Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Finishing Joy

Crochet Bag for Travel Blanket

Earlier this month my sister asked me if I had any pink yarn or thread in my stash. 

Well, duh, yeah. 

With several individuals on my potential giftee list having affinity for either pastels in general or the pink/red spectrum, I had accumulated some.  Not quite as much as the blue which is mine and Mom's favorite or the purple which is Carri's but still a significant selection.

She was asking because she'd bought a travel blanket for a friend on discount that was missing the carry bag it was supposed to come with.  Carri showed me her own travel blanket in its bag and asked if it was feasible to crochet a carry bag for it and about how long it would take and how much I might charge her for it.  She was hoping to see this out-of-town friend in person sometime in May.

I spent the next couple hours pulling my stash bags out from under my craft table and going thru them looking for possible yarn and thread in shades of pink or colorways featuring pink.  After dinner that evening I had Carri look them over and she settled on the Lion Brand Cobo in Magenta which was very close in color to the blanket itself.  It was a good choice for its fiber content of cotton and bamboo blend.

Before I went to bed that night I had crocheted the bottom circle and the first two rows of the tube.  The bottom took me several false starts before I got the right starting number of stitches in the center so that it continued to lay flat until it reached the required six inches across.  Turned out to be twelve.

The next morning I added several rows of the mesh--double crochet, single chain, double crochet--before I was needed for Mom's shower.  I showed it to Carri and told her then that instead of cash I wanted her to take me yarn shopping at a discount store she had messaged me photos from last summer and to one of the branches of the Fort Vancouver library system where I could sign up for a card and for having items mailed to me because of my disabilities preventing me from traveling to pick them up in Woodland. 

Both excursions would have to wait until after the need for quarantine on behalf of Mom is past.  That might be longer than the official shelter-in-place protocols remain in place since our 88 year-old mother is extremely vulnerable to the effects of the virus.

By Wednesday evening, May 6, I had finished it, including all the finishing touches like tucking tails and adding the elastic headband for a drawstring.  That was five days since I began after dinner on Friday and finished shortly after dinner on Wednesday. 

Little to no work got done on either Saturday or Tuesday as those are Mom's shower days for which I'm on duty in the bathroom with her for three hours followed by another two hours making and supervising lunch.  That means it could easily be a three day project. Even less if I super focused. But that super focus is a power of mine I must use with care as it tends to push out all other activities from my life--reading, writing, researching, videos, socializing, chores, self-care, eating, sleeping...

I was eager to start another one or two or three for myself.  I pictured them as carry bags for crochet project kits that will hang on my wrist while I work.  Or as bags with shoulder straps for my coffee and water thermoses.

But I knew I needed to rein in that urge as I've got dozens of WIP.  In fact the bags containing WIP are beginning to rival in volume the bags containing unkitted yarn and thread--somewhere in the neighborhood of 66 gallons each. 

I've been working steadily at finishing projects since I began the holiday rush last fall and resisting starting anything new until I finish a significant number of them.

The real story here is that of the thrill I got from starting and finishing one project inside of a week.  It felt so exhilarating I even asked myself is Joy actually experiencing joy? 

If so, I concluded, I  needed to finish more projects more often.  Then it occurred to me that I had enough projects scattered among my WIP bags with from under an hour to under six hours of work to complete that I could finish something every day for a month or more.  Starting with this large trash bag containing things I crocheted for myself and never got around to tucking the tails and other finishing touches like buttons, bows, belts, tassels etc.

Contained in this bag is also a few things that I didn't make myself including kit bags that need minor repair but it is over 80% yarn and thread crochet WIP.  Sitting in Mom's recliner it takes up significantly more room than her torso and head.

Instead of starting a finish one a day agenda tho I decided to return to the project I'd interrupted to do the bag for Carri's friend.  That was a sweater identical to the one I made Mom for Christmas for her friend who lives with my brother's family where Mom spent weekends before the quarantine protocols kicked in. 

We had implemented shelter-in-place on account of our elderly Mom in mid March about a week before our Governor Inslee instituted it statewide.  And about two weeks after I'd targeted the sweater for Mom's friend as my next focus.  I'd hoped to have it finished by the end of March.  I just finished it a few days ago. 

I backed off crochet in April in favor of reading and discovered or re-discovered another old thrill:  finishing novels in less than a week after starting them.  In fact after I'd collected a significant number of finished titles across my devices and reading aps I set about counting them and discovered there were over fifty titles and the ratio of fiction to NF was better than three to one.  But that's a topic for another post.

Shortly after the read-a-thon in April though I began to gravitate back to crochet for a bit most every day with the focus on that sweater for Mom's friend and I knew that I needed to keep my focus on that until it was done because focus for me is a fragile thing.

Yes, fragile.  in spite of having just described it as nearly a super power of mine.  The fragility is in keeping the balance between flitting like a butterfly from shiny object to shiny object creating WIP and other clutter that takes over my space and the hyper-focus that can take over my life like bindweed a yard.  The difference is between owning the focus and being owned by it.  This issue is part of my autism spectrum profile.

But when I finished it the other day, including tucking the tails just hours after taking the last stitch, and handed it over to my sister to be laundered she informed me that she had just done the gentle cycle load so it could be a week or more before there would be enough items to warrant another load.

When I suggested Mom's sweater also needed washing since I'd been using it as the pattern, had handled it a lot and dropped it on the floor where it picked up fuzzies and who knows what all else, she said the two together would balance the load so she might consider it but I told her to hold off a couple days while I collected nearly finished WIP with similar fiber content to see how many of those I could add to the load inside of a week..

Last night I handed over three hats and three scarves after about three hours of effort.  All of them I'd made for myself.  Several of them I'd been wearing without having tucked the tails; even with the stitch savers still protecting the last stitch.

I decided to wait until they were all back from the laundry before getting pictures.


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