Fuck being all busy and stressed out. I’m taking a break.

I am not a disciplined person. I get a hell of a lot done (though never as much as I want), but it’s not through solid planning or because I’m a real go-getter, but through a sort of frenzied, fearful, directionless will. I spend a lot of my time in an adrenaline-fueled blur. This would be fine if I were, I don’t know, a spy or a superhero or something. But I’m not. I’m a small businessperson of sorts, a knitwear designer, a craftsperson, and a part-time fiber farmer. My brain and body do not want or require all this amped-up Tokyo Drift pumping bass bullshit.

So I’m going to try to cut it out.

Well, theoretically. I don’t really know how to go about it.

But I’m going to start but taking a little break.

I’ve been completely submersed in knitting since late summer when I signed a book deal with Wiley. I can’t tell you how proud and excited I am about this project, but it’s fucking stressful to pump out 30-odd quality patterns with supporting charts, schematics, technical crap and lovely photos in a little over 6 months. I’ve also got a new dog.

Ears flying!

Georgie after running around like a maniac

He’s a very good boy, and watching him run is a thing of beauty, but holy time suck, I’d forgotten how much work young dogs are, and a high energy working dog is… well, let’s just say I was unprepared. I’m pretty confident that left to his own devices he would playfully kill all of the chickens and run the sheep until their hearts exploded. As a result, his exercise requires my presence. And he requires a lot of exercise.

And I have and a giant heap of overdue administrative obligations than I’m not exactly tackling; but they’re a constant weight on my mind. And of course rotten debt and no money like everyone else. And since Ron’s been on tour, I have fallen into a sort of astonishing squalor. I mean, my environment is always messy and chaotic, and Christmastime is the worst, but this is bananas. Anyway, I didn’t meant to start bitching because bitching gets my adrenaline pumps squirting out go-juice and that’s not what I want.

Because right now, just for like the next day or two, I have a little window of flexibility. I can plow through it with more work or I can sleep or I can try to force myself to slow down and take stock. I think that last one is what I should do. That and try to restore a little order.

Pear Rum Pot and Pear Ginger Preserves

In the name of order, last night I finally cleaned out my fridge. I sent 4 bags of wasted food into the compost. I did save a giant sack of pears in time to make a huge pear rum pot and a little batch of ginger pear preserves. The two little bags of wee, perfect miniature pears that I meant to pickle whole but instead let rot kind of broke my heart, along with the big sack of brilliant multi-hued sweet and hot peppers I meant to pickle. Sigh. And don’t get me started about the 2 pounds of ham and the big soupy pot of beans I forgot about and had to chuck earlier this week. Luckily, I had the foresight to cut and freeze most the ham in 1-pound chunks from the get-go, before I got distracted. But then I went and let that gorgeous meaty fatty bone end start a lab-worthy colony on its surface. That was meant to be the base of a lovely, rich split pea soup, but it instead became the base for a particularly stinky trash can after an unseasonably warm spell earlier this week. Ugh.

There’s something so defeating about wasting food. All your other abandoned projects are evidence of your personal failure and wasted money, but at least they just sit there, gathering dust. Abandoned cooking projects rot and stink and reproach you like mushy, fuzzy, polka-dotted proof of your failed good intentions.

The worst part about working on a book is that I don’t get to show off all my hard work for another year! Sure, I can take some nice peekaboo closeups that completely obscure the nature of the FO, but that’s not really the kind of self-congratulatory gold star I crave.

But I do have a pattern in the new knitty! It’s a super easy seamless hoodie called Sporto. It’s a very plain pattern, written simply to show off the beauty of handspun, but it would e a good choice for any richly textured or hand-dyed colored yarn. The pattern includes light worsted specs, plus a general recipe for any weight of yarn. I find that a pound of fiber = a hoodie with a pocket if it’s spun light worsted, or a hoodie without a pocket spun to aran. A pound and a quarter will typically spin me enough for a hoodie and a pocket at most weights. I wear about an old school Size 8/Women’s M (and by “old school,” I don’t mean sewing patterns, where I’m more like a 12, but standard, non-vanity sized patterns where I pretend I’m cramming a 46-inch ass into a size 2 skirt, which I own and certainly doesn’t fool anyone, least of all me), and the sweater has a relaxed but not too baggy fit. The bright green is one ply of hand-dyed Art Club top + one ply Art Club Succulent. The rotten watermelon is a one-off dye lot of Decadent Fibers Jelly Roll Corriedale bought at Rhinebeck 2009.

Sporto Hoodie on Knitty

Sporto Hoodie on Knitty

Oh! Wait, my calendars are done, too! That’s something else I can boast about. It’s 2012: The Year of the Grouch, but the covers, cut from 1940s & 50s magazines, and terribly cheery.

Here’s a smattering of the ones that shipped on Monday:

2012: The Year of the Grouch

2012: The Year of the Grouch

The completion of the calendars always puts me in the mood to tote up this year’s Überlist and get started on the new one. My goal for 2012 is to lower the bar. My Überlist has gotten progressively more ambitious and thus more defeating every year. For 2012, I’m reigning it in. 2012 is going to be my Year of Lowered Expectations, a goal that fits nicely with this year’s theme.

My only goals for the rest of the day are to ship late calendar orders, make some dumplings and deliver chicken & dumplings to Dick & Rita, and make or wrap a few Christmas presents. And have a few drinks. All this inadvertent teetotaling is not helping my health or well-being. Too bad I didn’t make that rum pot 3 months ago. Some sweet pear-infused rum sure would be dandy right now.

And by the way, I know how stupid my thumb ring looks. I cringe every time I see a picture of my hands, and yet, I can’t seem to part with it.

  • Becky says:

    You are being way too hard on yourself. Everyone is busy. No one gets to all the tasks on their lists. You accomplish a huge amount: taking care of your animals, writing a book, running a small business. Give yourself some credit. Try not to dwell on what you haven’t gotten done but one what you HAVE. Life is short and we all do our best. Hugs.

  • Denise says:

    hey Nikol….hope you enjoyed some R&R. I love the new sweater pattern and I must say you look gorgeous! You are so photogenic. The new dog is a lucky critter to have found you? But yes indeed they are work. Fortunately my 2 hounds are couch potatoes and that is the only kind of dog for my energy level. Good for you in giving him a home and being dedicated to his well being. So this means you get more exercise too.

    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…see you at Woolfest in January.

  • Ivan says:

    Good morning, Nicol

    your pages, works and photos are really interesting and beutifull !!

    Best regards from Zagreb, Croatia.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Ivan

  • Rubiy says:

    Actually, I really like the thumb ring, and that rotten watermelon sweater looks FANTASTIC on you. I’m heading from this comment to my stash to see what I have so I can make one right away!

    Have a good holiday and be kind to yourself!

  • Gretcheng says:

    What’s wrong with thumb rings? When I see someone wearing one I tend to think: wow, this person is so much cooler than I am.

    And the Sporto is quite cool. I’ve been looking for a hoodie pattern to make in honor of my annual week at the beach, and this is it. Thanks!

  • Pam Martin says:

    Hey Nichole,
    By happenstance, I found your blog. I wonder if you wold mind sharing your rum pot recipe. Waste not, want not hold rum here. Your thumb ring is just fine. I like it and have always wanted one. With the price of gold… it won’t be now I guess. I found a pattern I liked and am using pinterest to start a few boards. One of the hats I choose was your design. Thanks! Just wanted to say hello. We all feel a bit overzealous before the holidays and they kick us down a bit. I too am trying to organize, but knit. I don’t know if there are enough hours in the day! Take time to just enjoy a bit of your day and never add more than 3 items to your daily list. This way you feel successful and have some time for you! Good luck!

  • Chelle says:

    You are inspiring – beautiful photos. Love your sweater, your new dog, and your attempts to think big – but you still accomplish so darn much!!

  • Nikol says:

    I think the rum pot is just half as much sugar as fruit by weight, in layers, then booze to cover. You’re supposed to just add different fruit all season, so each time cover with half as much sugar.

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