Monday, January 22, 2007

Anatomy of a Project

First there is the thought. Exciting times, planning, pulling out books and patterns, writing things down, research, testing yarns, testing fibers, spinning up a bit.

The thought could be a color, a garment, a yarn, a pattern, a picture from a magazine, something from a book, an idea, a feeling, a song, a word, poetry. Sometimes, the thought needs to be mulled.

At some point, hands pull out yarn, needles, loom, notebook and pen, scissors, and the work of putting life into the thought begins.

Full of anticipation, excitement, potential, the first part may last for a day, a week, a few rows, and few shots. Or it might last longer, well into the project, if things are going smoothly.

There might be The Glitch. Sometimes The Glitch is fun, interesting. The Glitch can lead to more research, help from friends, or, occasionally, a heap in the basket, and more mulling.

Sometimes a project never gets beyond The Glitch. Sometimes there is no Glitch, and we putter along, adding length, bredth, stitches, shots, miles on the wheel.

Most times, after the first blush of excitement, there is just the daily effort. Just More. More stitches, more shots, more miles. The real work. The work without surprises, without wonder, where the planning shows in the ease, or lack thereof, of the doing. Sometimes it comes at the body, sometimes it's the sleeves, the hours of throwing the shuttle, the hemming, the pressing, the blocking, sometimes it's the endless miles of edging.

Toward the end, excitement builds again. Will it fit? Does it look like I wanted? Feel like I planned? Have I missed errors, which will only show up when I stand back, hoping to admire?

Boundary Waters:

Boundary Waters Jan 2007

Boundary Waters folded

And Boundary Waters with it's new little shawl pin, a gift from a friend:

boundary waters pin

Details: Handspun two ply Romney cross wool from Lindsey's sheep, dyed and sent to Morro Fleece for processing, spun on a Lendrum, over 3000 yards, knit on size 5 needles. I added a few pattern repeats in the first and second charts, finished size: 80" square. Started August 2006, with a brief hiatus for holiday knitting, finished January 2007.

Last, there is that little let down. There is no more to do. The new project (whatever it may be) is not here yet. It will take some time to recover, re-focus, to start again.

Time to dream again.


Blogger claudia said...

Its very interesting to read how other's work up a project. I've have less and less patience with the thinking process lately. Leading to more straight-from-patterns knitting. Hopefully that will change.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I listened to Brenda Dayne's podcast on my way to work this morning and have been thinking about her comment that knitting from her stash, instead of buying more yarn, has made her a more creative knitter. I've identified what yarn from my stash I want to knit up and have been thinking all morning long about how I'm going to knit it. It's great mental energy - you're right!

11:19 AM  
Blogger Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

Gorgeous! I'm in awe, I haven't yet managed to spin more than about 400 yds of the same fiber :-)

12:39 PM  
Blogger June said...

Very nice! I was wondering what had happened to that project. :)

You said "Time to dream again" - does that mean you *don't* think about potential projects until you're nearly ready to begin them? I feel like I've knit up dozens or hundreds of projects in my mind's eye, enjoyed them till they were threadbare or found their faults, discarded them from the to-do list, etc, all while working on the same small number of real life projects.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

lovely sara!

who created the pin? amazing work together.

Terry- who still lives on alternating days

1:07 PM  
Blogger Deanna said...

What a marvelous description of the creative process! It also has clarified for me what my problem is - I am fascinated and excited through the idea/exploratory phase, and then I lose impetus when it comes to the doing, which makes The Glitch much more likely to be The Brick Wall. This clarifies for me that it is time to make peace with the doing, to let the execution be a meditation that honors the ideas. Thank you for sharing your thoughts through this blog! It has been an ongoing treat that I really appreciate.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Lovely shawl! Wonderful pin!

Are you walking around in my head again? I seem to be thinking more about projects while not doing much this month. Maybe it is due to no prairie walking this winter for the first time since '99.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Abby Franquemont said...

Oh, boy, do I relate. For me the home stretch is the hardest -- I am closest to the moments of truth about the project, and closest to The Letdown.

Often, somewhere in the middle, in the part where there is only work, more more more more more, I have to struggle very hard to stay on track, and not make wild, improvised changes that risk the project in its entirety. I finally realized that was why I swore of knitting in my teens: somewhere in that stage, there'd be a massive stretch of just stockinette and I could never force myself to slog through it.

The shawl is absolutely beautiful!

5:57 AM  
Blogger missalicefaye said...

Lovely, lovely shawl! And what a great reflection on the process--it's so easy to forget just how important the the long middle "work" part is in creating something beautiful. Your work was obviously well worth the effort!

11:10 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Wow - what beautiful work!

3:14 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

You much more eloquently put into words what I was trying to tell my husband this weekend when I simultaneously finished a good book AND a good knitting project. I felt very bereft and lost for a bit until I got my bearings again on another project. It's sort of like breaking up with a boyfriend -you are excited to move on, but sorry to see him go.

4:01 PM  
Blogger Birdsong said...

This is such a great analysis of the process... thanks for sharing. Your shawl has turned out so wonderful - no wonder there's a little let down. I would miss working on it when done, at least for a while till the next one took hold of me.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Lacefreak said...

Wonderful job on your shawl! I love your discription of the road from thought to creation. I'm not spinning the yarn for my Boundary Waters Shawl but I did for Mountain Pines so I can appreciate the commitment you made to complete your beautiful shawl. Congratulations on it.

7:30 PM  

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