Sunday, August 9, 2009

Is that your stash, or your furnace?

It's happening again...there's a WHOLE lotta yarn in the stash. Some of it is destined for projects that are already on the needles, some of it is for imaginary stuff that's yet to be...but it all reminds me of that thing we learned about in 8th grade science class: Potential energy.

You remember: The car that's barreling down the road while the driver texts her BFF has kinetic energy--probably more than enough to kill the li'l ol' pedestrian who's on her way to the bus stop, where she's planning to get a few rows of knitting done before the #5 comes.

The yarn in the pedestrian's project bag, on the other hand, has potential energy--to roll away into the grass clippings behind the bus-stop bench, or to bounce down the bus steps and under the seating reserved for seniors and mobility impairments. Or to become something that generates warmth, particularly in the area of the wearer's heart. (Awww...) Look at it that way, and the yarn cupboard in my home office has more BTU's than the closet with the water heater in it--potentially, anyway.

According to the one-for-you, one-for-me principle, having just finished that sample for the still-very-secret book project and my pal's Laverne, I'm due at least two sweaters of my very own. (Doesn't matter in the least that it's 105 degrees out every day here in Texas. Call it wishful knitting.) So I'm working up my new merino lace singles into a sweater pour moi. I've done the front edgings and worked down past the sleeve-separation point now...and the great thing is, this yarn is really living up to its potential energy. Because I spend my days working on my doctoral research--work that can be by nature a solitary, incremental, open-ended, and frustrating leap of faith in one's own intellectual abilities--knitting like this offers an extra comfort now.

It just feels good to have a vision for something, pick up my yarn and needles, cast on, and start working doggedly in that direction. I may not know just how I'll answer my research questions (yet), but I do know how to pick up and knit the right number of stitches to start working down from the back neck edge. I may waste time referring back to all my disorganized research notes during my qualifying exams a few days from now; nevertheless, just like referring to the chart for that lace pattern, eventually I'll know it well enough to wing it. I can tell as this new sweater takes shape that it really is turning out the way I want it to--that I finally have the knack of translating my mental picture into a physical object that matches it just so.

As each fat cake of yarn in my stash dwindles down to a nugget, I see myself as activating its potential energy, channeling it with great precision and accuracy (and pointy pointy needles) in the direction where I want it to go. And that, in turn, is reassuring me that I really can reach my own potential when it comes to the giant hoard of articles, books, case citations, and research materials piled up around my desk. Now all of that seems less like an unmanageable morass, and more like just another stash I'm working my way skein at a time.


paisleyapron said...

I am knitting Fernfrost as a gift for a friend and I cannot tell you how excited I am to see the progress on this project. It is beautiful. Will you be able to make it into a pattern for all of us?

TT820 said...

Yes! I'll be working it up in a different yarn (laceweight on tiny needles takes forever...duh!) and releasing the pattern ASAP. I'll post here as soon as it's ready!

Steven said...

I LOVE your explanation of kinetic and potential energy. This little scenario will replace the ill-formed previous mental image I had. Something about Slinkies, I think...

Knit on!

Laura Sue said...

OMG, I love the potential energy image. I'm secy in a Physics Dept in a university and so it's just so a propos.