Measuring Time in Unfinished Craft Projects


Four years ago, I started knitting a light blue sweater.  It was to have black stripes, and four smooth buttons down the front.  On ambitious days, I considered adding a hood.  At the time, I was six months pregnant with Axel. By November, Axel had arrived, and the yarn had formed into a cap, booties, and half of a sweater.

I picked up the same yarn again, a year and a half later, thinking I’d finish the sweater for my next baby.  By the time Jonas arrived, I’d finished a single lopsided sleeve.   I should’ve refashioned it as a vest for my July baby, who wasn’t in need of sweaters anyway.

The same thing’s happened with a half dozen other craft projects – the felt books I planned to make as Christmas gifts for the boys and my niece are nothing but a bag full of fabric and buttons, with one lonely finished pirate ship page.  The pepper seeds Axel and I started indoors went unwatered.  Jeans with holes in the knees sit on the washing machine, next to a pile of patches and my dust covered sewing machine.  Parts for Halloween costumes stay around through the summer, in the hopes that the boys will want to be astronauts again next year (and will miraculously fit into the same sized costume).

Lots of inspiration, and very little follow through.

By the time I think I’ll be able to finish something, my kids have outgrown it.

There’s something about homemade things as a sweet, heartfelt gesture.  I think of all the Halloween costumes my own mother made for me, the curtains she sewed, the quilts she’s made for my sons, the knitted baby blankets from my grandmother, and I want to do the same for my boys.  And I will, just as soon as I figure out how to cram a few more hours in the day.  Whereas the light purple ruffled dress my mama made for me said, “Love you sweetie,” the half-knit sweater says, “Love you babies, but I got kinda busy.”

About the only homemade projects I finish up these days are food-related.  We bake cookies and bread, and in one inspired weekend canned applesauce.

More pressing things, like laundry and work and trips to the park and building a train out of Legos and making dinner and scrubbing crayon marks off of the walls, elbow their way ahead of crafting in the never-ending to do list.  Projects that should take weeks to finish take months – or even years, in the case of the unfinished baby sweater.   When I’m finally able to sit down and knit again, I’ll be making the sweater for my grandchildren.  It’ll have taken something like thirty years to finish it up, and, with any luck, by then, it will be adorably retro.

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