I have a very strong Knitting Viewpoint, which also includes life views. The two seem to me to be entwined, with each constantly answering questions for the other. I thought I would write this post much sooner, but it is actually hard to put this into words. I learned to knit over 60 years ago. I did not knit much between learning and being about 25. I knit with fervor, sometimes, between 25 and 40. In 1994 I began my knitwear design career. I have a lot of thoughts.
A Viewpoint From Here
Time marches by so quickly for me these days, and I’m a usually more focused on the interesting things that go on on a day-to-day basis than the grand scope of things. I do know I will never have enough time for everything.
I have taken to asking myself. “if not now, when?” As a result I put on whatever jewelry I want to wear on any given day. As I write this I am wearing five bracelets on my right arm, one plus a watch on my left. I have on pearls, and a pin on my top. My reading glasses (selected from five pairs) coordinate with my shawlette. I always put on makeup. I was thinking I have too many clothes in my closet, but since I wear everything and still have room, maybe not.
Gaining A Second Viewpoint
On August 8 I added Jamie Whitcomb to my Jill Wolcott Knits world. She had been part of it as a student in ASOG, but I realized that she was at a place where we could collaborate to great effect. I invited Jamie to be a paid intern virtually at Jill Wolcott Knits. She is learning to make amazing spreadsheets, while making space for me to realize some of my vision of what I want do. She receives only a stipend in terms of money, but I spend about three hours a week with her (on Zoom) working through spreadsheet and pattern issues, but also clothing, fit, life, and of course, knitting. I’m not sure who is getting more out of this and perhaps the beauty of it is that it is a nice balance.
As is life, things have happened that we didn’t anticipate. It took a while to figure out how to make payments work. I’ve traveled. I was sick for a week due to a drug reaction. Jamie had to travel for a family emergency which was more intense than she anticipated. But with Slack, Zoom, and Dropbox we have fallen into a good routine. It is an amazing interaction and I am super grateful that I thought to ask Jamie to join me. My mom used to tell us to always keep “younger people” in our lives. Jeez. Once again Jane was right. I hope she is amused.
Knitting Viewpoint from the Couch
My knitting viewpoint as a knitter is skewed. I love to knit, I knit almost every day, but I rarely knit anything but my own work. I’ve been doing a lot of project knitting lately. I’m not sure why that is, but I am being reminded of things. I have to have different types of projects going because I have different levels of energy and focus. As you may know, I’m not much interested in product, I love process. Putting myself back into the position of a knitter has helped with questions I have about how it feels to be in a project, what the knitter may need and want while there, and opening a window that isn’t always open to me any more.
Getting it Done
I love seeing my way out of a project too. Jamie and I talked about this and how I always want to know how long it will take to do different things: What can I get done while I’m waiting for coffee water to boil, how long will I need to spend to get dinner ready, how many rows/rounds I can get done in a specific time frame. If I need to move through a project with focus I figure out how much knitting I can get done in a knitting session:
- 24 rows or 2.5″ done of a wrap with rows of 154 stitches done every evening I worked on it.
- 3 rounds of 170 stitches knitted on the trip to the Jersey City Cemetery for Mitch’s genealogy research (the Lincoln Tunnel is really long, and too dark for what I was working on) from Midtown Manhattan.
- 5 minutes to complete a round in the body of my steeked cardigan.
- In my evening knitting on Tuesday I got 10 rows of 173 stitches done on a piece that needed a hem facing and bound off half of it.
This knitting viewpoint helps me plan what to work on in my limited time. It becomes Documentary Saturday when I need to get extra hours in. Based on my calculations, I knit for 2.5 to 3 hours on nights I don’t have Pilates; on nights I do Pilates, I probably only get two. Friday nights I knit until I cannot accurately follow any longer due to martini consumption. Saturdays I might get 2 to 5 hours in. Sundays are good for a solid 3 hours. All that adds up to 14 to 18 hours of knitting a week. Since my knitting viewpoint encompasses much more than knitting, I am thinking about knitting during most of my waking hours.
Using Knitters or Knitting Myself
I regret sending off almost every project I send to a knitter. I feel I am being deprived of the fun of the knitting it, I miss the joy of the yarn passing through my hands, and I cannot experience the project unfolding in my lap. I am always happy in the long haul that I have done so. Without the skillful fingers and eyes of others I would not be able to explore nearly as much, so I have to be satisfied with not always actively participating in every part of the process.
I am currently in a flurry of exploring how I can reuse stitch patterns that I love. I’m not sure how much my knitters — or any knitters — love these explorations, but I am unable to stop myself. When I say now, I think I started this specific exploration in 2018. I’ve resolved that even though I’m not finished, I’ll start letting some of them go out into the world as patterns. Time to find out your knitting viewpoint. You know, so I can make my fortune as a knitwear designer selling patterns. [Eye Roll!]
Knitting on the Road
I am choosing the knitting for my next trip; it has to be portable enough to carry around, interesting enough to keep me from getting bored, and something I want to do. Last trip I took seven projects, one of which I forgot the yarn for, so really only six. I touched two of them. Maybe I can take those two projects and use them to select for the upcoming trip. One was stupidly easy knitting, and the other wasn’t difficult, but the yarn was a challenge, so the two projects were a nice balance.
I’ve chosen one to definitely pack. It is perfect, mid-level knitting, but with GSRs. All you have to do is track repeats. I likely will need to continue working on my steeked cardigan, but I’m hoping I can just bring the sleeves. Then I need something that is an exploration. I’ve got an idea of something I can do. We lost nearly 2 years of travel to Covid so it is important to get going now.
Travel provides time to knit that I don’t normally have: train time, airplane time, waiting for things to happen, chilling. However, we usually are out every evening, so I don’t get that regular evening knitting. Every evening I write a diary so I will remember what we’ve done and where we went. I also send post cards. Flying back from Heathrow I can’t knit on the plane so have to do something else.
Knitting Every Stitch
I’ve written about this: there are no shortcuts. The best we can do is deploy efficiencies so we don’t make it take even longer than we intended. I do notice that knitting projects that take me about 3 hours in my head end up taking about twice that long IRL. Anyway, aren’t we knitting because we want to? Because we enjoy making the stitches, watching the rows build toward a thing, and experiencing all the yarn has to offer?
This is my best advice:
- Buy the best your budget allows (you will get your money’s worth!).
- Choose projects to challenge yourself (it is good to exercise our brains).
- Have projects to sooth yourself (we get solace and find calm in our knitting).
- Knit whenever you can (do what works for you).
Knitting Viewpoint on Value
Women need to give their labor in all things more value and weight. Quit apologizing for the money, time, and attention given to all the things you do. Quit thinking of your knitting as something without value. Quit thinking you should scrimp on quality inputs.
After you have taken care of the basic needs for yourself and your dependents, everything else should be used by any of us to create the life we want to live. If you want to spend your time and money on knitting, it is really not hurting anyone at that juncture. The time spent knitting most often yields some item. That item has value. What you know that allows you to create that thing has value. So whether you do this as a hobby to make things, stay sane, or fill your time, it has value.
Knitting Viewpoint on Value of Others’ Work
At the same time, it is equally important that you value the work of others. Pay fairly for yarn and patterns, and any of the tools you use to support your craft. Respect the time that goes into creating what you enjoy.
I have this (it is actually packaging for a tea towel) in my office and it is such a great reminder:
We need to respect the work of others, especially when we don’t know exactly what it takes to create the thing we are valuing. Likely it took a lot more than it appears to have taken. Those of us creating yarn, patterns, bags, tools, etc. have spent years refining our skills and building our knowledge.
Life and Knitting/Knitting and Life
Knitting is: Concrete. Satisfying. Measurable.
Life is: Unpredictable. Too short. A one-way journey.
P.S. All photos were taken during the month of October by me.
P.P.S. Take this survey on Row Numbers and other things in patterns. Quick, and easy and I’ll give you a discount coupon. Open until November 10.