Jan 3, 2016

The Venn of Knitting

Recently a reader commented that "with the speed at which you churn out those beautiful afghans," she couldn't imagine I'd have difficulty completing smaller items like Christmas ornaments, mitts and so forth. What a wonderful compliment, thank you!

There's just one problem: I'm a relatively slow knitter.

The incontrovertible proof? Other knitters routinely offer to teach me how to knit faster. (It's true, and because their offers are generous and well-meant, I thank them sincerely for their thoughtfulness.)

     Swatch for an upcoming project

This is not to say I knit at a snail's pace. A tortoise or camel might be a fair comparison, however, since to reach the defined destination and produce a finished object, I've learned to rely on focus, resolve and tenacity rather than speed.

I've experimented with different speed-building techniques, and while they worked up to point, I discovered two things: Knitting at a steady tempo is (for me) part of the pleasure of the craft. It's also essential for quality, because the faster I go, the more mistakes I find later.

The best analogies I can think of are yoga and tai chi. Slow, deliberate movements help build strength and flexibility, so speed may have its place, but precision and control are more important. (That's my rationale and I'm sticking to it.)

Essentially this means I can produce finished objects and generate the appearance of speed if certain factors are properly aligned. In reality it's not speed at all, it's simply knitting in that elusive sweet spot where interest, desire and time coincide.

These factors go a long way toward explaining why I often (but not always) knit my own designs. It's typically the easiest way to ensure the essentials are in place: simple elements, modular construction and great yarns. (Great yarn doesn't have to be expensive or luxurious, it just has to suit the stitch and design.)

I've been thinking about these things because like many of you, I'm trying to establish goals for this bright and shiny New Year. I may eventually do a roundup of last year's projects, but for now, I'm setting my sights on the promising road ahead.

Defining my own personal Venn of knitting has been an important part of that look-ahead process. (What can I say? It's how my mind works.) It's helped me think through my approach to knitting and gain a fresh perspective.

Already it's been helpful. It's reminded me to be realistic. It's highlighted the value of developing strategic rather than numeric goals. It's reinforced the need to acknowledge obvious limiters, such as the fact it's unlikely I'll magically acquire more knitting time or develop the speed that's eluded me for so long.

It's demonstrated (once again) I spend waaaay too much time thinking about all things knitting related.

None of these revelations are earth-shattering, but the thought process has helped pinpoint three priorities that will help translate the Venn of knitting into action:
  • Keep things simple.
  • Knit in the sweet spot.
  • Focus and finish.

That's it for me, now it's your turn: Have you set goals or strategies for 2016? Care to share?

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  1. They sound like good sweet spots - and I do like the application of Venn diagrams to knitting! I'm a pretty fast knitter so my sweet spot would be between gorgeous yarn, time to knit and a patten I can memorise!

  2. I've never thought if I'm a fast or slow knitter. I tend to knit on my own, so I have nothing to compare with (other people are around, just not knitting!). I do like the use of Venn diagrams. A way to focus in its own right.

  3. I admired those that can knit things up in such a short amount of time. I've come to realize though that for me its the process...each stitch...helping me to slow down and focus. So now I knit slower...on purpose... and enjoy the process and the peace it gives me. I think knitting is different for everyone! It gives us all something different. happy knitting!

  4. Wonderful post and I think your three points are spot on for me as well. This year, for me - I need to concentrate on the focus and finish.


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