Friday, March 7, 2014

High Efficiency Knitting

Ellen commented on Wednesday how I knit so quickly and am cranking things out.  Thanks Ellen.  I never really thought of myself as a "quick knitter..."...

Because I'm really not unless I'm doing straight-forward knitting (either garter stitch or stockinette in the round).  And then I think I'm pretty fast.  I get into a sort of Zen state and just fly.  I think it may be one of the reasons that I don't like making scarves very much.  Even if the pattern is simple, I have to stop, turn, reposition the yarn in my hand, get my needles situated and start the new row until I get to the end of it and then start that whole process over again.

And this brings me to my point of high efficiency knitting, because there are some things about knitting that I'm not very efficient about and others that I am very efficient about, and I wanted to discuss those today.

Not efficient:
  • I "throw" the yarn with my right hand.  I don't even position the yarn so that I can keep my hands on the needles at all times.  I sort of grab it with every stitch.  What I find about knitting this way (besides it's what just feels natural to me) is that I get really good tension.  Anything else is simply too loose.
    • I have attempted to hold my yarn in my left hand, and even decided to have a practice swatch to work on so that I could improve this skill.  It just doesn't work for me.  I've tried holding the yarn in my right hand with the yarn draped over my finger so that I can keep my hands on the needles.  All are awkward and result in uneven or very loose tension.  Perhaps I could improve over time, but why would I?  What I'm doing works for me and I don't see that the benefits of changing the way I hold the yarn will do much--because then I would HAVE to swatch and I hate the thought of swatching.
  • I get bored easily.  I'm kind of in this weird place right now where I don't have something that's pulling on me so I'm knitting just to knit.  Which I find a little boring, but that's ok.  I've had 4 super-wonderful projects in a row and I think I'm mentally tapped right now.  An easy hat, some plain old socks, my mitered square blanket.  All those will pull me out of the boredom and into something else very exciting.
  • I don't let deadlines bother me.  I have learned over the many years of my life to not let stress come into my life unless I can't help it.  Knitting is NOT something to stress over.  Ever. I love making things for people, and apparently they love getting them because they keep asking me, but I cannot and will not let my crafting time become stressful.  Right now I'm feeling like a duck out of water in my professional life, and knitting is the one thing that makes me very happy...I couldn't spoil that by forcing a deadline on myself.  Not gonna happen.
  • I have no idea how long something will take to knit.  Along a similar vein, I am still so new to knitting that I can't figure out how long a project will take, so I usually plunge in with my eyes wide open and my brain wide shut and get to going until I get bogged down.  I'm learning, but it's slow...lots of "experiences" to get through to have enough data to start figuring these things out.
  • If I'm sitting, I'm knitting.  This is in a car (not driving), during lunch, watching TV, hanging out with the family.
  • I try to work smart.  The Dragonfly Cowl taught me important lessons about complicated color-work.  For instance, big charts don't have to be scary.  They are, after all, one stitch at a time.  I have to figure out 1) how many different stitches I can memorize short-term in the pattern (4 seems to be my happy number) and 2) how to mark them off when I'm finished.  Other thoughts...if there are charts...make lots of copies of the charts.  However many pattern repeats you need:  that's how many charts you need.  This way there's no second guessing when you get back to it (sometimes months later).
  • I don't make a lot of mistakes and when I do, I usually just "go with it."  You won't find me unknitting rows of lace because I forgot a yarn over.  I'll correct it as soon a I figure it out and then move on.  Sometimes I put the item aside for a while until I can feel comfortable, but mostly I just deal with the fact that there's a little error in the sock.  The Possibly Maybe socks are absolutely stunning and I'm super proud of them, but they have lots of mistakes.  And I don't even know where or what they are anymore and I'm less than a month from finishing them.
  • I'm willing to dump a project.  If something doesn't make me happy, I'm not going to knit on it.  I have to be happy with my knitting.  Sometimes the project makes me unhappy right now but I know that it's a life circumstance that's making it difficult to work on so I'll put it aside (again, important lesson from the Dragonfly Cowl).  When I pull it out, if it isn't singing to me again, then it gets ripped out. Knitting is so wonderful that way.  Even after the yarn has become something it can be ripped out and become something new someday.  And honestly, life is WAY too short to knit on things that make you stressed or unhappy or frustrated.  Plain. and. simple.
  • I have lots and lots of yarn.  My stash is so big it has its own room.  It shares its room with a loom and all the other paraphernalia needed for weaving (which, unfortunately I haven't done in a long time).  But, when I first started weaving, and knitting, I got so excited about all the things I was going to make that I ended up buying lots and lots and lots of yarn.  I still buy yarn.  I can't seem to help myself.  But...this is wonderful because my creative impulses aren't stymied by not having the yarn I need to cast on and get going on a project--that I may or may not hate in the end.  I learn a lot about yarn in the process--what substitutes well and what doesn't and why not.  I spend a lot of time looking through patterns and trying to make decisions about which one is right for the yarn I have (I LOVE Ravelry for this very reason alone).
Either? Both?
  • I have about 20 projects on the go.  This can be inefficient in that things never seem to get finished...and yet, getting bits of work on something each day (or in spurts, which is how I tend to work) ...things get done.
  • Crafting is my therapy.  Whatever craft I'm into at the's my therapy.  As I'm going through what I think is the beginning of a mid-life crisis, I'm figuring out that my personality doesn't fit well into a bureaucracy.  Working from home, though...that's scary, a-social, and financially difficult (and I've done it before and had problems so it's even scarier).  So, I craft as my therapy to make the rest of my life something I can get through.  (please don't read this as me being unhappy.  I love my life...and I'm generally a happy person, but in large part because I make pretty things.)
I hope some of these thoughts can help you become more efficient--or inefficient--with your knitting. Mostly I hope that you make sure to ENJOY your knitting every single day.  While learning can be difficult and sometimes put us in places where we're can make things for us very happy and wonderful too.  Working in education all my life, seeing the moment when the "lightbulb" goes off is so inspiring and wonderful.

And I do hope that you get to enjoy knitting every day.  Because doing something just for you each and every day is the thing that makes our lives worth living!


My picture for today is of Pearl...sleeping with pure abandon this weekend.  Getting to touch that fluffy tummy even for a minute is truly special!  I hope that I have a good bit of that tummy loving during my spring break coming up!

1 comment:

  1. Ooo, I like this break down. I can relate to your lists a lot. I have whittled down the number of WIP quite a bit these days to approx 4. and 2 in hibernation. My biggest problem is I've run into "issues" with each of my WIPS which means they all need a little extra time and attention, neither which are available right now. so ... I started a new project. I'm a thrower as well. I knit for my mental health like you. I totally get this!