought them, or where the heck they came from and why. If you bought a lot of acrylic when you started knitting and now only knit with wool, find a local knitting guild and donate it. Sell it on ebay or trade it on Ravelry or Craigslist. Drop it off at the local nursing home or community center. Get it out of your life so that you can move on.

Now sit down with all the knowledge you have just gained about yourself and your knitting, and make a list of projects that you want to make this year. Challenge yourself with your new projects, and make this the year that you finally make lace, or try cables, or fair isle, or entrelac, or intarsia, or socks, or... Expand your mind and your talents.

If you need help to learn new skills, remember that is what we are here for at Kiwi Knitting Co. - to support your growth in your craft. I think that I can speak for all the teachers when I say that we don't just teach for a living, we live for teaching. I absolutely LOVE helping people. Look through our class schedule, arrange a private lesson with one of our teachers, come in and take advantage of the Knit Dr. sessions on Friday mornings. We can provide you with every level and type of help - quick questions at Knit Dr., group classes from the class schedule, private classes for your own group geared to your needs, and private one-on-one lessons. We are here to teach you and to share our own deep love of our craft with you. We know what we know because we sought out knowledge, and others were generous enough to teach us. Come pick our brains.

Happy New Year!

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