Sunday, January 07, 2007

A mixed bag of a post

What's better than a sunny Sunday afternoon? (That's a rhetorical question, not a riddle.) I'm on the couch in my living room with Mooky asleep on his blanket beside me, and sun is streaming through the front window. All the snow has melted, and the sky is blue. I'm about to get to reading, but first, there are a few things I've been meaning to share with you.

My friend Jon sent this link a few days ago: "Hand cream? Try mutton fat." The Guardian asked "war babies" to send in their "green tips" (for conservation, alternatives to consumption, etc.). I found this particularly interesting, since my parents grew up in the 1930s and '40s and are "green" in such an ingrained way that I didn't realize for the longest time that our family was practicing the 3 Rs. We don't waste things, we reuse things, we make our own things, we don't throw out a lot of stuff, and we would never dream of leaving unnecessary lights on. I certainly recognized my parents in this Guardian story, and you'll probably recognize your own parents or grandparents. Plus there are knitting-related tips that are quite brilliant, like this:

"My mother's handknits always featured raglan sleeves. When they wore thin on the elbow, you simply unstitched the sleeves and reversed them, left sleeve to right armhole. This way, you had a virtually new pullover -- until the reversed elbows also began to wear out. Then it was time to unravel and knit up again as part of a stripey jumper." (Here's the link again.)

I've been thinking about knitting lately. When I switched to Blogger Beta last month I had to redo my knitting gallery, which is now its own blog, organized by different labels (e.g., socks, sweaters, wool). Seeing all of those numbers was eye-opening! (I've knit 44 pairs of socks?!) Mostly it made me see that I really don't need to knit much more for myself. So I've been thinking that this year I'd like to focus on technique rather than the finished product. I'd like to learn Continental knitting, for example. I'd like to make gloves for the first time (or maybe these convertible mitts). Also, having just finished a stockinette sweater and a few pairs of stockinette socks, and coming close to finishing a stockinette vest, I'm looking forward to choosing projects this year that are pickier. Trickier. I'm going to stop knitting like it's a race. I'm going to be more concerned with process.

And continuing from this desire to learn new things this year, I'm going to start sewing. I want to sew some clothes. I want to quilt. This will actually be re-learning more than learning, as I used to sew a bit, so it's not all brand new. (Except for quilting -- I've never done that.) I have my copies of Wendy Mullin's Sew U and Denyse Schmidt's Quilts on the shelf, and if those two books don't make you want to sew something... well, they definitely make me want to sew. So do certain blog posts by all buttoned up, angry chicken, crafty brainwave, etc., and super eggplant (and many others).

Overall, I just want to live more creatively. At the same time, I know I'll be super busy during the next four months, taking three classes. But I'm not going to sweat it if very little knitting or sewing takes place before May. (It's not a race!) I think that, for me anyway, a potential downside of having a blog is the (self-induced) pressure to produce. I'm not going to worry too much about that. After all, there are always objects like my doorknob that I find inspiring!

Wow, all of that and not even a photo to reward you for reading! Hmm... maybe I can find something in this very room...

How about the last two Xmas clementines?

17 comments:

anne said...

I definitely agree with the whole goal of stretching one's skills (although I still think there's always a place for mindless stockinette sock knitting...) I'm about to pick up the DS book - my brother just got married and I'm hoping I can sew them a quilt.

Nadia said...

Amen.

Robin said...

It's interesting to look back and get ideas for recycling from our parents and grandparents - makes me realize how much our focus has moved from conservation to consumption in just a few short generations.

What a great idea to explore sewing and quilting this year...I've dabbled in both and they are satisfying in a completely different way than knitting. Not quite a replacement though ;)

Enjoy your Sunday afternoon!

LEO said...

Oh! Learning continental knitting completely revolutionized my life. (that's only a slight exaggeration) I love it so much now. I watched the video on knittinghelp.com about a billion times, and then made a scarf with terrible uneven tension to give to a kid who wouldn't notice the mistakes, and by the time I was done with the scarf I had it down. It's great fun, and I think I knit faster now. I highly recommend it!

Steph said...

I've got sewing on my list for this year as well. I only hope my rusty skills meet up with my expectations. I've got the Denise Schmidt book on my shelf and the orange and white quilt keeps hollering my name.

Erica said...

I'm working on those exact convertible mittens right now, in Fllece Artist cashmere. (Living in Vancouver, it's the first winter I've really truly needed mittens here. You guys are getting all our good weather!) I highly recommend them in cashmere - I feel like wearing them around the house and to bed!!

LaurieM said...

I do the same sort of thing, where I make goals for the up coming year.

The other day, in a conversation, I mentioned that I expect to live until I'm 77 or 87 which means I've got another 40 or 50 years to my life. This really puts the need to crank out those knits into perspective. I've got lots of time!

DJB said...

Bosoms!

Carrieoke said...

It took me a minute to realize what the last comment was referring to, hee hee hee.

I'm right there with you. Sometimes I do feel like I'm knitting to win a race too - it's hard not to get excited about the finished product. But the things that I've taken the time to REALLY finish well, even ripping things out that weren't working, are always the ones I love the most.

Yay for living creatively!

chris said...

Very interesting article! My grandmother employed several of the "techniques" in there, and though my mother always sort of teased her for it, Mom is now doing similar things. It really kind of makes you think about how our generation sees so many items as "disposable", eh?

Stacey said...

Great idea. I'd love to learn continental knitting also - new techniques are fun once you get the hang of them! It's neat to knit for the process and not the product for a change....

Chris said...

Mmmm... must go have a Clementine snack now. I'm big into reuse - it's interesting how people react to finding out I buy 90% of my clothes secondhand.

gleek said...

hhmmm, i think those are all really good goals for a new year! following the three Rs especially :) but even if you don't accomplish much before may, the year is long! i'm sure you'll feel inspired by many things along the way.

Elizabeth said...

I really like this post. It reflects a lot of the thoughts I've had - wanting to live more creatively, trying to devote myself more fully to the "three Rs", and at the same time trying to slow down and not craft like I'm in a race. Thanks for articulating all these ideas so nicely. And I love that photo of the beautifully orange clementines in the turquoise bowl. Those would be great colors for hand-dyed sock yarn... hmmm...

nicole said...

Laurie M, above, makes a good point that we have plenty of time to knit everything we want in our lifetime. Somehow though I have to create a balance between what I acquire and what I create.

DJB said...

We buy our fruit and veg from local produce markets. Food is fresh, local, tastes better, is cheaper, and money goes straight to the farmer. I was horrified to see Californian oranges in our supermarket one day. They must fly them here? Meanwhile our local citrus growers can't find a market. It's disgraceful (Damn you and your free trade agreement, Howard!). Now that I have my own patch of dirt I grow my own tomotaoes, loquats, garlic, ginger, herbs, paw paws, passionfruit, macadamias, and lemons. Healty, fun, reduces carbon emissions, free, tasty, absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, cools my garden, lets me recycle kitchen waste...the list of benefits is endless!

marielle said...

That article confirms it - I've turned into my mother! Time to start leaving lights on, throwing teabags out after a single use, and to stop cutting across lotion and toothpaste tubes to get the very last drop...