Happy post-Christmas haze, everyone! I hope your day was merry and bright. Mine? A little crazy, enough so that not one, but two Christmas-themed blog posts which were supposed to go up last week are lingering three-quarters finished on my hard drive. (I’m not late; I’m just getting a head start on the 2016 Holiday season. At least, that’s my story.)
We’re in that strange week between Christmas and New Year’s, where it seems like we’ve done so much already, but there’s still so much to do. Many folk who are working this week are involved in year-end activities, AKA “Chasing down things that should have been done earlier this year but we now have to get resolved before end of day on the 31st.” That’s where much of my time is being devoted, the day job temporarily overshadowing almost everything else. It doesn’t leave much time for writing at the moment, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. No, it isn’t an oncoming train, though there are moments when I’m convinced it’s a handcar of rabid ferrets.
So I try to carve out time for myself in bits in pieces. Walking is a big one, getting out while the world is quiet and no one is demanding my attention. I put the current playlist on, make my circuit and feel good for having done something for myself to start the day. Pictures from those moments show up on Instagram or Facebook and Twitter, my attempts to capture that still and quiet.
I think I found another piece of time I want to carve out for myself, though, aside from the walking. Christmas Eve, I was sitting in church before the service, knitting away on the Advent Shawl (which I was behind on), saying hello to folks I knew, participating lightly in the general chatter — especially with the other knitters, who wanted to see what I was working on. Then the prelude before the service began and everyone grew quiet.
We had a string quartet as part of the music program for the service and the air was filled with Vivaldi’s Concerto in D minor, Op. 3, No. 11. And I knitted. I let the music wash over me and I knitted. The selection wasn’t that long, probably no more than ten minutes, but between it and the simple movement of the needles, I…relaxed. Out of a day that had been fairly insane and more than a little frustrating (see: Activities, Year-End), just those few minutes helped. And the Advent Shawl was finished on Boxing Day, with a photo session on Sunday after services using some of the bits and bobs our vicar decorated the patio area with.
So, resolution for the New Year, which I’m not waiting until New Year’s to begin: In the evening, I need ten minutes — fifteen if I can get it, but at least ten — where I sit down away from the rest of the household, put on some instrumental music and just knit and be. Even if the rest of the day is devoted to everyone and everything else, I think those two things will help with the balance.
Making certain time is carved out for writing? That, my friend, is another on-going battle…
Yeah, that time of the year to take stock of things and that includes my knitting. Like most knitters, I have more unfinished objects than I should lying about the house in various states. To deal with this, the plan (she says with immense overconfidence) is to focus on a few items every month, and try to make efforts at getting those finished or at least seriously moved along the road. I have no pretensions matching Stephanie McPhee or Wendy Johnson’s productivity, but I can definitely do better in 2016. Here’s what mainly on the needles at the moment.
Zorya by Anna Dalvi
Zorya will be a triangle-shaped shawl, being released as an Advent knit-along, with a new clue each day between December 1 and December 24. I’m doing pretty well on this one (only about half a day behind at this point) and the goal is to actually wear it to Christmas Eve services on the 24th. Looking at the schedule for the day job, though, I have a feeling that while I may finish the shawl before services, I won’t have time to block it that day without making myself crazy.
The yarn is fingering weight, with the darker color being a variegated blue-black with silver thread among the strands, Studio June Yarn Star Struck in Moon Dance, which has been aging in my stash since early 2011. The lighter color is also variegated deep rose and purple, Dream In Color Smooshy in Ruby River. I bought the yarn back in 2009 — and somehow forgot about it until after we moved two years ago. I tried using it on another shawl earlier this year, but that didn’t quite work. Pairing it with the Studio June, though, seems to be the match that particular skein was waiting for.
Night Blossoms by Romi Hill
Romi Hill makes amazing lace shawls and Night Blossoms was one that caught my attention because I could easily see it in a gradient yarn. The pattern is designed so there is a patterned yoke over your shoulders and then blossoms and pattern descending from that.
I found the yarn from Apple Tree Knits, a pure alpaca lace called “Ominous.” I’ll admit I like it, but it’s actually less ominous and more pleasant twilight. Definitely pretty and I’m receiving plenty of compliments, but it’s not turning out quite as dramatic as I’d hoped. However, given the intricacy of the pattern, this will make a nice shawl for summer evenings. In the picture, you can see the yoke and how the pattern begins to spread out from there. At the top of the picture, that’s not a shadow, but the yarn shifting from pink to blue.
And for anyone wondering, yes, this was the shawl I was knitting away on at the December LARA meeting.
Katya by Wendy McDonnell
Okay, if I want drama, this shawl will deliver it in spades. Katya is what’s termed an heirloom shawl, knit on tiny needles (Size US 0) with Cobweb Lace yarn. Yes, I’m essentially knitting a shawl that will be ultimately six to seven feet across with thread. A very nice merino/silk/cashmere thread, but thread all the same. Did I mention that it’s also beaded?
Now, why would I do such a crazy thing like that, you might ask. Because this is a knitting project that’s going to seriously stretch my skills. The pattern was a knit-along for 2015, but I started several months late and never caught up. We’re remedying that in 2016.
If you want evidence of how crazy I am, the picture shows the first 25 rows. That’s my index finger for scale. This is one I have to keep the cats away from because one good bite…
I’m looking at this list and my fingers are itching to go knit instead of handle the day job or any of the other tasks that are to hand. One reason I’m glad it’s almost the weekend; even with the holiday craziness, there’s still going to be plenty of time to curl up with some nice, squishy yarn and let my mind escape from the madness for a while.
So, with the last full weekend before Christmas before us, what do you have planned to give yourself some down time? Or do things seem just too overwhelming?
Okay, everyone’s had a few days to recover now. I opted to spend the last couple of days reading, knitting and watching television with my husband. There were also a few things, such as laundry, which had stacked up over the last five days of November. Amazing how four days off from work doesn’t seem enough time to actually accomplish things. Except the writing we did.
Yes, you can knit a small shawl in 24 days
So NaNo has passed and if you’re a winner, you’ve at least taken a peak at your winner goodies. If you didn’t validate 50,000 words, you’re probably either swearing that you’re never going to do this again or figuring out how you’re going to cross that finish line next time. For both of these, it’s probably best not to linger on them longer than this weekend, because now we should be all about moving forward.
Reclaiming Your Life
Yes, you can watch television, put up the holiday decorations, bake cookies. It’s good to devote ourselves to our writing for a solid 30 days, but a writer does not live by the keyboard alone. They need to, well, live — connect with the world and the people in it. If you’ve been on a roll, it’s very tempting to push yourself to keep going, but we all need a break every once in a while. Take one this weekend. Put your story in the back of your mind where it can age like fine wine and treat yourself to something. See a movie, visit friends, go shopping. On second thought, don’t go near the mall; the idea is to avoid stressing yourself out.
Aside from putting our outdoor Xmas lights up, I’m planning on doing some baking and spend some quality time knitting. Wednesday, I impulsively decided at 3 PM to join Anna Dalvi’s Advent KALendar shawl. By 5:30 PM, I’d gotten home from work, grabbed two yarns and cast on. Before I went to bed, I’d gotten through both the Day 1 and Day 2 clues. Of course, I ended up deciding the contrasting yarn I’d chosen didn’t work, so last night I frogged, chose a new contrast and knit Day 1 and 2 again, then started on Day 3 while catching up on Elementary. You can see my progress on my Ravelry Project Page, and I’ll post updates through the month. I’ve got until Christmas Eve to finish this shawlette, which will be a nice little treat.
Reclaiming Your Writing
But even as you let yourself get reaquainted with the people you share your life with after chaining yourself to the keyboard, we need to not let that momentmum slip completely away. We are writers; we need to write. So, in the middle of enjoying yourself, carve out fifteen minutes to scribble down a new idea or half an hour to do some revisions on something other than what you’ve been working. If your book isn’t finished, do some writing at a pace that’s comfortable to you. It’s important to rest so the mind and muscles restore themselves, but too long isn’t good, either. If you’ve taken a day or two, get back to the keyboard for just a little bit today; you’ll find that even if you’re writing at slower pace than you did in November, it may be faster than what you were used to before. Don’t push, but let the speed come.
Here’s another suggestion: this weekend, when you write, write just for the joy of it. Don’t worry about how it sounds, if you finish or even if it makes sense at all. Write for yourself and have fun with the words. We do this because getting words done makes us happy. If NaNoWriMo left you feeling a bit stressed about your writing, time to rediscover the joy, because that joy is very much a part of moving forward.
So, what are you going to do for yourself this weekend?
I have two longer posts that I need to finish up, but I’m trying to post every few days and since it’s been, oh, five, I thought I’d do a brief list of what’s happening.
I have solved my yarn problem. Out of the few stashes that actually had the skein I need, one was for sale and I’ve sent money via Paypal and it’s supposed to be on its way. Once that arrives, I’ll wind it the same night and get moving on finishing that last repeat.
Our car is still in the shop. It was almost done Tuesday, but our mechanic realized there was still one tiny leak in the valve, so he needs to fix it before that’s done. ::sigh::
Work has been insane, which it always is at this time of the year. I work a day job where we have a huge uptick in activity surrounding year end, so I’m working more than my usual 40. Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; unfortunately, it’s quite possibly a hand-car filled with rabid ferrets.
My father-in-law will be staying with us for Christmas. This was not expected and is causing a serious rearrangement of our Christmas plans, such as they were.
In the frustration of work, no car, and relatives, I have cast on five projects. Don’t ask. When I come to my senses, I imagine most of them will be frogged and the yarn quietly tucked away back into the stash.
I should actually have writing-related news to share soon, which is exciting.
That’s it for now. Off to work and our groups annual holiday lunch. Here’s to a good and (relatively) stress-free day for everyone.