Slow down. There's time.

Posted by Sylvia Olsen on

I’m not the first person to say, “Slow down. There’s time.” But if I’m truthful I don’t believe myself when I say it. “Slow down. There’s time” is like one of those posters on Facebook printed in pale green italics on a peaceful scene of wild berries waiting to be picked. There really isn’t time to write the books I want to write. Each one will take three or four years and that puts me into my eighties before I write them all supposing I don’t think of even one more story after today. Not only is that unlikely but people don’t write books when they are eighty. I have to face the harsh fact that I won’t write all the books I want to write even if I live as long as a human body can possibly live and presuming I don’t get hit by a bus in the mean time.

This is the latest rendition of my long 3/4 sleeve cardigan (the earlier versions below). I'm playing with colour and I think I like it. It's Custom Woolen Mills' two ply.


The first one is also Custom's 2 ply. The second one is Brooklyn Tweed Loft (the first one I knit). It's a bit too thin for this sweater. If it's going to be so fine it needs to drape and Loft, in this case, is not drapey. The 2 ply gives the sweater the structure it needs. Stay tuned--I have a drapey sweater coming up.

I have to be perfectly honest with myself, there also isn’t time to unscramble all the knitting ideas I have in my imagination and develop them into workable designs. When I line up the stitches I’m thinking about, with the colours and shades that get stuck in my head; when I shuffle them into shapes, and work in the geometric motifs that elbow their way into the process, then when I knit my mindchildren two or three or four times with different yarns, pulling out the bits that don’t work as I had pictured (over and over) until the thing wears right, and I mean wears precisely right after looking at the shoulders, neck, collar, sleeves, buttons, line, weight, drape, warmth, message, comfort, practicality, wear ability, form, story, over and over in mirrors, windows, shiny black car doors, ice, tin foil gum wrappers, anything that will reflect the image of my knitted thing…when I’m finished doing that and I’m satisfied that I have created something I love then I go to print.

I don't have the slouchy hat right yet. This one slouches but the ribbing/garter start doesn't work--maybe after another few tries. It's knit with locally grown alpaca I was got when I was in Hay River, NWT.


Yellow 2 ply isn't quite right either but I like the pom pom. The grey and red is getting close--it's Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. Neither one of these slouch well so they are more tubular hats.

I write down how I got there, stitch-by-stitch, as precisely as I can and then send it off to Barbara. She translates my instructions into language others can follow. That ignites the next process of test knitting and then editing, photo shoots, designing of the pattern, publishing and so on until it gets to you and you begin your own process of turning what I love into something you love. 

I'm not sure whether this is head gear, a scarf, a shawl or whether it's the embryo of a blanket. It's Custom's 6 strand and I love the way it feels when knit in garter stitch with #12 needles. This one doesn't quite work but something is emerging--I can feel it.

The real trouble I have with “Slow down. There’s time” is that during every step in the process branches sprout out of the central stem of the project each with its own budding new ideas that blossom in the form of stitches, colours and shades, shapes and those budging geometric designs that won’t let me rest. So you can see my problem. My challenge is not one of completing the project but of beating off all the other projects that angle their way into my imagination and won’t leave me alone. Each project spawns a dozen more. It never ends. There is not enough time. And then the stories I want to write. Don’t get me started. 

And then there's the kids' knits. This one is called Ella's sweater after my granddaughter and is made with Custom's Lopi Soft Spun. It's just pretty perfect all the way around. I love the single big band of design that has a mural quality. I have knit many hoods--this one worked on the teddybear sweater I knit for the Christmas Tree contest so I used it again--part of the perfect.


Jack's vest is almost finalized--it'll be Custom's 2 ply in green (this is actually a beautiful moss green that looks sort of brown in this picture) with natural cream and brown. I love the grey with gold but it's not quite right for this vest. I'll find some other way to use the combination. I also fixed the shoulder shaping in the green one.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want it to end. I don’t want there to be enough time. That would mean I had some idea of the time frame, the end date, and that I could manage my time accordingly. That thought is a bit disturbing. I want to enjoy my chaos, the crowd that inhabits my mind, the multiple performances of colour and form, the stories that don’t stop telling themselves…the sentences that go on and on…and on… 

So, even though it’s a nice sentiment and it probably helps people to stay sane, I don’t say “Slow down” as often as I used to. My poster says, “Don’t be delusional. There isn’t enough time. But there is time to enjoy your creations.” Isn’t it written somewhere that even God rested on the seventh day and said, “It is good.”?


Heads up BC Green Party knitters...more on this later.


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  • So exciting to see all the ideas bubbling up, we can’t wait til you join us at Fibre Camp in September!

    Doreen MacL on

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