Monday, 31 December 2012

Knitting in the New Year

Have you found yourself making any knitting-related New Year's resolutions this evening? I have, of sorts. I wrote a list of the knitting projects I want to do in my snazzy new leather-covered planner. I won't share it here, but I must say it's daunting, especially when I've got a few stained glass projects, one needlepoint project, and never mind how many sewing projects also listed on the same page.

Making New Year's resolutions and planning knitting projects are two activities with certain commonalities. They're both an act of faith, of optimism, of expectations that the future will be better than today, because if you can bring them to pass, your life will be improved by some small but measurable degree: you'll have quit smoking, trained yourself to run continuously for half an hour, founded a savings account or a small business, finally begun or finally finished your university degree, begun to learn Spanish, or adopted a pet. Or you'll have a beautiful new sweater to wear. In a world where horrific things happen every day and more disasters are lurking in the shadows of next week, resolutions and knitting project plans promise us some small sense of mastery over ourselves and our own little corner of the world, that at this time next year though we're one year closer to the end of our lives, we'll have a sense of progression rather than one of stagnation or decline.

Making resolutions and plans and dreaming of the day they'll be realized is such an intoxicating feeling that one often gets carried with the easy, early stages: buying exercise machines or budgeting apps or bags of beautiful yarn or Beginner Spanish books that then... just sit there, insistent reminders of our lack of self-discipline or realism.

So while I think it's important to make resolutions and plan knitting projects that excite and inspire us, it's also important to add some ballast to them and to keep them grounded in reality. When writing out my knitting project list tonight I made myself add the two projects that are sitting in my work basket right now and that I am very tired of working on, but that must be finished before I can start anything else. I made myself leave off a couple of items that I'd love to make but just won't get to this year, as there's no point setting myself up for the frustration of a list doomed to incompletion. I let myself add just one project that will require the purchase of more yarn — all the rest of the projects will be made out of yarn I've already got on hand.

I've been finding as I get older that all my plans and to do lists are changing in similar ways, that they're being stripped of some of the frills, fancies and extravagances, and becoming leaner, more prosaic, and.... more likely to happen. And I have no real regrets about this seismic shift. Dreaming of learning a foreign language or of getting a black belt might have made for exciting daydreams, but buckling down to getting my novel done at last, getting an hour's brisk hike in every day, and working hard enough at my freelance editing business to earn the money to pay off my mortgage, get a new furnace, kitchen and rooftop deck, and maybe take a trip for the first time in five years will make for a more satisfying reality. After all, one gets more real satisfaction and wear out of a plain but well-shaped and flattering pullover in one's favourite colour than the most intricate lace shawl ever made.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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