Friday, 14 November 2014

The World's Slowest Knitter

The esteemed Yarn Harlot recently asked Twitter how long it takes (the rest of us) to knit a pair of socks. This is a woman who is known to be a very fast knitter and can knit a pair of socks in a day which is, um, yeah. BLD (Before Little Djinn) I could knit a pair of socks in two or three weeks which means if I knit nothing but socks I could have, say, 14 pairs a year. That's not a lot of socks. ALD (After Little Djinn), well, my mother bought me a skein of Opal 6-ply (sportweight) sock yarn and Hiya Hiya needles for my birthday when I was in California in June. I started them on the 16th and finished them last weekend. This was not exclusive knitting, but they were my handbag project, the one that went with me to knit night ever week, the ones I worked on when I finished a ball of yarn for my red cardigan and didn't want to wind another ball just yet, or when Little Djinn and I were playing at the Floral Hall and I would knit as I trailed after her. They weren't exclusive but I did work on them a lot. And 6-ply yarn is thicker so it knits up quicker than the usual 4-ply sock yarn. I am the world's slowest knitter.

I am not a process knitter. I mean, I knit because I enjoy the process of knitting, but I'm not knitting for the sake of knitting, I'm knitting because I want to make things. I want to have a stable of toys for Little Djinn, a closet full of hats and scarves/cowls and gloves/mitts/mittens. I want all three of us to have a closet full of sweaters for any mood and weather. I want to wear hand knit socks every day and twice on Tuesday, and slippers for around the house. Heck, when I have knit all the things I may turn my hand to charity knitting (the kind where you make actual things for actual people, not "raise awareness" on behalf of global corporations), and things for the house like blankets, cushions, and bathmats. Heck, when I knit all the things I'll even have time for sewing because I wouldn't be thinking "if I take an afternoon to sew that toybox together I'll never finish my knitting!"

I'm already dedicating as many hours a day as I can to knitting so clearly I need to knit faster. Any way you hold your yarn and needles and get stitches is the correct way to do it, but clearly some ways are more efficient than others and my way isn't high on that list. A fellow knitter posted a review of a Craftsy course that improved her knitting, helpfully titled "Improve Your Knitting: Alternate Methods and Styles". Ms Lyons (a Lion Brand scion) talks about different ways to hold your yarn and needles (English, Continental, Portuguese) and different ways of mounting the stitches and situations where one method or another (or switching between them - two handed colourwork, knitting back and forth for short-rows rather than turning the work) can make knitting easier.

I've already noticed an improvement in my knitting, though I've only been able to practice the "new" techniques on new projects, not my previously cast on ones as my gauge has changed dramatically. One of the knitters at knit night asked if it might be faster to frog some of my extant projects and start over with the faster method and I almost had to go for a lie-down. Give up on hours and hours of work? Can't do it. I am making a big push to finish off projects so I can just switch and wipe my bad habits from muscle memory.

As a note about Craftsy, I'm a big proponent of TV;DW* and for most things I prefer to learn by reading and looking at some pictures (and doing). I've signed up for a few Craftsy classes, both free and paid-for and I don't think I've watched all of any of them. But knitting - how to make the basic knit or purl stitch - is fundamentally a movement and as a movement it helps to see the motion. So while I'm not particularly a fan of Craftsy, I found this class to be useful. Yes, you can probably look up all the different techniques as free youtube videos but you have to know to look for them and sort out your own pros and cons list for each. In the Craftsy class Ms Lyons has collated it all for me and I can concentrate on figuring out what works for me.

And now if you'll excuse me, I need to pick my next handbag sock project.


* Too Video; Didn't Watch, a play on TL;DR - Too Long; Didn't Read.

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