Monday, February 26, 2007

The Sleeveless Spartan

Languish ('la[ng]-gwish): 1a: to be or become feeble, weak, or enervated, b: to be or live in a state of depression or decreasing vitality; 2a: to become dispirited, b: to suffer neglect (the sleeveless Spartan languished in the knitting bag for weeks); 3: to assume an expression of grief or emotion appealing for sympathy.

I ran out of yarn. It's as simple as that. The Spartan sweater for the BackBou has no sleeves. This is not a tragedy; my yarn order has shipped (not the same dye lot) and I should be back in Spartan-sleeve-land very soon. However, I've engaged in some meta-knitting-cognition (thinking about thinking about knitting) over this project derailment. I didn't just put down the sleeveless Spartan. I lost the vision. I let the Spartan languish. (You with the 70s hits on the iPod, time to cue MacArthur Park.)

I have been accused by others of being a bit obsessive about projects. (I am.) However, I actually think I have achieved much more balance in my life since I've had children and learned to knit. You should have seen me back in the days when I was experimenting with weaving chair seats with cane and rush.

I was like an addict on a binge: personal hygiene was the first to go, then dishes piled up in the sink and meals became a bowl of cereal and some pretzels. I would eventually emerge a bit worse for wear, the intense high of the process over, left to bask in the glow of the finished project. Then the stink of the kitty litter, the stack of dirty dishes, and the mountains of laundry would materialize ... bump, I would land, sober.

I flirt with that kind of intensity now, but never fall completely under the spell -- the children and the husband take care of that. However, the magic of seeing the FO in my mind's eye and having the focus and ability to make it real is intoxicating. The vision of the object is the driving force for me but it is the creation of it that is my knitter's high. After the creation, it becomes just another thing; a source of pride and pleasure to be sure, but as they say, the thrill is gone.

So if the vision of the FO is the engine powering my creative drive, what happens when there is a malfunction? Let's say, a fuel shortage ... a lack of sufficient yardage ... a gross miscalculation ... an embarassing shortfall of yarn. The vision does not disappear immediately but during these past 10 days, the dream of the FO became fainter and fainter, until yesterday I barely even remembered that the sleeveless Spartan was in the house.

As the sleeveless Spartan (my Valentine's present to the BackBou) has languished, so has the vision. The vision is in a state of depression, weak and feeble. I am afraid that the influx of the necessary yarn will not be enough to revive the creative energy and thus the completion of the Spartan will be simply a chore.

Or will I be able to pick up the incomplete sweater, feel the softness of the merino in my hands and hear the click of the Addi's as I cast on for the sleeves, and feel the same joyful rush and envigorating thrill as before? We shall see ...


SpiderWomanKnits said...

Ugh. I completely relate to your post. I am working on a sweater right now that I know I don't have enough yarn on hand for. Despite being able to locate more yarn with the right dye lot I still have completely lost interest in the project. I feel your pain...

Anonymous said...

I always way overbuy so I have the opposite problem - what to do with the leftovers. I'm so paranoid about not having enough and trying to figure how to blend in yarn from different dye lots.

Liz K. said...

Great, thoughtful post, Ann. You've captured that languishing feeling we all get when we see things at the bottom of the knitting basket and think, "meh."

We all have projects that just lost their mojo. Perhaps when the new yarn comes you'll be rejuvenated. Or sometimes it is enough to just be done already, dammit! Josh's DGE has been like that for me, now with the collar still unfinished...Meh.

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Tina said...

the sock yarn I bought to give D for Christmas as the promise of handknit socks? I forgot to give it to him. He doesn't know it exists.

the Rowan Calmer in chocolate brown, 1/4 knit into a vast rendition of that sunflower tunic thing in Nora Gaughan, for my ma --I don't know where it is.

the other Broad St. mitt for my sis? Pointless until next year.

the pillow top based on my father-in-law's painting? two christmases and -- oh snap -- two birthdays have passed since inception.

I feel your pain.