Saturday, January 9, 2016

the joy of tedium

I was going on a long trip and needed knitting--something that could keep me engaged for the 10 day trip I was taking. I was visiting knitting friends, we would spend lots of time at our needles, so--as you know--this is a serious issue for someone who can finish a scarf in 2 days or a sweater in a week!

In addition, I needed something that would not take a lot of space in my luggage but would keep me engaged for many hours of knitting. Okay, lots of time, not a lot of space. You suggest fine yarn? You would be right! And while the obvious solution is lace-weight shawl, that is not my style. Nor does its chart-checking suit the amount of time I would spend in serious conversation. What to do?

Well, I had seen a pillow made by a friend--modular, garter stitch, sock yarn--and thought, okay, that works. Fine yarn, easy stitch pattern. But I have 10 days, so let's make a sweater!

I first gathered my sock yarns, made a pile of colours that seemed to work (greens, browns, grays), knit a swatch . . . so far so good. But I did not want to travel with--let alone knit with--piles of tangly balls of sock yarn, so then I unravelled my swatch (after measuring it for gauge) to see how much yarn each square took. Eight yards! How many butterfly wraps in 8 yards? Thirty two! (Am I the only one intrigued by this four-to-one relationship???)

Okay, so now I know how much yarn each square takes. And I also know I need a whole lotta squares . . . which translates to a lot of time making butterflies! Where and when shall I do this rather tedious, advance task? At the car dealership! Perfect!

And so yes, after a couple of hours waiting at the dealership I had approx one hundred and twenty butterflies. (I was sitting in front of the service desk, wrapping, listening to an audiobook, totally in my happy place. But I know the man behind that desk was not intrigued by my wrapping nor my four-to-one relationship. He likely thought I was the most boring woman on the planet . . . as he turned back to his video game.)

The knitting of the sweater took two months! Wow! Yup, that's a long time! So much more than those 10 days. And it is one of the few garments to which I can answer that completely and totally inane question, "HOW LONG DID THAT TAKE TO KNIT???"

But you wanna know something?  The first thing I did when I finished was start another! Why did I do that? Well, those who know me know that's just what I do. But another answer is that I was soon going on an even longer trip--a month through S America, with Craft Cruises. All through that month-long trip, I worked through my (this time) red and orange butterflies, often enough wearing the original garment. (So when people asked that other most common question, "WHAT ARE YOU MAKING?" I could show them!)

I have to say that this garment is the most admired I have ever worn. The knitters of S America studied it, the Europeans on the cruise exclaimed over it, the young knitter-protographer on the cruise took its picture!  

And never did any knitter to whom I said "BUT IT TOOK TWO MONTHS TO KNIT!"  look in the least intimidated!  Aren't we amazing, that we can appreciate the beauty and joy of tedium?!?! I am so impressed with knitters who do not care how long something worth making and owning and wearing took to execute. In fact, the only question they ever asked was "When can I have the pattern?!!"

And so I wish you, for 2016, a tedious project of your own that gives you even a portion of the joy this one did me.

(Oh yes, in case you would like to see more photos, you can find it on Craftsy or Ravelry as the Memories Sweater--because I can remember every pair of socks that was made from each yarn!)


  1. Very cool! I would wear this! And would even attempt to make one!

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  3. Gorgeous sweater Sally!

    I have yet to work up the courage to knit a sweater -- still doing socks and scarves :)

    If you ever offer a class in Ottawa [your hometown] could you please post?

    Better yet -- if you know of someone who might be interested in being paid to be a "knitting coach" -- I would pay! I LOVE knitting and truly want to knit a sweater that fits -- but I know myself well enough to know that I work best when I have a real human being working with me.

    I hope you are enjoying a glorious retirement!

    Sabrina McTaggart