Okay, let's start with the phrase "playing catch up." This implies that you are behind, and you have work extra hard to catch up, right? Is there anything playful about that?
There is one thing that I rarely do: I rarely buy a bunch of yarn when I really don't have a project in mind for it. Oh, I might buy one or two skeins of something that catches my fancy. I know I can always come up with a hat, a pair of mittens, a scarf, or whatever. But eight balls? What was I thinking? I am talking about the Portofino yarn, of course. And let me confess right here and now: I bought it because it was a good buy. A good deal. A bargain, if you will. I liked the pale gray color, almost blue-ish gray. I liked the cotton blend. I liked the feel of the yarn, the texture and the drape. I liked the yarn; I just didn't love it. So... drop the price and I guess I'll buy anything.
So, I have a bunch of this yarn. Not enough for a sweater. Not enough for a big lace shawl. Not really the best yarn for a vest or a tank top; doesn't seem like it will hold it's shape very well. I'm starting to see why it was on clearance! I don't feel the need for a lightweight, cotton hat, or scarf, or mittens. Too flimsy for a bag. Not a good color for a baby. I think you get my drift.
So... I decided that it WILL be the perfect yarn for a shawl or a wrap of some sort. Yes, it WILL be. Some people wait for their yarn to tell them what it wants to be. I seem to be more of the wrestling type. First, I started with my knitting books. (I have a lot of them!) I thumbed through every single one but, alas, no suitable patterns. Next, I decided to browse my pattern collection. (Two notebooks full!) No dice. I turned to the magazines. This took a while. I frantically flipped through several years worth of several different knitting magazines. I was obsessed with this! Magazines in the kitchen, in the bathroom (duh!), in the laundry room, on the coffee table, on the dining room table. The worst part was when I found a pattern that was a "maybe," then I forgot which magazine it was in. I THOUGHT I'd remember, can you believe it? Oh, I'll remember, the one with striped sweater on the cover. Uh huh. After a few days of this, I had my "maybes."
I started swatching. Too open. Too tight! Too ugly. Very ugly. Ugly. Wrong gauge. Wrong.
Next, I whipped out good old Barbara Walker, volumes one and two. By this time, I had some sort of idea of what might work with my yarn. Believe it or not, I just couldn't envision it. Nothing in BW was floating my boat. I knew it was time to take a break, but I could not. A new magazine came in the mail. I frantically flipped through to see the picture of the ONE shawl. It was laceweight. It wasn't beautiful. I didn't covet it. I wanted something bigger. Still... I decided that it was the one. I didn't swatch or calculate my gauge or figure out how much yarn I had or how big it was going to be. I just cast on.
I knit a few pattern repeats and... the cast on edge was too tight. I ripped it out and started over. I knit a few pattern repeats (again) and... I liked it! It worked! It didn't look like the picture, thank goodness. The fabric felt soft, like a comfy sweatshirt. I roughly figured out how big it would be: perfect! I have the right amount of yarn. It's not too fancy, not too plain; it's just right.
With knitting, sometimes you have to plan and swatch and measure and calculate. Sometimes, you have to just do it. I cannot believe I've written an entire blog entry about this shawl. That's right, even MORE time spent lamenting the shawl!! It better be a good shawl. I'd better love it and carry it around with me all summer long and wear it out!! (Whether I love it or not, you will either see it on me or receive it as a gift!)