Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Orphan yarns


Every year my New Year resolution is NO MORE YARN! I have a huge stash and I am the only one who uses it. Something needs to be done. I’ve unsubscribed from all yarn websites, avoid going to yarn stores like a plague, and I knit a lot. Still, no matter what I do my stash doesn’t get smaller… Everyone who knits understands me, right?
This winter I was in for a good start: I made Ply cardigan almost using up three cones of ColorMart yarns, which made me really proud of myself. So I got bolder and decided to tackle two yarns that had been in my stash for quite a while because they refused to become projects that I wanted them to become. You know, some yarns are just “stubborn” like this. You either overpower this kind of yarn and make something that you want at the moment, or you wait till the matching pattern comes up on your radar. The first choice – just make what you want to make, even if not completely satisfied with the final fabric – doesn’t work for me anymore. I’ve done it before and never wore the finished garments. The only possible solution for this kind of yarn for me now – try different patterns until the match is found.

One of the stubborn yarns was an Irish tweed that I bought in a gift shop during our visit to Ireland about 5 years ago. There were only 6 hanks of this yarn and I absolutely loved its creamy color and silky softness. Moreover, we didn’t have any space in our suitcases at the time, so I was allowed to buy yarn only once throughout that whole trip (torture!). I chose this yarn because it looked perfect for a classic Irish cabled sweater or cardigan. Yet, when I tried a cable pattern using this yarn it came out looking sloppy and uneven, and no matter which pattern I used the result didn’t satisfy me. Neither did I like it in a plain stockinette. This yarn seemed to be spellbound – it looked great by itself but nothing looked great in it.
As soon as I got the new book of designs by Saichika, this cardigan drew my attention. The main pattern is ribbing but it is not your normal ribbing: in the right side row all stitches are knit with every second stitch knit through the back loop, and in the wrong side row it is a regular 1x1 ribbing. I tried this pattern with my Irish tweed doing each purl through the back loop on the wrong side row. The result was amazing: the knit stitches popped out of the fabric and it looked neat and even overall. Bingo! I knew which pattern this yarn would become. The ribbing was quite addictive and the yarn – silky and soft – suddenly very agreeable.

The whole jacket is made sideways and it is hard to try it on while it is not finished. However, from my last experience with Japanese patterns I decided to make it a bit longer – Japanese models tend to be diminutive and I wanted something roomy and oversized. The back and side parts were finished in a week which was unusually fast even for me. It was just pretty easy to work on the jacket –  clear schematics, easy pattern, and cooperating yarn. By the time I started the first sleeve I used almost all five hanks of the yarn and got a bit worried if I had enough to finish the sleeves. My technical husband took the matter in his hands and told me that I definitely didn’t have enough and should start all over making it smaller. 
Since he is never wrong (well, normally, he is extremely reliable) I believed him. Plus, when I tried putting the finished parts together the jacket seemed too long for me.
Another motivation to unravel all my work was the fact that I figured out how to make the edges better after they were already made - there is nothing about the edges in the pattern, at least not in the schematics and I don’t read Japanese. And I wanted pockets! I love pockets especially in jackets, even though I think any garment benefits from added pockets.
Thus, without further ado, I unraveled my work and started it all over (and it turned out my husband was wrong, and I had enough yarn for sleeves – go figure!). This time I followed directions size-wise but used some tricks to make edges stronger, less stretchy, and more even. Which tricks?
For the back part I used an I-cord edge method for the bottom side:
  • Slip with yarn in the back the stitch before last on the right side row, knit the last stitch.
  • Slip the first stitch with yarn in front on the wrong side row; purl the next stitch through the back loop.

For the side parts I used tubular cast on that adds polish.

For pockets I picked up 32 sts with provisional cast on, knit 30 rows and put them on a holder, then, after casting on for the side parts I unraveled the provisional cast on, inserted the pocket lining in the needed space and just ribbed the lining and the main fabric together. After 30 rows I used tubular cast off for 32 sts of the pocket, picked up the lining stitches from a holder and kept going with the side part.

This pattern requires some very cleverly positioned short rows for shaping. I used Japanese short rows.

I don’t remember when I had so much fun assembling a garment before. First, the pattern shows you all the places where parts must be attached to each other. Second, it is very easy to calculate rows and stitches on ribbed fabric to make it all absolutely symmetrical. My only problem was to sew the pocket linings – I succeeded only on my second attempt and I had to use different yarn, much thinner than the main one.
The finished jacket turned out exactly the way I wanted -- oversized, soft, warm, and with pockets. It can be worn with a pin or belt, as well as just unfastened. Its form reminds me of a karate jacket or kimono – hence, its name. I called it Irish kimono because of the Irish tweed it’s made of.

I literally made it twice already but can’t wait till I can make it again for my children. I can see them both wearing a jacket like this. This is a very fast and simple knit – the whole process took just a bit over two weeks – and is perfect for holiday gifts! More information about this project - on my Ravelry page.
My second yarn stashed years ago was given to me by my daughter. She bought it at a knitting store in Edinburgh for my birthday. I was really touched when I got this yarn in the mail and wanted to make something out of it right away, but there were only 9 balls with 110 m each, which is not much, unfortunately. I just couldn’t find any pattern for a warm garment that would require so little yarn.
Fortunately, that was the amount of yarn required for the smallest size of Citrine by Emily Greene. I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it on Ravelry. When I figured out that it could be made from the yarn that had been languishing in my stash forever, I was almost ecstatic.

The color of this yarn is amazing – it reminds of forget-me-nots and winter skies. Yet, its texture is rather coarse and working with it was painful for my hands. I couldn’t do it for longer than half an hour at a time. However, with the same gauge as in the pattern and enough yarn for the smallest size the front and back were finished in no time even with frequent breaks from knitting.

My only glitch happened when I started making sleeves. The pattern asks you to make decreases after ribbing, and after decreasing the sleeve became too tight for me. As I have mentioned already I swim quite often and, as a result, my shoulders are getting bigger and bigger (since my back hurts less and less I can live with it). I am telling you this because I am not sure why the sleeves were too small for me – because of my muscular arms or because they are too tight in the pattern. Anyway, this problem was solved easily – I unraveled the decrease row and continued without decreases making increases for the smallest size. At the end I got the total amount of stitches required for the 4th size and used the measurements for this size when sewing the sleeves up. To tell you the truth, I could have made the armholes even bigger.

Citrine, like all Emily’s patterns, is very clearly explained and easy to make. I highly recommend it! The yarn became much softer and a bit fuzzy after spending half an hour in a bath with Eucalan and a fabric softener. This short sweater with geometrical ribbing is extremely warm and looks like a very practical piece of clothing. Again, more on the project page on Ravelry.

My next project – Kaleidoscope  by Knitting For Breakfast - was also a stash buster. But this time, no matter how much I liked the original design, I had to rework the construction completely in order for the garment to be wearable and serve me as long as possible. Details – in my next post. Stay tuned…

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Simplicity


Simple things are more difficult to make, don’t you agree?
All the patterns that I’ve been making lately look simple but have an interesting construction and a flattering silhouette. Actually, the silhouette (as flattering as possible) is the main thing that now attracts me in a pattern. One can always change colorwork or cables, but silhouette is hard to change. If you are not a designer, that is. And I am not.
I wanted to make Ply cardigan as soon as the pattern appeared on Ravelry. I love the lines and geometry of it, combination of stockinette and reverse stockinette, little slits at the front, V-neck, and, of course, big pockets. Yet, at first, I thought that this one wasn’t for me – too long and big, and might make me look like a short-legged gnome. Later, when I bought the pattern – couldn’t help it – I discovered that it required quite a lot of yarn and I didn’t have enough yarn of the same color in my stash. Last month though, I figured that I could make it using three different ColourMart yarns of required length in lace weight (all specifications - on my Ravelry page).
The ultimate color of the mixed yarn – grey and black – would go with ALL my clothes. This way I could work on my stash while finally making this long wished-for cardigan.

First, I needed to shorten the pattern. Initially, the cardigan was supposed to have 19.5” up to armpits. In my version it has only 16.5”. I shortened the hem band all over to 1 ¾” and I started shaping the neckline on the front just after finishing the pockets. And the pocket’s bottom part was shortened as well to 3”.

Plus, I wanted it to be less A-shaped, more streamlined. To that end, I made the back using directions for size 37 3/4 up to armpits without decreases and just before the armhole decreases I decreased 4 sts as explained for side shaping. This way I got 178 sts total as I would were I knitting size 42. Fronts and sleeves were knit using directions for size 37 ¾.
The next one wasn’t a real modification, rather a mistake that I decided to leave and make it look like a feature, not a bug. While finishing the back part I totally missed the line in the directions about switching to all stockinette after the armhole decreases and kept 4 sts on each side in reverse stockinette. I found out that I made a mistake while binding off for the back and I really didn’t want to unravel to the armholes. I was knitting from 3 different cones which would make unraveling quite tricky. Plus it meant to undo many hours of work… Blame my laziness but I decided to just add 4 sts in reverse stockinette to the fronts to make it even.

At first I even thought about making sleeves in reverse stockinette as well but when I actually put together the back and the fronts, the difference was hardly noticeable on my marled yarn. By the way, the fact that I started 4 sts in reverse stockinette right after the armhole decreases to match the back made sewing all parts together much easier!

My last change wasn’t a change per se but a little addition inspired by this sweater by Rag and Bone.
I decided to imitate it and incorporate an inscription in Japanese. I didn’t expect Google Translate to give me the exact translation for “barking knitter” which is my trademark (!), but I thought that “handmade” would do nicely instead. Especially, since it WAS a handmade knit for real.
I taped “handmade” into Google Translate and got the translation. Then, my loving technical husband performed some technical magic on it (put the phrase in PaintShopPro and pixelated it).  At the end I had a printout looking like this.

I used black yarn for my kanji because I wanted the inscription to be subtle, not too obvious and a bit like graffiti. It was so much fun to make that I finished the sleeve in no time.
Also I was kind of worried that I had the right translation because I know that Google Translate is not a very reliable source. As soon as my sleeve was done I posted its picture on Instagram to make sure that I don’t have something stupid or obscene on my sleeve. Fortunately, my Japanese readers confirmed that it was a correct translation. Sigh of relieve and back to work!
Second sleeve took a bit longer but the longest and toughest part was to make the button band. It is done in one go, and it’s double knitted. Ugh!

I have no words to explain how pleased I am with this cardigan. It turned out exactly as I imagined – soft, warm, light, roomy, and comfortable. And look, I am wearing “Handmade” on my sleeve (for those who’d understand!).

I didn’t use as much yarn as required per pattern. Since I know the length of yarn on each black cone (450 m) and I used all three of them, total meterage for Ply was 1350 m. If you, like me, want to make a shorter version and have the same gauge, this is the amount of yarn you’ll need.
I was pleasantly impressed with the thoroughness of the pattern. Have you heard about the all-inclusive resorts? Well, this is an “all-inclusive” pattern. Everything that you need to finish it – and I mean EVERYTHING, all the information possible – you’ll find there. No need to go to the Internet, no links to YouTube video for special techniques. At some point I even found a sentence like this: “Break yarn and pull tail through last stitch” – which strikes me like rather endearing.
It was my first time with double knitting (exciting stuff but it slows down the process to snail pace) and I didn’t have any problems with it thanks to the clear and detailed explanations.  I used my own method for creating a sloped bind-off but if I didn’t know how to do it, the pattern has a full description of the technique.
In conclusion, if you are an adventurous beginner who grew tired of shawls and scarves and consider herself ready for some more difficult stuff, this is a pattern for you. It is not easy (far from it) but it is extremely well explained and the designer is basically holding your hand all the way till the end. And I highly recommend to follow ALL her directions (especially, pay attention to needle sizes, it’s important!).
While I was laboring on my Ply cardigan I managed to finish a pair of socks.
The pattern is called Fragment by Helen Stewart. It is from Laine Magazine Issue 4 that I own but, truth be told, didn’t even notice these socks in the magazine. The original sample was knit in dark brown wool and photographed on a dark background. Granted, it looks artsy and moody, but defies the purpose of pattern photography. I think I am not the only one who by now is annoyed by this new trend of photographing handknits on dark background. When I pick a pattern to make I need to see it as clearly as possible. Otherwise why would I buy it? Does anyone buy patterns just because of good photography? Pretty model? Famous designer? Well, I don’t. I have to be fascinated with a garment itself and it is hard to be fascinated when you cannot really see it in every detail.
This part out of my chest, I must tell you that the sock design is simple and clear, just the way I like it. It was a fast and enjoyable knit; no problems whatsoever. I am glad that I noticed these socks on Ravelry knit in a light color and well photographed.

I used some Cashmere scraps of three different colors for the socks.
See how much of the main color was left at the end? Yes, I was using the scale all the time trying to evenly divide the yarn.
The socks are now on their way to England. My Ply cardigan is finished. And I already started two (!) new projects. One is another design by Emily Greene (here we go again, simple but challenging). The second  is from a Japanese book that I just got on Etsy. Now, this book is a fine example of how knitted patterns should be photographed.
I saw this cardigan and had to start it immediately.
Again, the construction is the key. And it’s like putting together a puzzle.
Stay tuned,

Anna

Monday, February 25, 2019

Carol


Once in Moscow, while visiting our Russian relatives, I took my children to see a ballet performance. It wasn’t a famous ballet from a famous company in a famous theater like Bolshoi. It was something modern and experimental performed by young dancers. The audience wasn’t very enthusiastic. They rarely clapped and never cheered a difficult dance move. They looked bored and uninterested. My twelve-year old daughter who had been going to a ballet class at the time looked at me with horror in her face: “Why don’t they clap? Don’t they understand how difficult it is?” She knew from the inside about the sweat, blood, and innumerable hours that every move required. For that reason she couldn’t understand the audience’s coldness and disinterest and tried to clap and cheer as loudly as possible to compensate for it.
This is exactly how I feel when I see Carol’s work. Carol (seajean on Ravelry) is an amazing knitter who makes mostly shawls. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and comes to Florida every winter.
Sadly, the only place you can see her work is my website. Because Carol doesn’t take pictures of her work and doesn’t post them on Instagram or Ravelry. Yes, in our age of selfies and non-stop sharing Carol doesn’t seem to need validation from strangers that much. Which makes her an even bigger figure in my book.
Yet, I think that knitters must know their “unsung heroes”.  Not because these people do something else important in life – charity work, scientific discoveries, successful business – but just because they knit things really well. After all, knitting is a craft and craftsmen always honored the most skillful among them. Nowadays everything must have an underlying socio-political agenda, even knitting, as I was surprised to discover lately. Well, I don’t have any other agenda as to validate a remarkable and rare workmanship.
I myself hardly ever make shawls and avoid working with lace weight yarn. However, it doesn’t make me less filled with admiration of Carol’s work because I know how difficult and time consuming it is. And, like my daughter many years ago in Moscow, I try to clap as loudly as I can to try to compensate for the audience’s silence.

Unfortunately, this year I had an opportunity to take pictures of only one of Carol’s shawls - Victoria shawl by Alexis de Gregorio on Ravelry. Carol’s version has the same bright color as the original and was knit from lace-weight silk. Please share my admiration of the craftsmanship! Making of such a shawl takes lots of love and skills.

In conclusion, if by any chance you know of a skilled knitter not represented on the social media, please send me their information and pictures. I would love to feature this person here and cheer as loudly as I can for her artistry and craft.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Blueberry for Scotland


How do you choose a pattern?
Is there some logic or serious deliberation involved in your decision or you just see a picture on Ravelry or in a magazine and start looking for a suitable yarn?
Normally, I spent quite some time thinking about my next project. Usually it happens while I finish the previous one and generally it has to be something practical, that someone really need and that will be worn often. Sometimes though it is hard to make only things that are practical and needed (socks, I am talking about you!). Then I have to coerce myself into working on them by promising to make something easy and fun afterword. That’s how I ended up making my Margaux Red after a two month marathon of gift knitting.
Yet, sometimes a pattern just calls me and I cannot resist. That is what happened with this sweater by Tomoko Noguchi from Daruma pattern book 3. It has all my favorite things: unusual and interesting construction and ribbing. Plus it is a Japanese pattern and I enjoy making them since they are always so well explained and charted.

The only yarn that would go with this pattern was this dark blue variegated one from Rowan that I bought to make an afghan for my new house about 3 years ago. Unfortunately, I have not much information about the yarn since the labels and tags got lost somehow. It is thick wool that is extremely soft and warm. However, it turned out that a wooly and warm blanket isn’t needed here in South Florida. If one day I decide to finally make one it will be from cotton or acrylic.
This is how I ended up with quite a lot of this dark, multicolored wool in my stash. I tried several different yarns when swatching for the ribbed sweater from Daruma. Because as soon as I got the magazine I just had to swatch for it – my hands were itching. It is not easy to find a yarn that would consistently look well in simple ribbing – not brioche stitch, or fisherman rib, or any other type of fancy ribbing. And this yarn was just flying from the needles, it was a pure joy to work with.
Now it was only one small thing left – to persuade myself that I really needed this sweater because, well, why would I? My kids keep asking for socks and cardigans, they don’t want sweaters so it had to be for me. And winters in South Florida are rather mild.
Then I remembered how cold it was last year in Scotland and thought that this sweater would go well with my waterproof pants and jeans. Yes, I definitely needed to make it for our trips to Scotland.

After the decision was made it was all smooth sailing. Despite its highly unusual construction the whole pattern is clearly charted and easy to make. My only little problem was with its size. It looks long and oversized on the pictures. Yet, the back part seemed to me rather short when I came to the armpits and I decided to make it longer. Therefore I made the front longer as well. After washing both parts, I blocked them according to the dimensions given in the pattern.
It turned out rather fitted. The model in the book must be really diminutive because the sweater looks roomy on her. And the reason she is wearing it with a skirt is because the original is rather short, almost waist length.
I already made it longer, now my goal was to make it roomier. It is not a big problem when you are dealing with thick yarn and ribbing. After finishing the sleeves (these I made shorter intentionally for my extra-short arms) and sewing all parts together (if you like puzzles, you are going to love assembling this sweater) I washed and stretched it width-wise.

My only other change was tubular cast-on and cast-off for the collar.
I highly recommend the pattern. Just bear in mind that it is supposed to be short and fitted, so if you want something roomier pick a thicker yarn or bigger needles.

Lengthening the body is easy – just keep knitting till the desired length (in my case I had to make only 8 additional rows). Shortening the sleeves was also not a big deal. Since you pick up two additional stitches around 11 middle stitches in every other row and the sleeve increases are happening only in every 5th or 10th row (I don’t remember anymore), you have to decrease 2 stitches at the beginning and end of every other row to compensate for the increases. As soon as I had 61 stitches total required for the sleeve (73rd row in my case) I casted off all stitches.
Oh, and use a stretchy cast off everywhere if you want your sweater to move and stretch with your body.

More pictures on my Ravelry page. I called this sweater Blueberry because I couldn't translate its Japanese name.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Boredom (part II)


Look around when you are in a restaurant, on a train, or at an airport gate. Everyone (or almost everyone) is on a phone, madly scrolling down.  Nobody wants to be bored, even for a little bit. Yet, according to some research, boredom is actually good for our brains, because it makes us more creative, learn new skills, and develop new ideas.
For me it’s definitely true. I am talking about the creativity part. As soon as we come back to the little island in South Florida, I start bursting with ideas and am not afraid of trying anything.
Are you afraid of boredom when you pick a new project? Do you have a “boredom index” so to speak?
Well, for me on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is the maximum boredom possible, shawls are definitely 11. I believe I’ve told you how much I dislike making shawls here. I made my last one about 10 years ago as a gift and then just stopped.
However, my first project of a new year was… a shawl! Why? Because I fell in love with the designer! Emily Greene is my favorite now and as soon as I see her new designs I want them. They all look modern and at the same time intrinsically wearable. This is why I bought her designs for shawls and even talked myself into making one.
The yarn – Isager Tvinni wool – was initially acquired for a cardigan but I decided to sacrifice it for a shawl because of its color. It is a combination of yellow, grey, and brown with a touch of green -- one of my favorite colors and extremely trendy this year.

I didn’t have any problems with the pattern or yarn and the shawl was growing slowly but steadily. Shawls can be tricky. They require all your attention and concentration because one mistake, one forgotten “yarn over” or “two together” and you are stuck and have to unravel many tiny stitches to fix your error and move on.

I couldn’t take a shawl to a knitting club, a trip, or a doctor’s appointment. It was too risky. I didn’t want to make a mistake and then unravel 400 stitches for several rows, thank you very much.
So I picked another project, mostly stockinette, from Phildar fall-winter 2018-19 magazine Nos Fils Essentiels.

It is called Pull Lou and has an unusual construction: it is made out of 6 separate parts sewn together. This construction was what initially attracted me to the pattern.
The yarn that I used for this sweater – Rowan’s Cashcotton – has been in my stash for about 10 years. It didn’t want to become any of the several projects I planned for it. So I left it alone and then forgot about it. Somehow it came back from oblivion last fall and I started looking for a project for it – again.
I had almost the same gauge with this yarn on US 2 ½ needles as is required for Lou. There are two gauges in this pattern – one is for stockinette, another – for 2 k rows, 2 p rows, called the “point godron”. And they both matched. It doesn’t happen often so I took it for a “sign” to finally start working with this yarn.  I had enough to make the smallest size.

I was working on this sweater while watching TV or in the knitting club. It was growing fast and I was already looking for another simple project when it came to a halt on sleeves. The sleeves for this pullover are a bit unusual and I couldn’t even imagine how they would fit with the body. I knew that I had to make them shorter – I always shorten my sleeves for my short arms. Otherwise, I followed the pattern but felt completely in the dark. At this moment my enthusiasm for the sweater started to fade.
It is hard to keep being excited making something that doesn’t excite you anymore. Looking at my needles I saw a weirdly shaped ribbon-like thing that didn’t make much sense to me. As soon as the first sleeve was finished I put together the front, back, one of the side pieces, and sleeve. It took me 5 attempts to do it but eventually they all fit together and I was rewarded with a nice looking and well-fitting single-sleeved sweater. Score for me!

Yet, there was another quite unexpected problem. The yarn was shedding mercilessly leaving fuzz all over my clothes. I didn’t notice it before because when I started making this sweater I was mainly wearing white shorts and t-shirts. However, the Arctic vortex brought colder air everywhere, even to Florida. As soon as I put some pants on, the messy yarn situation became quite obvious.


I went online to look for a solution and found not one but two. The first one – putting yarn and sweaters in a freezer for several hours – worked for me to some extent. After two nights in a freezer, my new sweater stopped shedding so much. But there was still some fuzz visible on most of my black pants (except the ones that I was wearing for the photoshoot).
The second solution was to hand-wash the sweater and then air dry it in a dryer for 10-15 min. Even though I didn’t find any fuzz in the filter after air drying the sweater, it seems definitely less fuzzy than before.

Besides the fuzz, I love everything about this sweater. It is modern looking, flattering, and easy to wear with anything and excellent for winters in Florida.
I made a special effort while finishing it and spent about 3 hours on YouTube to learn how to make its collar look less handmade and more professionally finished (this video can be useful only for the Russian speakers because it is in Russian - sorry!). I am so glad that I decided not to cut corners with this one. More pictures and words on my Ravelry page.
As for the shawl, it got finished as well. I had 4 balls of yarn and used 3 full balls and just a bit of the fourth ball (more – on my Ravelry page).

This shawl could be worn in many different ways and the color would brighten up any outfit. Yes, mistakes were made – they are almost unavoidable in a handmade garment. But I think they give more character to it and if I don’t notice them, no one else will.


As to what is next in my knitting plans, I started two more boring projects. It looks like boredom and I are becoming BFFs. Get ready for a creativity blast!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Boredom (Part I)


Oh, the excitement of picking a pattern among many and finding a suitable yarn with a similar gauge, the excitement of starting a new project! Nothing can be compared to this happy feeling of anticipation, hope, and certainty that this one is going to become your best ever.
However, after making some progress and maybe even finishing a part (or two), doubts start creeping in: have I made the right choice? Have I picked the right size? Is it going to fit my body?
You feel much less excited and more worried, hesitant, and uncertain. You get to your most vulnerable point when, if something goes wrong, you might stop working on the project or even unravel the whole thing altogether.
And some projects become unbelievably boring when you are actually working on them: a mindless repetition after only few rows makes you antsy and restless, ready to start doing anything but staying in place and knitting.
I think that boredom is a major killer of projects. They die “in utero” not because they are too difficult, or a pattern is not clear enough, or there is not enough yarn, time, or space for working on them. They die because of boredom. Those who can find their way back to their work and overcome boredom become knitters with lots of finished projects. And those who can’t, quit knitting altogether or become “process knitters” with lots of unfinished projects.
I prefer to finish my knits, yet, since I am only human, in many cases boredom gets almost unbearable. Over the years I invented some tricks to make myself pick up the stitches and finish a boring project. Until recently I didn’t even think about them as tricks, so much they were ingrained in me like a long-standing habit.
However, recently I 1) had to work on several really boring but useful garments; 2) read a book Atomic Habits by James Clear (great book, highly recommend); and 3) watched the second season of Patriot on Amazon Prime. These three incidents made me seriously think about boredom in knitting and how to deal with it. And now I decided to share with you some of my ideas.
But first, what Patriot has to do with knitting? Nothing, of course. If you don’t count that I absolutely loved the first season which allowed me to tolerate the second season that wasn’t particularly good. At some point in the second season the main character, an unlucky CIA operative, played by adorable Michael Dorman, explains how he accomplishes some grueling and painful tasks that come up in his line of work. “I go 50% plus one step in and then there is less than half left and it would be faster to get to the end than to turn and go back. This is how I get to the finish”. I am not sure the quote is correct but you get the point. And it does apply to knitting and finishing directly.
Sometimes it is enough to finish a back and half of the front to feel morally obligated to finish the whole thing as soon as possible. I use a row counter when I knit and as soon as the back is finished I know how many rows approximately will be in the front. So I just summon all my willpower and get to the middle of the front plus a bit more – and voila! It is faster to finish. Of course unraveling is faster, and sometimes it is necessary, but you can talk yourself into believing that from now on it will go faster and if you are good at self-persuasion, it will. Fake it till you feel it, or something like this.
The book Atomic Habits is about developing good habits and getting rid of bad ones (again, it’s brilliant, highly recommend). One of the ways of stopping procrastination and starting doing something that you don’t want to do is to attach this action to something enjoyable. For example, I need to swim as much as possible because of my bad back, and I am not a big fan of swimming. So I bought an MP3 player for swimmers and listen to music while I swim – much more fun.
The same with knitting. Some boring parts can be done while watching TV, or talking to friends, or listening to a book, music, podcast, or radio. Some people can knit in a car while on a road. I personally get carsick but sometimes, rarely, I have to do it in a car just to get to 51%.
Sometimes, when it is only stockinette, I knit and read a book. It works well when the book is captivating otherwise you'll fall asleep even faster.
My last personal trick is to give myself a day's goal, to decide how much I should accomplish in a day before I even start knitting. And this goal must be real and doable. For example, "knit 20 rows of the back". Or "get to the armholes on the front" etc. Keeping your eyes on a reachable target makes you move ahead steadily without being distracted by doubts. 
One more thing. When I start knitting, I take very few brakes. I am not the one to stop and admire my handywork every five minutes. That is why there are few pictures of my work in progress. I hardly ever photograph my projects before there is some progress made.
Can you think of any other tricks? If you do, please share them with me.

Here is my first project that would put me into sleeping coma after a row or two.
It is a Japanese pattern (you know how much I love them) from Daruma pattern book 2
The pattern is easy and straightforward. It is made on big needles with thick yarn. There is a clear chart with all the rows, increases and decreases. My only problem was the different row gauge. While making the back I kept measuring my work to figure out where to stop and change needles or do decreases. Probably, that is why the back was finished quickly enough. But then it was fronts’ and sleeves’ turn and I started moving at snail’s pace.

At first, I was really annoyed with myself: why couldn’t I finish this whole thing faster – it was so easy. Yet, every time I’d pick up the needles, after a row or two of plain stockinette my eyes would close of their own volition. 


Fortunately, there weren’t that many rows and I managed to finish all four parts at the end of December. The assembly process was more complicated, and, therefore, more enjoyable. Since the yarn for this cardigan is extremely soft and fluffy, I put extra thought and effort into the bands’ ribbing: used twisted stitches, slipped last and first stitches on both sides – so it would help to keep the cardigan’s shape. For the same reason I cast off the shoulder stitches on the back and two fronts and sewed them together instead of using Kitchener stitch. 

This cardigan is all about little details: a V at the back of the neck, balloon sleeves, and a bit balloonish body shape make it subtly unusual and interesting. It has no buttons but I like it this way. And it can be closed with a pin. 
The yarn – Wool And The Gang’s Feeling Good Yarn – was bought as a kit to make a totally different cardigan. Yet, after careful consideration, I decided not to make it and used 5 out of 6 balls for my Margaux Red (the yarn color is called Margaux Red, hence the name). I’ve worn it many times and so far there is no peeling, or shedding, or any other unpleasant surprises. The yarn does feel good and I loved working with it. I would love to use it again in future.

As usual, you can find more pictures of the cardigan on my Ravelry page.

To be continued…