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Dear Ann,

One of the joys of My Life in Needlework is the variety. I love following my various enthusiasms for materials, techniques, and end results. My handwork menu is as full and ambitious as a Greek diner’s.

This post started out as an update on my garter-stripe temperature blanket—we’ve passed from winter into spring, and are well into the second quarter of the year. But the temperature project has had its roll slowed by my latest obsession—and that is a non-hyperbolic use of the word: a Cropped Car Jacket from the School of Making, which you can see laid out in blue pieces in the photo above.

I blame you for pointing this jacket out to me when we were at the Alabama Chanin factory in Florence, Alabama a few weeks ago. (Thank you! Forever in your debt!) I fell for it, hard. With its flappy patch pockets, its short, square shape, and its rococo surface design, it’s a heavy contender for a wardrobe item that’s become a grail for me over the years: a handmade Chanel-style jacket. But what sold it is the way three different appliqué techniques transition over the piece. I’d never combined appliqué styles like that, and I knew it would keep me engaged.

I also realized that if I jumped right on this project—if I didn’t save it for some dreamy future in which life will afford loads of extra stitching hours (when is that coming by the way)—I could get it done fast. Maybe even fast enough to wear it at an important family celebration in June.

So, for more than a week, I’ve been stitching my fingers to the nubs, at all hours of the day and night. I’m having a fantastic time, and I’m only slightly worried about my languishing temperature blanket.

Speaking of which, here it is.

I’ve just completed the month of March, in which temperatures ranged from wintry blues to blue-greens and greens, with a smattering of daffodil days. It’s been such a cool spring in New York that I’m not as far into the warm colors as I’d thought I’d be. But I know they’re coming.

April was still fairly cool, but with some nice wide stripes of springy green and yellow.

Does anybody else have projects constantly vying for your time? How do you deal with it? Do you buckle down and focus on finishing one, or let yourself bumble along like a happy bee among the flowers? And how do you bring yourself back to a project that you’ve let go for “a few weeks?”

Temperature blanketeers, I’m with you, all the way. I just want to be with you while wearing a new jacket. Wait up—I’ll be right along! In the meantime, please pop your temperature project progress photos into the MDK Lounge, to keep all our motivation high as we head into those warm colors.



P.S. I’m experimenting with turning my Garter Stripe Temperature Blanket into portable knitting. Here are the colors of April, all packed up into a Bento Bag, ready for toting.

A Good Deal For Blanketeers

For 10 percent off all purchases of Felted Tweed, enter the coupon code TEMPERATURE at checkout.  Cannot be combined with other coupons.


  • I’m so looking forward to watching your progress on your jacket Kay, that color! Many appliqués! You inspired me to the point of ordering the T-Shirt kit from AC, I’ll receive it at Shakerag, can’t wait.

  • I follow what my dodgy didgets want. Different projects use different muscles. I always have embroidery, sewing, crochet, tatting and knitting ( with different weights of yarn and needle type) as works in progress. I Keep a note book with information on each piece so hopefully it doesn’t matter how long the rest is between visits.

  • I’ve had my eye on the Cropped Car Jacket for a few years. Some strange self restraint has kept me from it (maybe it’s the other Alabama Chanin kits I have waiting for that future dreamy time when it’s all just stitching time…). I’m beginning to cave as you progress. But my temperature blanket is up to day! Only because I had to see some of the yellow and pink after all that blue and gray. I jump all over on my projects with no rhyme or reason. Cheers to it all!

  • Oh i can happily fling aside a beloved project for the next temptation! They wait uncomplainingly incomplete until their siren song calls my name again. I have Sooo many projects started. The Bang Out a Kiki Mariko (remember that from over a year ago?) keeps coming out to play-I am on the last repeat now and anticipating the Felting and Steeking. So much yarn, so many patterns, so little time. Whatever makes my brain happy is what is currently being worked on.

  • It’s the journey, not the destination. I do my handwork for fun, relaxation and occasionally Even finish a project. Sometimes putting a project in “time out” helps you come back with enthusiasm …or not.

    • #truth. Completely agree, I might have more than 5 projects going at any one time, all in various stages of knitting, not to mention the stash bought for projects. Live in San Diego where there honestly is not much need for knitted projects of any kind (80 here today…)I knit purely because I love yarn, lots of squishy yarn and the process of working on projects.

    • Exactly, and sometimes the “or not” is such a relief.

      • Amen to that! I recently got the urge to purge and frogged several projects one evening. Very satisfying. On to the next new project!

      • Testify!

  • I was inspired by the granny square hexagons and am doing a temperature blanket for my dad from the year he was born. I work on it in fits and start. May daughter told me it would be a perfect beach project. I agree so can’t wait for warm, lazy days to knit at the beach.

    • That is such a cool idea. Never even occurred to me that you could do one from years past!

  • Earlier this year I got to see a Chanel Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (in Australia, not British Columbia). It was wonderful – lots of cropped jackets and black cocktail dresses with wasp waists!
    Another exhibition I would like to get to is on in Adelaide, South Australia – the 100 Year Climate Yarn – a huge crochet project by artist Sandra Lepore. You can see how it all developed at her inspiring instagram site #myclimateyarn
    Meanwhile, I’ll admire your jacket and blanket and contemplate a skinny temperature scarf!

    • Temperature Scarf! WONDERFUL idea. Thank you!

  • I typically have several projects going at once, and unless I have a hard knitting deadline, they are each of them picked up with varying frequency. The lure of a new project is always strong, and I know I succumb too easily, but when it comes to projects just having one will not do. The more difficult ones I set aside for when I can focus, the easy peasy ones are for when I am knitting with others or watching TV. Variety is the spice of life, and also easier on my hands to switch between differently-sized needles and techniques.

    There are a few UFO’s that stay that way for a reason, with those I need to make the hard decision to frog and forget or to bring it back into the rotation. I had one project that I loved but just never felt inspired to pick up because it required constant attention to the pattern, I told myself that if I had done just one row a day it would have been finished by then. So that is what I did, knit at least one row a day and, eyes focused on the charts and brain engaged for those few daily minutes, reached the end.

  • Kay, I enjoy your reflections so much! Today’s resonates in particular as I face the fact that 5 1/2 months into the year, I’ve completed exactly 1 project. And that was a shawl! I’d set the goal of “nine in 2022” back in January, with a firm but (I thought!) realistic schedule for completing all my WIPs. I sat down last week and created milestones for each week (“Finish sleeve 1, complete yoke”). Having a “to-do” list has helped me resist the urge to cast on 2 new projects — at least, for this week!

  • I have projects requiring various stages of concentration, but am always open to temptation.

  • I get to the point in every large knitting project when I start to commit Ravelry infidelity: I start scrolling through looking at possible new projects. I know myself well enough to know that that means I have to start concentrating on what’s on the needles. I find that project monogamy works best for me. If I set things aside, they can linger for years. I can never quite recapture that initial joy. I *can*, however, reclaim the happy buzz of steadily working on something, if I get over the initial hump of picking it up again.

  • I’ve always finished one project before starting a new one. However…….. this time the Squirrel project has been parked. The pattern is awkward and cumbersome. I’ve gotten so flustered I parked it and am working on a great shawl. My problem is the squirrel is for my granddaughter and it’s now 6 months and still waiting. She’s asked about it and I feel guilty. But every time I look at it I throw it back in the bin frustrated.

    • Think of it as “time out” for poor behavior. No need to feel guilty, it’s not working out or calling to you right now.

    • Ten Rows a Day is a helpful phrase I turn to if I have a lagging project. As well, it helps to concentrate on the positives, e.g. knit it with love for dear granddaughter. If the project is absolutely defeating, confess and choose something else DGD would like.

  • I usually work one project at a time. Every now and then a deadline, or the need for a different KIND of project (usually, but not lately, something simple enough for an airplane) changes that. Right now I’m racing, in my slow, deliberate way, through my second Mood Cardigan. This one’s for me. But you are reminding me that NOW, or at least soon, would be a great time to make my first Alabama Chanin kit, the bird t-shirt languishing on the laundry room counter.

  • I usually have a few projects going at once. There’s couch knitting, because the “Safe at Home” blanket requires so many color changes it would be hard to move them from place to place. There’s bed knitting, where things are restful and I can watch tv and concentrate. Then there’s always a pair of socks going in the purse, because you never know if you’re going to have to wait somewhere. I usually try to stick to these three, and soldier on until finished, but every now and then something comes along that you can’t resist, or you have to put something in time out. Then there are painting projects, etc, but those seem to fall into a different category…

  • After my manic first year of knitting, I’ve tamped back a bit as I prepare the veg/herb/Mediterranean/succulent/native garden for our SoCal summer: heat, drought and drastic water rationing. Once it’s full on summer, I know I’ll be back into knitting again when I’ll be stuck in the house with the AC.

  • I am making a miter-square blanket out of sock yarn scraps – for a queen-size bed. I know this will be a multi-year project. My goal, met so far, is to knit one square for every week-day in any given month. A square takes me about 90 minutes: local news, national news, Wheel of Fortune. And I can see my progress while still working on other WIPs.

    • PJ, I share your pain/endeavor. My MIL asked for a mitered square blanket last winter. I’m a new-ish knitter and had no idea what I was getting into. Acrylic yarn (ick) with a cream base and light, medium, and dark grey on 5 mm needles with 55 stitches to start each square. I will say it looks great thus far. My goal is to finish this year, possibly by fall. Stitch on!

  • Right now I’m bouncing between a lace poncho for my SIL and an Old Friend Pullover in Atlas. I’m really enjoying knitting with Atlas but am trying to make good progress on the poncho. Then there are many, many UFO’s that I want get in rotation before I start anything else.

  • I can’t wait to see your finished Car Jacket! I’ve made mine into quite the project with all the embroidery, beading & applique and, boy, I sure do hope I’ll finish it someday! It’s been a “project” for a few years now. I get very focused on it for a while, then take a break, and have successfully put it away/pulled it back out a few times now… one or two or maybe three more times?? There are an awful lot of WIPs and “future” projects of all types in the wings, though. I made my Temperature Blanket “portable” for a meet-up and it was great… until I discovered that I’d forgotten a color (then I decided it was time to go).

    • Your embellishment of that jacket is EPIC, Vicki. It will be worth the wait. I’m all about the running stitch on this one.

  • I’m glad you explained that there are various stitching methods goin on here. I thought I was nuts that I saw more than one. I’ll be interested to see how you blend them together. I always swear I will start finishing before I start more projects, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    • I basted 2 boundary lines to divide each piece into 3 sections, 1 for each technique. I also imposed a rule that I wouldn’t break up a stencil motif–a flower with multiple petals, for example, into 2 techniques, which means that there is some bleed of techniques across the basted boundary lines. I noticed this on the sample and I think it makes it even more interesting to look at. It’s easy and fun and I only occasionally start working the “wrong” technique….

  • Tell me about the traffic control! I had the craft year planned out, then a friend for whom I’ve made grandchild baby blankets for in the past says they are expecting twins. Twins! But first there’s Sock Madness, can’t skip that either. A friend tells me of the “stitch your science” contest which I must enter. Finally, mom gives me handwoven fabrics which means I need to figure out my current size before making blouses. Yes, it’s a feast!

  • Thank goodness for Knit Companion! It’s been a lifesaver in many ways!

  • Kay, you’ve got this. After all, you made a lot of other stuff during the years you worked on the Big Floral Damask Thing. (BTW, go feed that thing.)

  • so excited to see someone working on this particular gorgeous jacket. Thank you for sharing

  • Lace is a single project endeavor. Working on the Aperture Stole. Finally recognizing the stitch patterns. If I put this away, it will be hard to start again.

    I do love it. The yarns are lovely. The stole is beautiful. Just difficult to get to know at first.

  • Kay, that Car Coat is smashing. I can’t wait to see a photo of you in it next month!
    Also –
    The temperature projects are so great and I’m just saying there’s a LOT of chatter in the Lounge.
    Ya’ll come on in!

  • Last winter was the winter to finish the WIPs, the oldest which was over 20 years. There were at least 10 and none of them needed much – mostly just the finishing work. It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve done in years, and it got my knitting mojo fired up. After finishing the WIPs I made hats! Made a blanket! Made a couple shawls! And bought yarn, A LOT of yarn. I see a lot more WIPs in my future!

  • I made the interesting discovery that doing knit finishing for my LYS scratches the “new and different project” itch quite nicely. I get to see, and mentally audition, all kinds of patterns, stitches and yarns without having to buy them and do the heavy-lifting part of the knitting. I have been able to select new ideas more carefully, knowing I already love how the yarn works, or dump previously-cherished ideas as not so good in their reality. Okay, the downside is less knitting time for my personal stuff, but as that’s now a very well-curated list, it works.

  • ah, but you should have knit a temperature jacket and then you could cross two things off your list at the same time! that’s what i did. see it on my ig: @svm_treks

  • I designate two months a year to finishing up WIPs, usually during May and August. I also “allow” three projects to always be on the needles – a pair of socks (naturally), something requiring focus like a lace shawl, and one other project like a sweater. I add other projects into the mix when I feel like it. Then I finish up things during May or August and cast on something new. For me it’s a journey, not a destination. I’m a process knitter.

  • I generally have at least 3 projects going, a prayer shawl, a simple garter or stocking stitch knit for long phone conversations, and something more fun just for me. I now have enough UFOs that I am thinking of putting aside one evening a week to work on them.

  • What dose the jacket look like. I really need inspiration

  • Kay. I’m wondering if you finished your Cropped Car Jacket in time for your family function.
    I’ve been pondering it ever since your original post. In fact, I’ve lost more than a few hours pouring over their site and my shopping wish list has fluctuated to ridiculous ranges as I’m drawn by their artistic design.Then reason returns.
    What size did you make, do you mind me asking? Was yours a pattern that was precut? Do you also need their book. Which one?
    I am in touch with Haley at Alabama Chanin, but thought it would be fun to hear your thoughts — if you’ve time.
    Thank you! ~Lori

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