Hobbies and Obsessions

It’s cold, cold, cold here, and my Christmas tree is still up.

I’m looking for a new hobby/obsession. For years I was super into knitting, and got really good at it. Looking back I can remember clearly the series of misshapen hats and sweaters that slowly evolved into areas of specific expertise – baby hats and sweaters, socks.

Before the knitting era, I did all kinds of handwork – I crocheted (at least 4 bedspreads among other random things), did counted cross-stitch, learned a technique to paint on cloth (a set of sheets with a pillowcase, several T-shirts). I thought about learning beading, bought a set of tools to make jewellery and taught myself how to make up-cycled earrings from broken-up thrift store pieces.

Then one day I read an article in a knitting magazine about knitting obsession and it was like the *permission* I needed to truly become obsessed myself. I gathered an extensive collection of needles and other paraphernalia, built up a good-sized yarn stash, read knitting blogs, experimented. I taught a small group of friends how to knit.

Eventually, through infertility and then babies and then two international moves my knitting dropped off to nearly zero. When I reclaimed it, all I made was socks. I love making socks. Using four or five needles at once automatically impresses people, and the small size is much more portable than a blanket or even a sweater. Sock knitting has gotten me through innumerable boring meetings. I love the self-striping yarns you can get, and I love playing with color and pattern and texture within the confines of the given shape. I know the structure of a sock so well now that I can cast on and then go without thinking or planning a lot. Plus, for an international move, a bag of sock yarn and one set of double-pointed needles is all you need to hours of therapy in the future.

I do find it therapeutic. But somehow I’ve burned out on knitting, finally. There are things I’d like to make, but I don’t have the same range of needles and yarns available to me here (although I still have all my tools and fiber in storage in the US). In Colombia I did find a couple nice yarn shops, but they didn’t carry the range of natural fibers you can get in North America. Even less so here where it’s either very rough but all natural sheep’s wool yarns that older women use to make bed socks, or imported acrylic yarns from Turkey. I brought sock yarn with me and needles but I feel entirely uninspired. It took me a year to make a pair of ankle socks for a friend with very small feet.

So, I’ve been coloring. I have the Bloggess’s amazing book, and another one my sister gave me of artwork based on tropical nature. But it’s not something I can obsess about. And I feel like I need a new obsession.

I’ve been toying with a few ideas – I love miniatures, and I realized that half the appeal of Legos for me is the building of a miniature world. I thought about learning how to make miniature books. Now I’m thinking about miniature knitting. I feel inspired by the tiny knitted and crocheted animals I’ve seen on Instagram and that’s where I think I might be headed.

Any delay, though, is due to the time it takes to figure things out. With socks, I could just grab some yarn, needles, decide who to make the sock for (–> number of stitches to cast on) and go. With a new thing it’s going to take time to figure out. Setting aside that time intentionally needs a little bit of a push and I’m generally more likely to tell myself “I’ll only surf Twitter for 5 minutes,” until 45 minutes later and it’s time to go get the kids. But I have a perpetual need to play with color, pattern, shape, texture, and design and if I don’t find another outlet for it then I will continue to get sucked into building worlds on my kids’ Minecraft accounts when I could be doing something more real, more productive.

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