When a non-knitter asks a questions about my knitting, that question is most often, “How long will it take you to finish that?” or the common variation, “How long would it take you to make me a [type of knitted thing]?”
So I explain that a hat may require several evenings, particularly if worked in a complicated technique or a fine yarn. I tell them the average number of stitches in a pair of socks (eight million) or a plain sweater (seven hundred trillion) and that completion of the latter may take months.
The gasps of astonishment are strong enough to suck the stitch markers right out of a raglan.
You will have noticed that we live in a world that idolizes instant gratification. What we want, we want now. (Did you scroll down to read the cartoon first? You did, didn’t you?) Inevitably, the sight of a person voluntarily engaged in sustained concentration draws the sort of fascinated stares formerly reserved for lake monsters.
Not that I make any claims of superiority. During one of the first knitting classes I ever took, the redoubtable Galina Khmeleva held aloft a completed Orenburg lace shawl, roughly six feet square. The yarn was finer than a typical modern lace weight–the sort you often hear called “cobweb”–and the entire thing was absolutely riddled with yarn overs.
“How long–” one of the students (okay, me) said breathlessly.
“Six months,” said Galina.
I said nothing, but my heart whispered, “Nope.”
I was still a fledgling at the time. My heftiest achievement was a scarf that reached eleven feet because I didn’t know how to bind off so I just kept knitting. I have since recalibrated my personal scale to count anything less than three weeks of casual work as quick knit. Still, even now when confronted by six to twelve months of cobweb-weight yarn, I am prone to think twice.
Oddly enough, I’m less inclined to cast on for something large if it’s also something simple. If I’m going to be on the road for a long haul, I need scenery. I need twists and hills and rivers and roadside attractions and flocks of sheep.
This is why complicated lace attracts more than repels me–all that fun along the way, always something new just coming into view. Shetland lace, with all those different patterns in the center, borders, and edging? Yes, please. It may have to wait until I retire, but I want to go to there.
On the other hand, a friend with a bun in the oven told me she’d really like an utterly simple little garter-stitch baby blanket, nothing but lovely lovely garter stitch in a squishy yarn forming a plain square maybe three feet by three feet.
I would rather be eaten by a lake monster.
I did offer to teach her to knit one herself, but she says she just can’t face it. It would take too long.
Epic projects: What’s your threshold? What will you do? What will you not do? What, perhaps I should ask, will you never do again?
Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008–now in its third printing) and proprietor of The Panopticon (the-panopticon.blogspot.com), one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep.
Franklin’s other publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and a regular column on historic knitting patterns for Knitty.com.
These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with an Ashford spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.
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You ask what will I never do again? Afghans, baby blankets! Too much yarn and time. I’d rather make small quick useful thinks like slippers, wristlets, hats!
Your friend thinks a babyghan would take too long? She’s baking that kid for 9 months, and then raising it for at least 18 years after that. (Which I can say, because I not only am baking my own, but I have made him a VERY complicated intarsia tunisian blanket of my own design already, and am plotting even more complex projects for him to be completed before he arrives in 10 or so weeks.)
I will not do any project that doesn’t meet at least one of the following: a new stitch to learn; interesting colorwork; works up fast. Why do something if it’s not fun? And I probably will never try to make myself a sweater or tank top or any kind of top again, because by the time I finish it, I’ll have gained or lost enough weight that it won’t fit anyway. Finally learned that lesson! 🙂
I love doing complicated patterns. I love the challenge. Like most others, I will bet, I don’t like tediousness. (On&ON, endless, no change in pattern..) I love doing baby sweaters.. I got into a never-ending loop of making ‘dragon mittens’ for little kids over the last few years. They are cute, but after 30 or so pairs, it becomes a bit much! I am trying to teach myself to crochet now.But, my biggest passion right now is learning to sew! 🙂
I think the stitch numbers are extremely off. There is no way that the average number of stitches in a plain sweater is 700 Trillion. That would be 700,000,000,000. At an average bust circumference (38″) there is maybe 40,000 stitches in the body of a fingering-weight sweater, with maybe half again as many in the sleeves. Even if you counted up to get your 7, you’d be looking at 70,000 (70 thousand). If you knit 2 stitches per second (super fast!) and you knit 24 hours a day (no breaks) it would take you more than 11,000 years to knit 700 trillion stitches.
In that vein, I’d guess that socks have on average 8,000 not 8 million stitches (8 million stitches would take 3 months if you knit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or more than one year if you knit an average of 4 hours per day).
Um. Irony detector turned off?
It may…just may…be that those numbers were somewhat exaggerated for humorous effect – seeing as I write humor pieces for Lion Brand. Thanks for the math, though. Most informative.
I also liked the math, because it calculated for me what I was too lazy or put-off to do. I like knitting sweaters. Now I can respond with a realistic number of stitches as people watch me do the action. Then they get the idea.
I cannot imagine taking on the task of knitting a sweater in fingering or finer . . . on small needles. Even stranded colorwork in sportweight might cause me to think twice.
I fell for it at first too, eventually 🙂 got that it was an exaggeration.
What projects I want to work on changes from day to day (and sometimes hour to hour XD). I choose what to stick with based on the materials I have at hand and whether I want to watch something new/subtitled, or just replay my old favorites. At the moment I’m leery of working with fine/thread weight and tiny hooks for amigurumi – I love the work, but I lack the patience and dexterity. Wire crochet was also not fun, and I’m not big on working with armature either…. Though I think I can change the latter by getting better quality wire^^
I don’t knit (have tried but got too frustrated) but I do crochet and like it because it is faster (even if it uses more yarn). But I have lately taken on Tunisian crochet and love that it kinda has the look of knit but is a bit faster (though slower than regular crochet). I am even venturing out into teaching the Tunisian stitches. As to what I would never make again – I love it all and would tackle any pattern that I like the looks of.
I have different projects when I am knitting in different places. A little mindless knitting is great when I am in a meeting or doctor”s office, more complicated when at home.
I hate making the same project more than once. I have three nieces and they all got the same shrug (in different colours) for Christmas this year. The first was fun as I explored a new pattern. The second was OK. The third was a slog. I hated it by the time I was done. Next year everyone gets a unique gift. Same deal with this year’s gifts for my daughter’s teachers (all two of them). They got spa cloths and soap. The plan was three cloths each. I barely managed a pair each before throwing in the towel and wrapping the gifts. My aunt and mother who were supposed to get spa cloths as well got a cowl (my aunt) and a hat (my mother).
I like to give all the cousins the same thing too, to keep it “even”. But the way I combat the monotony is to change up the patterns. This year, they all got wristers (fingerless gloves), but I changed the yarn and patterns to match their personalities, and that kept the projects fresh enough for me that I didn’t die of boredom.
I have a friend with three daughters who has solved the matching gift problem. She makes three different things she likes, then the daughters draw straws to pick which one they get. Of course, that requires some maturity on the part of each daughter! (and daughters who get along well together!)
My feelings on garter stitch, exactly. I shudder. I’ll do an afghan if it’s in squares that are interesting. I thought it was just me. 🙂
I’m usually crafting for pleasure, so there is something about being told what, when, and how to work on something that I find innately bothersome. I think it has to do with the notion of being respected for the creativity, time, and effort it takes to make something really nice for someone.
For example, my darling dearest asked me a couple of years ago to knit him a hat to replace a double-knit beanie I had knitted for him earlier. I said, “Ok, sure.” Then he got down to details: it had to be a “Jayne” like hat, but he needed it in Red, Green, and Blue, instead of red, orange, and yellow. It had to have a pompom, and earflaps that could be worn down or up. It had to be in “big” yarn (by which I think meant worsted or bulky yarn), and it had to be soft, washable, and warm. I didn’t really like the list of specifics, but I said I’d try. Then he gave me his reasoning for all of these requests: he wanted it to be “funny looking”; he wanted to wear it as a kind of joke.
I tried, I really really tried to work on this project, but I just couldn’t do it. I don’t like to think that I take my crafting too seriously, but when I have limited time to knit/crochet, I want to work on something that isn’t a punchline.
I guess I’m the weird one that find simple projects relaxing and meditative. Don’t have to think and worry about mistakes.
you want to wear it as a joke? make it yourself already. that’s what I would have said. I am not investing HOURS UPON HOURS of my time in your joke.
I wouldn’t have a problem with the requests for colour, style or added detailing because, if you buy something ready-made, you purchase the item the way you like it. If I didn’t like red, orange and yellow, I wouldn’t buy a dress those colours so why make a hat in colours the wearer doesn’t want/like.
Like most non-crafters, he obviously has no idea of the work or time that goes into creating things. If he has a hobby, ask him if he would put hours into something for a joke.
Mary Fitzgerald Heiser
I love to knit simple things. I work a job that requires lots of thought and concentration. Sitting and knitting a prayer shawl is wonderfully relaxing besides being cozy and warm. Also love to make hats and mittens for the grandkids. Have some favorite top down no seam sweaters I like to do, different yarns and colors make them fun. Maybe when I retire I’ll tackle the lacey shawls.
I couldn’t agree more… I have a stressful job and I need something that is simple, quick, effective. I do a lot of Grandmother’s Favorite dishcloths because they go on and off the needles quickly. (Must be why they’re the favorite!)
I will never knit again. Likely story-I still have a bag with double pointed needles that once upon a time were destined to make lovely socks and cabled needles meant for a sweater. I made a polar fleece scarf with 10 mm needles (put these big sticks back in their package and abandoned hope of taking up knitting again). I just don’t have the patience for it. I would honestly rather have a root canal than be told that my life depended upon knitting a sweater in a year. I can crochet, and I’m happy with that. If I get bored with one stitch, I learn another, and figure out ways to incorporate them into a design that I might or might not ever repeat. My adventures in knitting did take me to the yarn store where I met some really sweet ladies who did not crochet and were able to teach me a little about knitting. I bought Knitting for Dummies, with hopes that I could learn how to knit without thinking too much, and taught myself to knit and learned quickly that I hate it. There, I said it. I simply hate it! I too find mindless repetition numbing.
I learned to crochet at 8 from my gram. I always loved the way knitted items looked and so I taught myself to knit at 17. I absolutely hated it. I made a big bulky sweater for myself which I still have after 40 years. I have however taken up knitting again and found that I enjoy it now. The difference is that the sweater I made was garter stitch on #10 needles and now I make socks on #2s. That bulky cardigan sweater was just so boring. Im now addicted to making socks. I’ve even made little draw string bags with leftover sock yarn.
If you’d asked me this earlier in the week I would have said, “A Fair Isle man’s sweater designed from scratch”, but now it’s looking more hopeful I can sort out the problems with sweater A, I’ve found myself starting to think about the hat I could do to go with it and maybe a sleeveless sweater in the same stitch patterns but different colours and and and… I think I’ve got the next six months of my life planned out there. Oh and the complicated lace is starting to call, only I want to make a jumper, a complicated lace jumper, in fine(ish) Shetland yarn. I’m in off the deep end really.
Socks are my favorite thing to knit. I’d love to never have to wear another pair of store bought socks again. The hardest part of this is that after 2 years of wear they get all thin and I just about cry thinking about throwing them away. Its so easy to throw away a worn out store bought sock. Never again will I try to finish a blanket that someone else started. I dont think any two people knit or crochet exactly the same. I will also never again buy the cheapest yarn on the shelf. I’d rather have better quality than quantity.
Rhonda, I make sure I have leftover yarn so that I can darn my home knitted socks. It is easy to do and makes them last almost forever!
margieR – This is a good tip! I’m knitting my first pair of socks and will be sure to remember this. Thanks!
When doing the heel flap, make sure you slip every other stitch, it double reinforces the heel, so it last longer.
Jacob Equal Citizen Leatherber
eye of partridge stitch.. I know it well. otherwise you can do sweet tomato heels, which seem to wear better. Cat Bordhi has an ebook discussing the method.
They dont have holes in them. The socks have been worn so often that the bottoms are thin to the point of not being able to darn them. Eventually they just wear through. Its ok though, I have more yarn! 🙂
Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book contains a technique for knitting the sole separately and then sewing it on so it can be replaced when it wears out without losing the rest of the sock. I had also read about this kind of sock in another old book.
Last summer after taking a course in it, I would have said no double knitted anything ever again. But now that it’s cold enough to wear the scarf I made then I’m loving the compliments it gets. So I might just do a double-knitted project again in my lifetime.
Several of my fellow scifi geek friends have hinted that they would love a Dr. Who scarf. As much as I love them I’d rather set my nose hairs on fire than make on of these. Instead I tell them that this scarf is the Easiest Beginner’s Project Ever, and I offer to show them how do it themselves or, in the case of long distance friends, link them to Youtube videos showing the knitting basics.
Recently saw this statement: “In fact, when made in worsted weight yarn, a 12 foot long Tom Baker scarf contains 56,448 knit stitches.”
I’m going to cheat and make a totally not authentic Dr. Who scarf by using my Bond machine. It will be stockinette instead of garter, but I’ll still have my sanity.
I feel the same way. I want one of those scarves, but the thought of knitting even a short one hurts my head. Scarves are not one of my favorite things anyway, and I just finished knitting a blanket for my son that had 100 separate garter stitch blocks so it will take a long time for the pain to go away…
I am putting together a pattern to make Who scarf. That will be my travel knitting – kept in a bag in the car to work on whenever I’m not the one driving. We don’t go far so it might take a while though. Anyone know if there is somewhere on-line that lists the colours it should be? It would save me poring over pictures listing the stripes.
There’s a website devoted to those scarves, at wittylittleknitter dot com.
Thanks! Wonderful site. Now I just have to decide which version to knit.
The Dude Sweater. I did it once and never will again.
Cee Cee has said more than once that it would be fun to make a life sized elephant. Ummmm no.
Biggest project ever is my just completed crochet queen sized afghan/bedspread made of worsted squares with a pineapple trim. The only way I could deal with it was to break it up into squares. I started it as a one piece and put it down for 3 years until I went back and realized that a pieced project would be so much easier mentally. The longest project still on needles is a simple wide garter stitch scarf started in 2002! So, I will add this experience to the simple projects can take the longest theory.
I was young and in love. The young are invincible and love makes everything seem manageable. I taught myself to knit. My first project was an argyle ski sweater I made for my boyfriend. Bobbins hung like ripe fruit and clicked together like a sea shell mobile. It was a huge success. So was the boyfriend. We’ve been married 49 years and he still fits in the sweater! I love a good challenge (married for 49 years!) and will try anything – even if it is only just that one.
I once agreed to knit a lacy sweater for a good friend, after her mum had given up on it – she had never knit lace before. It was in pink, laceweight mohair, really hairy yarn, and the pattern was – to put it mildly – inadequate. I somehow made it through, she looks absolutely amazing in it, but I will never, ever again accept a project without reading the pattern and trying the yarn first! I love knitting, and especially lace, the bigger and more complicated the shawl, the better – but that size small lacy mohair h*** with its ridiculously easy baby leaf pattern almost put me off knitting for good.
Thing the first: I saw the title, and my heart skipped a little beat, as I thought this was a farewell post and you, dear Franklin, were leaving the internet. I am so glad that I just couldn’t read punctuation correctly.
Thing the second: I did not, in fact, scroll down to the cartoon first, and as you mentioned it in your article (essay? piece?), I feel the need to say ‘neener’ in the comments.
Okay, three things.
Thing the third: Hats take me months to finish, and I am just now finishing a minimally seamed vest (of my own design!) that I started last winter, so anything that requires more than 4 skeins of yarn might as well be a cozy for the Statue of Liberty. Incidentally, that gal would look great in a cozy. I bet she could even pull off eyelash yarn.
I do like a simple project in a nice yarn, but I doubt I will do an afghan again. It never ends. That said, I enjoy a never ending series of pkain socks. Go figure.
While working on an afghan in crocheted blocks I swore never again. You make blocks and then join them together. Lots of work. I found a knitted afghan in sports yarn. It was a star pattern in blocks on double pointed needles. Each row had numerous pattern stitches. It has been close to 30 years since I finished both of the afghans. So far no more afghans in blocks. I still make afghans, but all in one piece. My cats like to curl up on them while I knit or crochet away.
A plain simple stitch. Fine by me. A complicated, follow every line to get it right project. Mostly forget it though sometimes I get the itch. If it’s complex, I suggest it to daughter as she is like you – loves the interesting stitches, the pretty complex things. I can do the same pattern over and over again while watching TV and that suits me just fine. However, I don’t knit. I crochet. Daughter does both.
I forgot to say… what I will never do again. A worked in picture with dozens of bobbins.
I love a good complicated pattern. Small needles and complicated stitches don’t scare me. I’m the kind of knitter who will try anything once (which, come to think of it, is the exact opposite of how I approach the rest of my life). I find large projects to be an exciting challenge when I’m enamoured with the idea of the finished item.
That said, I dearly love stockinette stitch. I have a drawer full of plain stst socks, and a whole shelf of stst sweaters. I can do stst without looking, which makes it perfect for watching tv, or reading on the computer.
The one thing I avoid? Ribbed hats. I made a million of them early in my knitting life and got my lifetime’s fill of ribbing. I now limit ribbing to 1.5″ or less if at all possible on all my patterns.
Eight million stitches in a pair of socks is entirely accurate. That being said, plain toe up socks of my own design primarily on a 9 inch needle are my favorite thing to knit. When traveling I always have a sock in progress in my bag. Other than socks, I’m a crocheter which explains why I can only Continental knit. Throwing yarn, can’t handle it.
Baby blankets. Knitted one and because it was so boring, that will be the last one. I prefer lace or cables which are more interesting and challenging. I remind myself that it’s the process rather than the outcome that is the most important–especially when I begin thinking of all the other projects I’d like to start. Franklin, thank you for your articles. I look forward to them every month!
My friend started an afghan for her daughter — a simple checkerboard border with a plain interior, done in afghan stitch. But she had to put it aside because the afghan stitch was hurting her wrists. So I picked it up. I’ve been working faithfully on it, but I will never do such again — I agree that the complexity of a pattern is what I love. For instance, I modified a Kaffe Fassett (?) long coat pattern to resemble intertwined ribbons. I wear it in winter (and only the deepest part of winter), but I can’t go a week without getting 3 compliments. “Did you make that!?!” Yes. “How long?” Six years (not working straight through, of course). I’ve got a shorter term knitting project I’m doing (probably only two years, lol), but then I’m planning on doing something similar, just in case this coat gives up the ghost!
Lately I have been going for instant gratification – hats, scarves, fingerless gloves. Things that only take a few days. My epic masterpiece was a blanket for my brother’s wedding. 3 months to design and test, 5 months to knit. It had several stitch patterns of varying pattern lengths so I had multiple stitch counters going – talk about scenery! I loved it and was a little sad when it was finished because it was so much fun to do.
What will I never do again? A teddy bear. It called for eyelash yarn. If I dropped a stitch (which I did several times) I had to rip it out and start again. I couldn’t find that dropped stitch. There were 17 pieces to this bear. It had to be sewn together (not my favorite thing to do–remember 17 pieces) stuffed and sewn some more. He’s beautiful and won a 2nd place at the state fair. Victoria Mackensie-Childs wanted me to make more for her–nope, no way.
I am pretty sure there is an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern (the long tube hat) with the direction “knit until sick of it”
As much as I adore crocheting socks, I will never again, since 2 pairs I made rubbed through at the heel back within 2 years. Meaning the socks fell apart while I was wearing them.
The project I wouldn’t do over again would be filet crochet projects containing words. I made fancy wraps to put around towels as Christmas gifts, only to notice after I was done that one of the letters was backwards.
Kathleen Dimmick Mather
The fisherman’s knit sweater I made for myself in 1989, my oldest daughter stole away to college 20 years ago and I just got it back. One season, I knitted 12 sweaters. Just couldn’t stop. Granted, several of them were for my small children. Last year I crocheted 20 afghans in the same pattern. It was mindless busy work for my hands while watching prime time TV. Can’t say that I will never do something again. I don’t mind repetition, but also love a challenge. A friend asked me to finish a cable knit (fisherman’s knit) afghan for her. When I realized I could not duplicate the tension, I ripped the whole thing out and started over again. I love cables and am making cabled head bands.
I’m with you, but I’d even do the 6-month Shetland (yep, it’d probably take me a year…….so?) if only I knew someone who would actually wear it, or at the very very least, put it on display somewhere. The practical side of me says I should not knit any more shawls because I’ve got no one to gift them to. Hmmmm. Wait. Maybe I could make one and have it framed. I *do* have a very large empty wall in a room with a 2-story ceiling…..not sure the hubs would dig it though. ; )
For the record I’ve done some mostly garter projects too. I occasionally throw in a grandmothers fave dishcloth (those are my “instant” gratification), and I made a mainly garter baby blanket (ok, so it was a Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed and that man could photograph a car engine and make me want to learn auto mechanics, so I managed to make that one move along rather swiftly).
Antique patterns though? Trying to puzzle those out? Knitting, ripping, reknitting because the instructions seemed to say to attach the sleeve to the lower hem but really meant to attach them to the pocket? Not for me! THAT takes patience I do not have! (I bow to you, good sir)
What I will probably never do again is brioche knitting. I insisted on learning it because of a lovely pattern for a brioche scarf in Vogue Knitting a while ago, but it just didn’t compute for me. I , however,
love doing scarves because they can be mini lessons in new techniques and combinations of stitches and colors. If you try something and don’t like it (like brioche), well, it’ll be over soon! I do knit sweaters (don’t know where these italics came from or how to get rid of them), afghans, caps and mittens , as well. I have never been successful at knitting socks. Never can get 2 of the rascals to come out the same size!
This article was delightful. Whenever I get a Lion Brand newsletter I always look to see if there is an article by you and go there first.
true confession – I crocheted my wedding dress. It took two engagements (first guy is now a Trappist priest…), second guy was the keeper. Naturally, I procrastinated long enough that the dress was still [quite] damp from blocking when I wore it to the actual wedding. I never finished the tres chic(this was 1979, and it was cutting edge fashion from McCall’s Needlework) hooded jacket meant to accompany said dress, it’s still pinned together in a plastic bag 35 years later. I have never crocheted another thing since then – I only knit! It was actually the very first thing I’d EVER finished – and I will NEVER EVER crochet a wedding dress again that only gets tried on and worn for the very first time at the wedding chapel without a backup plan. It looked beautiful – every single goddess of yarn in heaven must have been crossing their wings!
I did a Moderne Log Cabin blanket with Lion Brand Homespun that I’d bought 10 years before I learn to knit! I had about 6 skeins. When I finished, my husband said, “It’s not big enough. It should cover all four of us when we are on the couch.” So I bought some more skeins and kept going. It was SO heavy – hard on the wrists, for sure! After another month or so, my husband said, “Aren’t you done with that thing yet?” To which I replied, “B**ch, I was done with this thing three skeins ago!!” I did finally finish it and we use it all the time as a family while watching TV in the winter!
I’m the same way with my crochet. Plain sc or dc bores me to tears! Fancy, lacy shawls or doilies, however; bring it on! 🙂
I love crochet. Just finished two pillows in wriggly crochet. Got huge amount of compliments but it is really hard on your hands. Did plain pillows and bolster to go with it. I love small projects but I am not a big fan of thin yarn. Love using natural yarns like cotton or bamboo. I will not ever make myself a garment. Could not sew for myself, cannot crochet for myself. Will do for anybody else. Am starting prayer shawl now.
I completely agree with you on a couple of things: if I am going to do something big, I would like it to be “interesting”, whether it’s the new (for me) mobius cast on for a relatively simple scarf or a complicated cable pattern for a sweater or afghan (I prefer stitch patterns to changes in color, but color is still more interesting than the drone of back-and-forth in the same stitch and color…and stripes don’t really count).
Also, I don’t even know how to answer the question of how long something takes (or already took). And, heaven forbid I have to tear something out! (This is something I do all the time, but I have learned to do it in the privacy of my own home – or the closet, if my boyfriend is around in the home – because it HORRIFIES people.) People who don’t knit (and some who do) seem to think it’s all about finishing thing…personally, I love the process and learning new things.
LOL That was the best article I have read in ages! Tons of stockinete or garter bore me to tears and i went into those complicated shawls and double stranded multiple patterned socks years ago. I teach several knitting classes and I always find it amusing to watch my students eyes glaze over when on the first day of class I bring my shawls. I have a warped sense of humor myself so I figure if that doesn’t scare them away that their hearts and commitment are in it.
I am so tempted to do a lacey pattern. I’m working myself up to it, but my general habit has been to tackle something complicated, then relax with a few simple project before a new challenge. I have been relaxing for a while now, so what I really need to do is find a beautiful lace yarn and then take the leap. Also, I always keep a simple travel project in my bag, a pair of wristers or socks. I’m one of those gals who knit every opportunity I have. Even on nights when I join my hubby at the pub, he watches a game on TV and I knit, it’s so relaxing. Here’s a common fact, fellow yarnsters, you can’t drink and knit complicated patterns.
By the way, you have it absolutely right about the most often asked questions. If I had agreed to every person out there who asked me to make them something, I would have a list as long as Santa.
I’m with you – if it’s going to take a while, it had better be full of scenery. I’m just about to finish a gorgeous red cobweb yarn shawl for the better part of a year and I still don’t know the lace pattern by heart, even though it’s only twelve rows, and I love that it is challenging enough to evade sticking in my semi-eidetic mind. So, never again projects for me – anything that involves just straight garter or stockingette stitch. Length makes no difference as long as it stays interesting.
I will knit pretty much anything. The “mindless” stuff (the garter stitch blanket, dishcloth, etc.) is for the doctor’s office, or visits with chatty relatives. The complicated items are for my quiet times when I can put on an old BBC program with the remote nearby to pause as needed. Having been a runner and subsequently losing the use of my leg muscles, I now realize that knitting is important to me and I will take advantage of every opportunity to engage it just in case life takes another difficult turn. Carpe Acus!
I actually don’t knit, but crochet. I tried knitting in the past and had a hard time with it. But, I’d like to try knitting again. =) Anyway, this article is still applicable with crochet! I get bored doing the same pattern over, and over, and over… 😉 I googled the Orenburg and Shetland laces you mentioned, as I’d never seen them. They are gorgeous! I’ve done quite a bit of crochet lace, which can be tedious since it’s so small. Can’t imagine doing the knitted lace. So intricate!
Youtube videos are the way to go w/learning/practicing knitting. Good luck!
Reminds me of the wonderful quote from a fellow knitter: “Knitting is like sex. If I love you, I will do it for free. If I don’t love you, there’s not enough money in the world.”
As to what I will never knit again: a pattern written in another language! Six hours of translation headaches and six months of knitting and reknitting to make the project into what I had envisioned based upon the original design photos.
There is just as much here for the average crocheter as knitter. A million miles of garter is about as exciting as a million miles of double crochets.
I would rather do my six months of tunisian lace than an all dc hat ever again. And I love those complicated knits even if they do take me forever.
I have just one question: where do all of you people who love these complicated projects hang out? I’ve only ever met Franklin and you all seem like you would be wonderful, exciting people to know.
I want to learn how to hand knit (I already have a manual knitting machine I can no longer use do to injuries) but it feels so very uncomfortable. I have been crocheting for years. I really need to buckle down to learn knitting. There are sooooo many lovely patterns in knitting and it also makes such a nice lightweight product…….my children and grand children live in Florida…..I want to do this. Since I am disabled one would think that I have all the time in the world to get into this but I can’t get past the whole needle in each hand and bring the yarn to the front and bring the yarn to the back thing and holding the yarn in the other hand.
There are lots of really helpful vids on youtube. Put in “learn to knit” or “beginning knitting,” and you will see lots of videos to help you start and get through beginning problems. And if one doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, go on to the next one until you find one that speaks to you. Learned so many knittting and crocheting techniques on youtube. Good luck!
I agree about needing an interesting pattern if I’m going to make anything remotely large. I currently have a baby blanket that is needed to complete the set that is waiting for it. I’m bored of the pattern after just 4 rows… sigh.
I love anything that changes a lot. Hand dyed yarn, lacy patterns, beading, stranding. If it’s small, I don’t mind super simple, but even a sock has to be interesting, or I just won’t finish.
My Grandmother taught me how to knot when I was about 13. Since the, I’ve taught myself how to knit. I love learning new stitches and will try just about anything, knit or crochet. Right now I am knitting an afghan using double knit entralac. Once I get the gist of what I am doing, it goes rather quickly. Lace is a challenge for me as I have a tendency to get lost, but I do it anyway. Tatting is the one thing I gave up on right from the start. Too many knots that can’t be undone if a mistake is made. And mistakes I do make…
I love garter stitch, and have knit a ton almost of Garter Stitch Scarves with no increases, decreases, lace, cables, nothing but a pretty yarn that feels nice in my hands. Great for a project I can take anywhere and do in spite of whatever distraction is present, while listening to someone or something, even carry on a conversation without missing a stitch for hours.
When I have an opportunity to concentrate on my knitting, I do more complicated things. I am working on a drop sleeve sweater right now, a little ribbing and a lot of stockinette stitch. Minimal shaping, but much more than on a scarf. Reasonably quick with two stands of super bulky yarn held together and size 19 needles this time. Would certainly do this again and by the third or fourth time I do this I will certainly to take the knitting with me in distracting environments.
My biggest problem is finishing something without interupting myself and starting something else.
With luck I get back to the project I am working on with only a few side projects. Mostly I do finish every thing I start eventually, even if I have to do a few other things in the mean time. Usually at about the same stitch tension. But I frequently have about two dozen projects that I am working on. This is of course absurd, but I don’t always have the attention span to do one thing at a time.
I made a Dummy Clap shawl for a friend last year…70 inches of stockinette. I was paralyzed with fear when it came time to drop stitches and unravel…all that boring work mutating before my eyes. It looked beautiful, however, when I finished so I’m happy I stuck with it. Those hour long train rides to work we’re the only way I could get through it all though.
I loved reading this piece and the cartoon is deliciously delightful! Thank you for making my day!
well that is why I have several crochet projects going at the same time. Just made a scarf in a fab yarn that was confusing at first but it was so long I am now bored and can’t wait to finish. worked forever on an afghan of 30 9 x 9 ” squares of 4 different colors and then assembled and then two rows of edging, NEVER again. I like afghans that are continuous and then finished …period. and then the kicker was the person I gave it to didn’t seem all that impressed! I also do cross stitch and theorem and when I am bored with one, I switch to the other.
Never again? A pattern that I have to start over more than 3 or 4 times. The frustration factor squeezes the joy out of creating. In the future? A few years ago, I bought a simply gorgeous, but outrageously expensive, coffee table book about Orenberg lace with history, how-to’s, and patterns. The book itself is a work of art – you know, the kind of book where you carefully photocopy the pattern to keep from messing up the book pages. No notes or, heaven forbid!, hi-liter in this one. I keep telling myself, one of these days… Currently, for our oldest granddaughter, a lovely knit wedding shawl, yes, it is lace, but doable, is on circular needles; a crocheted lace dress for another granddaughter’s American Girl doll lacks only one sleeve and then blocking; and a breast cancer survivor knit afghan, in the form of a kit, is on another circular. I really, really don’t like working from kits, but considering a friend has requested it after her ordeal, I could hardly say no. There’s also a partially completed, or should I say, partially started, hand-knotted rag rug for the third (of four) granddaughter. Has absolutely nothing to do with knit or crochet and I’m wondering if I’ll ever even finish the beast, but…i love a little variety. (c;
when an aran sweater got boring, I did the sleeves in a different pattern!
Simple is not boring! Because of a massive blood infection I am presently in a rehab facility teaching my leg nerves to function again.. After crafting a BUNCH of hats for the elderly who had none (and no-one to get them one) I was approached by one gentleman and asked if there was time to make a bi-color scarf before Christmas…a nice thick warm one for his 92 Yr.old mom who was being brought to visit him. I agreed, made a double thick scarf in red & black, with fringe, and delivered it in a fancy bag while he was waiting for her to arrive. The look on both of their faces as she opened the bag in the rec room insured that never again will I look down on the simple things.
That’s probably why I have so many UFO’s. I get a bit bored if its the same thing over and over, or awkward stitches, you know the kinds that don’t exacty flow. Unless I really love the texture of the yarn. then again sometimes a certain yarn texture will look fabulous in a simple repeated pattern, UGH but I get impatient,. so I hop from one project to the next like a realllly slow merry- go round. Its Yarnsanity!
One summer I taught a friend to knit. She proceeded to make Christmas gifts for everyone she knew. As Christmas neared, she told me that she did not have time to make the sweater she had picked out for her mother…a simple cardigan, one color, alternating stripes of garter and stockinet stitch. Would I please make it for her. I agreed, but her mother got the sweater for Valentine’s day! Good thing she lived in Idaho and it was still cold.
I love socks for relaxing, but last year I made a cabled pair of socks, Aran style. Never again. That much concentration, not to mention fixing dropped stitches on size 00 needles at least one too many times, was not relaxing. Then when they were done they’re too lumpy to be comfortable. Blue ribbon at the fair though.
inspired by the small, crocheted version in the lion brand catalog, I decided to make a queen-sized (90″x90″) captain america blanket. out of jiffy. I started in october thinking I’d have it done for christmas. I have yet to achieve the halfway point. this blanket is going to be my white whale! I’ve been knitting for 12 years (since I was baking my own first-born bun) and I’ve done a queen-size blanket before, but this one is killing me. I charted the thing up and its 315 stitches by 420 rows… but it’s also become the project that glares at me while I whip up some scarves, mittens, and a hat, just to maintain my sanity. maybe by next christmas?
I love small, portable projects like mittens, socks, and dishcloths. Socks are my favorite, but they take me a long time. I usually have at least two projects going at a time so if I get bored with one I can pick up the other. I hate, hate, hate yarn overs. I’m always screwing up the count and having to start over. Maybe some day I’ll make that beautiful lace shawl, but I doubt it.
The title made me think you were quitting and my heat stopped for a moment. Thank goodness it’s not anything like that.
I will not do granny square blankets where the square is smaller than 4 inches. I absolutely hate joining and the sheer repetition of all those tiny squares. I will make all the hats you want because you can customize each one or make each one just a little bit different.
When I saw the title of this piece I thought Franklin had died or something…
I once knitted a pink sweater in fisherman’s rib, and although I prefer to knit any stitches other than stocking stitch I do not want to ever again knit fisherman’s rib. I was extremely glad to finish it, it was a positive bore in the end.
I will never again attempt to knit an infinity scarf in the round. I tried four times to get 320 stitches to not twist when I joined, but eight to ten rounds later it would become clear that they twisted. I estimate I ripped out at least 10,000 stitches before I selected another pattern worked the short way.
Personally I enjoy simple projects. I have tried more complicated ones but they are a little stressful. I enjoy making wristlets. Sometimes a simple project is good because you can sit and watch tv without having to look at what you are doing
What won’t I do again? Two chevron throws for couches in sport weight yarns. It took forever. I still have trouble doing chevrons even though they aren’t really that hard, just monotonous. I am jealous of all your sock lovers. I really really really want to learn how to do them but just can’t conquer four needles. Even my knitter friend who is a master knitter gives up on me. I did go to a local yarn store and someone tried to teach me. I had one regular size normal sock and the other one was fit for Paul Bunyan. I really, really, really want to learn how to make socks but please, someone, HELP
Great essay! I learned a lot throughout. I get a kick reading other peoples thoughts about knitting. It so soothing to me like reading a favorite novel, etc. For some reason I am now ravenous at knitting, when I would never knit before when my mom taught me as a child. Thought it too slow I would only crochet. Now I do both. However, I do not feel experienced enough to knit a sweater. I have the fear of it not fitting properly when finished or as what often happens to me I lose the novelty of the learned stitches and stop. So, it ends up unfinished.
I like stitch patterns that have a few rows that repeat, something that creates good “scenery” but eventually I can learn and not have to check the pattern each time I start a row. I also like to switch to projects with simpler stitches – it’s a mood thing. It can be good “detox” for me to take a break from something more complicated to work on a simple st stitch item.
Going back to the interesting pattern thing, though, my “never again” is a scarf I’m working on now that has a 23 or so row lace pattern. I’m not even halfway through, but NEVER AGAIN. Can’t seem to abandon it, though…
I guess I’m weird. I like simple repetitive patterns and I don’t mind big projects like afghans. I like to knit while doing other things, and the idea of stopping to count stitches every 5 minutes sounds off puting. What I would never do again: anything on a deadline small or large. I have a bad habit of commiting to small Christmas projects like hats for friends and relatives. Every year I tell myself “oh, it’s just a simple hat and it is only October. I’ll have this done in no time!” Somehow, it always turns into me getting exactly zero hours of sleep the entire week before Christmas as I stay up each night trying to finish that one “simple” hat. From now on, only cable-guy style commitments: “sure, I’ll have that scarf done for you. Expect it sometime between 9pm and the 12th of next fall…”
Anything that requires joining squares by picking up stitches. Never finished it, never will.
What do you mean “joining squares by picking up stitches?”
I need help: I’ve started a knitted pullover vest for my husband in a fingerweight fuzzy yarn at least 6 times! The first time was with a simple cabling pattern; the only way I could have been successful was if I were closeted in a sound-proof booth for months, counting and writing everything down; and if I forgot…oy! I finally decided to make it according to another pattern w/out the cables (they were sort of getting lost in the fuzz anyway), and I’m using sized 1 circular needles, but the gauge is still coming out too big for the pattern. If I make it according to the small size, do you think it’ll come out as a large? And what do I do if I lost count of the rows it takes to get to the armholes (decreases), which is what I’ve done, and it’s almost impossible to count the rows in this fuzzy yarn?! I would gladly just rip it out and make something else out of it, but what? And I don’t want it to be too taxing…I like nice effects, like cabling and lace, but if I drop a stitch or miscount something, I’m not accomplished enough to fix it w/out just ripping everything out. Thanks, everyone!
Nev. Er. A. Gain: Anything with 482 (possibly more) ends to weave in, along with, or, joining small sections of different colors together, corners matching.
Tine Ditmar Unnerup
For my kids – anything they ask. Otherwise? Only if I really want to knit the wanted item.
I knit one pair of socks and never again. I thought I would lose my mind with size 1 needles and sock yarn. I would rather spend the time knitting a sweater or other garments. I love cables and would like to try colorworks.
I will knit hats, scarves, slippers and baby blankets for gifts. I would like to try lace knitting. It is the same tiny yarn and needles but it is more open, and hopefully it won’t drive me nuts like the socks did.