Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Square 65: Progress report

Square 065

When this idea started to roll, I was fresh with enthusiasm and pumping out four squares per week. I planned to make a full-size blanket, perhaps five by six feet in dimension, and calculated about 14 by 17 squares would be about right: 238 in total. It would take me well into next year.

Then full-time work started lining up and I became busy with other things. I couldn't keep up the knitting pace. At the current rate it would take several years to make that many squares. I balked. I wanted to stop and finish the blanket right away. I was ready to give up.

But new stories kept suggesting themselves. I realized I didn't need to have a definite time frame; I could work until the blanket told me it was ready.

A few days ago when I had completed 63 squares, I laid them all out, nine by seven. It was a great size for a wall-hanging. Once again I contemplated making just a few more squares to round out the stories, finishing, and moving on to a new project.

But whenever I start thinking that way, the squares tell me, "No, we still have more stories to tell." It is like any pilgrimage. It is like life. You can't see where you are going in detail, because you have never been there. You don't know how long it will take, because you can't predict what will happen along the way. But the destination matters less than the journey itself.

I've learned a lot from this trip. I had never used more than two different yarns in one project before. Now I routinely use nine or ten in a single square. Knitting has evolved into a way of painting a landscape, a dream, or a thought.

I have explored the way colours interact, and it's different from coloured pencils or paints, which you can combine to create any colour. The colour of the yarns is immutable, but I am beginning to discover how to use similarities and contrasts to draw out highlights and undertones. A variegated yarn looks very different whether laid alongside a deep red or a muted red.

Perhaps the most obvious change has been the shift from cool, dark colours to neutrals, and warm and bright (inspect the gallery). This is not just superficial. My favourite colour has always been deep blue, followed by green and purple, but I am actually becoming enamoured with orange and its allies. This blanket began as a way to use up yarn in my stash, but has evolved into an excuse to acquire single skeins of anything that catches my eye. This square incorporates several new acquisitions.

I don't regret that, because I know they'll all come to good use over the long haul. Long after finishing this blanket, I'll continue using yarn to tell stories. Hats and scarves will never be the same.

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