I am not a knitter. But I like to pretend that I knit.
I can knit. But I think in order to call yourself a something-er, you have to actually something or at least learn a lot about something and be some sort of something expert. I am not a knitting expert, I don’t study up on knitting and I almost never knit.
I also think it makes me not a knitter that I hate following patterns. It really bogs me down in remembering where I left off. In college, I took a class in knitting (liberal arts education at its finest.) I was supposed to knit a hat in the round. It had random stripes on it where I forgot what I was doing and started working backwards, essentially purling whole rows. I was supposed to do a Seaman’s scarf and I got so bored with the pattern that I started experimenting with new stitches, just to get me through the darn thing. (My instructor was none too pleased with that admission, as well as the fact that my mom accidentally felted the thing when she generously did my laundry.)
When I do knit, I usually start a project with great enthusiasm and make an impressive bit of progress on it. And then I forget about it, leaving my needles in a corner somewhere to gather dust while I move on to something else that entertains me. This is not to say I’ve never finished anything. I’ve done several scarves, a couple wash cloths, a hat (I wonder where that even is,) a clutch purse and a few other odds and ends.
So not being a knitter doesn’t mean I don’t have tips for you.
To make progress, I make knitting a challenge. I tell myeself “We’ll do x more rows, and then we’ll put it down.” I put the knitting down, stretch, make a cup of tea. It gives my fingers a rest and lets me sort of clear my head. Then I get back to it with another challenge.
But I like to make the challenges brief. I usually aim for about four to ten more rows for each sprint. For some people, that’s a pittance. For others, you know how much progress that can be for a single sitting and without a break.
And if the challenge is over and I still feel like going, I set a new challenge. Sometimes, I don’t need that little break. So I say “Alright, Dootsie, how’s about we go five more?” These challenges always lead to a ton of really encouraging progress, which helps me finish a project rather than abandon it entirely.
This madness helps me track progress. If I’m doing something more complicated than plain garter stitch, this helps me keep track of where I am. If I do more than a few rows at a go and something interrupts me, I can never remember where I left off. I can say “Oh, I just did four rows so I’m on a purl row. Gotcha.”
But I also write it down. I keep paper beside me and every time I stop, I make a note of what row to start with. I stab the paper with a needle and push it into the yarn ball. That way, if it’s a day or two (or a year or two…) til I pick it up again, I’ll know just where to start.