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...a philosophical odyssey

I started knitting when I was pretty young. I don't know how young exactly, but the first extant project of mine is a kelly-green garter stitch scarf for my stuffed Roo. My mom taught me, but not just the knitting part. I also unwittingly inherited her philosophy about projects and clutter: project = that which must be finished, clutter = that which must be gotten rid of.

And what a set-up that was! I learned to purchase yarn by the project and I was pretty good about finishing the projects, rarely having more than one on the go. But there is that thing all true knitters and fiberholics have experienced, where you walk into a yarn store and MUST HAVE some of that delicious, scrumptious, I-know-I'll-think-of-something-to-do-with-this yarn. I was a teenager, I had a job, it was the '80s, I bought yarn.

Eventually I moved away from home to go to university. That yarn [which I now recognize as a stash] traveled with me. For years it weighed on my conscience, a wooly albatross that reminded me of what a failure I was. Only a lazy and unorganized person would have so many unfinished projects lying around! So what did I do? I treated the unused yarn as clutter. Some of it was boxed up and kept, but lots of it was given away.

Unsurprisingly, I stopped knitting. It took years for me to pick up the needles again and re-discover how much I loved making things. I restarted my knitting rampage with scarves - simple, and yet a perfect forum for experimentation. I then moved on to socks, little animals and whatever else came to mind. I bought the odd ball of this and that, and began re-discovering what I already had.

Perhaps it was the smaller nature of the projects I was choosing. Perhaps it was the discovery that you can purchase yarn on e-bay. The important part is that somewhere in there, I made a shift in my thinking about all that yarn I was amassing . . . it doesn't represent the failure of the unfinished project! It represents the POTENTIAL of new projects. The power to have an idea and just start knitting, rather than going to the yarn store, picking a pattern and then having a heart attack when you realize how much it will cost.

Currently I have at least 7 projects on the go - they aren't unfinished, they are on the go. And instead of feeling like I have a list that I need to cross things off of, I enjoy being able to pick up something that is in progress and move it along. There are projects that are too complicated to carry around, and simpler ones to take on the bus. I love just looking through the growing heap of yarn beside my couch, and I have stopped only keeping those magazines that have patterns I want to make right now. You never know . . . all those '80s patterns from my adolescence are already starting to look less horrifying.

I knew I had made an important step the day I went to the Salvation Army with a friend who is also a knitter. There, recently unpacked, for 99 cents a ball, was someone's stash. Odd balls of various colors, some re-wound, and one partially knitted piece of a sweater, mostly Brown Sheep's wool-mohair blend [bulky and worsted weight] and Lamb's Pride worsted 100% wool. After we stopped hyperventilating, we triaged the good from the acrylic, divided up our spoils, and took the yarn home so we could admire our purchases over tea. We took a polaroid of the pile to commemorate the event.

Neither of us are quite sure what we're going to do with it...yet.



Molly Ann Rothschild lives in a little house in Montreal in which she stockpiles wool in defense against the long winter, much to the amusement of her cat. 

She is currently figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up