In the face of adorable things, I am helpless. My heart turns to mush. I must surround myself with cuteness all the time. I love pastel colors, little flowers, anything with kittens, polka dots, hearts and teddy bears. I love embellishments like pom poms, bows and braids. Nothing is too darling for me.
So, when I’m knitting, I often look for simple ways to make my work a little cuter. These are my top five things that you can do with any knitting project to make it your own and amp up the cuteness.
This is what a knitting bag should never look like.
While my mind is often cluttered with ideas and worries, and I start new projects every day with wild abandon and no shame, I fancy myself a relatively neat and organized person. I think I devote so much attention to keeping my possessions orderly to compensate for my cluttered mind. For me, organizing things is calming, and organized things are conducive to organized thoughts– perhaps even essential for extracting real actions out of the mental chaos. Nonetheless, entropy is a rule of the universe, and I find myself going through cycles of order and chaos, particularly with respect to my knitting bag.
I always begin with the best of intentions. I take a fresh knitting bag from my craft room, where I’ve neatly folded and stacked my collection of equally-sized and color-coordinated knitting bags. I place the supplies needed for one single project inside of it. I think to myself: I have plenty of knitting bags; there is no need ever to lose items in the bottom of one or find needles and yarns hopelessly tangled around each other inside of one. “No,” says the universe, in an insidiously slow, quiet drawl.
Today was an excavation day. My knitting bag had reached a critical capacity, and I’d frankly forgotten what was buried within it. So, I dumped the entire contents all over the coffee table… just kidding. I carefully removed each item one-by-one and placed it on the coffee table. It’s astonishing what one forgets in the space of a few weeks.
On top, the “Blowing Bubbles” shawl – this is an unpublished pattern that I’m test-knitting for Mim. I was eager to be helpful and intrigued by this pretty pastel-colored yarn.
Then I uncovered this experiment in Berroco Boboli Lace. I love this yarn. It’s gorgeous and shimmery. An unusual cowl construction with overlapping ends and picked-up stitches had popped into my head, and I had to try it.
Oh, the Bridezilla capelet… I couldn’t help myself when I found the pattern for this gorgeous capelet with hundreds of beads, nupps in the shape of hearts, and multiple panels of elegant, intricate lace. I so adore this luxurious blend of alpaca and silk from Highland Handmades.
The Bridezilla capelet was too complicated to work on while watching The Walking Dead. Chris had already turned on the TV, so I grabbed a skein of Araucania Panguipulli that I’d had in my stash for years and began this simple scarf in a hurry.
And then, this simple shawl which I began in the hospital waiting room at Maine Medical while Chris had surgery on his neck. Now it reminds of the nice lady named Betsy who leaned over and asked if I had a tape measure she could borrow, then eased my mind by chatting with me about knitting (and surgeries) for several hours. Rest assured, Chris is well.
And then there was this: a free pattern tear-off sheet, a wasabi kit-kat bar my mom sent from Japan, four tubes and one (cleaned) jam sampler jar of beads, a bag of freshwater pearls and sterling silver jewelry components, a pay stub, some crumpled up paper, two circular needles, a pen that belongs to the shop, two cases of sewing needles, and a piece of floss in a baggie (for stringing beads).
I’ve observed that people make knitted things for different reasons. Some people only knit socks, and some people knit the things lacking in their wardrobe. Some people only knit gifts to give away to their loved ones, because hand-made gifts are imbued with significance that store-bought gifts can never possess. It doesn’t have to be the same reason every time, of course. But then there are the people who just knit because they feel compelled to knit – maybe they like the challenge or maybe they find it soothes the mind and passes the time. They may find excuses to make the things they make, or they may knit without any pretense. When asked how their current project will ultimately be used, they may shrug their shoulders. I’ve met knitters who know with certainty that the fruits of their labors will never be used, but still they knit. Those are the process knitters.
The yarn monster in my closet is a plastic tote stuffed with hand-made items.
I respect all the myriad reasons that knitters choose to knit, but I am a process knitter. You might say that I knit to feed the yarn monster in my closet (see photo above), and to dress up (and up and up) my patient and reliable craft room companion, Amanda (see photo below). Knitting is most pleasurable for me when I’m trying out a new technique, combining colors and textures, or constructing an object that requires visualization and takes advantage of the peculiar properties of knitted fabric. Knitting is experimental for me, and the experience of touching and observing the yarn is more important than the thing itself. The objects I make are often incidental and frequently never completed. When someone asks me what my favorite thing to knit is, I must confess that I don’t have a favorite, but I usually say hats or shawls. It’s not because they’re the easiest to knit, though they are – it’s because I find that hats and shawls are forgiving and straightforward canvases for experiments in color and texture.
Amanda the Mannequin
I suppose some day, when the yarn monster in my closet simply cannot eat any more knitted things, I will begin to give things away or attempt to sell them off, but that’s never been the goal for me. Why do you knit?