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The Joy of Small Projects

We've been rather lucky this fall. Not only did we have nearly two full months of beautiful fall foliage, but we've also had only one period of particularly cold and somewhat snowy weather. Dad and I were watching the news during dinner the other night, and John Stehlin reminded everyone that a few years ago, we had 19" of snow on the ground during the first week of November. So, the fact that it's near 70 degrees today and is expected reach a high of 76 tomorrow is rather astonishing.


And borderline deceptive because it doesn't feel like November or the fact that Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are only three weeks away, which is somewhat distressing, especially when you are a small business owner given how unpredictable consumer spending has been ever since March of 2020. I, for one, am barely ready to even think about decorating for winter let alone prepping for those deep winter yarn projects.


That's part of why our Countdown to the Holidays Make-Along was rather fortuitious in a way. Thank you, Juli, for suggesting it! Although I don't really plan to make much if anything for the holidays this year (it's surreal without Mom, and to be honest I don't feel much like celebrating this year without her), the Make-Along is at least a reminder to get ready for the whirlwind from Thanksgiving week through New Years before the winter slow down of mid-January reaches us.


I've heard from a number of people that they haven't been in the making mood lately, that they've lost a bit of their mojo. I get that. I feel that. However, I also feel rather itchy and unsettled without some fiber project going on, and it's not because my problematic, eczema-prone skin is acting up, again. Fiber projects help me relax a little and remember to breathe and take one thing at a time because, as the adage goes (and as much as I abhor cliches), Rome wasn't built in a day.


I'm bad at that--the relaxing and not being endlessly productive. It's like there's too much energy inside my body that just needs to be let out, so when I don't have a fiber project to work on, even if I feel like I've lost a bit of my craft mojo, I become irritable, antsy, and anxious, which is to say that even if I'm not feeling it, I find that I need to do something with fiber at least for a little while, even if it isn't good, even if I end up frogging the entire thing, every day.


All that nervous energy, though, isn't good when you want to work on something fairly involved. Although knitting intricate lace shawls and cozy cabled or colorwork sweaters will always be my favorite, lately I've been finding joy in making smaller projects: a pair of fingerless mitts, an ear warmer, a one-skein shawlette, boot toppers, etc. And small projects are perfect "palate cleansers" (I attribute that phrase and its usage to Sara N.).


Small projects don't feel quite so frustrating if you have to frog them entirely or if you make a complete mess out of the foundation chain and have to cut it and discard it because you can't untie the knot you made while ripping it out. Small projects can be finished in an evening, or an afternoon, or even over the course of a week, and you feel a great sense of accomplishment because you've used up a skein or two of yarn, you've finished something you set out to finish, and you are ready to move on to the next.


Small projects also block faster because they aren't holding quite as much water as a larger project, which means, if they're an accessory, you can wear them sooner and show them off. (Okay, I'll be honest. My coworkers down at BEST might think I'm a little strange if I show up wearing the Harker mitts I finished the other day while also wearing my BEST hoodie, and if we have to do any hands on work the mitts probably wouldn't be the most sensible accessory, so I'll save them for when I arrive at the store.)


Small projects are perfect for focusing that excess energy, for forcing myself to relax and take a breath, and really, for preparing me mentally for the next larger project I want to tackle. Small project really are a joy.

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