Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The last thing I ever knit

Do you ever think about it? What if this is the last thing I ever knit? If it's for you or for your grandchild, for your spouse or your sister or for charity ~ what if it's the very last thing you ever knit?

Do you love it? Does it make you happy every time you pick it up and run your hand across the beautiful fiber? Do you love the color? The pattern? The technique? Is it a challenge but a joy? If it's easy enough to knit while on vacation, is it still meaningful?

What if it's the last thing you'll ever knit? What if (fill in the blank) happens and you will never be able to knit again? Will you have made that special item you always wanted to? Will you have used the best yarn you could afford, every time, so that your hands had the pleasure of alpaca or merino or cashmere (or, ok, even pima cotton can be nice for some)?

I have a finite knitting future. I have a little arthritis in my thumbs, I have tendinitis in my elbows. I try not to lift over 5 lbs so as to not stress my elbows and I always have Mr. open the tight jars. I use a small chain saw instead of limb loppers, I don't vacuum with that 80 lb monster machine he just had to have (because, heck, it really MUST pick up more dirt because it is, after all, BIG,) and I try to not knit or spin until I drop because no good can come of that.

What I do try to do is choose my projects carefully. I used to just knit everything that came along. I used to knit 30 or 40 items a year. I'd knit anything. I was a knitting ho. Then I hurt myself and couldn't knit for about 3 months. omg, I thought. What if I can never knit again? Now I take time and contemplate my options carefully and I've stopped buying sale yarn. Just 'cause it's on sale doesn't make it yarn I want to knit with, or yarn that will work with a pattern I've always wanted to knit. Yarn on sale* doesn't work for the person with a finite knitting career. THAT yarn is carefully considered for a perfect project, the one that may be the last.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist. I don't want to bum you out. I'm just saying. If you have any issues with maybe not being able to knit anymore, you may want to be choosing projects that thrill you instead of just picking something cute or easy. And yeah, I know that we can't do a major project EVERY time but we can choose patterns more classic than trendy, something we know will be lovely in twenty years instead of for just this one season. We can knit for people we love instead of the baby of the daughter of a friend of our boss...

*Exception to this rule: if you have yarn for a project that you've been waiting to make until you find that last ball in that particular dye lot, and it's on sale, of COURSE you should buy it. Silly.


Melanie said...

I do think about it. You've put into words so well. You have described all the things that make me happy to be knitting.

Maryb said...

As usual, you leave me scratching my head. As one of those people who is guilty of knitting for the boss's friend's daughter's grandchild, I paid attention to every word in this entry.

Now I have something else to consider--the "last project" angle. No more picking up some colorful yarn and mindlessly looping it into something pretty for me.

But I have decided this--I always use great materials. No nasty acrylics for me, ever. So even if the project is rather boring or simple, it looks good and feels good because I use only the best.

And even if the baby hat for the boss's daughter's friend's grandchild IS the last thing I knit, I KNOW I've knit tons of really cool things BEFORE I knit the boss's daughter's friends' grandchild's hat that just happened spontaneously and I'll rest on those laurels. I will not be distracted with the pressure of knitting the best all the time. It's too much for my addled menopausal brain to handle. EmBe

gnomiejo said...

This is an interesting thing to ponder. I'll have to think more about it...I tend to think I'll be able to knit forever(denial!)

My husband actually encourages me to knit with the best yarns. He encourages me to buy cashmere and other luxury yarns because if you spend so much time creating something it might as well be with the best materials. I know...he's a keeper!

I had issues at one time with chronic wrist pain. I attended a 'Self care for Knitters' class a few years ago and the woman teaching us taught all kinds of stretches, things to do to loosen the fascia, better positioning, making sure to take breaks, etc. The first time I saw her for a massage/treatment she said my wrist pain was coming from my neck and shoulders. I was a bit doubtful but ever since I get semi-regular treatments with her I have no more wrist problems!

Thanks for the thought provoking entry!

El Kay said...

I worship at your feet....I do...! I am so glad I am worthy enough to be your knit bud and let me tell you in all seriousness you are a shinging eggzample of and smart and tough cookie of knittage (and hey, of spinage). The only thing I can do in return (after worshiping at your feet, at least once, in person) is to...RESTART MY OWN BLOG (hahahahahahahah Wild laughter fading into the distance.......).



Theresa said...

This is a great post (which is why I'm commenting so out of order) - sometimes I feel as if I make too many small projects, whereas I could make so many large projects instead . . .

Rabbitch said...

Hrm. I use "good" stuff sometimes, and sometimes I use ACKrylic. I'm making a mitred-square baby blanket in the vilest of yarns and colours, because I know the recipient, a very young mother (just turned 19) will appreciate a) that it's bright, b) that it's handmade and c) that it's machine washable. She doesn't have many others to knit for her. I, at 44, am a friend of her mother. I think she knows few knitters her own age.

I'm also making a truly vile orange hat with bunnie ears (that will somehow have pipe cleaners in the ears so they can be positioned) for someone who will treasure it beyond words. If those two things are the last things I knit, I'll be ok with it, because they will bring joy.

Although I do admit I'll be pissed beyond words if I don't get to finish my own lace shawl in baby cashmere, and the headband in wool/mohair I've just decided I must have because the wool doesn't want to be a charity hat; it's far too slutty and wouldn't stay on the needles when I tried to bend it to my will ...

This post made me think. And also, apparently, write too much in your comments.