Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More about Time

Time seems to be a major topic with me lately. I think it's because it is so elusive these days.

I look at my kids, and remember being that age and how slowly time seemed to pass. They seem to think it passes slowly. Something that they want to do being a week away, or even just a couple days away, and they just can't believe how long it takes to get to whatever it is.

To me, now, something being only a week away means I better have been getting ready for it a week ago, or I won't ever be ready. A week is just a couple hours in perceived time these days.

And I think I have figured out why that is. Filled time is in a hurry. Unfilled time just sort of meanders along. My kids have unfilled time for the most part. They are just going along and enjoying whatever they can that comes their way. I, on the other hand, have filled time. It's all mapped out. Full, stuffed, and overflowing. No spaces left. Time is so full for me that it thinks it's in a race.

It didn't used to be that way. But somehow, college, friends, then a marriage, a job....and then, kids. Dude, kids fill your time like nothing else in this world. And in such a way that you don't really know what the time got filled with. But what an adventure!! To see those little eyes looking at something new and amazing- like a squirrel that found it's way into the bird feeder, or an eagle that's just floating in the midst of the blue nothing- that is the most awesome way to fill your time.

In the spaces that I squeeze out, mostly when the explorers are dreaming about the explored, that is where I fit designing. Knitting happens anytime, anywhere during exploration. Designing has to have it's own time, at least to a certain extent. A lot of my designing happens during the knitting. I design "on the fly", or at least "on the knit". And because of that, I LoVe lifelines.

You know, those little strands of waste yarn that is threaded into the live stitches and left there? I use them all the time. Anytime I reach a point on my design that I say "yes, that's what I wanted", I stick in a lifeline. Then when the next section is questionable, I can frog back to where I know it's good without stressing about dropping good stitches.

But designing is more than knitting. Designing requires math. Sometimes it includes sketches. Almost always it needs a chart or two.

Not really possible to fit that in while explaining that 12/3=4 not 6.

So I have to push the bag of time just a little wider and squeeze just a little bit more into it every once in a while. This usually happens with the baby is napping and the other 3 wild things are exploring outside- or after all 4 of them are crashed out for the night. If I'm really desperate (more often than I'd like to admit) I cram numbers, charts, swatches and sketches into the weekend, and type like a maniac while my husband is home monitoring the exploration.

There's no set schedule or time of day for this. I push it in when it has to happen. Part of the reason it's working is because I force myself to be disciplined. No more than 2 designs going at a time- one for the purse, and one for home. When one is cast off, it must be utterly completed before I can cast on another. That means all the finishing, all the pattern math, all the pattern writing. The pattern is sent to the tester before I pick up the needles and yarn for the next one. Otherwise, I'd have tons of finished knits, and no patterns. I have to be disciplined about it.

Sometimes, it is so hard to do that. Like last week, when I cast off the sweater I was working on... It took me half a week to write the pattern, finish the math, and prep for the next design. By prep, I mean solidify what I wanted in my head, chart the stitch patterns I needed, swatch the options, choose one, and then do the math so I could cast on the correct number of stitches. In the meantime, when I couldn't take any more math, I pulled out my purse project and knit on it. It doesn't often take me that long to move from one project to another, but every once in a while......

Another reason I do it that way is so I don't get confused in my mind what exactly I did at that point in the project where I was too busy knitting (or chasing an explorer) to bother with the note taking.... I have the project there to look at and do some reverse engineering if I have to. And sometimes, I do.

And when I'm not good about focusing on one pattern at a time, I can get into trouble. Like the issue I just discovered after blocking the pair of mitts I just finished knitting. I still can't figure out why the one is an inch and a half longer than the other when I used the first one to measure the 2nd. Oh well. Now I just have to figure out how to fix it with a minimum of frogging....

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