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Enough With Planning!

May 1, 2013

We all know them. They are everywhere. Those super organized, beautifully put together people. They are the ones who make this world run on time. They make check lists. They have color coded calendars. They arrive at places on time, or EARLY even. They have their stuff together. They are not me.

My husband is a planner. Hell, the word is part of his job description and all of his personality. He makes lists. He makes lists of his lists. (I know one exists, even though I haven’t found it yet. I just KNOW it.) He writes menus and grocery lists and packing lists and to do lists and he follows those lists. When he packs, he is methodical. He starts at his feet and works up to his head. Socks, underwear, pants . . . It is all neatly folded and placed in the suitcase logically. Everything has a place and entry on the list and everything is put in its place and checked off his list. The way everything works together and gets done is a thing of beauty. His calendar is planned down to the minute and he is early for everything. His world runs smoothly. With one little exception.


I am not a planner. I am not even remotely close to being a planner. I am a free wheeling, fly by the seat of my pants kind of person. I hate lists. I rarely make them. Believe me, I have tried. I carefully make a list of the things I am going to get finished and then something comes up and I have to deviate from my list and that one thing lead to another thing and then, three hours later, my list is still sitting there undone, MOCKING me, and I give up, tear it up and go back to my way of doing things.

Packing is an adventure for me. I make a pile of the things I want to take, weed through the pile, add more things to the pile, etc., until it is the last minute and I have to throw things into a suitcase and pray. I am very good at finding a Target in whatever city I go to.

I am rarely early for anything. I was two weeks late being born and I haven’t gotten much better in the ensuing 3+ decades. Who would want to be EARLY for goodness sake? I’ve got other things to do. I am horrible at grocery shopping, always coming home with things that looked good but forgetting necessities like eggs and milk. In the mornings, I leave my house without my cell phone or car keys at least three times a week and then forget them AGAIN when I leave work to go home. I use recipes more as guides that actually road maps of how to cook, constantly adding or subtracting ingredients. Instructions are optional for me.

It all works out in the end. The darling husband does the planning, I keep things interesting and colorful. He plans the wedding, I pick out the flowers and cake. He makes the travel arrangements, I take the pictures (if I have remembered to pack a camera. . . ) He writes the weekend to do lists on the white board and I draw smiley faces. When he is out of town, things can get a little crazy around the house but pizza three nights a week can’t be all that bad, can it?

OK. Maybe I could be a little better about things. My eldest child is legally an adult. Perhaps it was time for me to act like one as well.

In the beginning of December, I raided my stash and decided to start a sweater. I picked the Audrey In Unst and found 4 skeins of DK weight yarn in my stash with enough yardage for the size I was going to knit. I wanted a new sweater to wear when I traveled to New York City later that month. Needless to say, I didn’t finish the sweater on time to bring it to NYC (it was crushing to learn that I couldn’t knit a sweater in a week and a half. Who knew?) This didn’t diminish my love for the pattern or the yarn. I returned to working on it as soon as I got home and rapidly finished the body and sleeves in quick succession. All that was left were the button bands and neckband, a simple I-cord bind off. There was just one problem. I had a teeny, tiny ball of yarn left. Less than 12 grams to be precise. Now, I had knit button bands before. I knew that they took more yarn than you think they are going to. Especially this one, which was a twisted rib band. There was nothing left to do but admit defeat, put the sweater down and order another skein of yarn to finish.

The yarn I was using was from a small, independent dyer. This particular retailer dyes to order so you can order a particular base and a particular color. While this is fabulous in that you can get any yarn and any color you want, it does mean that it takes a long time to get your yarn because everything is dyed to order. I knew I was in for a wait of at least a month so I packed up my sweater, my little ball of yarn and the pattern and started on something new.

January went by and no yarn had come yet. During one of my stash tidying sessions I came across the swatch I had knit to check my gauge. I was shocked not only to find the swatch but that I had actually KNIT a swatch to begin with. Again, I am not a planner. Swatching equates planning in my book. Foreign concept. A light bulb went off in my head and I quickly unraveled the swatch, washed it, let it dry and wound it up into its own little ball. I had an additional 6 grams of yarn. I pulled out the project bag and set everything out with the intent of starting on the bands. Then I stopped. I couldn’t possibly have enough yarn to do button bands. 18 grams of yarn was not enough. What if I started on the bands and ran out of yarn? What if, when I finally received the yarn it was a different share of the color I had used for the rest of the sweater? Two slightly off bands would be fine, but not one and one. NO. I had to be patient. I put the project away and waited.

February went by and still no yarn. I wanted my sweater, darn it! I started calling yarn shops that carried the yarn line I was using. No one I talked to had my color on my yarn in stock. Some had companion colorways to my color. I drove to Minneapolis and bought one of those. When I got home I decided not to use it because then I couldn’t use the buttons I had purchased in New York for the sweater. I drove 40 minutes north to a different store the next day because they thought they had a skein but it was missing a label. It wasn’t the right color. My sweater sat. And sat.

March went by. Still no yarn. I knit a different sweater. It was a wonderful sweater, but it wasn’t the sweater I wanted. I kept looking at those two little balls of yarn, mentally calculating how much yarn I might need . . . No. I was going to do this correctly. I was going to make a sweater I was proud of. I was going to control myself and not just rush into something, the heck with the consequences. I was going to be a good, patient, conscientious knitter.

April came. I started knitting a shawl. Still no yarn. Still no sweater. I posted messages on the ISO boards on Ravelry, I haunted the yarn shops. I sent emails and was assured it wouldn’t be much longer for my yarn. I went to New York City again. When I got home, a surprise awaited me. FINALLY. My yarn was here. Just as I suspected, the color was a tiny bit different that the original color of the sweater. Not enough for anyone but me to notice, but enough that I felt vindicated for waiting.

Last night I finally picked up the sweater and began the task of picking up stitches for the button bands. In reading the pattern I learned that the button bands for this sweater were only six rows of stitching. Less than an inch of band. That might have been a good thing to figure out, oh, maybe two months ago when I was looking at my small balls of yarn. As I went to join the yarn and start knitting on the bands my hands went to the two small balls of left over yarn I had, not the new skein. I had to know. I just had to.

ball 1

I knit that first button band. I used the bigger of the two balls of yarn, the 12 gram one. After 6 rows of 105 twisted rib stitches and a purlwise bind off, I had this left.

ball 5

Throwing caution to the wind, I started on the second band. I worked the band, worked the button holes, bound off and ended with this.

ball 4

I started the neck band. Knit about 2 inches of I-cord, ran out of yarn on the first ball and joined the second one. I took a big breath and knit on.

And then . .

end of ball


I can’t believe it. I tried to change my ways. I tried to plan out something, to be careful and logical and precise. I waited and I controlled myself and I did all the things I should do. I didn’t throw caution to the wind and you know what happened? It bit me in the ass. I could have had my sweater months ago if I had just done what I normally do and charge into things without once stopping to consider the consequences. But no. I was trying to be a better person.

Enough yarn. I still can’t get over it.

I am casting on for another sweater tonight. Using stash yarn. In a discontinued colorway. I’m about 150 yards short of what the pattern calls for. It’s a fingering weight.

I am taking the kids to Palm Springs on Friday for a long weekend in the sun while Dad is at his conference. We are meeting him there as he has been travelling all week. We haven’t packed yet. None of the kids have shorts or a swimsuit that still fits them from last year.

I think I’ll order pizza tonight.

What’s the worst that could happen?

I bet you could make me a list.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2013 11:25 pm

    Love your story!! I’m the list person in our household but my husband is great at planning trips. We are both punctual – we even compete with each other to arrive first. It works for us as I’m sure it works for you. And there is absolutely nothing bad about last minute pizza ordering!

    • May 2, 2013 11:43 am

      Thank you! I couldn’t imagine if both of us were the list making kind. It would be total anarchy!! 🙂

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