Do you ever play spider solitaire and find yourself unable to quit. If you lose, you think “just one more game; I know I’ll be a winner next time”. If you win, you want to see how long the streak will last. That cycle can go on for a good hour. C’mon, you do that. I know you do.
You’ll be pleased to hear that I don’t gamble. I don’t buy lottery tickets. I don’t go to the track (though, really, it might be just the place to knit!).
My friends laugh (a kind of rueful, knowing laugh) at my type A knitting style. But what can I do? I come by it honestly. Apparently, it’s not very knitter. Apparently, knitters are gentle creatures who sculpt their laid back world views in a woolly canvas. On Wednesday I had the most fun at a knitting night at Lettuce (a veritable hotbed of serious fibre art crafters). What welcoming and friendly women! What gynocracy! Alas, as so often happens, on some fundamental level, I felt removed. And not because I’ve been knitting a week and these women have been doing it for a combined 200 years. (Moreover, who, more than I, loves to talk parenting and politics with a bunch of smart women, drinking booze? Isn’t that kind of like paradise?)
It was when I queried a couple of them about how long they’d been working on their items – for how long they imagined their (many complex) projects would continue – that I felt the encroaching divide. I assume I'm paranoid, but at that point, I think I might have seen the slightest inkling of a questioning look. And I just could not relate to the claims that these knitters couldn’t say, that they work simply according to their natural pace, that time is not really relevant. Seriously?!
Call me a (goal-oriented) philistine, but how the hell does anyone do anything without considering their investment of time?
Let me break it down for you (and I know this because I’m keeping a line-by-line ledger of my every row):
- I started this project on April 30.
- I started over on May 1.
- It took me 15 hours to knit the back of the cardigan.
- It has taken me 7 hours to knit one side of the front – and I estimate another half an hour before it’s done.
- While this is entirely speculative, I surmise that it will take me another 7.5 hours to knit the other front half.
- And probably 5 hours to knit each sleeve.
- I’ve opted not to make the belt – I’d prefer to use another closure – probably one of those wooden knitting pin closures. I’ve always wanted one of those!
- Blocking will take approximately an hour (followed by time to dry).
- Then I’ve got to sew it all together (by hand). I don’t know – maybe that will be 3 hours? (Sewing things up with wool is apparently quite easy). Of course, it could take forever and I’m deluded.
Since no one seems to be able to give me any feedback about how long it takes to knit a simple sweater, I’m going to make my own guess: 50 hours. That’s if all goes as planned (stifle your giggles please). Note: I'm entirely new at this. I'm sure a seasoned practitioner could do this in less time...
Maybe I’ll never be a real knitter (or a real sewist, for that matter) because I’m not doing this for the simple pleasure of working with my hands. I make things because I want to make things. I want to see how they start from nothing and turn into practical and (hopefully) beautiful products. I want to systemize my skills by deconstructing them in notebooks that I can look at again and again. I want to keep lists – to itemize where I’m at. I do not want to work on the same sweater for 6 months, picking it up and dropping it according to my momentary interest or schedule (which secretly and judgementally I see as a code word for “whim”). Maybe that’s eventually how it will go. Maybe I’ll get with that casual (supposedly happy-making) philosophy over time, but I can’t imagine it. Odd as it may be, for me, the joy in craft is in doing it regardless of how time-consuming or overwhelming or scary it is. Call me crazy, but I enjoy those feelings. They make me feel engaged. They give me a rush.
I'd love to hear from the knitters and sewists and those who engage in other craft hobbies. Are you type A too? Do you sense I'm corrupting the artform with my hideous attitude? Can you explain to me how you analyse "crafting at your own pace" (whatever it is for you)?
In the meanwhile, excuse me while I go ice my hands.