Socks and holding on to stuff {Wednesday’s WIPs}

IMG_1553The socks are my only current WIP (work in progress).  I managed to finish up everything else and trying to work at one thing at  a time.  They are for my daughter, she asked for them.  The yarn is Knitpicks Felici and I had two balls of this colorway, my last two and since Felici has been discontinued I was hoarding them.  For some reason I decided to use them.  I have been decluttering all month, using the Konmari method from the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Japanese author Marie Kondo.  The secret to her method is to only keep what truly brings you joy.  Own only what you truly love and cherish and it will be enough. 

I had already gotten rid of most of my yarn stash, all of the things I didn’t like got sent away to the charity place.  Even my extra needles and hooks were sent.  All that is left is yarn that I really like, that truly brings joy, so it did not make sense to save it anymore.  I bought it to use it, so I might as well just do it. 

I thought that I got rid of things easily, and in general I do.  I try not to attach sentimental value to objects and things.  I try to keep attachment in general to a minimum.  But sometimes some items slip by.  When I was tidying up, I found movie ticket stubs to when my husband and I first got married.  I found notes we had written to each other.  Forgotten at the back of drawers.  So why had I held onto them?  Why was it hard to throw them away?  Maybe deep down we feel that these things become talismans of happy memories.

Marie explains why we don’t get rid of things “But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”  And to drive the point home she also wrote “Truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard the objects associated with them.” and “It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure.

She is right.  The memories didn’t go away when I got rid of the stuff, the preciousness of the beautiful moments that I was tried to preserve did not fade away.  Symbolically, to me personally, it felt that I should work harder on making more beautiful memories with the people I care about instead of trying to find mementos to preserve old memories with them.  It works for the yarn too.  Yes it will probably be the last time I will enjoy the yarn, but the socks will last longer, well maybe not for the 7 year old, who grows out of her socks in the blink of an eye. But the enjoyment of knitting them and seeing her wear them for some time is much greater than the yarn being left forgotten in the bottom of my yarn basket.  There will always be more yarn and more beautiful memories, I just need to remember to make a conscious decision of choosing the joy of experience over the joy of possession.

 

Reviewing 2014

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Last year I did a review on my year.  One of the nice things about blogging is that you can go back and see what it was like a specific point in time.  I had no resolutions last year, but I had two personal goals, I wanted to read at least one book a week and to knit myself a sweater.  I used Goodreads to track my books and I actually managed to read more than 52 books this year, true, many of them are children’s  books, but hey they are still books.  I stopped thinking about how important the books were and just read for fun.  A lot of the books I read were bedtime books I read to my daughter. 

And I know myself a Hitofude, then I knit another one for my sister.  If you had told me last year that I would knit not one but two fingering weight cardigans I would have laughed.  I still want more pretty cardigans, but I will take my time and order the good yarn first. 

I like reviewing my year, I like looking back and realizing that the year was not a total waste even though that is how I felt most of the time.  It is also satisfying to look at all the things I made

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There is over 30 projects in that picture.  The ones I enjoyed the most were definitely the dolls.  They were personal and had character.  The cardigans were awesome too.  Two completed large blankets and two baby blankets isn’t bad either.  Not to mention another two large ones still being worked on.

I might have less projects that previous years, but 13 of them were made out of fingering weight.  And of those 13, 8 of them were large projects.  I used to want to knit something fast so I could have it ticked off my mental to – knit list and don’t get me wrong I still can’t wait to finish a WIP so I can enjoy it or cast on something else, I am teaching myself to stop worrying about time.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 12.07.17 PMAnd some of the books. Yes they are for kids, yes they are not serious books. But in my defense, some of these were super fantastic.  For example the Fairyland series are super so was the Mr Benedicit’s Mystery Society.  And I loved the Hundred year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared.  As for Girl Gone, that book gave me the creeps, I still feel creeped out just thinking about it.

It hasn’t been an easy year, that is for sure, but I like to think that I took it all quite well and responded appropriately.  I read somewhere that you should not react to things, instead you should respond.

Talent and the Mindset

Last week I finished Carol Dweck's book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and I loved it. The book mainly talks about the two different mindsets; one which is fixed and the other is one of growth. The book has chapters about the two mindsets and how they relate to relationships, parenting, business, arts and more.

Basically, people with the fixed mindset believe that you are born with a certain set of abilities and you can not learn or grow to be more, while people with a growth mindset believe you can always learn more and grow. The good news is that you can develop a growth mindset if you want to.

I found the chapters on relationships and parenting very interesting and useful. There were many ways of applying the knowledge to real life. It also helps you re-evaluate how you interact with others and yourself. But the thing that I loved most was how it viewed talent. How talent with a fixed mindset could be the cause of its own demise, and when coupled with a growth mindset it could blossom into amazing things.

I have always felt uncomfortable when people tell me that I am talented because it made me feel like a fraud. I don't think I am talented, I just think I have perseverance and that I am stubborn when I want to learn something new. I started crocheting on my own and my first items were quite sad. Even my photography was sad. If you look at my blog from that time you would probably laugh. It has taken a lot of time, effort, sweat and tears to be able to make the things I make. And I still think I am far from true mastery, I wish I could learn speed knitting, master cables and knit the most intricate colorwork sweaters without batting an eyelash. I still frog because of mistakes or because I hate the colors I chose. I still learn new techniques every day and want to learn more. This applies to everything in my life. I have gone from a single software engineer with a career to a stay at home mom who couldn't cook or bake to a work at home mom who enjoys baking, sewing and knitting. I have gone from a parent who had no idea what to do to a mother who is comfortable and understands that no one has all the answers and that it is a journey for both of us. I have gone from a wife who was terrified of making mistakes to a woman who is happy and satisfied and ready to give her marriage all that she has got because it is worth it and that it is a relationship that grows not a status you earn by signing a marriage contract.

I have had people tell me that I am “lucky” for having it all. I don't think I am lucky. I am blessed. I was blessed with a set of things that I got through no work on my part. But keeping them, growing them and nurturing was all hard work. Learning a new skill is never easy or fast. It takes time. And it takes the mindset of growth. Knowing that you have to work at it. You have to log in the hours.

People who say “I could never knit, I don't have the patience” or “I can't bake a cake, it is so hard” are the people who have coded that their skill set is fixed. No one is born with cake baking skills. And you don't knit because you are patient, you learn patience because you learn how to knit.

I might never be prolific or talented as some of knitting heros, but that is ok, I am happy trying to reach them anyway.

 

Sometimes you just need to do things a little differently

I have been taking it easy and loving it. I finally finished the Yarn Harlot’s the Secret life of knitters. As is expected from her it was funny, touching and just the thing I needed to read. I love how she talks about knitting, life and everything else. If you love yarn then you definitely need to read this book.
Then I read Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work.  First of all, I am a Project Runway fan.  I love the show, love the energy, watching the designs go from inspiration to actual garments on the runway not just because I know how difficult the design process is but also because I love watching people create something from nothing.  After reading this book I don’t think I will ever watch it the same way again.  The book isn’t about project runway it is about Gunn’s rules for life.  Why he tells designers to “make it work” and “carry on” whenever he visits them in the work room.  It is a light read but quite entertaining and funny.  Definitely worth a look.

And then on a whim I started a crochet project

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Back in December of 2009, I started wanting to learn crochet. I started looking at blogs and websites and then I bit the bullet and taught myself. Amigurumi was always one of the things that fascinated me. Just thinking about all the toys I could make would just make me dizzy. When I finally got the hang of it and could make them, I lost interest and only rarely make them now. I think it is all the small pieces.
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All the sewing of the little pieces and most of all the face. The face is what makes or breaks the toy, I usually end up redoing it a couple of times. But not this time, I just did it and have decided to live with the lopsided face. After all it is just a toy.
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We did take PussyCat (as the little one has decided to call her) out and about yesterday.
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Sometimes you just need to be and let things go, like I let the face go. I know it is not perfect but does it really have to be perfect? Isn’t that what crafting is?

Happy weekend/week wherever you are.