Is Starshower the new Honey Cowl? Only time will tell (but it looks good).

In Search of MoJo

Dear Ann,
When I was a teenager suffering from the Humiliation of the Week, Most Moisturized Mom would console me by saying that “this is really building your character.” (Translation: being a big geek/loser now is going to make you a much better person later.) Needless to say, I found this infuriating at the time, but like many things mothers say, it has stuck with me and actually proved to be a useful mantra.
I’m currently in a character-building phase (mellow-harshing moments, nothing dire or drastic, it’s all good, etc etc.). To my great shock, one of the things that I’m losing my grip on is (please sit down, or stand on a padded surface in case you plotz): knitting. Don’t get me wrong; I still love the knitting with an intense passion. Nothing centers the chi like knitting. But I flit from project to project and can’t get enthused about any of them long enough to make any headway. I await the return of the sweet knitting mojo, that great compulsive/impulsive love affair with a project or a technique, be it the urge to knit 900 dishcloths by Tuesday, 16 hats in 16 days, or the overbleached denim sweater of my dreams. I have cast on and tossed aside 5 projects in the last 2 weeks.
Which is why I’m really glad to have these little squares to knit for Oliver’s American blanket. A 4-inch square, repeated endlessly, can get a really good buzz going. I’m currently at 24 squares, and since the family is heading into the countryside for a Hebrew School retreat this weekend, I think I’ll easily get to 36 by Thanksgiving. Ain’t no stopping me now!
More great distraction has arrived in the mail: the First Squares!
firstsquareslabeled.jpg
These are from Kelly (your college pal), Margot, Jen W, and from someone I really understand, on a very deep level, because she knit 8 squares in a couple of days and probably alarmed her family members by not answering when spoken to: Melissa.
While I hate to keep changing the rules on y’all, I’ve had a change of heart on my stated preference for solids or near solids. Since answering that question, I’ve had a brainstorm about a cool way to incorporate the crazy striping or patterning yarns, so BRING ‘EM ON. (The answer came from the Gee’s Bend quilters. Images of the Gee’s Bend quilts sometimes float into my brain, unbidden. I cannot remember, clearly, most of the paintings I really love, but I could sketch favorite GB quilts from memory.)
More wholesome entertainment: watching Merle Hazard’s new video several times daily and waiting for the end to see MY SONGWRITING CREDIT. Can I just say that working with Merle was an absolute RIOT? The guy cracks me up (mostly intentionally). I was pleased and proud to make my humble contribution to the songwriting team. Next time I’m in Nashville I hope you will work your connections to get me an autograph or something. I would add, in passing, that I’ve been keeping up my sight-singing skillz and I’m available to fill in for any back-up singer who calls in sick while I’m in town. (I can sing ALMOST as high as Merle’s boys.)
Another great diversion/blood sport I’ve been meaning to share: cancelling catalogs. If cancelling catalogs is your hobby, then Catalog Choice is your Ravelry. So fun to add catalogs to my list. It takes 10 weeks to work, so I’m grimly recycling bushels of holiday catalogs, but with hope in my heart that the stream of wasted paper will dwindle to nothing before too long. Catalog Choice currently has over 100,000 people signed up, but they’re aiming for a million and beyond. This could really green up the way mail order businesses operate. I love Garnet Hill, but I don’t replace my sheets 3 times a month, and when I do, I know how to find them on the Web. People: Go forth and cancel ye catalogs while ye may. You did not come down the Clyde on a biscuit! Red up your mailbox!
Happy weekend everybody!
Love,
Kay

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Thanks for the Catalog Choice clue… I’m signing up ASAP!

  2. Thanks for the Catalog Choice hint… I’m signing up ASAP!

  3. The squares look great. Several of my colleagues and I gathered around the glowing cathode ray tube to listen to Merle. Y’all made our day. We would like to live in your house — loss of knitting mojo notwithstanding — because you have a lot of fun.

  4. Much sympathy on the knitter’s block! It does seem to come in waves, doesn’t it? Much like writing… cleaning… chocolate eating… dieting… knitting’s pretty much the same. Wait, did I say chocolate eating? Scratch that…
    And amongst all these ellipses I wanted to say: your squares have inspired me! Thanks for helping those of us off the yarn-wagon back on.
    Hooray for Oliver! Very excited to be helpful to him & co by whatever means necessary…
    (That must be a little worrisome for you gals, the power of M-D knitting. I feel you could say, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for Oliver! Let’s rob a bank!” and you’d be getting comments saying, “I’ve got the perfect yarn for ski masks!”)

  5. Much sympathy on the knitter’s block! It does seem to come in waves, doesn’t it? Much like writing… cleaning… chocolate eating… dieting… knitting’s pretty much the same. Wait, did I say chocolate eating? Scratch that…
    And amongst all these ellipses I wanted to say: your squares have inspired me! Thanks for helping those of us off the yarn-wagon back on.
    Hooray for Oliver! Very excited to be helpful to him & co by whatever means necessary…
    (That must be a little worrisome for you gals, the power of M-D knitting. I feel you could say, “Hey, I’ve got a great idea for Oliver! Let’s rob a bank!” and you’d be getting comments saying, “I’ve got the perfect yarn for ski masks!”)

  6. My square didn’t made it yet for the first photo.. but, my envelope had a long, long flight to get to you in the states.
    This is going to be a really beautiful blankie..

  7. Oh my! Haven’t heard “red up” since spending time at my grandma’s house in my long lost youth. What a memory you’ve triggered.

  8. My post tomorrow is for you. Hint: It’s about squares.
    Cancelling catalogs — ME LIKEY! A new hobby I can really get behind.

  9. My Shades of Orange square is in the mail. Great to see all these squares heading your way. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  10. I’ll be taking a transAtlantic flight on Monday, and therefore anticipate hours and hours of sitting and waiting and then just sitting. I was considering casting on a pair of socks, but now I’m thinking four-inch squares could be just the ticket, especially as my brainpower dims with the incessant airport clamor and onflight – uh, what do you call it when our body gradually turns to stone? Isn’t there a word for that?
    Anyway. I’ll be back in the States on the 28th unless there’s a(nother) strike; will that still be time enough to get them to you, Kay?
    quinn

  11. Wow…I’m enough in love with Margot’s squares that I want to know what yarn she used. Is there any chance I can get that information?

  12. quinn–petrification. That’s definitely what happens in an airport.
    I too am missing my knitting mojo, but suspect that since my cooking mojo, phone talking mojo, and, er, showering mojo have also left the building that it is closely related to sleep deprivation. Let’s hope so, anyway.

  13. Thank you for your bit towards saving the environment! Christmas (or rather Halloween) is a great time to take all the catalogs as they come and go through them at this site!)

  14. A small package of squares from me (5) and a friend (11, blog at: http://madlyoffinalldirections.blogspot.com/ ) is winging it’s way towards you at this very minute!

  15. take your self for a makeover
    buy a new party dress
    new shoes party shoes
    a new little bag the
    kind that others in
    room will say—
    my dear kay its just you
    i just must have one
    now dont harsh on your mellow now go to saks

  16. I just saw the Catalog Choice thing on Bill Moyers. Sounds fantastic! I am signing up big time. I also wish there was a way to get fewer issues of the same catalog. I just don’t need one every month or two but a reference catalog is nice.

  17. Maybe it’s time for something different for a while?…. every artist needs to take a break, see and do different things, to be able to come back with new inspiration. There’s alway crochet, Spinning, embroidery, painting, cooking?

  18. when i have the knitting blues…..i just begin piecing quilts…..and suddenly, i wish i were knitting again! wacky.

  19. This is my first comment, although I’ve been reading for a long time.
    THANK YOU for that Catalog Choice link. Our postal carrier has been cursing our names this week, and this is the easiest, best way to help him out.
    Thank you a million times over!

  20. hugs from up here, Kay.
    The ‘character-building’ mantra has come into our house & vocab. via. Calvin & Hobbes. Who prove to be great comforts, with 2 early-primary-school aged boys. just disappointed that Bill Watterson didn’t make them grow up, like the series ‘Caillou’ has done:: they would be the ‘anti-Caillou.’
    i love the 4-inch squares:: although since the MDK afghanalong, the 8-inch square has become my medium of choice. 2 (2!) completed last night, while watching Ocean’s 11 (for the 3rd time). 12 and 13 before Monday morning.

  21. SO glad to see you using that fine Western Pennsylvania-ism. Since I was done redding up my house, I signed up at Catalog Choice and will spread the word.

  22. Been reading your blog for a long time now – and LOVE it!! I’m a real fan of Merle’s (is there a fan club yet?!) As a year-round Southampton-ite, he was 100% right about things out here now. Way too many ‘for sale’ signs in a place that has been fairly insulated from economic dips and sways. Thanks for the music, all the beautiful knitting and the laughs!

  23. Thankyou THANKYOU for the catalog cancelling information, I HATE the amount of paper that winds up in our recycling bin, and I never knew this cancelling service was an option, it’s like ‘do not call’ for the mailbox – brilliant!
    And don’t worry about your knitting mojo, mine is on strike, too, and I was up to the armholes as well, almost done! Oh well, it’ll come back when it’s ready, maybe it’s time to bake something chocolately while we wait…….

  24. This is my first post, and I had to comment on the loss of knitting mojo. I’ve really found that in times of “g-d d–ned personal growth” or whatever, knitting does not want to happen. It’s like the knitting goddess is saying “do not knit now, you don’t want to look back at that item and feel bad. Just sit a while and do nothing, when you are feeling better I will grant you your mojo” or something like that. Deep breath, trust that it will return when the time is right. Chocolate is also very helpful.

  25. You don’t MEAN to say that starting 5 projects in 2 weeks is a sign of the dreaded ‘Lost Knitting Mojo Syndrome’? Oh. My. God.–I’ve been infected for years! YIIIKES!!! (Where’s Ben Casey when you need him, anyway?).
    Listen, Kay, I have SEEN your pictures, READ your writing style;I don’t think you could ever have really been a geek/loser…”Most Moisturized Mom” was a wise woman…
    Keep the faith, baby!
    Diane

  26. Thanks for telling the folks about Catalog Choice! I signed up last month and what I love best about it is: I can cancel catalogs for the poor shlubs who haven’t lived at my house for years. YAY!

  27. many thanks for Catalogs Choice reminder. heard about it on Bill Moyers but…you know. today made self go right to machine and sign petition for “airline passenger bill of rights.” so many things, so little time…
    share startitis issue, need something like weight-watchers: pile projects on scale. each week, weigh to see if pile decreasing. could be discouraging, of course.

  28. Oh. Gee. I’m glad you had a change of heart on the solids issue for the little squares. I don’t have any solids, so mine are doing stripy and tweedy things…
    :)
    (((hugs)))

  29. Merle is in the New York Times! Sunday, on page 31 of the front section, and Kay, you get mentioned too!
    How fun is that!

  30. One cannot say one has lost one’s grip on knitting until one finds oneself being forced to knit a pair of “boobhats”, and is agonizing over nipple colors. So many ethnicities, so many fleshtones from which to choose… all so my crazy aunt from Alabama and her teenaged daughter can pretend to be appalled if/when the obvious is pointed out. Crazy aunt likes her a good joke. My knitting skills has no other purpose right now. Terribly sad, don’t you think?

  31. Elizabeth…I feel so complimented. Thanks for liking my squares. The yarn made socks I love to wear. Happy colors shine like jewels. Label gone by the time a small left over ball remains, memory fades, but I do purchase Fortissima alot of the time. So it might be their line of colors. Hope this helps your exploration for sock colors.

  32. Elizabeth…I feel so complimented. Thanks for liking my squares. The yarn made socks I love to wear. Happy colors shine like jewels. Label gone by the time a small left over ball remains, memory fades, but I do purchase Fortissima alot of the time. So it might be their line of colors. Hope this helps your exploration for sock colors.

  33. You know I have a teeny little problem with following rules. I didn’t actually see a rule that said all squares must be diagonal garter stitch and in fact I saw a square in a an earlier post that was a half-log cabin-ish affair .
    I’d hate to send non-compliant squares, clue me in. (so far I’ve got one diagonal garter stitch done and half of a log cabin-ish one, which I’ll rip out if you won’t want it).

  34. I call it my knitting malaise. It sounds very delicate and old fashioned. And the only thing that cures mine is handiwork of another flavor. Needlepoint or even crocheting. That or a delicious baby item in saturated colors (I recommend the Tulip Sweater kit, instant gratification).
    The trick with a knitting malaise is that the cure is different for everyone.

  35. Hey, Gale, do knitters really follow rules? The only hard-and-fast rule I got from Kay’s original post was the 4-inch one. They don’t have to be bias, just 4 inches so they fit with all the other non-bias, non-rule-compliant squares that are flying in from all over North America. Love Merle Hazard, but then I’ve always been partial to geeky looking guys with hidden talents.

  36. Oh, there’s nothing to cure a knitting malaise like an MDK squares project. I left my slog-in-the-bog-they-will-never-be-done project at home this morning and should be done with at least one square by tonight. But Brace Yourself – the only sockish gauge yarn I can get to at the moment is a rather shockingly bright solid orange. If things get dire, I could tone it down with a little kool-aid. You know, they sell tamarind kool-aid in my neighborhood. Love living with the islanders.

  37. can’t wait to see photos of these blankets.
    the squares are in the mail. have loved the quick-knit ‘pause’ that they have provided:: like knitted potato chips! small, sexy, and fun (and not as bad for you, either!)

  38. May I ask, how do you back these blankets? I am in love with this project – love making the squares – (will send mine tomorrow) and am thinking about making a baby blanket using sock yarn. Do you think it would be too thin just on its own?

  39. Thank you thank you for that link to canx catalogs, I am drowning in them.

  40. thanks so much for the info to STOP THOSE CATALOGS from arriving. I live on an island and must actually pay for having the catalogs delivered to me, so now there will be a little more yarn money.
    have a great Thanksgiving.
    kathy

  41. Thanks for the Catalog Choice link, Kay. I tried writing letters to frequent catalog-senders several years ago but to no avail. Today, in the spirit of the holiday, I am Thankful For you and the WWW.

  42. I’ve been on vacay, and just saw my square! Ooooh, I’m all tingly! Thanks for the shout-out!

  43. Thanks so much for the Catalog Choice link. I am just starting to do it after I got a ton of catalogs this afternoon, including one I’ve never ever ordered from or know anything about. I’ve been getting them for years!