Scatterbrained summer (so far)

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My mind is all over the place now that the semester is done. I’m still doing some work (trying to coordinate workshop and panel submissions for the two standing groups I’m part of at 4Cs, the big conference in writing professor world, and prepping a couple of workshops that I’m going to be running over the summer, including one on Monday) but it’s not all-consuming the way I was before the semester ended. The end result of a bit of “time off” after more than a year of teaching online during a pandemic without any childcare is that my creative brain feels like a squirrel on speed – just bouncing around from project idea to project idea, feeling very scatterbrained.

Some of this, too, is a kind of disorientation borne of the loss of a major piece of my knitting world. I have not used Ravelry since the end of March. That is, except to log in once, a few days ago, to pay the miniscule fee I owed on patterns I’d sold in the last month; perhaps one of these days I should pull my patterns from Ravelry, and figure out another way to host them – Payhip, maybe? I’m not sure whether I will ever dip my toes back into the “being a designer” waters again, and I’m hesitant to set anything up if all it’s going to do is host patterns I wrote nearly a decade ago. I dunno.

So far, I’m finding that what I miss most about Ravelry is the way I used it to self-soothe; that is, I would often open up my Ravelry friends activity list or my list of favorites and click around when I was feeling overwhelmed and just wanted to look at pretty things. The other thing I miss is the ability to easily see what other people’s versions of projects looked like. Some of that, I can do on Instagram instead; I’m learning how to follow hashtags and things like that. It’s just…weird, to still be knitting, still be connected to all of these knitters on the internet, but to be cut off from the site that was, for a very long time, and still is for many people, the heart of that online community.

One other thing I’ve noticed is that not having Ravelry has made me a bit more thoughtful about how to make best use of my yarn stash. I had a tendency to queue any pattern I saw there if it seemed remotely interesting to me, whether or not I owned the pattern or any appropriate yarn, and this sometimes pushed me to want to buy yarn for new projects even though I have a pretty significant stash already. But now that I don’t have access to that, I’m looking through my actual stash, as well as my knitting books and the PDFs of patterns that I have, and making lists for what I can do with what I have. It’s not that I couldn’t have done this when I was using Ravelry; I absolutely could’ve been more diligent. And Instagram can certainly push in the same direction, in terms of shiny new projects. But I am feeling less tied into that “shiny new project” thing, and I do think that’s from being cut off from Ravelry (and also from the designers who only publish things via Ravelry).

Anyway, those are my scattered thoughts on what a couple months without Ravelry have been like for me. How about some knitting? In the photo at the top of this post, you can see that I finished my newest Musselburgh hat. And also, that my hair has gotten quite long, though thank goodness, I finally have a haircut scheduled a week from today – no more COVID hair!

Musselburgh hat!

The Musselburgh hat reminds me of something else I’m feeling a bit wistful about: Ysolda’s closing her online shop. I’ve been a customer for quite a long time, as it was my favorite place to get yarns that were not easily available to me as an American knitter, and I have knit quite a few of her designs. I even had my post about my Joy mitts shared on her blog. I’m excited for whatever is next for Ysolda and her family, but I am going to miss that shop. (And I did, in fact, order one of the “care packages” that were offered to newsletter subscribers when the shop-closure was announced, so will have a mystery package arriving at some point in the nearish future. I know I just said I’m trying to use what I have, but I also wanted to “say goodbye” to the shop that opened my world to smaller European brands like Hillesvåg, Rauma, Einrúm, and De Rerum Natura.)

Alpaca-in-progress

Another project I’ve cast on for recently is an alpaca! My daughter wanted to make her 3rd grade teacher a “thank you” present for the incredible job she’s done as a remote teacher this year, and her teacher LOVES alpacas. I remembered having seen an alpaca pattern from Susan B. Anderson, so I bought that pattern, and am knitting the alpaca from leftover cotton yarn, and am teaching my daughter how to do i-cord and increases and decreases so that she can follow the pattern and make the blanket that goes with the alpaca out of leftover silk yarn (both yarns are leftovers from the non-wool babyStripes! that I knit for my dear wool-allergic friend’s baby):

She’s learning how to knit i-cord!

So far, I’m really enjoying knitting this alpaca! My daughter is incredibly fond of Susan B. Anderson’s patterns, having seen them in the Making magazine issues we’ve read together, and I actually have a couple of kits from her Barrett Wool Company yarn – a Sven and Solveig kit and a “Sleepy Kittens” kit, the latter of which I got with the intention of making them for my cat-obsessed daughter and then just…haven’t yet. But perhaps toys will become a new type of project for me; I’ve recently fallen in love with the Frog & Cast “Frog & Toad” pattern (and actually have sock yarn from way back when in colors that are reasonably appropriate!) and with FROM CINTHIA’s suite of animals (pretty sure I could also cobble together colors for some of these with existing sock yarn leftovers), and I’m less put-off than I expected to be by the fiddliness.

The last project I’ll share here is the Bressay sweater, which has reached a very exciting milestone: I’m now to the colorwork portion of the body!

Bressay colorwork

Bressay has colorwork that starts on the body (and on the sleeves) before the yoke is joined, which is different from any other yoked sweater I’ve made. It’s really fun to see the pattern starting to emerge! And I’m marveling at how Marie Wallin can create such gorgeous patterns using colors that are so similar to each other – you’d almost expect it to look like mud but instead it’s just subtle and beautiful.

Bressay colorwork

That actually reminds me of another thing that has me feeling sad and wistful; I first learned of Marie Wallin and her gorgeous Fair Isle designs from the Fruity Knitting podcast, and am now grieving the loss of Fruity Knitting’s Andrew, who reminded me so much of my own spouse Andrew, especially in the geeky delight he took in the details of history and technology. It’s just heartbreaking to see such a lovely human being taken out by cancer, but I’m really grateful for all of the joy that he and Andrea brought me through their show, and I hope that Andrea and her daughter Madeleine (whose own Bressay-in-progress is what originally prompted me to get a kit) are able to find joy for themselves as they move forward without him.

Well, I said this would be a scatterbrained post and so it is, but that’s just how things are right now. How are you all doing, dear readers?