Friday, January 23, 2009

Spring organizing

So I've been searching everywhere for our other futon cover and I finally found it a few days ago in a box that we hadn't opened since we left Wisconsin. Sure, there was only a humidifier in the box so I didn't think we needed to open it. Yet after searching in just about every other possible space I finally decided to open the box and finally found just what I was looking for.

It's been an ongoing challenge, moving into a smaller house with less storage space and less reliably protected storage space: dirt crawl spaces, damp basements, yucky and hard to reach attic. I finally freaked out last year when I couldn't find a book I was looking for (it was in one of many boxes of books stuck on shelves in the basement) and we put up lots of bookcases in our living room in order to actually have books out and accessible. Still, I often find myself going through boxes of stuff in the basement, trying to find something that I finally conclude we got rid of before we moved (that stupid spaeztle maker I never used for years, now I'm actually making spaeztle and trying awkwardly to do it with a cheese grater, duh).

One positive thing that's come of our having less storage is that I've learned how to be even more choosy about what I need to keep. With my Lutheran guilt I've just kept things forever because it felt wrong to give them up. I loved that sweater when I was in the ninth grade but do I really need to keep it? Or, someone else loved that [insert object here] maybe I need to keep it and love it too. And this has worked for some things. I've come to the point where I'm better at actually using something that may be antique or valuable--a rare but cracked Roseville compote as an everyday fruitbasket--because value is ultimately subjective, right? If I'm not selling it, then it's worth what it's worth to me. Still I have bins full of antique tablecloths that I'm still too chicken to use on a table, and I have lots of old sweaters and half-finished projects just languishing in bins.

But there comes a point when one needs to take stock and streamline. And then organize!

It's such a soothing thing, organizing. I do love reading organizing and design blogs and while I totally enjoy looking at how clean and stylish some of these homes are, I know that I can't ever totally get there myself. Indeed, I've come to love color more than ever and can't now imagine living in a place that is predominantly white, even if that white is a neutral backdrop for color. Ok, I can imagine it but I just can't see it ever being a reality for me, I'm too scattered. Of the many, many, shelves of books in our house I've only been able to organize one single shelf by color. All the rest are in odd groupings by subject, whether their Bill's or mine, or whether they just fit that sized shelf.

But, my point! Yes. For the past several days I've been organizing my yarn stash and knitting supplies. I've had bags of yarn stashed around in various places (usually filling the tops of moving boxes) that needed to be put in a central and protected space. But my knitting albatross was most certainly the unfinished sweater for Bill that I began knitting back in 2000. I loved the color and I loved the detail of the pattern but when I began the project I was young, impatient, and inexperienced (as a knitter, of course). Gauge, smauge! Who needs a gauge! It'll be close enough.

uh huh.

Looks fine from here doesn't it?

And I just kept knitting and kept denying that this sweater was larger than Bill could ever possibly grow to be.

Could I just sew it up and trim off the excess? What do I do?

January 2008 I made the decision to pull it out. January 2009 I actually mustered up the courage to do it. And after spending who knows how many hours knitting up that mess, it probably took another three hours to unravel it neatly. So, photos, balls of yarn, and the many hours lost are all that remain of my failed project.

But it's a new year. I unraveled part of another sweater I'd started for myself back before I understood how to make complicated cables (yes, again the unexperienced knitter bites off more than she can handle) and now that I've made my peace with these scuttled projects I'm feeling suddenly very light and free. I now have yarn for two sweaters and I didn't have to spend a dime. All my yarn is organized, stored in airtight ziplocs in a clear bin in my office, and I'm ready to start something new.

So, my new plan for Bill's sweater is this. It's much more Bill's style and it should be a bit more fun to knit. I can finally handle this basic cable and I'm looking forward to relatively mindless stockingette stitch for most of the sweater.

I don't really do the New Year's resolution thing but I'm realizing that my efforts towards confronting those unfinished projects has made me feel quite happy. Whether that project is just cleaning out a few more items that I've kept but don't use anymore, or whether it's been having the courage to undo another project and start from scratch, I must say that I prefer this feeling of fresh starts.


Pete Nekola said...

Give yourself a break. What person who actually reads books organizes them by color?

Anna said...

It's true, yes. But I have to say that the cookbook shelf does please me with its rainbow of colors. The most I can hope for otherwise is that I can find a book and that it hasn't fallen off a stack on the front of an already full shelf (this happens rather often). :-)

Sandra said...

Will you come an organize my stuff, Anna?