Fast, faster, fastest....best, better, more better?
While browsing the knitting videos on youtube, I was a bit amazed at just how many videos there are promoting ways to increase the speed of knitting. Now, I have always considered myself to be a slow knitter just because it seems to take such a very long time to finish whatever project I’ve started. I thought it was because I get distracted so easily to the point that I might be holding the needles and yarn, but there’s no real knitting going on. The other day I actually watched myself knit and discovered that I really do knit very slowly. Each stitch is deliberately made and the next is executed just as slowly and deliberately. Can I knit faster? Of course, I can, but do I want to?
I’ve experimented with holding the needles and yarn in different ways. My usual method is throwing, meaning that I tension the yarn with my right hand. I can also knit (but not purl) continental, meaning that I tension the yarn using my left hand. It’s interesting that many knitters who knit predominately continental believe that their way is the best, and fastest, way to knit. When they demonstrate the difference, their movements seem overly exaggerated when bemoaning the horrors of throwing the yarn instead of scooping or picking. When I knit, either way, the only parts of me moving are my fingers. I don’t need to wildly swing my right arm from the shoulder just to loop the yarn over the left hand needle. I’ve rarely heard people who knit using the throwing method try to convince anyone that their way is the best way. But, my real point here is that no matter which method I use to knit, I still knit slowly.
Perhaps the reasoning for some people to want to knit faster comes from wanting to finish each project as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next. I like to finish my projects, too, but the real pleasure for me comes from the act of knitting itself. It’s soothing, calming, and unless the pattern is a real bear, it allows me time to think about...stuff. Stuff that isn’t knitting. Stuff like what I’d like to be doing this time next year. Stuff like wishing a bunch of industrious elves would show up during the night and clean my house for me. Stuff like wondering where the heck the days have gone; wasn’t it just the beginning of the weekend a few minutes ago, how did it suddenly become Wednesday?
Really, I don’t actually believe that there is only one truly best way to knit. Part of the attraction—the charm, if you will—of knitting is that there are many different ways to accomplish the same (if not identical) finished result. Just look at all the different ways there are to decrease one stitch: k2tog, ssk, psso, bind off, etc. They might all produce a different look, but still accomplish the same result: one less stitch. And, each of those methods can be done differently, whether it’s knitting through the back loop or slipping a stitch as if to knit or as if to purl. Knitting is so diverse. What other craft has so many different ways to achieve the same goal?
I knit because I enjoy the process. There’s no competition and it’s not a race...for me. Still, I would like to finish this sweater some day in the not too distant future.
It's getting there, slowly but surely. Hope I've got enough yarn in the stash, 'cause Knit Picks doesn't carry Essential in Carbon Twist any longer.
My next sweater is going to require worsted weight yarn and bigger needles,instead of fingering weight. What was I thinking?!