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Solving for X

by erin on May 13, 2014

I was talking with another knitter on the phone this past weekend.  She had asked about my experiences with a double decrease , something she’s encountering with her most recently cast on project.  (yeah, sometimes I have phone conversations about knitting decreases…I know….oddness abounds)  I told her about my shawl and the decreases on it, and we talked shop a bit before I asked her how her new project was going.


“Oh, that,” she remarked airily.  “I didn’t like how it was going, so I put it down and picked up something else.”  Basically it was giving her too much trouble up front to be worth her time.  I nodded my head in agreement, then realized I was on the phone, so I murmured encouragement.


“I hear that,” I agreed.  “Life’s too short to deal with a lousy project.”


Then she started talking about what she cast on for instead.  However, the colors of her new yarns were giving her pause.  I waited for the continuation of a theme:  she was going to put that down, too, and find something else.  She gave an alternate, completely acceptable response instead.


“I’m going to knit on it some more and see if it works out all right.”




So, we have project one, which was totally dropped like your boyfriend in middle school, and project number two, which gets the benefit of the doubt.  I caught myself up short and began wondering  about how and when does each option apply.  Is this some kind of emotion-based knitter math based on time invested and stitches knitted, compared to weight of the yarn (is fingering or worsted weight more likely to be frogged or abandoned?), and a mysterious variable I will call X.  X = concern about knitting project success.


This leads to a gray zone.  For some knitters, on some projects this X-factor (ba dum dum) leads them to throw down their needles, convinced instantly that the project is a no-go.  Strangely, others knit on.  My friend knit only 20 rows on the first project she threw down…and the second one?  That project was also a no-go, but only after about 80 rows were knit on it.  X = Totally mysterious knitting juju.  She had to knit more to find out that she shouldn’t have been knitting it at all.  Very interesting, fraulein.  Und vut feelinks do you have about dis?


I have experience with this myself.  I have started a few rows only to say to myself, “oh no you di-int” and rip it all out.  Other times I have knit for hours, slowly surfacing through the bog of denial that this tank top I was knitting would only fit a Sequoia.  I had a feeling it wasn’t going to work out, but I kept going.  And, other times, I have not stopped at all, but taken it to the very end, simply to finish a project that I would never wear out of the house.  X, dude.  Seriously.  X.


In other news, my Better Together shawl is finally done!  It is masterful that it was designed from the bottom up, so that the rows got shorter.  That last page of the pattern I had despaired about last week?  I finished it in an afternoon!  Brilliant!  Here it is in all its glory!  I love it!



I am now surveying my possible knitting options, seeing what to cast on for, or what to rescue from the UFO bin.  Have any knitters out there dealt with the mysterious X variable in your knitting?  Any fun war stories of what X has driven you to do?  Leave a comment and tell us all about it!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty May 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Your shawl is gorgeous! Nice job!
I don’t have a solid policy for my X factors. For now, if the project pisses me off, it goes into time out…. Later tonight (at general knitting class), I have a half done cowl that I plan to solicit ideas about from Mary. Dang thing is curling up like a circular scroll. If Mary doesn’t have a magic suggestion for it, it will go into my time out pile… 😉


erin May 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Thank you so much! I, too, have a time out pile. Sometimes it gets frighteningly large!


Patty May 13, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Update: Mary says the curling cowl problem will block out just fine. It is thereby spared the time out pile.
Perhaps others will find that asking a more experienced knitter for advice/suggestions can spare their Factor -X affected projects from time outs too. 😉


Wendy's Boyfriend James May 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

So far, the closest I have come to abandoning a project was the Approximately Tonka Amnesty Sweater (long story) which took a little over 2 years to finish because… well because I found other stuff to work on that was “more pressing”. Of course I have that sweater to thank for finishing Sir Stanley Cluck, the Carolina Hurricanes stuffed Chicken, the Infinite Shawl, the Deceptively Complicated Purple Cowl Hood Thing, the WTF Question Everything Hat, the Try the Decaf Scarf, Bantamime the French Hen, a black Che Beret for my favorite anarchist, and the Approximately Clyde Scarf. Oh, and an Angry Birds hat for my grandson’s birthday. When you’re using the X Factor of Avoidance to its best advantage, you can get all KINDS of stuff done.

That said, I pretty well start eevery project secure in the knowledge that I can’t screw up anything to the point where my Yarn Kninja Yoda girlfriend can’t bail me out. She’s awesome. And she’s an amazing knitter also, too.


erin June 3, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Preach it! She is an amazing knitter!


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