Thursday, May 28, 2009

I have a problem

Actually I have lots of problems but just one I want to share tonight.

I finally finished the #*@*!& spiral socks for Goldisox that had been bugging my behind for months and the sense of accomplishment was exhilarating. It's been so long since I'd finished anything (okay, so I finished a book and some proposals but I'm talking knitting here) that I was really quite full of myself for a few hours.

And then reality (bane of my existence) hit and I started calculating exactly how long it takes me to make a pair of simple socks. Big mistake. At the rate I knit, it will take me about five years to make the gift socks I'd planned to make for the 2009 holiday season. Even if I knit them with super-chunky yarn on telephone poles.

Why am I so slow? I know I don't put as much time into the process lately as I'd like (hand issues and time constraints) but when I do I swear I poke along like a little kid meandering down a dirt road in the middle of the summer. I actually STOP after every round and admire my handiwork. What's up with that? Am I so exhausted from all that stockinette that I need a breather every 48-72 stitches? Am I so fabulous a knitter that even the most basic stitch deserves applause?

I think you know the answer to those questions . . .

And then it hit me that I'm putting the same damn expectations on my knitting as I put on my writing. I'm playing the comparison game and trust me when I say nothing good ever comes of that.

Way back in the mists of time when I sold my first book, my editor (the incredible Vivian Stephens) told me to run my own race. Every writer has a natural pace, she said, and honoring that pace will do more for your creative health long term than just about anything else she could think of. She was right. I'll never be the fastest writer in town but I'm still producing 27 years after my first sale.

So why am I torturing myself over my turtle-like knitting speed? I'm actually embarrassed to share my slowness with you guys and you know all my dirty knitting secrets. A pair of socks might take a month of hour-a-day knitting. Maybe more. A sweater? Well, I knit one for Goldisox in a month but that was top-down with chunky Highlander. A worsted weight sweater might have taken me into retirement.

It shouldn't embarrass me. But, damn it, it does. I try to tell myself it's because there's so much beautiful yarn out there and so many fantastic patterns that if I don't ramp up the speed I'll never get to a fraction of them but I suspect there's more to it than that.

I've been working under deadlines for so long now that I impose them on my knitting, the one place where they do NOT belong.

Any other slow knitters out there?


I forgot to share the LACED WITH MAGIC video. Hope you enjoy it.

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Blogger georg said...

I get comments about how "fast" I knit. It's not about speed - it's about the process of doing. I love socks because it's easy to see the progress.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Marissa said...

I hold the dubious title of 'World's Slowest Knitter'. I am an English/thrower, have tried to re-learn continental in the hopes of increasing speed...but it's like trading my Italian heritage for...oh, Eskimo. Night and Day cannot trade places. As Popeye said, "I am what I am." I console myself with the knowledge that I knit for sanity (it's my form of meditation, with some cussing instead of 'ohm'), but there is so much I'd like to knit!

8:27 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hey, I stop and admire my knitting all the time. :)

8:38 AM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

No, Marissa, I am the world's slowest knitter! Like you, I have occasionally tried to jump to continental but have failed miserably. However, for me, it is all about the process; it's a way for me to justify just sitting down, something I cannot do unless I'm being constructive in some way.

My husband (Mr. Numbers) is always trying to figure out how many man-hours I put into my projects. Then he adds the cost of the yarn and tells me what I would need to sell it for to break even. The numbers are horrifiying, of course--or they would be if I paid any attention to them.

Who cares how long it takes? I get pleasure and relaxtion from the knitting itself (not to mention brain exercise as I mentioned in an earlier post). And I get satisfaction from the FO whenever it happens to get finished.

Admiring your knitting is a healthy thing, IMO.

(Love your video, Barbara! So marvelously spooky, and the little moving lights are cool.)

8:57 AM  
Blogger rita said...

I'm constantly stopping to admire my knitting! I taught myself to knit so I could knit socks for myself. I love handknit socks. I always have a pair on the needles and take the bag everywhere I go. I knit on the way home in the afternoons (when my husband drives), all the way to and from Florida, on planes, when I'm visiting family, at the doctor's office, when I'm giving the SATs. If I'm on vacation and in the car a lot, I can knit a pair in a week. But if I'm knitting just a little here and there, it can take two months to finish a pair. It doesn't matter to me; I enjoy the process of knitting. It keeps me sane.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right - deadlines do not belong in knitting (well, except those darned holdiday deadlines)! There's absolutely nothing wrong with admiring your knitting. Knitting should be fun and relaxing - so admire away :-)

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

The only deadlines I have with my knitting are event imposed--I'm currently working on two deadlines--a spinner's challenge due June 1 (that I started knitting yesterday) and a baby blanket for the baby shower for SIL (shower is June 5, but needs to be mailed probably by the second). The traditional Christmas ones. A few birthday ones. But I have some of my knitting already done--the other SIL has handknit socks waiting for her birthday to send them out (September). And the first of her pair of Christmas socks is done. I have learned to start really early and stash them where I can find them come December (or whatever the other occasion is). As for speed? I don't worry about it. I would say I have average speed. When I was pregnant, I could pump out a pair of socks in a week, since I was also not working at that point. But that doesn't mean I don't have UFOs hiding out, including a gorgeous circular shawl in bamboo and a linen top hiding in my projects. As well as the baby blanket I started for my son when I was pregnant--he's now 2 and a half, and it blankie probably wouldn't cover him. The fastest knitter I've seen in person was at the time a production knitter, knitting dog sweaters for sale in NY. She was on deadline, and had cast one on at the library where out knitting group meets, finished it while she was there, and boxed it up and ran it to the post office by the time we left 3 hours later. And this wasn't a sweater for a yorkie--it was pretty much medium sized--maybe a little bigger than a beagle, but not as big as a labrador. And she knit it in the round on long dpns. I'm still in awe--it had cables and everything, and it took her less time to do that than I could knit a plain hat in similar gauge.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Don't worry - you are not alone! I am a terribly slow knitter -

Think there are two kinds of knitters - process knitters ( all about the process) and project (all about the project & getting it done) knitters.

I think that makes me a process knitter...I totally enjoy the process of knitting something - the feel of the yarn, the way the stitches look, (I'm all about admiring my work), the way the colors strip or pool - you know what I mean...

Looking at it that way - you are probably a process knitter...

And, how soon is LACED WITH MAGIC going to be in bookstores????

3:13 PM  
Anonymous sjanova said...

You know, there's a lot of value in admiring your knitting every row or round. Besides enjoying how it looks and feels (lovely in itself), you also are checking it out, reading your knitting to be sure the tension was even and there aren't any twisted stitches or misplaced YOs or K2togs or whatever else could be done incorrectly. This way you can fix things right away and not have to frog 20 rows/rounds or tink back a row of lace or ravel down to where it should have been cabled in the other direction, etc. "Admiring your knitting" is just shorthand for all this.

8:54 PM  

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