moving a mountain with a teaspoon

O.K., so here is the problem: the desire to finish many projects right away, and the compulsion to knit round the clock – or not at all, because I’m just overwhelmed, guilty, and late. Perhaps I bite off more than I can chew; perhaps it is a matter of perspective.

Whatever it is, I detest the feeling of a knitting deadline hanging over my project. I detest kicking myself or pulling all-nighters to finish something up. I detest the procrastination that pools around patterns I must adjust before knitting the next section (it always feels like swimming in mud).

Yet: I love knitting. I love mastering that new turn or corner. I love it when the pattern adaption works out. I love wrapping a new pair of socks in tissue, and the anticipation of smiles when unwrapped again.

Talking with Ace, I threw out the idea of goal-less knitting. “What do you mean?” she asked. I couldn’t quite tell her; after all, the finished project is always the goal. A better description of what I mean is stress-free knitting, or non-deadline knitting. Then the project seems to stay fresh, and fun.

Recently I promised my husband to knit some socks for his friend’s birthday. I have knit enough socks to know this will take me about 16 hours on US1 needles. The socks must be done by September 2. Plenty of time – or not?! The first week saw the cast on and the deliberation over frogging it all or living with a tiny imperfection (live with it). Then panic sets in!  The weather is too hot, I’m busy, life happens, good-grief-am-I-going-to-finish-in-time! I knit faster, longer, harder – to the point of straining my hand. Then I have to rest, and feel guilty. The sock project goes into stall.

Project management is a component, to be sure, but who wants factory hours for something that is supposed to be fun?  I’ve made a mountain out of a mole-hill, and now have to move the mountain!  Time to step back and breathe.

We all remember that ant and the rubber tree plant. Persistence and patience. Twelve hours of knitting left and 8 weeks to do it in works out to about seven minutes of knitting a day! I am starting to relax already.

Seven minutes a day I can do. Picking up some good books-on-CD at the library, I can do more than seven minutes a day (but only if I want to). The socks again take on an organic rhythm. I might even get them done “early” and have time to finish the self-indulgence sweater. Not fast. Not in a superhuman burst of frenzy. Just quietly, a little bit more each day. Now the color comes back into the picture; yarndorphins kick in; we can certinaly move this mountain – a teaspoon at a time.


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