Seventy-six projects led the big parade,
One hundred and ten WIPs close behind.
They were followed by rows and rows of forgotten UFOs...
It's got to stop. One particularly gloomy wet day last week, I incautiously dislodged a bale of fabric from the elongated piano stool that does duty as gather-all in the upstairs sitting room. It was a double bale of fabric, in fact, several yards each of bright pink and dark navy cotton jersey which I'd picked up for a song somewhere, some time back, with some idea in mind, now forgotten. That isn't topmost in my mind right now.
What is topmost is the fact that in so dislodging the fabric, I toppled an enormous logjam (can you topple a logjam? What exactly do you do with a logjam? Stab at it?) of carrier bags, small baskets, project holders, loose skeins and patterns. A pair of unfinished socks, started in Iceland last July. The beautiful front of a cabled jacket in unbelievably expensive alpaca silk aran weight. One bright red Origami sock, with its fellow just started, barely past the toe. And so on.
Now most times I can deal with situations like this. The normal practice is carefully to replace the covering material and go away to cast on for something new, right? That's what The Big Book of Advice To Obsessive Crafters would say. But, as I mentioned, it was a gloomy wet day, just right for pondering the Meaning of Life and particularly The Meaning of Startitis.
Because these past few months have been pretty appalling on that front. If Startitis be a vice, then the Celtic Memory establishment has been a riot of debauchery. What was I doing? What was I thinking? Was I thinking at all? Is sheer self-indulgence all there is to the human brain these days? (Don't bother answering that one.)
The heart was heavy, but the soul knew there was only one thing to do. Gather up all the WIPs. All of them. Lay them out, photograph them in the totality of their sad unfinished states. And then (courage, mon brave) let all of blogger land see them. Be truthful. Maybe, just maybe it will cure you of this reprehensible habit for once and for all (who's that laughing at the back?)
The memories come flooding back as each one is hauled out into the light of day. This cabled jacket in alpaca silk aran weight is going to be beautiful. And the yarn was just too expensive for it not to reach completion! It's already been started as two different projects, but interest waned, and it was frogged for another try. Some of the rewound balls are starting to look tired and whine for a bath. Then they'll look different to their new, fresh, as-yet untried colleagues. They always do.
Ah the Brigit jacket. Using that ingenious design from Starmore, on gorgeously smooth rich wool tracked down at Pierre Loye et Cie in Provence last May. It was a total bargain this yarn in the Campanule shade, and the jacket will be unforgettable. As was the scent of the little apricot trees in the sundrenched yard where we parked the car and DH photographed black redstarts while I ran wild in the bargain shed. (Brought home the kernels from some ripe apricots which we sampled from those trees, and actually managed to get them to sprout. Annoyingly, a marauding rabbit found them and nipped off each lush little plant at the root. Will they sprout again or will they give up? They're in the greenhouse, thinking about it for the winter.)
Secured this navy chenille, beautifully plush and thick, at the same place as the Campanule. Hidden in the bottom of a bargain bin on the floor, at such a price I would have been insane to leave it behind. A delicious crochet waistcoat, with tiny fob pockets (you can barely see those), but will there be enough to finish the back? The chance of finding more of the same yarn is unlikely, to say the least. And I'm not planning to drive down around Provence any time soon (bit chilly this time of year anyway). But one could almost get the scent of the orange blossom, the sound of the cicadas just by handling it...
It's my own fault, I shouldn't have grabbed a couple of balls of the chenille to take on a trip for which the chosen project was a Jane Thornley lookalike vest. But there it is again - that overwhelming desire to begin with the new love, instantly, immediately, without a second's delay. I mean, taking yarn from one project to start another? What kind of behaviour is that?
Ah the Icelandic socks. I remember the evening well. We'd spent all day driving in and out of long inlets on the Westerfjords, distances which could have been covered in two minutes if we'd happened to have wings and could fly straight, and came in a grey evening twilight to a small fishing village. Yes, it was the very place we had breakfast with the sorcerer next morning, now I come to think of it. I got that overwhelming urge to be working on a pair of socks and rushed down to the tiny local shop. You couldn't have called it a supermarket, but yet, there among the potatoes and the tinned beans, the spades and the saucepans, was a rack of knitting yarn and needles. Got two shades of Einband and two circulars, and was as happy as Larry for the rest of the night. There are times when only socks will do. And there aren't that many countries where you can find the makings thereof at 9pm in the middle of nowhere, are there?
Gosh, I remember exactly where I got this divine tweedy Italian cashmere. It was in School Products, up several flights of stairs in a decrepit old building on Broadway, NY, NY, and while I was fingering it lovingly, Berta Karapetyan was telling me about her change of heart from crochet to knitting (because you get smoother more draping effects with knitting) and also how she found knitting machines extremely useful for doing the long plain sections, leaving her the energy and inclination to spend absolutely ages on the complex bits. And when I'd left Berta, I went way up Fifth Avenue and had tea in that divine Japanese shop where they have all the lovely knitting books. It's going to be a beautifully cosy cowl - but for which winter?
And speaking of winter, this is a bright red stocking cap, in the Finnish style, for a new baby girlfriend, and I am absolutely determined to get it done and on her little head this winter, no matter what. In fact, in the early stages of this appalling realisation of just how many projects there were unfinished, grabbed this and stayed up really late one night last week to get some work done on it.
And therein lay my downfall. Because I watched The Holiday on tv, didn't I? And Cameron Diaz wore That Jacket in it, didn't she? Dear heaven, lay awake until 4am agonising over the right kind of yarn to use for such a project - a light colour of course, to show off the cables, but not too heavy a yarn. Cameron's was light and almost fuzzy, as you'd expect from someone normally living in LA who goes to her favourite boutique on Rodeo Drive to enquire what one should wear in an English winter.
Eventually remembered all that unspun Icelandic I'd carried home from the summer trip and fell asleep happily at dawn. It's a nice silver gray, which is only marginally more practical for fireside wear than Cameron's pure white, but it's knitting up beautifully. Just right for adding a welcome layer of warmth.
Ah yes, warmth. Intending to hunt for the Northern Lights this winter at some stage, so thought lined mittens would be a Good Idea. My own hand-dyed cashmere/silk for the outer layer, possum wool for the interior. Put on the embroidery halfway along the project and all, as it would be difficult to do once the whole thing is finished, as there is no division between outer and inner layers. So why isn't this one done, and its fellow well under way, since my fingers are icy right now, typing at my desk? (Not that you could type in mittens, but you get the idea.)
Good heavens, had quite forgotten the Origami Socks. Chanced on a remaindered copy of Knitted Socks East and West while away somewhere, and fell for these instantly, buying the bright red wool in two different shops because each had only one. It involved driving several miles too, I remember. It's a very pretty pattern. And yes, it deserves finishing. They'd look great for wearing on Christmas morning.
Are we there yet? Are we heck as like. My dear friend Tricia started her annual Advent Scarf KAL and how could I not participate this year? And there is the Lintilla shawl languishing somewhere, it's in soft dark green mousse yarn and it's going to look exactly like that worn so fetchingly while shopping, by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge - WHEN it's finished. Can't even find that at the moment. Didn't have the courage to haul out the huge bag with the almost-completed gansey in cream Stella yarn, because there is a lurking fear, amounting almost to certainty, that an overwhelming flood of 'what on earth was I thinking of when I started THIS?' will sweep across it. And that Stella has been tried and frogged several times already in OTHER gansey projects.
It was bad enough, starting that Fireside or Holiday jacket, although in defence, what would you have done, seeing Cameron Diaz slinking around a cute English cottage in it and ensnaring Jude Law into the bargain? (Never mind that she couldn't possibly have lit that log fire and fed the resident dog, let alone worn it to bed with a bottle of wine, while still maintaining the pristinity of the white wool. That's what you call poetic licence, I think.) But wandering around Ravelry the other night, as you do, I saw the most amazing shawl pattern (Zuni, I think, but don't quote me) which was nice enough in fingering weight but which immediately shrieked to be created in a really thick, ultra-luxurious yarn that would make a positive blanket of cuddliness for the cold weather. I have almost-matching supplies of rich angora and supremely soft alpaca (one from France, one from Norway) in my favourite violet shade, which together would make a thing of beauty. They're calling softly to me now from the sitting room. 'Come here and touch us,' they are crooning. 'Find the right circular this moment. We want to be with you! Wouldn't it be lovely to start playing with us tonight?'
I've got to face up to this problem that I seem to have developed. I'm not sure what to do. I would welcome constructive suggestions for dealing with it. Two lots of constructive suggestions actually. Firstly, how to stop starting things. And secondly, how to start finishing things.