Time Out from To-Do Lists

This spring break project is going to be the Trefoil Cardigan, designed by Gudrun Johnson and
published in November Knits.  This cardigan requires steeks for the front opening and the
pockets, so it will require some patience and attention to detail.  

     I can't believe that nearly a month has passed since my last post.  My new job with its endless essays is draining me a bit dry.  But, thankfully, last Thursday, I wished my students a happy and safe spring break.  And, after a Good Friday spent at a very quiet school where I made only a small hollow in the large pit of papers I had to grade, I officially began my time off.  While many families enjoy reconnecting at the beach or other get-away destinations during time off, as usual, I have found myself at home and a bit overwhelmed by all of the items on my to-do list.  Where does one begin? 

     *Pressure wash mildew-covered posts at front of house.

     *Dust. (My mother still makes it a point to remind me that she hasn’t gotten over the layer of asthma-inducing dust she discovered on the tops of my picture frames when she visited me several years ago. There must be a fresh layer by now.)

     *Schedule an appointment at the vet for my seventy-pound dog who is afraid to get in the car (and must, therefore, be lifted) so she can get her booster shots.

     *Clean out the garage!  Someday I would like to actually park a car in there.

    *Sand and spackle and paint the sheetrock that slants overhead as one goes up the stairs.  (This exposed board has been in its current unfinished state for nearly two years.)

     *Polish silver. (When I was a teenager on the way to a college interview, my mother—divorced and struggling to make ends meet—handed me a camel hair cashmere coat to wear.  She’d purchased this item for herself years earlier at Saks Fifth Avenue.  This gift was accompanied by the statement, “We are hanging onto the shreds of our gentility.” While the coat is long gone, the silver shares a similar symbolic value, so I’ll probably hold onto it to pass onto some unwitting future daughter-in-law who will likely prefer modern minimalist décor.) 
     *Actually cook something besides the deviled eggs and bean salad I managed to throw together to bring to a family dinner on Easter Sunday.

     *Weed the garden boxes and over-sized pots for tomato plants in my back yard.

     *Mop the kitchen floor. 

     *Do laundry. 

     *Clean out the refrigerator. 

With such a list, it might seem surprising that I spent over an hour at the fabric store yesterday, happily perusing patterns and rows of bolts and have occupied myself this morning cutting and beginning to put together a floor-length wrap dress.  It might also seem odd that in the several days I have already had off, I have worked a huge chunk of a Fair Isle cardigan in fingering weight yarn (pictured above), after completing a lacy shrug (pictured below) made with soft alpaca sport weight yarn.  The answer is simple, though.  Escape!  There’s something about the easy flow of knitting or the complete concentration of sewing that banishes the swirling list of unfinished items to the nether reaches of my consciousness.  I could get up and polish and weed or go buy light bulbs for the hall light (that burnt out yesterday), and I eventually will do those things, but, for right now, having long expanses of time to spend on creative endeavors is much too appealing—especially when there is so much pollen in the air this spring that it is difficult to focus anyway.

Here is my finished Layering Shrug designed Juju Vail.  It's hard for the eye to focus on the garment
 here, as the brick-a-brack on the piano is distracting.  I really need  to put some of this stuff
 away, but knitting is a much more pleasant pastime.   

     Escape is, at times, much more preferable than reality.  So, while I have managed this week to take my younger son to the eye doctor and dermatologist, to deep clean the kitchen, to pressure wash the patio and its furniture, to plant some annuals, to put four bags of gravel along the edge of the driveway, to sort through and discard canned goods with expired "best-by" dates, and to organize part of my yarn stash, I intend to spend many hours during the remainder of my time off working on my dress or knitting. With some effort, I should make some more dents in my stash, that I am determined to reduce.  

My close friend Cindy gave me this skein of hand spun and dyed alpaca yarn last summer.  I finally cast on a lacy cowl.  

I finally finished a shawl using Blue Heron yarn.  I used a handy shawl knitting "Cheat Sheet" from Laylock, which includes five basic shawl patterns knitters can use to suit their purposes.  I made the half-circle shawl.  

     Temptation always awaits, however.  Last night, the Tuesday night knitters at Cottage Yarn began a knit-along sponsored by Classic Elite Yarns. The scarf they are making uses Santorini, a beautiful cotton and viscose multi-colored yarn, and Sanibel, a solid version with the same fiber content, and features an interesting triangle pattern.  I want to join in the fun. . . .  But if I bring any more yarn into the house at this present time, I’m not certain that any knitting, or sewing, or sketching (another hobby I’ve taken up in the last week or so) will provide escape from a stash that threatens, like some oozing tide of lava descending on Pompeii, to bury me alive.  

This is Santorini by Classic Elite Yarns.  I'm using it to make the Sanibel Lace Shawl (below)  in progress.


I have never taken a drawing class, so this first attempt is probably very primitive,
but I enjoyed working on this and the picture below.  Neither one is complete yet.    

Here is a sketch of one of my dogs, Stella.  

This pattern is a little busy.  I think it looks a bit like fruits and vegetables, but the saleswoman at the fabric store said that the design is reminiscent of jewels.  


  1. Loved reading this! I am not working this week and like you am finding creative pursuits a lot more appealing than chores! I am very impressed at the list of chores you have already clocked up though - I have not deep-cleaned anything nor even snipped open one of the thirty bags of gravel that are waiting in the drive for spreading! If you are home today I'll try and give you a call this afternoon my time / this morning your time. Your sketches are beautiful as are all the things you are making - enjoy every escapist minute! E xx

  2. Despite not being a slave to your 'to-do' lists it sounds like you are actually getting quite a lot done! I've gone from long 'to-do' lists to '3 things I should do today' lists because they are much more achievable and less onerous; like the kids we teach at school, I find that breaking things down (or 'chunking' them as some people say in school) makes psychologically less daunting. Crafting is definitely good for the soul, and when you feel overburdened by the weight of 'things to be done' then sometimes it's better just to turn to something else. Life's too short for too much housework! Hope to hear from you soon, Judy.

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