In my therapy session recently, I said, “there are no shortcuts in knitting. You have to make every stitch.” Of course that is basically true of everything in life, but it seemed something I should explore more deeply — which means I’ve been thinking about it in my free time.
What? No Shortcuts?
Can you think of anywhere there really is a shortcut? Not many. Maybe taking one route over another, but that is really just swapping, not necessarily a “short cut”. Most things we undertake have many routes to completion, but everything has to be attended to to get to the end. I’ve always thought of myself as a big short-cut taker, but I wonder if I’m seeking efficiency, and not shortcuts?
When I cook I tend not to faithfully measure things, because it doesn’t interest me to be that precise and I have not found that it makes a ton of difference in most cases. In fact, it means that every time I make something it is slightly different, which I like. I like to try new recipes, and particularly like to use sous vide as a means of pre-preparing things. Time spent earlier in the week yields meals requiring only a small amount of finishing to complete.
On the other hand, I have a whole series of steps I go through to get gauge for each project I knit. Okay, I will admit to just diving into some small projects where I am willing to risk having to rip out. But I’m not seeking a shorter route, just a quick start.
When walking I usually calculate which route seems to be the most efficient, but I bet if I looked at the step count, the choices are nearly identical. My walk back and forth from the light rail can go a couple of different ways but basically, they’re the same.
Anyway, I think my point is made, and what I really want to look at is how do you create efficiencies that work for you in getting a project going and getting it completed to your satisfaction.
Efficiencies in Your Knitting
I’m going to dive into a process later, but let’s take a look at a couple of seeming shortcuts we use in our knitting.
- Dropping down to fix a mistake. You’ve seen the photos with stitches dropped down, and everything pinned out so that stitches can be carefully reformed. Not a short cut. Personally, I would rather put a knitting needle in my eye than to pin out those long floats (but I digress). It might be less enervating to take that route to fixing a mistake, but it isn’t necessarily a short cut. Whenever I do drop down more than a row or two, I’m amazed at how long it takes to execute a satisfying fix. But! If you are looking at undoing complex knitting over a lot of stitches and rows, that rout might feel more satisfying.
- Not making a gauge swatch. Sometimes it is more efficient to just guesstimate, cast on the stitches, and take off, with full knowledge that you might have to rip it back and try a different needle size or stitch count. Or. That you actually hate the pattern, or that you made a mistake in pairing yarn and pattern.
- Fudging. Yeah, I do it. But it doesn’t always work, and sometimes it does become necessary to go back and redo because the fudge doesn’t work either. Fudge is good, but watch out!
- Not trying new techniques. Using a different cast on / bind off / other technique because you don’t want to be bothered to learn something new. I hope your project ends up looking as you hoped!
Making Every Stitch Count
This is the secret. You gotta make every. Single. One. So make them count.
I gotta say, I could riff on that for days! So look for more on how to make those stitches count next blog. In the meantime, I’m reminding you of the Go High Hat pattern which is the only consistently free pattern I have. Download it. Make one. Make it count.
If you don’t need a Go High hat (also known as a Pussy Hat), well there is probably someone who does: a child, homeless person, busy single mom (or dad), neighbor, elderly person, or whomever that could use one. So make one in the appropriate size and yarn (washable is always a good choice when making for non-knitting knowledgeable people). Get creative. Add color. Change color. Make the ears really ears.
Then, come back on September 26 for more on Shortcuts. While you are making your Go High Hat , think about your knitting process. What do you that works, what could be improved, where you could use some efficiency, and what you really love.