Monday, January 5, 2009

categorical lessons

I admire writers who seemingly effortlessly organize their work into a manageable number of neat categories. My friend Cheryl, for example, over at A Simple Yarn has taken days of the week, and has "Everything in its Place": knit on Monday, garden on Tuesday, weave on Wednesday, simplify on Thursday, photograph on Friday, eat on Saturday, reflect on Sunday, and one catch-all: "the kitchen sink". Her archives are called "On the Shelf".

How clever! How cool! How totally unlike my mish-mash! sigh. . . .

You will note that I have no visible categories listed. That's because they're all over the place. I thought a system of categories would develop as I wrote. I was wrong. Instead, here are the categories that formed [alphabetically]:

bureaucratisms * critters * details details * foundation * front left corner * gardenings * glitch * greenwood chronicles * in the woods * kitchen * landmarks * Luther * now what? * people * ponderings * quotings * rant * roof * soundtrack * stone and brick * tower * walls * weather

Granted, this site did start out to chronicle construction, and that would explain some of the wierder categories like "roof" and "walls". Still, I defy you to find some sort of order in the whole thing! But yet order - or pattern - seems to be where we can begin to appreciate beauty; learn; find meaning. I'm still waaaay too random here. . . .

But maybe there's something else going on.

I present my last knitting project.

Surprisingly, this was one of the hardest patterns I've ever worked on. Normally I'm able to memorize a pattern pretty quickly, and don't have to continually consult the written pattern. Not so, this one.

No - it's not really all that complex, it's just that there's no immediately recognizable arrangement of the admittedly recognizable repeated elements. The bobbles (those knobby, bobbly bits sticking up) don't fall at the same place each time in relation to the cable stitch crossings in the middle for example, and the yarn-over lacey bits on the sides are festooned with apparently random extra yarn-overs every so often.

The free pattern is here, if you'd like to look at a much better picture of the finished project. It's a very cool shawl that can be worn as a cardigan, hood, sleeves, and who-knows-what-else!

I almost gave up on it, though, because it required me to be bound to the written pattern and to continually count, pay attention to where I was, and rip out the bits where I'd lost track and gone astray. The pattern does not emerge until first after the 16 row pattern 'set up', and then the pattern itself is a 24-row repeat! [Meaning: it takes 24 rows to knit one complete pattern bit. That's a lot to go through before you get to repeat a recognizable pattern! Imagine, for example, a song that has 24 lines of melody before it repeats, and you'll see what I mean.]

Worse, it has bobbles.

I've always hated bobbles. They're like a one stitch detour - round and around - that leaves you with a stop-and-go tangle of yarn and needles. It requires you to go forward [turn], backward [turn], forward [turn], backward [turn], and then forward again - increasing and then decreasing as you go. I don't mind the increase/decrease bits so much, but I don't like the continual turning of my work. Clearly, something was going to have to give if I was going to knit something that had so many bobbles in it, and it did.

I learned to knit backwards.


Bobbles are now a breeze, just a slight delay, while a bit of texture is worked in. I begin to see a correlation in this versatile shawl with the lengthy pattern and regular detours, and my lack of categories with an easily discernible organization. OK, maybe at this point "organization" is still too organized a word to apply to my non-categories, but I'm working on it, and I'm hoping that after a few more rounds, a pattern repeat might be seen to have come into being. Not continually turning around helps! The end result might not be a mess, after all, but something very unique and versatile if I just stick with it long enough.

Then again, maybe not. sigh. Here's hoping for the best, though!

Help me out here - where would you position this post, for example, in the above categories?! Or should I scrap the categories altogether? Come up with different ones? For now, I'm going to label this one 'landmarks' . . . . [as in: 'looking for']


a simple yarn said...

Okay, first of all, those of us that are highly's a disease...really. No comfort until everything is tidy. Ack!

Secondly, I'm not sure that categories are always that important. When chronicling a life, it actually IS a, that is. Have I ever looked at a blog for a particular category? Nope.

So, I'd suggest 3 categories...House, Dog, Life.

Jennifer said...

Cheryl is so wise, isn't she.
I have yet to conquer a pattern like that with my knitting. I wish I had the courage.
I hope you post photos of the finished project.

queenie said...

yes she is, Jennifer!

and thanks, Cheryl - "House, Dog, Life". . . . that's good!

But here's how my mind works:

* where does garden fit - "House"? or "Life"?
* the king - ditto, and sometimes also "Dog"
(as in "amusing antics with")
* cooking?
* art?
* music?
* philosophy - ok, I guess that could be "Life",
unless it's about the house or the dog. . . .
* work and politics?

you get my drift.

Anyway, it's a start.

Hey Jennifer! I recommend Elizabeth Zimmerman (Knitting Without Tears as a start, there are others) by way of increasing your knitting courage. The woman rocks. And knits?! boy howdy.