progress of sorts…

For a long time I have dreamed of taking a creative holiday at home; not going anywhere, just staying in and getting things done. For a serial project-starter such as myself, this has always sounded like the perfect solution to my ever increasing collection of unfinished things. Last week, since my usual partner in crime was away on a work trip to Germany, I had the perfect opportunity, and so scuttled back to my parents’ house in Oxford for an industrious week-long creative holiday with my ma, with a suitcase full of half-completed projects.

It was a very pleasant week indeed. We went for dog walks on Port Meadow (we even saw a snake, indulging in some unseasonal sunbathing); we went to the market – something I haven’t done in years – where I bought shiny pink sequins and my ma bought a spectacular matching red cape and skirt to transform into cushions (lamentably I couldn’t persuade her to just wear them as they were); we made an enormous pot of cassoulet to welcome in the cold weather; and we visited our local knitting and sewing shops (just to keep them in business, you understand) where I bought some silk to line a dress with and some wool to knit a Christmas present.

You could say that things didn’t quite work out as planned, however… My grand ambitions were foiled, and I was forced to scale down. I started the week gently (or so I thought) with an attempt to rectify my Jaywalker socks, which were coming out far too small. But when I started afresh to make them bigger, they just came out elephantine. So eventually I simply unravelled everything, and am now back to a ball of yarn with some needles in it. Ever so slightly more successful was my purple cardigan, whose tension was only mildly too tight (in spite of having done a tension square before starting). So although the end result was the same, i.e. I unravelled all the pieces, I did manage to achieve the right tension on bigger needles, so at least I know how to make it right the next time, which feels like some degree of progress.

I took two other knitting projects with me on this excursion: my Kettlewell jumper, which I finished knitting in July but haven’t had the heart to seam up, and my pink tweed shawl-collared sweater, which has been abandoned for years since I enlarged the armholes on the body and was then at a loss as to how to knit the sleeves to match. With the former, I came to a very agreeable deal with my mother in which she offered to seam my jumper if I would do her embroidery in return – which of course I did. I was feeling mighty pleased with myself for that little bit of negotiation, and was relieved to be so close to finally completing a jumper, until I came to finishing off the neck edging only to discover that the moths had got there first. So then I had to darn over a large area first, just to hold it together. Fingers crossed I’ve now put paid to those dastardly moths’ efforts to destroy my lovely jumper. Then with the latter, I haven’t actually made any physical progress, but thanks to my wise mama (who, like me, detests seaming knitting and will go to any lengths to avoid it) I have got the next move all planned out, and I think I understand how to go about knitting seamless, top-down set-in sleeves. This feels like a brave step, but easier than coming to terms with seaming in the long term.

It wasn’t a week of pure knitting, though – oh no. (I did say this was an ambitious week, didn’t I?) I also attempted to finish sewing my first ever skirt (I will have to write a separate blog post about that though, as it was an adventure all in itself), but only got as far as adding a zip (neatly – which I am extremely chuffed about about, I might add) and half of the waistband. So this is still languishing unfinished chez mes parents, awaiting my return when I can sew the other half of the waistband and hem it. Plus I also made a grand total of two lavender bags for Christmas presents before the sewing machine started acting up, and so I had to bring the rest of the material home again to finish; and the same goes for my great aunt’s needlepoint, which I had planned to turn into a cushion for her.

So at the end of the week, in spite of my best efforts and intentions, somewhat disappointingly I didn’t actually have a single finished item to show for myself. But I have made progress of sorts, even if it’s only to go back to the beginning of some projects, ready to start again (though I am unashamedly planning to re-set the start dates for those on Ravelry, to make them seem less never-ending), or to make a plan of attack for finishing others. I have all of about six inches of seaming left to do on the Kettlewell jumper now before it’s finished, which I think I can probably manage without assistance. And as for the rest, all I really need now is another creative week’s holiday!

*P.S. Any particularly astute or suspicious readers might notice that these photos of Oxford are not recent. I wholly admit that this is the case, but I was a bit stuck for visual material to accompany a whole post about not making things, since – as is to be expected – I don’t have any photos to show for that. You will have to wait for me to finish something first.