Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Do You Knit?

So I was trying to break my record for longest afternoon nap when I was rudely awakened by my cell phone. (Piece of advice.. never take your cell phone to your room for a nap.) On the phone was my 10 year old who had been locked out of the house as a joke by my 15 year old. Not funny.

I grabbed a Diet Pepsi, growled at my 15 year old, and plopped down on the couch. Now my allergies have been incredibly vicious and the smoke isn't helping, but on a whim I took my temperature and, although my well documented lack of confidence in ear thermometers leaves me uncertain, it appears I have a fever. No wonder it felt more like the flu than allergies.

Anyhoo... I want to knit... but am not sure what to work on. I wish I was one of those people who could just contentedly work on one project at a time enjoying each stitch to the fullest. But I'm not. I am, instead, one of those people who is always thinking about what is next and never quite content with what is on the needles once I've eyed that next must-knit project.

As with most things in my life, I also go through phases. I can go months at a time knitting only socks. They really are the ideal project because they are small, portable, full of variety, and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Not only that they are the most practical and well-worn of all my knits. However, there are times when I feel like a sock is just a sock and my labor should produce something of more significance.

So I usually have a sweater going too. There are just so many irresistible patterns available that I have to really refrain from tackling them all. The sweater provides a much more visible display of my efforts... if it gets worn... which they rarely do in our So Cal weather.

Now I've really grown to love lace... especially the triangular shawl. I love every part of the process... matching the perfect yarn with the perfect pattern, the countdown of repeats and variety of charts, and especially the final blocking which completes the metamorphosis of the blob of string into beautiful shawl. But honestly, these are not worn enough to be considered anything more than artwork... and if I didn't knitting them so much, I wouldn't knit them at all.

To be fair, I also like scarves and lacy rectangular wraps, but the three unfinished rectangular lace shawls that currently take up space in my yarn basket inspire little in the way of optimism that I will every actually finish anything rectangular that requires more than 400 yards of yarn. But I'd really like to finish at least one of them.

So it leaves me to sit here and wonder... what should I knit. Which begs the question, "Why do I knit?" Certainly not out of necessity... nor practicality (wool socks in So Cal? Uh-uh.) Sometimes it's fascination with the construction of a certain pattern... or love of a particular yarn. Socks certainly provide the best opportunity/excuse for relatively inexpensive yarn fixes. And every once in a while, there's an item that I just must have... an item that, in my mind, I'll love and wear forever such as my recent Perfect Summer Cardigan or hopefully my current Perfect Fall Cardigan project. The turquoise Aspen Leaves Scarf (long rectangular wrap category) also falls into this category so I'm determined to work my way through this even if it's just a few repeats a week over the next year. But ugh! What should I work on now? And why does it feel like an obligation sometimes instead of leisure? And most importantly, with all this knitting, when will I get a chance to learn to crochet?

So... I ask you. Why do you knit? For practical purposes... entertainment... a creative outlet? Do you wear what you knit? And if you knit lace... what do you do with it all? Is knitting just for the beauty of it justifiable? For some reason that last question is important to me. We'll just blame it on the fever (even though it's always on my mind).

Please tell me "Why?"

Hand Maiden Swiss Mountain Super Sock

Oh, and then... please give me a pattern idea for this incredible Hand Maiden Swiss Super Sock in "Blooming Orchid" that I just got from The Loopy Ewe. I'm fascinated by the color combination of this merino/silk/sea cell blend and have no intention of using it for socks.


km said...

First...and most important...Knitting just to Knit is OK. It's more than OK. Knitting is an art. You wouldn't question a painter who paints just because it suit him/her.

I knit for my sanity. The simple and rhythmic movement of the needles soothes me. When my brain is jumbled I can't even focus on a sweater, so I've knit a lot of plain garter stitch blankets and washcloths. Washcloths are great for experimenting with stitch patterns...and if I make a's just to wipe up the table anyways. I'm sure I could knit something more lovely. But with a week like I've had, a dishcloth is all I can wrap my mind around.

All I can say is KNIT ON...and it doesn't really matter what. You can knit with some plastic grocery like Wendy.

betty said...

I knit because I love clothes, and I like making sweaters that fit me well and have some style. It also takes a little bit of creativity, since I always customize my sweaters and sometimes I improvise my own patterns. I always wear what I knit, which is why I don't knit socks, shawls, or scarves, because I don't wear any of those.

Maria said...

Why do we knit? Honey, we have ten kids between us. If we didn't knit, we'd kill them! Knitting makes me a much calmer person. I knit during homework, sitting in waiting rooms, at sports stuff....just about everywhere.

Wear those shawls!!! Most of mine I wear with jeans and a jean jacket. You could skip the jean jacket, and grab a denim shirt. And get a shawl pin. Then you don't have to fuss with the shawl.

Now go knit!!!

leann said...

All of the above. I knit for the art of it. For the warm sweaters in the cold Jersey winters. For the creativity. As a meditative outlet. Because I can't stop my mind from inspecting every knit garment I see and wondering how it was made and how it would look as a handknit and what would I do to change it up? For the comfort of warm wool socks on cold hardwood floors. Because I just can't seem to sit still. Because there's nothing better for a knitter's ego than someone's eyes lighting up and the expression, "You MADE that?" For the frustration of frogging and the ultimate satisfaction of finally getting right what you frogged 5 times before. For the puzzle of complicated cables and other stitch patterns. For the sheer genius in some designers' construction. Because I see beautiful color everywhere I go and it inspires me....

need I go on?

mom said...

Ohhh, I think you knit because that is your creative side and you love the challenge of taking beautiful yarn, reading a pattern, and ending up with something wonderfully wonderful at the end!

I rarely knit and when I do it is for practical reasons using the K1P1 style for a scarf, a baby blanket, or a dishcloth. I MUCH prefer coming here and living through your projects! :-)

Tammy ~@~

Charity said...

Like Leann, I knit for all of those reasons! It changes from day to day, year to year, but all sorts of reasons factor in, and this is one of the things I love most about knitting (well... besides the yarn itself!). I love that knitting can be whatever you need it to be on almost any given occasion.

Get better soon!

Knitter said...

I knit because I enjoy it. The rhythmic movements are soothing. It keeps me from going crazy. I love wearing something I handknit, and having people ask me where I got it...though the people who really know me just say, "I suppose you made that yourself, didn't you?" I firmly believe that knitting just for the beauty of it is fine. Though I mostly knit things that I will use, like dishcloths and bibs, or wear, like sweaters and socks. I'm working on a triangular lace shawl right now, just because I had an inspiration, and I wanted to learn how to make a triangular shawl. :)

About that gorgeous yarn, I think it would be nice for a shawl, if you have enough. Or maybe just a little fichu if you only got one skein. Good luck! I can't wait to see what that yummy-looking skein turns into!

marit said...

I agree with all the above;-)
I love to knit, and I wear scarves, sweaters, wool socks, hats, mittens...whatever. I knit for my kids, friends, I knit lace tablecloths for gifts...It's fun, there's always a new challenge. And there are waaaay too many beautiful patterns and yarns out there...

You can knit just to knit!

KnitsAtTrafficLights said...

I knit because it keeps my loved
safe and warm and prevents me having to do hard time when they annoy me. (teenagers!)

I just discovered lace knitting this summer. I am working on the Forest Path Stole.

BTW, your yarn is beautiful!!

Laura said...

I knit for all of those reasons. When I was younger and my eyesight was better I loved to do fine needlework. I learned to knit so I would be able to continue to work with fiber even though I had to wear bifocals.

I also knit for others. Knitting gifts is my favorite knitting.

About four years ago we moved from northern Virginia (cold enough to wear wool about 5 months of the year) to Alabama (cold enough to wear wool about three months of the year). I hardly ever use a coat, but I do wear my handknit wool cardigans and socks and shawls a lot. Shawls are perfect here for fall through spring, and I knit several lacy wrap/shawls from fiber other than wool or silk for using during the summer, especially at church.

Your sock yarn is lovely!

Yarnhog said...

For the simple, visceral pleasure of it. I am a fidgeter. I twirl my hair, rub my fingernails, chew my mouth. Knitting gives me a perfect outlet for my fidgeting that also keeps me from engaging in less socially-acceptable behaviors. I love the feel of the yarn between my fingers. I love the repetitiveness. I love watching the fabric grow. It is satisfying and calming and a wonderful creative outlet. It allows me to sit still for extended periods and engages my hands while my mind wanders. It is as deeply, psychically pleasing as eating.

Octopus Knits said...

I agree with all the reasons people here say they're knitting :) I'll add one that I don't think has been addressed outright yet: I knit because I like to feel productive (when I'm riding the bus, waiting for a class to start, watching TV, etc.).

That yarn is really lovely.... I think a simply patterned scarf or shawl would show it off nicely.

Alison said...

Knitting for someone is a powerful testament of, I care about you. I thought about you. I did this for you so you would always be able to know that, whatever else life may bring.

And that is a gorgeous, gorgeous yarn!

--Alison Hyde at (Blogger will link to a dead-end)