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Guilt? Not me. Not about Yarn, Anyway!

Sharon P. writes (at her blog, Knitknacks), about guilt and knitters. It’s sort of an interesting thought to me.

I feel guilty about a lot of things. Mostly I feel guilty I am not currently willing to work a “regular job” which would make many things less worrysome. But here I am, working a lot of small jobs (I had six income sources in January 2004), and having a heck of a great time! I need to be a lot more desperate before I’ll go back to doing the same thing all day, five days a week.

But guilt about yarn? Guilt about projects? Maybe I should. (Should is a word that is about other people, not me, anyway.) But I don’t feel guilty at all about buying yarn… because it gives me pleasure, or entertainment value if you will, multiple times. I get pleasure dreaming about what it might be, in the store. I get pleasure looking at it, planning for it, showing it to friends. If I knit it right away I have the pleasure of touching it, looking at it, seeing it become something I dreamed. If I don’t knit it right away, it stays in my storage bins where I see it almost every day. I get to touch it again, dream again, smile and exclaim how beautiful yarn can be… and repeat in a day or two.

Maybe if I was going into debt for yarn I would be concerned. I choose to live on a cash basis, have not used unsecured credit for about 14 years. So if I don’t have money this week, I don’t buy yarn this week. If I have funds, I might go ahead. It’s hard to feel too bad about that.

I used to sew a lot. I figured the cost of some garments by the cost per wearing. If I was going to wear a skirt at work once a week for half the year, for at least two years, then I could spend a good bit on the fabric for that skirt and not feel bad at all. Ironically, that means that a gown for a fancy event reasonably should cost less than something for work… which is really hard to do in practice. It was a good concept, though, and I get it out from time to time as it applies to other places in my life.

So if I figure cost per minute of pleasure, for my yarn? It is pennies per touch. I touch it so much before, during and after knitting it… and even if I don’t knit it up right away I get pleasure from just having it and seeing it.

I don’t go to movies at all, I just don’t like them. The last movie I saw in the theatre was the Lion King, and that was before I met Brian about 8 years ago. I have never owned a VCR. I do sometimes turn on the TV, but only to watch the Olympics (figure skating), watch the ball fall at Times Square on New Year’s eve, and a few times a year in search of the Teletubbies, if I remember to turn it on when I’m at home in the mornings.

Why do I mention that? The money that others spend on movies, videos, rentals, cable TV, satellite dishes… I spend much less than that on yarn. It’s a good thing I like knitting sox best, because that means many of my splurges are only two balls of yarn. That helps a person with an unsteady income like me, still have the pleasure of acquisition.

My only guilt, if you can call it that, is that I want to knit it up faster. I want to create more, finish more projects. I’m very end-product oriented. I finish most of what I start. I have never felt competitive in my life, but I’m sort of competitive with myself to see how much I can get finished within so many waking hours in a week.

I did start a Sigma Tank from Knitty (and Matt) last August and I have not finished it. That’s not because it was the wrong thing, but because Sarah Peasley was right, and I should have WASHED the cotton/wool yarn after swatching it (I did make a swatch but didn’t wash it and it really really changed gauges… like from 4 st/in to 3 st/in or something about that extreme). So now I need to either make it into something different than it started out to be, or rip it out. It only took 3 days to knit what I have but I’m waiting for the inspiration to feel OK with the ripping. Some ripping is harder than others. I can rip a sock without hassle, but I do so few sweaters I am waiting on this one for a confident day. Or some inspiration on how to make that size of a tube look good as a different style. The tank will not work on my small body in that large gauge, it just will not work.

But hey, I’ve done 92 pair of sox in about 3 years. On top of that I’ve done I think 4 pair legwarmers, at least a half-dozen hats, a pair of fingerless gloves, a small handful of wrist/handwamers, two adult sweaters, a teddy bear sweater, a baby lace sweater, and maybe things I’ve forgotten. All those by hand. And I’ve done a few dozen scarves on the knitting machine/frame and one baby sweater (which I have not sewed up, mostly because it doesn’t fit any baby I know… so there is no point in hurrying).

So I really do crank out knitting. I knit almost every day, mostly when I’m out in public. I would love to crank even more, but when I really look at my output I’m OK with it.

Maybe I *should* feel guilty about the yarn I buy. Much of it is for my business… teaching and designing for publication. Much of it is for pleasure, and it may turn into business later. My spending plan category for yarn is much larger than percentages would indicate was balanced… but my focus on knitting is also a higher percentage than most other people. I mean, I wake up dreaming I was knitting. I dream sock patterns in my sleep! So it seems reasonable that my spending would be proportional to my focus.

Guilt… yeah, I have a lot of it, more in my personal relationships/work arena. But I have very little of it in the knitting arena, for some reason.

I have a ton of unfinished projects and that doesn’t make me feel guilty. Most of them are stalled because something is really wrong and either they need ripping out or re-designing (I make up most of my projects on the needles rather than knitting from patterns). And maybe, as Sally Melville might say, I started them to learn something and I learned it before I finished the project.

And I have a moderate stash for someone who spends as much time as I do, knitting. I have two units that were designed for the back of a truck, intended to hold tools, but holding wool. I am in those bins almost every day. I also have about 4 rubbermaid-type clear bins of spinning fiber and sweater yarns, which I visit less frequently. And then there is some yarn for dyeing (a box or two right now), which is my business. I don’t get to knit from that most of the time. I think that amount of yarn is pretty reasonable for my lifestyle, personally.

The first time someone on Socknitters asked the sizes of people’s stash (the first time I read it) I had enough yarn for 13 pair of sox. Now I have more than that, I’m not counting tonight (of course, now I knit things besides socks). I do have enough yarn for 3 or 4 sweaters which is a 2-4 year supply at my current speed (I’m hoping the knitting machine will help in that department). But the sweater yarn I got on huge sales, or buying from other folks’ stashes, or in one case was from a friend who had been born in Germany and knew I loved turquoise (it’s absolutely gorgeous cotton yarn she brought back from a trip home, begging to be a sweater with Monet trim).

I started two projects today, and also knit on my ever-present sock project from the knitting bag/purse when out and about. I’m making an Ann Norling fruit hat for April’s baby (it’s already half-done, and she won’t be able to wear it until fall anyway), and then I made a swatch for my Summer Socks with LynnH class that Heritage Knitting & Spinning is offering on June 5 (it’s based on my Fast Florida Footies pattern). That yarn is gorgeous… Cascade Fixation in apricot. Gorgeous.

But I finished 2 sock projects last week, and a replacement wristwarmer. So starting two small projects today sounds right to me!!!

Photos today: Wristwarmer like the one I knit to replace one lost at Kroger a few weeks back; Socks (pair #80) I knit for my friend Rikki last August, but I never posted here. I dyed the yarn and designed the sock as well.

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