I seem to have become one of those ‘always busy’ people, somehow. Multiple projects are in various stages of progress around my workroom; endless scrap paper to-do lists litter my desk in the space not currently occupied by the loom and laptop. Trying to scrape together the focus to complete these projects to deadlines – self-imposed or otherwise – in the remaining time around the day job can lead to unnecessary exhaustion.
I’m not alone in this. The creative community I love being part of is full of people juggling priorities, trying to fit the work we love into the gaps life allows. There is never enough time, and that can be overwhelming.
I create not only because I love the process, but because I yearn for the sense of achievement. Having completed a project and having a tangible result from my work is satisfying, but it’s so easy to end up chasing the finished object – the tick on the to-do list – that we forget the joy of the process.
Enter the ‘no-pressure project’. Obviously there will always be work with deadlines and things that need to be done. But the no-pressure project is there purely for enjoyment, for something to work on when hands want activity with no stress attached. I’ve ignored all notions of weather-appropriate knitting, and started work on a big warm jumper in July.
A while ago I thought of a yarn I wanted to make (yes, my brain sometimes designs yarn when it’s in ‘idle’ mode). I have some beautifully soft, coloured wool and some very fine dark fawn alpaca, which I wanted to blend to make a soft, airy, undyed yarn with texture and a little drape. I needed the perfect pattern before committing to make a whole jumper’s quantity of yarn from raw fleece. There’s no denying that it’s a big project. I needed a design that had a good balance of being interesting without being too complicated, so I don’t get bored, but also won’t lose my place if I put it away for a while. Emily Foden’s Soirée Pullover from Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 21 immediately caught my eye and I knew this was the pattern.
I was excited to start. I began washing and carding the fleece immediately. But not all at once. I carded a bit, enough to start me off. Then I spun that up and knitted the first couple of inches. I then felt like spinning, so did a little more carding and spinning. This has been going on while I work on other things. In lunch breaks, when I need a little escapism. On trains, when my fingers need something to keep them occupied. In the late evening, when I want to wind down and relax a little. No pressure.
There’s no hurry; it’s still summer. Well, English summer. I won’t need the jumper for a few months, and if it’s not done by then, I have other cosy jumpers I’ll be glad to be re-acquainted with first. I’m not desperate to get it off the needles so I can wear it and feel that ‘I made a thing!’ feeling. I’m just happy to let it be something I’m knitting, which will eventually be a jumper I’ll love.