Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Funky Mojo

Wendy just recently asked what causes one to lose their knitting mojo (a note to you grammarians: I'm using 'their' as a neutral 3rd person possessive since there isn't one in English. Yes it's bad classic grammar. No I am not apologetic). There are lots of fabulous answers in the comments to this post.

For me (because it's ALL ABOUT ME HERE), a bunch of stuff can throw off my mojo, bt I guess I've learned to deal with them since I have not ever suffered a serious Loss o' Mojo. We (the royal we) have definitely descended down into knitting funk at some times but never all that far. Mostly my Mojo-droppin' can be attributed to all the things everyone else mentions:

  • Yarn that is not fun to knit with. (Conversely, yarn I love to knit will keep me entertained for hours, if it fits the project. I will get COMPULSIONS to knit. Compulsions, people).

    This has happened a couple times. Most lately, I picked up a cute little hank of Manos Cotton Stria at my LYS, dyed in different shades of violet - very subtle, very nice. It's a super-soft yarn - just a single ply wrapped with a binder thread, so it's naturally kind of kinked up. I'd been meaning to try it (I lurrve the Manos de Uruguay wool), and this single skein was sitting forlornly at the bottom of the 50%-off bucket. I thought, this'll make a cute swatch-cum-baby-hat.

    I got partway into the hat and decided I hate this yarn. It's cotton so I have to knit it tightly, but it's still gapping between stitches, even when I'm using 3.25 mm/US 3 needles (K the Love Monkey says it looks fine but I'm still not sure). I like the variegation but knitting with it turns me into a clench-fisted monkey. I only survived to the end of this hat by doing it as commuter knitting. And I was so glad when I bound it off. Love the yarn, hate to knit with it.

    Same thing happened with doing a cable swatch with Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed Aran. Really, the yarn is gorgeous, but I got through 3 cable turns on my swatch and decided I would rather pick lint and cat hair off the floor than continue. Yay that it was only a swatch and I'd just bought a single ball for swatching.

  • I suspect that the project isn't working out (see also the Gapping Baby Hat O' Manos Doom above). I've got a pair of socks that depress me every time I see them. Love the pattern (one of the Nancy Bush sock patterns), like the yarn (Rowan wool-cotton), but I got 5 inches into the sock before admitting that perhaps I should try the sucker on and sadly confirm that yes, it is too small for my leg and ankle. Damn. Now I've got to rip it all out and adjust the pattern, or work it again with larger needles,... or find someone with petite legs who likes them.

    I vacillate on the current test-slip-stitch-baby sweater on whether it looks cute or nauseating. The current opinion swung to butt-ugly several weeks ago and I haven't made any progress since then. And because I have to figure out the sleeve increases (see next).

  • When I have to sit down and modify a pattern or design. Not only does this take significant time that can't really be interrupted, but I'm always afraid that I'm doing it wrong. Shut up, inner perfectionist. See slip-stitch-baby-sweater (I'm currently trying to get the sleeves to look right with both increases and the slip-stitch pattern.)

My coping mechanisms:

  • Approximately a billion different projects going at once. I have:
    • a commuter project (mindless/memorized pattern, easily portable)

    • lace (gauge does not have to be spot-on)

    • travel project (easily portable, long enough to last the trip, no metal needles (I know, they're fine on planes. I still have no wish at all to be detained for any reason at security and all it takes is one guy who hasn't read the rules lately))

    • Agressive Monumental Project (might need design time, thought, perhaps lots of note taking, a Long-Term Goal)

    • TV knitting (stockinette ONLY)

    • Quickie (not-instant-but-close-to-it gratification project), so that it appears that YES, I AM MAKING KNITTING PROGRESS.

    I'm all about the appropriate project for particular conditions. Also, lots of projects means that if something is bugging me, I ditch it temporarily for the more compelling project (See next one if it keeps bugging me for more than a week).

  • If it's not fun, either finish it fast (see Manos baby hat above) or rip it out now. Don't let it sit and glare at you. You can finish it faster if you have something to distract you.

  • Use yarn I like to knit. I know, duh. But you'd be surprised at how long it took me to figure that out.

  • Swatches! I love me some swatching. See, it doesn't count as something new, because you're just SWATCHING, which you're SUPPOSED to do, right? You're not actually embarking on a new project, just laying the future groundwork. This lets you get to play with new yarn and stitch patterns without feeling guilty about all the unfinished projects you have. Almost a guaranteed pick-me-up (see also the Quickie, above)

  • My first college roommate gave me some of the most useful advice I ever got about college classes. She said, "If you're not passing by drop day, you're not going to be passing by finals." (drop day = last day you're allowed to stop taking the class with no report card reprisals).

    Same goes for me a project. If I don't like it now, I'm not going to like it later.

    And the corollary: Fix the thing that's been bugging you NOW if it's still bugging you several rows after the mistake. It will continue to bug you.

    Ripping is cathartic.

  • Work on what I want to do. Dammit, it's my hobby and I'll do what I enjoy. I spend much of my time already doing Work that I frequently don't like, why torture myself in my off-hours as well? No one expects stamp collectors to have something useful at the end of all that collecting. Or windsurfers or mountain climbers. If you detest finishing, knit only in the round or pay/bribe/cajole/force someone else to finish it.

  • I never work to a deadline. No, not ever. I just don't like to do that. They're done when they're done. Corrollary: I also have learned to never, ever, promise anything.

  • Finishing goes faster with loud music

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