In the middle

I like a good beginning. I’m a huge fan of the fresh start of the New Year, the first few pages of a good story, and the possibilities of a brand new DIY project.

I’m also fond of certain endings — especially when I finish exercising, folding laundry and, yes, those same DIY projects that I loved so much at the onset.

But there’s really something to be said for the middle.

Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t bear to finish a great book? Or that you were so enjoying a dinner with friends that you tried to distract everyone from noticing the time? Have you been so perfectly relaxed during a vacation that you never wanted it to end?

Lately, I’ve felt that way about my TV knitting.

I finally got to the thumb, the last of the last steps, on theΒ remake of my glove —

thumbless glove

— and then a terribly sad plot twist in last week’s “Downton Abbey” made me reach for the kleenex to mop up. (I’m trying hard not to be the spoiler I so want to be — it’s such a good show.)

It took me the rest of the week to knit about 30 stitches so I could wear the pair during some of the coldest days we’ve had here in two years. Strange. Weird. True.

I think I had trouble finishing that last little bit of the thumb because I didn’t have anything else ready to go. And sometimes I only want to knit. Not choose a project from my queue, not find the yarn and wind it, and definitely not swatch to find my gauge (over and over). I want to pick up my needles and go.

So I used the Super Bowl to remedy my malaise. The plan: to cast on a new project at the beginning of each new quarter and knit as much as I could until time ran out:

1st quarter — Socks. I was going to save these for Secret Recipient #1 of the Christmas 2013 presents, but, um… they’re really pretty, so I might just keep them. That’s the danger of working with beautiful yarn.


It took a while to wind this yarn (and the yarn for the 2nd quarter project), so I didn’t get terribly far. Not that it matters: I’m just happy to have it started.

2nd quarter — Gloves. For my husband. The guilt got to me.


These innocent-looking little gloves stymied me with their teeny-tiny gauge. I’d swatch on little needles, only to find I needed to drop a size. The winner was finally size 0 needles. I hope he’s not expecting them any time soon….

Halftime. Time for stretching out my wrists and eating chips and salsa. Oh and hi, Beyonce.

3rd quarter — Beret. I barely started swatching for this one when the lights went out at the Superdome, halting the game. At this point, everyone in my house attacked the remains of the buffet with renewed vigor and stretchier pants.


This time I needed to increase the needle size so the fabric would have a little drape to it. Right then it became clear to me: it’s not that I put off casting on because I don’t want to knit or don’t know what to start. It’s futzing with gauge. Oh Gauge, why do you mess with me every single time?

4th quarter — Lovely Cowl.


Okay, okay — so it never quite made it to my needles. I found that, like the Ravens, my momentum for casting on a fourth project had stalled with the delay of game and the second round of overeating. Eh, another time. Lovely yarn though, isn’t it?

At the end of the day, I’m back exactly where I want to be — in medias res,Β surrounded by projects. Now, which to work on first?

How do you feel about the middle?


Leah at Inspire and Indulge tweeted some excellent Nutella recipes (some even sugar-free) this weekend, and she let me know that there’s a big day tomorrow. Did you know that February 5th is World Nutella Day?

You’re welcome.


About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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30 Responses to In the middle

  1. Leah says:

    Wow, Joan! I love how ambitious you are to start so many projects at once. If I did something like, I think I’d be super overwhelmed and never complete any of them haha. I really love the look of the yarn you’re using for the socks and gloves! I wish I was as dedicated and as advanced at knitting as you! I just don’t have the patience for it. 😦

    P.S. Thanks for the Nutella shout-out! I just posted TWO Nutella recipes today and I can’t wait to devour both. πŸ˜‰ Happy early World Nutella Day!

    • Aw, you’re too kind about my knitting. I just love it. I also need to have a little something to do if I’m watching TV because if not, I’ll fall asleep. I have TV-narcolepsy (that’s a thing, right?): no matter how much I want to see a show or movie, I’ll drop off within minutes if I’m not busy. Sad. Of course, we’ll see how long it takes me to get all these things finished!

      Heading over to your blog to see how the Nutella-Fest went. Happy Early Nutella Day to you too! Seems like it could replace Groundhog Day, don’t you think?

      On 2/4/13 10:28 AM, “the thing about joan…”

      • Leah says:

        Haha, love the term “TV-narcolepsy.” I’m the complete opposite though – I like to be completely absorbed and not distracted whenever I’m watching tv. Funny how people vary on things like that. πŸ™‚

        Good luck with all of your projects – I’m sure they’ll turn out fabulously!

      • Isn’t it? I think my husband and kids like to be absorbed in the show, but my daughter and I tend to knit or something.

        Thanks for the kind words about all my projects! I stick to one project at a time, so this is a real departure. We’ll see if it works out.

  2. Lynne says:

    I reach the middle of a knitting project and I can’t wait to finish to get onto the next project! LOL – I am not a terribly patient person… πŸ™‚

  3. Northern Narratives says:

    What an interesting post. I love your gloves. What yarn is that? I am making gloves for my husband with the huge hands πŸ™‚ Oh my, it takes a year to make his gloves.

    • It’s Alpaca Sox Color #1884 from Classic Elite Yarns — a blend of Alpaca, merino wool, nylon. It’s lovely, but man, is it skinny yarn! I’d vote for DK weight next time!

      On 2/4/13 12:42 PM, “the thing about joan…”

  4. Cul de Sac says:

    What a nice way to get you going! Love startings, love even better endings… Hate middles.. That is where i just loose my steam πŸ™‚ lol ! Nice gloves and just can’t wait to see that beret!

    • We should swap! There are some projects that I desperately want to knit but the whole beginning thing just kills me.

      Garter knit scarves are the exception. That’s a lot of same old- same old, no matter how much you like middles!

  5. Oh, I know exactly what you mean! Great post! I’ve been working on a project for a week now and am on the cusp of finishing it! I will miss it when it is all done! It’s funny, you would think we would get excited about finishing them up! I have to start thinking of something to do next…not that there isn’t enough housework to keep me busy….but that’s no fun!

    • It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who sometimes can’t bear to complete a project. Closure is hard for me without the next thing ready to roll. I think I’m a little too twitchy (or conversely, too sleepy!) without a little something to do.

  6. thebeadden says:

    I feel the same way when I make something. It made me smile knowing that someone else does too! Wish I knew how to knit and make my own socks and gloves. That is a good idea to start a bunch of different projects, that way when I get in a rut, I could just jump right into another.

    • I always wondered if other people who craft have this same feeling. Thank goodness it’s not just me!

      I’ve read much about people who knit or see or craft either for love of the resulting product or for love of the creative process. I always thought I was a results-girl, but now I think enjoying the process is taking a front-seat. I find I’m lost if nothing’s ready to go on the needles. Interesting how that changes.

  7. Very interesting way to approach the game! I got about 1.5 quarters in and gave up to play a few video games.

    I love the starts, savor the middles, and despise the finishes, but slowly working to turn it around and make the best of the project from start to finish.


    • Thanks, Nizzy! It was a good way to get some more projects underway and had the bonus of keeping me out of the chips/dip and hot dog buffet for most of the game (Darn that blackout!).

      It’s so interesting to me how everyone has a different favorite part. I’d love to read more about how you’re changing your process to embrace beginning, middle and end. Clearly I need help on the endings! πŸ™‚

  8. alenaslife says:

    Another great post Joan. Even though I don’t knit, I get your story. And, I too, love the middle. I’m a procrastinator who actually likes to start projects, then stalls before wrapping up. I also just enjoy the “process.” I realy felt that way during my theatre years. I loved rehearsals more than opening night.

    • “I loved rehearsals more than opening night.”

      Exactly how I feel, Alena! I’m intrigued between the relationship of “doing” and “result” because at times I’m all about the process of making/doing and other times, I go into the mode of “head down, stay on target, let’s get this thing done.” There must be a natural cycle of peak-lull-peak-lull for creative endeavors, I think. But right now I’m definitely enjoying the making far more than the starting or even the finishing.

  9. fsujoha says:

    What an ambitious idea! I don’t think I could start 4 projects in a night without getting some serious grief from my boyfriend… when we moved to a new apartment over the summer I discovered some wip’s that were several years old, so 2013 is the year of finishing projects:) I know what you’re saying about the middle, I love that point in a pattern when I’ve gotten through any confusing parts and am on a roll, it feels so good to watch something come together knowing I’ve made it.

    • We’ll see how all this casting on goes. I’ve never tried casting on for multiple projects all at the same time, so I’m either going to be churning out the handknits like a machine or I’m going to be lost in a pile of needles and tangled yarn.

      (Between you and me, if you were to try this sometime down the road, throw in a project for your boyfriend. He can’t razz you if you show that you’re also working on, say, a huge glove made with skinny yarn on teeny-tiny needles. Ahem.)

      Good luck to you finishing up the wips you found — I think that’s pretty ambitious too!

      You’ve put it wonderfully — that moment that you’re cruising along, ticking off the stitches and racking up the inches on a project. Pure bliss.

      • fsujoha says:

        Haha, it is funny how he complains less about that yarn that is everywhere (and that’s not really much of an exaggeration… there was a lost dpn in bed the other day that woke him from a nap) when the project on my needles is for him πŸ™‚ I’m definitely notorious for too many projects at the same time, so trying to finish up everything is a big goal for me.

      • A DPN in the back? He’s definitely a keeper if he’s not complaining after that. Even if there were a project on the needles for me, I think I’d raise a little fuss. πŸ™‚

  10. Funny, I hate middles too! I love when I start a new project, hate it in the middle because of different reasons (not sure if it’s good, lack of confidence in myself and then don’t want to finish it because I’m loving what I’m doing), yeah!yeah! I’m weird ha!ha! πŸ™‚ but I love it when I finish and like you, I start different projects at the same time! Those gloves look nice and can’t wait to see the beret! by the way, I just started watching Downton Abbey last Saturday at midnight, I’ve been talking about it to my hub, telling him, how many of the bloggers I follow , always mention the show and I want to see it too, so when we were watching TV, I suggested we buy the 1st season on iTunes; he just gave me a look and said “fine, go ahead, we will watch it together, but I might not like it”. WE BOTH LOVE IT, what a great show, we watched 6 of the 7 episodes since but because of my migraines ; I haven’t been able to see the rest or to even read posts! today is better! but glad to know you love Downton Abbey as much as I do! πŸ™‚

    • I really love hearing how other people feel about the “middles” of projects, writing, etc. They aren’t as exciting as the beginning or the end, but I must be in a lull phase where all I want is to DO. I don’t want to start, I don’t want to finish — I only want to be in the middle of the process. It’s really strange. I blame the cold!

      YAY! You’re watching “Downton Abbey!” Isn’t it great! I’m so sorry that you’ve had to endure a migraine and I hope you’re feeling better. I think the series just gets better and better. And I love to watch a show like you and your husband are — buy it on iTunes or rent the discs from the library and then just watch one after another after another. My husband thought it was strange that I was so attached to the show from the first season (remember, I have “TV narcolepsy” so it’s a miracle when I don’t fall asleep watching a show). So he started watching and is now hooked! Yay!

      • ha!ha! yes, let’s blame the cold ha!ha! πŸ™‚ I’m glad your husband too is hooked on Downton Abbey ha!ha! . I could see my hub’s face at first, he didn’t want to watch it and now, he wants us to get season 2 (tonight). thank you feeling a bit better today with the migraine, able to read at least !!! πŸ™‚

      • It cracks me up that your husband didn’t want to watch it — because mine only did it to humor me. I think he thought it was going to be like a long, drawn-out “Pride and Prejudice” (which I would also enjoy), so he liked the genteel mayhem and the wicked put-downs from Maggie Smith!

  11. ha!ha! yes! Maggie Smith (she is something!) πŸ™‚ I would also enjoy Pride and Prejudice but not my hubby! ha!ha! πŸ™‚

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