Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 in Review

December 31 always affects me. For years I wanted every day to be remembered and was sad if it wasn't. I think I just really wanted every event to be memorable. Now I realize that individual times and things aren't likely to be memorable, and that what I really hope for is a life lived well. I spend a lot of time in my head, and I don't even talk about much that's important to me for fear of disappointing myself as well as the people in my life. So my goal for 2008 is to reach more openly for what I love in this world, and to continue to learn generosity from many of the wonderful people in my life.

I've been taking the Build Your Skills knitting class from Rebecca
at Village since March, and toward the end of our last 2007 session, she asked each of us to list our completed knitting projects. Last night I completed my 34th knitted project of 2007. Many of my projects this year have been small in size and time commitment and large in regaining skills while learning new ones. I didn't list the projects I haven't completed, which include my first lace shawl, my first toe-up socks, and Rowan's Lynton cardigan in Cotton Jeans yarn (they are first on my list for completion this new year).

In 2007 I knitted my first pair of socks using the Pure and Simple topdown pattern, and knit four more pair as the year progressed. I've now learned four more ways to cast on and observed a new cast off, although I haven't yet tried it. My two gift bags were my first attempts at beaded knitting and the Fair Isle was done while I still only knitted with the throw technique.

Rebecca gave us a class to familiarize us with continental knitting, and in October, I took a class from Karen Alfke to learn two handed knitting while making her Banded Fair Isle Tam (see photo). I knit the green one in class then designed new bands for the next three) and I realized that although I progress slowly, Starmore and other Fair Isle patterns are not out of my reach. My niece liked the tam I knitted for her, and she created a band design for me to knit the same tam for her friend, Abby. I call that a triumph!

I'm becoming reconciled with swatching from seeing the amazing swatches my Nihon student friends knit for their projects and from the success I've had due to swatching first. And, as a result, I not only allow for the swatching in my yarn purchase, I've learned that I knit so loosely that it will be rare for me to knit a pattern with the recommended needle size.

My biggest project was completing a UFO that had been weighing me down for three years. I had chosen S Charles Micio for the wonderful softness and vibrant color, then found that the pullover sweater I was knitting had no body. I frogged the entire back and front and what I had knit of the sleeves, then chose a simple Nashua cardigan pattern. To get my gauge, I combined it with Falk's Dalegarn sportweight and swatched to get my needle size. I went to my first Beppa button sale and bought the lovely silk buttons, and my last minute panic about whether I had enough yarn was unfounded. My next learning experience was learning about the woolly board. Naomi brought hers over, and it worked like magic. I would have never considered soaking the sweater for 30 minutes in warm water then spinning it for 30 seconds in my washer, but I trusted Naomi's guidance. My cardigan now fits like a dream and is a joy to wear when it's cold. The photo color doesn't do the yarn justice.

The other sweater I completed was a Sirdar chunky knit from Rowan's Ribbon Twist. I had another panic about yarn quantity when I decided to add long sleeves and learned the yarn had been discontinued. It's a wonderful yarn to knit - I have about 3 yards left. This is another one I wear only when it's cold. (Thankfully, I still had Naomi's woolly board, but it's now been finally returned to her.)

Janine Bajus is holding student Lori's swatch homework, and Naomi is holding the one she knit (Note how Naomi is wearing the colors she swatched with!). Thanks to Janine's class, I've learned that the color sense I've felt as long as I can remember is still with me, and I'm building confidence about trying color combinations with yarn. I've learned that having specific times to knit and a fiber community inspires me to do more and stick with my projects. And in 2008 I intend to keep my project list updated so I can put my energy into reviewing my progress instead of counting them up in December.
And, finally, I'm learning to blog. I haven't been consistent with my postings, due to failure to commit the time, moving slowly on my knitted projects, and some uncertainty about what will be interesting and fun for others to read. So I plan to have more fun with my blog in 2008.

It's important to knit things we like, don't you think? My December projects each began as gifts and were given with love. Happily, some were received with sweet enthusiasm, and I learned who I will knit for again as well as who I will not. One item that began as gift is now part of my own wardrobe, and I have no regrets about the effort I put into it. I've made some valuable new friends in 2007, and I get to continue learning in my class and at Madrona Retreat in February.
2008 looks to be a very good year!