Tying Up Loose Ends

So, my teaching for the year is over!  Ever since I was a schoolgirl, I have been baffled by the organisation of the teaching calendar.  Why is it that the longest term and most intensive period of learning is at the end of the year?  The days are shortening, Nature’s colours are fading, the temperature is dropping, and if your Circadian rhythms are anything like mine you just want to burrow away somewhere under a highly-togged quilt, eating yourself into a stupor as you prepare to hibernate like a dormouse.

Before I do any of that, I’m going to use this week to tie up as many loose ends as possible.  The other cruel thing about the end of the autumn/Michaelmas term is that it is right on top of Christmas, which brings its own brand of stress – but this year I’ve managed to get away with knitting two hats for members of my family.  You might think this is a masterstroke or great escape, but it is actually a ploy by the Gods of Paperwork so that I can turn my attention to piles like this as soon as possible:


And rest assured that image is also a fair reflection of the contents of my head!  Apart from my open diary blog posts, of course.)  There are a LOT of loose ends to tie up: money coming in, money going out, future design projects, discussing/planning/preparing for teaching in the spring – January isn’t bad, February’s already stuffed – apart from anything domestic.  I will chip away at it piece by piece, until all is smooth, organised and tidy.

This approach reminded me of a lovely, nearly-finished fairisle cardigan I started last year but sadly ended up buried under a commission.  Say hello to Bute:

ButeCardigan ButeCardiganDetailI’ve called this my Dolly Mixture cardigan on Ravelry because of the myriad of colours – they remind me of a bag of sweets!  But…just look at the perimeter of the knitted pieces.  See all those loose ends?!

Colourwork is anathema to some knitters because of the prospect of sewing in ends like this, but not every project is like this, some knitters sew ends in as they go along (AHEM) and, most importantly, they are missing out.  At least 99% of knitters extol the relaxing, meditative benefits of knitting, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that weaving in loose ends can be equally relaxing and therapeutic.  Granted, I have plenty of them on this cardigan! – but I’m not worried.  I’m no occupational therapist, but I think that the sewing will be good for my brain.  There is something comforting about sewing in loose ends: one by one, you weave and wend your needle around the stitches, carefully and lovingly tucking them in to secure your precious knitting and keep it from unravelling.

I suspect that finishing this cardigan will also keep me from unravelling!  Once the second sleeve is done, I will block and assemble some of the pieces so that I can get sewing.  One of the loveliest things about fairisle, especially if you’re like me and do it two-handed (Continental knitting on the left, English style on the right), is that it speeds along and the colour changes keep your eyes interested, not the mention the patterns: I love these tiny, traditional peerie motifs.  I can’t find anything to dislike about colourwork, not even the loose ends!  They are part and parcel of being a knitter: balls of yarn but be finished, colours but, and new yarns or colours joined in.  There is something consonant and satisfying about sorting out unfinished business and tying up loose ends.  If you too turn into a greedy, sleepy dormouse, like this little fellow called Dudley (I used to read these books when I was little!), waking up to clutter and a massive to-do list is no fun.  So with that, I’m gearing up for one last push, knowing that weaving in loose ends of all kinds will keep me sane and serene.

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