Last week a few of you asked me how I managed to fit so much knitting into my life. While I can’t say that I try to speed knit a sweater every week (or every month), I do manage to turn out a couple of finished projects each month, and not just small ones. So I do keep a decent pace, and a lot of that is due to simple experience. I’ve been knitting steadily for ten years now, and overall I’m faster than I started. (I’ve also noticed that my tension is ever so slightly looser than when I started, which I think is neat. It also means I really do have to swatch to make sure of things, darn it.)
There are ways to knit faster on a technical level – in other words to increase the number of stitches you’re knitting each minute – and there are people who simply knit extremely fast. I have known knitters who could turn out a sweater within a week just in their transit knitting time, but I am not quite that brisk. Mostly what I find is that my speed comes from the way I fit knitting into my life, and it boils down to three basic steps.
1. Make time for knitting
I know it’s a tad obvious to point this out, but the harsh reality is that if you don’t knit, your knitting will not get knitted. Who among us hasn’t gotten to the end of a week completely shocked that the sweater we haven’t touched since last weekend did not miraculously start its own sleeves all by itself? I certainly have had my moments like that. There are days when I don’t get as much knitting in as I’d like, and some days pass without any knitting at all depending on what’s up that day. On the whole I make sure I’m spending at least a few minutes with at least one project every day, and gradually it adds up to finished work.
2. Find your Netflix groove, ditch the smartphone
It’s a habit of mine to knit while watching television, so much so that if I were not able to knit, I would probably watch way less television. Or, if I didn’t knit I would probably switch to something else I could do at the same time. Maybe I’d go back to needlepoint. (Knitting colonized all of my other crafting hobbies, and I regretted nothing.) So, if I’m engaged in what I’m watching then it is very easy to keep sitting and knitting. Honestly I would put Netflix on my list of favourite knitting tools, right up there with stitch markers and tape measures. Remember in olden times of, you know, four years ago, when you were watching tv shows on DVD and you had to physically get up to change the disc in order to keep going? HAH. We don’t even have that standing in the way now, and don’t even have to feel lazy about it since our needles are still keeping busy. The point is that watching TV enables my knitting. Something else might be your enabler – podcasts, radio, patio time with an iced beverage.
The hitch comes if I’m set up with my television/enabling time and I’m watching something I am only half-interested in or that I’ve seen before, because then my eyes are more likely to wander towards my smartphone. It is all too easy to be distracted. I stand a better chance if I just leave my phone in another room, or even flip it face down so I can’t see it blinking at me if I’ve got a new email notification. Earlier in the year I gave myself a talking to and deleted all the game apps off of my phone, because I realized I was playing games first thing when I sat down, not knitting.
You might do just fine for willpower against your smartphone, however. Maybe you don’t even have a smartphone or wireless internet, and your time constraints are entirely different from mine. The moral of the story is that there are about a billion things that can (and do) take up your time during the day, so if you want to make more room for knitting, you have to control the ones you can control.
3. Divide and conquer
This, in my mind, is the easiest “get knitting done” strategy, but it is also more of a longer term strategy. What you do is, quite simply, have different projects for different kinds of knitting situations. Lengthier stints at home on the sofa are for sweaters or anything complex, but sock projects are portable and can be stuffed in my purse for knitting in transit, or while waiting around, or just in case I have unexpected time and don’t want to sit idle. Plain ribbed socks and Pi Shawls have been my go-to projects for knitting at the movie theatre. (You don’t have to knit at the movie theatre, of course. Sometimes I really do sit back and shove popcorn into my face.)
The Mason Dixon ladies have a list in one of their books for places they don’t knit, including funerals, and there are also places and situations I will put the knitting away. You probably have your own list of these places also. However I would say about 90% of my social circle is composed of knitters, which makes it about 900% easier to knit even if I’m with other people, so I really recommend making friends with as many knitters as possible.
You can’t knit everywhere, and you can’t knit all the time, but you can knit a lot of places and can choose virtually any project you want if you really want to knit it. Versatility is your friend.
Where have you knitted today, dear knitter friends? Shout out to everyone knitting in cafes and on public transit, because those are my favourite.
Until next time!
Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘lucky penny’ colourway)
Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)
Yarn: Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colourway ‘grawk’ and ‘hard rock’