Knitter, know thyself.

by threegirlpileup

(thanks to my friend Lauren for sending me this picture of me knitting, and to my friend Nancy for my beloved owl stitch marker happily dangling from that project!)

I’m still finding my way as a knitter, still trying to figure out which projects really work for me.  The trick seems to be in finding the sweet spot, that place where projects are interesting but not too complicated.  Where the process is pleasing but the product is something to be enjoyed, too.  And since I’m also trying not to have too many different projects on  the needles at one time, I’ve become a bit more ruthless at ripping back projects that are at a dead end, and being choosy about which projects I cast on.

I’m realizing that the projects I follow to completion have most of the following traits:

1. Wool yarn.  I prefer wool.  Not necessarily 100% wool, but at least some wool.  Or alpaca.  But not cotton, and not a synthetic.  Often it’s seemed like a good idea, but I just don’t enjoy the knitting as much.

2.  Quick gratification.  Maybe it’s a small project, maybe it’s thick yarn that grows quickly in my hands.  It makes all the difference to feel like I’m getting somewhere.

3. There are milestones. Although socks are not a quick knit (at least in my hands), they have milestones that help built momentum.  Finish the ribbing!  Turn the heel!  Pick up stitches!  Long shawls and scarves are a poor fit for me–it just seems like they just go on and on and on.

4.  It’s a gift for  someone dear to me.  Even when I’m stalled, this keeps me going.  It got me through the Clapotis that would never end, and through the cabled socks that took me years to complete (that picture above is me working on sock #2).  Nevertheless, I’m trying to do a better job picking projects so I don’t have to use this as a fallback.

5.  Yarn that I love. Really love. Soft.  Easy to knit.  Beautiful colors.  Yarn I want to snuggle with.

6. Only a little bit interesting. Just enough that I can feel the thrill of an accomplished knitting project.  But not so much that I can’t have a conversation while I’m knitting, or set it down mid-row and find my way back again.  If it does have a pattern, it’s either repetitive or doesn’t have too many rows.

7.  Did I mention small? Small is good.  Quickly finished is good.  Especially since things other people describe as “quick knits” seem to take me a long time.

8. Very little making up required. I recently found a sweater I had knit for a friend’s baby.  It was knit and blocked, but I never got it sewn up.  Which will take me something like 30 minutes, I think.  The child it was for is now two years old.  Enough said.

I currently have a sweater for Maggie and a scarf for Anna on my needles.  Neither are good for on-the-go knitting; the sweater’s just too big and the sweater is too complicated.  I’m contemplating a simple, straight knitting project to carry around with me…I’m considering socks and a pair of fingerless gloves for myself.  Or perhaps I’ll live dangerously and cast on both.

Yep, really living on the edge around here.