by Abigail Leon
We are all familiar with the seven-year marriage itch, but do you know that knitters experience a similar problem? Halfway through a project a knitter experiences the itch to just be done with it and to move on to something more invigorating.There are many stages of knitting. There is choosing a project, picking out the perfect color(s) of yarn, casting on, knitting the project, and finally binding off (sometimes you need to sew a couple of things or add buttons, but there is no more knitting). Throughout a project your emotions will go through a roller coaster, like a relationship. You will feel anticipation when you find a pattern, and when choosing the needles and yarn you will feel giddy at the thought of using them. Then when you cast on you are excited because you are starting the new project.
At first you will see progress and your excitement won’t abate, but when you start to get bored or tired of doing the same stitches or repeats, your excitement gives way to frustration. You just think “why is this taking forever?”. And then it starts. Your mind starts to think about the next project and “oh look at that beautiful yarn, it would be great for… I should start it now…”. I am going to give you a few pointers on how to knit a project from casting on to binding off.
One of the things that I love about knitting is that you can knit anything. Anything. Do you have a pet? You can knit your pet a sweater, a collar, a toy, a bed, and so much more. Shoot, you can even knit a doll of your pet wearing cute clothes (or not)! The possibilities of the things that you could knit are endless.
You want to make sure that you choose a pattern that interests you. For example, if you hate knitting with circular needles or double-pointed needles, then stay away from three-dimensional projects (balls, dolls, etc.). If you hate knitting in just plain garter stitch (knitting all rows) then add some texture (ribbing, cables, bobbles, and the like). You can always adjust a pattern to your preferences. For our purposes, let’s say that you hate knitting scarves because they take forever to knit and you absolutely hate garter stitch scarves. Well the solution to that is simple. Use a variety of stitches and designs for your scarf to make sure that your interest throughout the scarf does not wane.
Needles and Yarn
Picking out yarn and needles for a new project is one of my favorite things to do. I can go absolutely crazy at Michaels or Joann. You probably know exactly how I feel, the rush of seeing all of the beautiful yarn colors and feeling the different fibers. It is climactic. The yarn you pick is very important because not only will your fingers be on it until you finish your project (and possibly after that if it is a scarf, sweater, gloves, or socks), but your eyes will be looking at it (almost staring at it) as well. I cannot tell you how much I regret choosing a color that is so extremely bright, that it gives me a headache that lasts longer than I am knitting.
And needles! You want to be especially wary of the needles that you pick. You want to make sure that they are the right size for your yarn. Also, that when you knit a swatch, you get the same gauge (rows and stitches per square inch) as the pattern. This is crucial, more so when knitting socks than, say, a scarf. You also want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the needles. Sometimes aluminum needles are too slippery or stiff and you are more at ease with bamboo needles that are sticky and more flexible. It is really all about what you prefer. You can knit a scarf with straight needles or with circular needles, whichever strikes your fancy.
Okay, you now have the perfect pattern, yarn, and needles. You are ready to start your project. You want to make sure that you have ample time to get lost in your knitting for at least an hour. There is nothing worse than starting to cast-on, getting interrupted, and losing count of your stitches (especially when knitting socks or an adult sweater). When you cast on, you will do so with fervor. You are going to be so pumped! The start of a new project is like starting over from scratch. It is starting over. You are using your new yarn and needles; you are experiencing a new pattern. With some projects, like with socks, you can cast on loosely because you want to be able to pull the sock over your heel and not feel as if your circulation is being cut off. But with projects that start with ribbing, you want to cast on-on as uniformly and with as much normal tension as you can. After you cast on, take a deep breath and knit!
Progress (or not)
When you are about half way through your project, you will find one of two things: 1) that your excitement is still kicking, or 2) that you are bored. Bored! How can that be, when you almost couldn’t contain yourself when you started this project? Well, let me tell you, it happens to me a lot of the time. I can be patient when I want, but when I am knitting for hours and hours on end and I feel as if there isn’t enough progress, I get a wandering eye. I start checking Ravelry.com (needle-point pattern website) and I look at the patterns they have to offer. Believe me, they have a lot of patterns and I have so little time (or so I feel at the time of my infidelity).
You cannot do this to yourself or to your current project. It is simply unacceptable. You have been knitting for a while, so you know what unfinished knitting projects do to you: taunt.
That’s right, they taunt you. Every single time you see that unfinished pile of yarn around your home you will be reminded that you have no staying power. You do not, I repeat NOT, want your knitting project telling you that you don’t have the stamina to finish the job. Not only is it a blow to your confidence, but it is just sad.
When you get in a funk and you feel like giving up, don’t. Stay strong and start thinking about who your project is for. Is it for your boyfriend? (Hopefully it is not a sweater; we all know about the boyfriend curse–if you knit your significant other a sweater, he will break up with you before you bind off. Some people don’t believe in it, but I really wouldn’t want to risk it.) Is it for your baby? You need to be thinking about this because it will help you knit past the boredom and focus. Think about the pride you feel when you see your loved ones (or yourself) wearing a garment (or project) that you knitted. You (and your knitting) will thank me for this later. You do not want to be caught with your needles in another yarn.
You have made it! Not only have you almost finished reading this, but you have almost finished your project. Isn’t it thrilling? Now, I know you will get nostalgic and think about the old days when your project was mostly a wound up ball of yarn, but don’t dwell on it. These are the good days when you can finally take your project around town and show it off. It has almost passed muster.
When you bind off you want to be sure that you do it the way the pattern calls for. With socks, you want to do the kitchener stitch (unless you are doing bottom-up socks, in that case you will want to do a loose bind off); with a scarf just do the basic knit bind off. After you bind off you will only have one more thing to do, weave in the ends. Depending on the project you will have as few as two ends, or a heck of a lot more if you switched colors repeatedly. It is all you have left! No more long repeats, increasing, decreasing, counting stitches, or rows (some of you didn’t have any to start with but if you did, rock on!). Weave in your ends, block (wash or steam) your project if applicable, and show off your prize knitting. Prove to the world that you can stay devoted to your commitment and that you have endurance.
Now that you have no prior engagements, find yourself another pattern and do it all again. I have now taught you how to stay faithful to your knitting project. Please remember this: just because you are faithful does not mean that you have to stick with the same project. Finish with it and, honey, you can have a new project every week!