When Too Many Projects Overwhelm

Photo of knitting the Flax sweater

Fall, fall, we all fall into fall.

I am in a snarl of too many projects and can’t seem to find my way out.

The problem with too many projects is that nothing gets done. My projects are like reflections of my moods and whichever pulls me at the moment is the one that gets worked on. But when I have a lot of projects, it starts to feel narcissistic. Or like a form of multiple personality disorder. How do I feel RIGHT NOW? What project is the perfect match for my state of mine in this genuine moment? Which garment type? This stitch complexity? That color?

And when I catch myself tangled up with indecision that granular and, frankly, insignificant, that’s when the herd gets culled. It’s for my mental health after all. I want to work on my projects, not just think about them. I want the satisfaction of finishing in a reasonable amount of time.

Here’s a pic I posted to Instagram this weekend:
A photo of knitting works-in-progress

So here’s the list of things on the needle (which I have touched in the past month; never mind the things that are already back-burnered) — clockwise from top left if you like a visual, with links to Ravelry project pages if you want more info:

  • Gift socks for the holidays. I started a new pair of socks last week. I’m trying to work on it when the recipient isn’t home. By which I mean I’m trying to not work on it when the recipient is home. Those aren’t the same things.
  • A sock sample for Washtenaw Wool Co. in our half-stripe/half speckle dye application.
  • Sockathon #2, my neverending quest to knit up scrappy socks with leftover sock yarn. I still love working on this and it’s small enough that I almost always have it with me.
  • Cowl design, long overdue, half knit up.
  • Wheaten scarf in Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days, my impulse purchase at Northern Michigan Lamb & Wool Festival. This yarn is so delicious (100% BFL) and I have been wanting to knit this pattern for a long time.
  • Susanna IC’s Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-long, from August/September. I’m about halfway done. I was really enjoying this project, but had to set it aside for some deadline knitting. It’s a relatively easy knit and the yarn—old Koigu KPPPM liberated from my sister’s stash—is delicious.
  • Flax sweater in Shepherd’s Wool, started for a class I was teaching. I screwed up the sleeve garter panel and need to rip and reknit the whole thing. Sigh.
  • Thrummed mittens for a class I’m teaching, pattern of my own devising. (Not pictured; don’t know where they’re at! Somewhere in the house.)

I am harsh at this point. No matter how many projects I am considering, I always narrow the list to two, one that takes concentration and one that doesn’t. With focus, things get done quickly — sometimes even just a day or two — and then I can get back to other items on the list. Or, with the distance of time, I’ll decide something isn’t working for me and I’ll rip it out (usually precipitated because I need the needles or the storage space).

I know which two projects it needs to be.

Busy Is Good

Just keep telling yourself that!

New Yarn

Photo of rainbow gradient yarnEarlier this year I launched a new business, Washtenaw Wool Company, with two friends, Michelle and Heather.  We’re having a blast, learning a lot, and watching this seed of an idea grow into something that suits all of our different skills perfectly.

It’s all very stimulating! We’ve been dyeing up yarn using unusual and sometimes time-consuming methods. We’ve been building our community of like-minded makers. This weekend we have a show, a local show luckily, and then we will hit the yarn design drawing board in earnest.  I. Can’t. Wait.  Local wool yarn, here I come!

New Design

I am aswim with design ideas and lack only for time to make them come alive.  I have socks, a pair of fingerless mitts, and at least two shawls partially written up. I’ve designed an entire shawl with the help of Miriam Felton’s Lace Shawl Design Craftsy class and the Stitchmastery software. Now I just need to knit it!  Ah, time, you fickle friend. Is this the point where designers find test knitters?

Photo of a knitting swatch.

New Skill

I’ve started teaching knitting classes at one of our local yarn stores and privately. Turns out, I really like to teach knitting!  I’ve been doing it for years informally, but I am finally embracing the idea that I have something to share with people who don’t know me.  I was a little worried before my first class because I did not enjoy teaching snarky freshman Composition at the community college.  So kudos to me for not letting that one terrible experience define my relationship to teaching in general.

New Words

As my writing time becomes more precious, I feel a visceral tug to connect pen to paper.  I am no nube; I know this feeling.  It means, “Write more. Something needs to come out.”

Spring this year is slow to arrive.  We had thunder and graupel (I learned that word today) this morning.  My dreams — mundane and not — continue apace, fed by the energy of busy creativity.

How has the transition between winter and spring been going for you? Please tell me in the comments below.

Trecolori Shawl

Photo detail of Trecolori Shawl by Carol Ullmann

The grey is here to stay for a few months, but we can combat the blahs with comfort and color.

Photo detail of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannDesigned for Happy Fuzzy Yarn‘s Corrie Sock fingering weight yarn, the Trecolori Shawl is an easy-to-knit textural asymmetrical shawl with a deep border of arrowhead lace.  Knit in three colors, Trecolori uses the Fibonacci sequence to make a fun striping pattern.

Photo of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannYou can blend your stripes a little if you use a multicolor yarn with two coordinating semisolids, as I did here.  “Jane” is a multicolor comprised of pink, orange, and green and I combined it with a semisolid “Peony” pink and “Granny Smith” green.

Photo detail of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannHappy Fuzzy Yarn released this design in early summer and it has pattern has sold well at shows and online — in fact, I think the paper pattern is headed for its second printing soon.

Photo of Trecolori Shawl by Carol UllmannI don’t have my own Trecolori shawl to keep and wear.  I can’t decide what colors to make mine with — I like bright colors, but hot pink is definitely not in my wheelhouse.  I’ve always loved the “Enchanted” colorway so maybe I will start there.  Or perhaps “Cherry Float”?  No, “Moss on Stone.”

Help! What colors would you choose?

Trecolori is available for purchase on the Happy Fuzzy Yarn website or on Ravelry.

Spring Valley Shawl

photo of the Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann

One of the things that I bought yarn for at the recent Fiber Expo was 3 skeins of Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Merino to make my own Spring Valley Shawl. Finally.

Picture of yarn from Happy Fuzzy Yarn
DK Merino, just waiting it’s turn.
Photo of Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann
I did the pattern photography with my friend’s daughter modeling.

I love this pattern!  Riin picked the colors and I designed this striped asymmetrical shawl with a deep edging of beehive lace and a simple crochet edge to highlight the new DK Merino yarn base offered by Happy Fuzzy Yarn.

Some patterns fight back in the design process and require a lot of ripping back, swatching, swearing, and finger-crossing.  This one was smooth, joyful, easy, and sprang pretty much full-formed without fuss.

photo of the Spring Valley Shawl by Carol Ullmann
Pattern sample done blocking and I am so sad to see it go!

If you are the kind of person who loves a big cuddly shawl or scarf, Spring Valley will make you happy too.  Happy to knit, happy to wear.

Available to purchase on the Happy Fuzzy Yarn website or on Ravelry.

I can’t wait to see what other people do with this pattern — other color combinations, perhaps other weights of yarns.  If you are a clever sort of knitter, it would be no big deal to knit this in any weight of yarn so long as you set yourself up with the correct stitch multiple for the lace.

Everyone Loves Fingerless Mitts

Photo of handknit fingerless mitts
There’s been a craze ‘round these parts.  Young and old alike, male and female, everyone’s gotta have a pair of fingerless mitts.
It started with the Pageturner Mitts, which was barely a pattern, but gave me a jumping off point. I had a lone and lovely skein of Noro Silk Garden, aching to be knit. I enjoy wearing my fingerless mitts in my chilly basement office:
Photo of Noro fingerless mitts
Then I made a pair in teal blue as a gift:
Photo of handknit teal fingerless mitts
My daughter, fashionista that she is, immediately demanded a pair.  In pumpkin orange:
Photo of orange fingerless mitts
My mom wanted cranberry red (modeled by Matt):
Photo of red fingerless mitts
At the same time I was making my mom’s pair, I was also designing the Fabulous Fingerless Mitts as a free pattern for Happy Fuzzy Yarn (I also did the photography). They use one skein of DK Silk yarn.  Special consideration was taken to not only use the entire skein — no more, no less — but also to knit them at a tighter gauge because silk does not have the bounce back that wool does:
Photo of handknit silk fingerless mitts
Matt needed a pair of fingerless mitts too.  He loves warm accessories and has a desk in the basement office too, which he was using daily last fall and winter.  Somehow I don’t have finished picture of these, but I used a beautiful sea blue-green-grey color of Shepherd’s wool left over from making myself a sweater.  I should get a picture of them now because it’s great — he has worn them a lot and it shows. The only thing better than knitting for loved ones is having them use and use and use your handknit gifts.
My neighbor Amy wanted a neutral-colored pair of fingerless mitts.  For these I bust out a deep stash ball of Rowan DK Tweed in grey that I bought at a tiny wool shop in York, England.  I love the nubby texture of these:
Photo of grey handknit fingerless mitts
Meanwhile, Ellie gave her orange mitts (which were really too big) to her brother, and asked me to make her another pair, one blue and one lime green. I think they represent sky and earth:
Photo of handknit fingerless mitts
(No, I didn’t ask her to pose like this.  Yes, she is a ham.)
All the random single skeins in my stash suddenly have definite purpose.  But still I bought this beauty — DK Silk in Granite — and have plans to make myself another pair of Fabulous Fingerless Mitts:
Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Silk in "Granite"
Fingerless mitts are great for in-between weather, when it’s not hot or cold and a chill can creep up on you suddenly. They’re also a little punk, a little grunge, a little counter-culture.  Fun for kids, practical for adults. Quick to knit and a great way to use single skeins and leftovers.  What’s not to love?