Making Monday, stranded on a desert island or home away from home

Going to "work"
Today's post is a bit personal, do you mind if I share some of the details affecting my summer and my knitting, and my presence here in Maine and my absence from Boston? I hope it will not come off as self indulgent or  martyr-ish.
My parents are in their 80s and they are slowing down, some routines have become a challenge and their health, while ok, is of concern for me and my siblings. I have the summer off, thanks to being a teacher, my girls are self sufficient enough to manage without me, and I have been in Maine pretty much since school let out in June.  Prior to summer vacation, I spent many a Friday on the Concord Coach commuting up for the weekend. I spend my time hanging out with my parents, watching old movies, paging through family albums, and enjoying the small moments of each day. I run errands, cook, do a bit of laundry and cleaning, but for the most part, I sit and I knit and I enjoy their company. Why am I listing all of this info and what in the world does it have to do with knitting you ask? Wait, read on.

I have established a kind of home away from home existence here in Maine. I have clothes and knitting projects in both places, I have a routine that differs from the one at home. My parents retire for the evening by 6-6:30, so I sit and knit and binge on Netflix series. I have gotten so many projects finished here. The stash I had been bringing up is dwindling, and I am a tad panicked. I miss my stash and dream of the projects I have lined up at home. (I must interject here that I also miss my girls, my cats, my walking about town lifestyle as well. And. I. Really. Miss. My. Girls.) This post is about my thinking in regards to having a lineup of knitting projects with limited resources at hand. And yes, I do visit the LYS in the area, I have ordered yarn from WEBS, but entertain my thinking about Knitting From Stash for a minute.

My bowl of wool overflows, small in comparison to the storage totes at home.
There is an element of being a curator and custodian when you have deep stash, you bought all of those skeins for a reason, right? Whether the yarn color made you swoon, the sale price was too good to pass up, or the need for a souvenir skein was overpowering, these items in stash were bought with some level of adoration. The problem (or the freedom) of having no access to my stash is it makes me ruminate on skeins at home and pine for access to the bins of yarn I have collected. It also slows down the "attention span of a squirrel" to slo-mo. The yarns in the bowl above are lovely and this makes me happy. They deviate a bit from my typical palette, look at all that blue! The skeins were not collected with one or two projects in mind, but now that I am forced to plan from what is on hand, it has created a shift in thinking.

Amari Shawl
After collecting all of the available yarn, this purple wool had me thinking. I have been doing a lot of knitting with fingering weight and I like how those projects are progressing, but sometimes worsted is such an instant gratification, larger needles and heavier weight yarn makes for speedy progress. The other thing about the Amari is that it is mindless knitting. I can knit and not watch my hands or follow any pattern directions.

This leads to meditation, at least it does when the Netflix is turned off. In the moments of quiet, as we sit outside on the patio and relish in the warmth of the sun, the refreshing gentle breezes, and the activity of birds at the feeder, I marvel at the wealth of inspiration I have access to. While in Maine, I have visited Knit Wit and felt welcomed into that community of knitters, I re-connected with a friend from the beach who does natural dyeing of wool, I have been reading about one designer's path from informal pattern design to a burgeoning profession. My girls accuse me of finding a way to turn any conversation back to knitting, this makes me proud. It was said with an element of complaint, but I flipped it to a compliment....

Dad, at the beach, feeling a chill. Mum called him "Chief Mucky-Muck"
I am pleased with the questions my dad asks about my knitting. He is observant and wonders about the effect of a different size needle, the purpose of gauge swatches, and my ability to have multiple projects going at one time. I think of his observations as a compliment. I am not just sitting there, I am actively moving forward with something. When I finish an item, you know I have been knitting those final rows with the anxious anticipation of the upcoming "Next", right? He chuckles to see me onto the "Next" and will comment on the new project with an "Already? Another one already?"

Dream in Color, Kangaroo Dyer and Haute Knit
But I digress, I wanted to share with you the process of looking at my bowl of wool and the places it takes me as I search for the pattern to make the yarn sing. These skeins may become a Color Affection, I will swatch to see if I like the progression of hues. Imagine, I have not made a Color Affection? The other ideas focus around Stephen West designs, but the challenge has been to find a pattern that fits what I have in stash with no further purchases. I have been eyeing Drachenfels, Heather of Highland Handmades, aka BoutrosBabe on Ravelry has started an informal KAL. The swatches will be my guide on how to proceed. (Do you know how out-of-character that statement is??)

Daybreak, knit with Toil and Trouble
This shawl is nice but I am rethinking the pattern. I love my other Daybreak but this one isn't singing to me. I have always loved his Lumpy Space shawl, but never had the yardage or time to pursue this major piece of knitting. Because I had some complimentary yarn in stash here in Maine, it got me to thinking. I bought the pattern but will wait to cast on. I have learned the benefits of monogamous knitting, well, monogamous for a day. I choose one project and give it a day's worth of attention.

Lumpy Space, here we come.
Well, I have been blathering on, I hope you are still with me here. Let me close with this concept. I suggest you consider using your stash in this way. You are at home, your stash is accessible, so go in and select a few skeins that make you happy. Place them nearby, and as you sit and knit, reflect on patterns you may have in your Ravelry Queue or Favorites. Or.... go and check what is on the Top Twenty patterns. You may find inspiration, I hope so! Good luck.

Mum and I


Bridget said…
This is a lovely post. And you are so very lucky to have your parents around still, and to be able to spend time with them. I'm very jealous. :-)
Erin Mcdonald said…
Hi Bridget, I realize I am lucky and have really relished in the small moments. Yesterday, as we sat in the sun, my mum perked up and said.... I feel like dancing..... but I've forgotten my tap shoes. So funny. And heartfelt.
Asha Francis said…
Very precious moments, thanks for sharing.
I can really picture your days from this post. Your parents sound lovely people and it sounds like there is much love in your family. It also sounds like you truly value this gift of being able to spend this time with them, just being together. In a way it sounds like that feeling has tipped over into your knitting. You are enjoying spending time with your stash, watching it, swatching, feeling and thinking about it before deciding what you will make. It's a lovely idea. I am trying to appreciate my stash much more at the moment. I don't know how long that craze will last, but I'm riding the wave whilst I can.
Katheen said…
Really liked this post - it was nice to get a peek into your summer!

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