All things to all people

I’ve been thinking about garter stitch, and a quirky little relationship that it and I have going on. One of the beauties of knitting is that it can be many things to many people. Just as an example, last week someone told me that I was essentially wrong about knitting. I was being challenged by knitting, and this person said, essentially “Dude. Knitting is supposed to be easy, not hard. If it is stressing you out than you are way, way out of the knitting loop. Go knit something easier.” and that got me thinking.

She’s right. It didn’t bother me at all that she said that, because knitting is an amorphous, messed up chameleon. It’s why you don’t just find one personality type knitting. Knitting can be, for people like the lady who wrote me, a relaxing, deeply meditative thing. A calm, repetitive action that churns away stress and upset and sends us straight to the deep end of a metaphoric hot tub of happiness. On the other hand.. knitting can also be a way to challenge yourself, learn new things, engage your mind… and sometimes.. just like other things you might use to improve yourself, knitting can… well. Hurt. Be frustrating. Drive you nuts. Knot your skein. Make you cry. It’s like rock-climbing or running a marathon or taking a night school class… it’s hard to learn new things, and everybody likes to learn new things… we just all do it in a different way, and I’ve always been enchanted with knitting as a tool.

I find it downright interesting that it can be as simple as you might want it to be… and as hard as I might want it to be, while still being the same craft entirely.

More than that, it’s a mind boggling thing to me that I can pick and choose my knitting to reflect what I might need it to be. That if I’m sitting around and need to be entertained or distracted, I might pick up a clever little bit of knitting that engages my mind and helps me focus. An hour later, I might be bored to tears and looking for something that will light my brain up like a Christmas tree…, and bingo. I just need another knitting project. Maybe lace or a Latvian Braid or… well, it’s bottomless, isn’t it? I’ve been knitting for 36 years and I can still think of stuff that I don’t know how to do yet, or stuff that I don’t know that I don’t know because I never heard of it. On the other hand, at the end of a demanding week, when my brain is full of other things, I’m working like a dog and I miss my family…


There’s still garter stitch. Reliable, soothing, repetitive, calming garter stitch, always a place to go when I don’t want more stress, and am being challenged enough by other things.

Great blue heron fishing outside our place a bonus.


Pattern: Shawl that Jazz (Rav link), Yarn: Twisted in Puck’s Mischief. 2 skeins.

(PS. If you’re a confirmed Sock Summit Vendor, you should be getting an email today that invites you to go to the vendor info page and log in with your shiny new username and password and get a contract with us. Dudes. It totally works. If you’re an unconfirmed vendor… just keep waiting. I swear we’re trudging along neatly.)

122 thoughts on “All things to all people

  1. Knitters never cease to fascinate me, I love hearing all the different approaches, perspectives, preferences. I love it. I even love watching other people knit; how they hold their yarn, what projects they are working on and it seems that everyone has an idea of what is easy and what is hard. Its lovely.

  2. Yes, knitting can be whatever one needs it to be. I am still in the stage of disbelief that actual knitted fabric is coming off my needles. I can be totally content with a plain scarf. I can see why other people want the complicated patterns, too. But it is the repetitive, mindless (almost- don’t tempt the gods) knitting that I am enjoying right now. No socks for me just yet! Vicki in Portland

  3. Thanks for the yarn info. It’s too, too pretty.
    Me, I like my knitting easy. Of course, what’s easy moves a little farther north each year…
    I’m curently knitting and studying and studying and knitting, so the Sock Summit classes will seem easy in August. I’m planning on kicking up my well-clad heels.
    What does it say about you, if the only part of your body that is elegantly clad is your feet? I live in jeans and t-shirts, but I have some kickin’ socks.

  4. How lucky are you to be by a real lake with a real blue heron instead of crows in a muddy QC City backyard…
    and such beautiful yarn to top it off….

  5. You are so right about Garter stitch. It’s that rythmic motion that calms the soul, slows down the heart beat and resets the mind into calm. I always like to keep a simple project like that around so that I can run to it or grab it out of my bag. It sure beats breathing into a paper bag 🙂 Isn’t it glorious too that after calming us down it pays us back again with a wonderful garment? I just love to knit 🙂

  6. Henceforth and forever more if one more person asks me what on earth I need to knit for, I can calmly and with a straight face state the obvious, “Why, I knit to get to the deep end of the metaphoric hot tub of happiness! Isn’t that why everyone knits?” I can’t wait.

  7. Lovely yarn doesn’t hurt either. Knitting for oneself, knitting for others, knitting hard stuff and easy stuff and just knitting to have something in your hands at awkward moments… All are better with stunning colours of wool!

  8. You are so on target here. I love the simplicity of knitting but I also love to be challenged. Even if I get mad lace after ripping it out for the umteenth time I still love it. It might get put away and the “easy” knitting may come out but I always go back and figure out the problem and then love the new piece. I don’t know that I agree that knitting is supposed to aways be easy. If it were how would I learn something new? On top of that if I have to rip something out I get to re-knit the yarn. That can’t be all that bad after all it is more knitting.

  9. I am just popping in to say hi, and I am so glad to see that you are taking care of yourself.
    You totally nailed why I adore knitting. It can be very zen and soothing and very enervating and exhilarating all at the same time. Or not. And as long as a person is getting knitted fabric, there is no wrong way to do it.
    I love the Sock Summit info- I am living vicariously through those who will be attending and your updates.

  10. Thank you for explaining how soothing garter st. can be and I now know why that is exactly why i have been doing it for a month. Good luck in all that you do .

  11. Ooooo… Blue herons. Best part about those beautiful birds are seeing them take off and fly. Almosts feels as though you’re watching a pterodactyl.

  12. Agree totally on how knitting can just help you move “away” from the things that make us all crazy. I love to go back and forth from simple to hard to simple. Interestingly enough, my reading tastes are the same. There’s nothing wrong with a little “brain candy” every now and then.
    Puck’s Mischief looks lovely – and Twisted is a great yarn. Enjoy that shawl!

  13. Whenever people want to know why I have so many projects going at once, I have an answer.
    I’m a mood knitter.

  14. What you say is so true! I knit both because knitting is mindless and requires my full attention. I think it’s fair to say that some of us need to breathe, some of us need to knit (well, OK, and breathe too). Right?

  15. Great blue heron! Yayayayay! Lots of love.
    This post made me realize why I’m knitting garter and stockinette all. The. Time. That’s where my brain is at. And on Fridays I spin to shake up my universe.

  16. Isn’t this true. I’ve just started knitting in the last several months – and am hooked, probably, for life. Since I’ve begun, I’ve discovered both the relaxing and challenging side of it. I find it rather fascinating how many different approaches there are, and how it works different for different people. And what one might find difficult another finds easy. Example: When I started, i heard so much about how ‘hard’ socks are, and how people can knit for years and never ‘get’ socks. I knit a triangle shawl for my first project, enjoyed it, then decided I wanted to try those socks. So for my second project, I made a pair of socks. Sure it took me a few hours to get the hang of knitting with DPNs in a circle and longer to find a sock pattern that I could understand – but with the help of a good pattern, some youtube videos, I breezed through my first pair of socks. Not only did I love it, but it was SIMPLE. Sure it was challenging at first – I was dealing with concepts I hadn’t heard of yet, but it wasn’t intimidating. Now I want to do more socks! And maybe something harder. Like some lace or a sweater. . .or both. (A lace sweater? hmm. lol) But yeah, I love how flexible it is.

  17. One of the things I like most about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s writing is how she went on about garter stitch with such enthusiasm. It’s an underestimated thing, for sure.

  18. Knitting
    sometimes it’s teaching, sometimes being taught.
    usually peaceful, occasionally knot.

  19. And in all fairness, the very act of blogging calls for more interesting content than the meditation aspect of knitting. I do a lot of easy, simple projects that never get blogged because they are like brushing my teeth to me. But I do blog about the difficult, the disasters, the great triumphs because that is exactly what you want to share (or get sympathy for) with other knitters.

  20. Total validation for my out of control WIPs. I’ve got a project in the works for EVERY possible mood. No Latvian braids yet though…need to work on that. 😉

  21. Knitting is great isn’t it.
    Some days I can’t even count to 10.
    Our different needs at different times explains that we can all be a yarn harlot – not staying faithful to the same project. Mostly, it is all productive too and if you have to tink, you no longer see the mistakes!
    It is all magical.

  22. I like challenging knitting, as a Critter Knitter–the more ingenious the pattern the better!
    But I like calm, relaxed knitting, too, so usually have two things going–a critter and a plain, usable sock with not much fancy going on in it.
    A versatile ART!

  23. Knitting is..Did you read the news article about the 98 year old woman, who in the midst of the recent Italian earthquake tragedy waited in her bed, in her damaged home waiting to be rescued..and she was after 30 hours . When she was asked what she had been doing during that time she said she was knitting! Of course. What more can we say?!

  24. It is interesting how so many people view knitting challenges in a different way. I’m terrified of making sweaters because I’m so freaked out about Not Getting Gauge and putting 100 hours of work into something that won’t fit. (Yes, I’m working through this.)
    But color work doesn’t bother me at all. Fiddly, possibly. Hard? not really.
    And garter stitch, for all its simplicity, makes me want to poke my eyes out. I hate garter stitch. I couldn’t finish making a BSJ because I couldn’t stand that much garter stitch.
    But I love stockingette stitch done in the round. Go figure. 🙂

  25. Hats off to the 98 year old lady earthquake victim in Italy who was found yesterday after being captive in her appartment for two days! She kept sane during her ordeal knitting!!

  26. Garter stitch is pure knitting. The challenge begins with the purl! I think that’s why there are so many size needles. The hot tub of happiness and probably good for felting…
    Isn’t it great when work is fun and fun is work? Best of both worlds.

  27. I LOVE great blue herons! I once had one take off languidly, slowly into the air maybe ten feet from me. Totally awesome.
    I love this description of knitting. Knitting is so highly individual: for me, garter is not relaxing. It’s counterintuitive to the fingers each and every single stitch and it’s like my fingers are constantly yelling up at my brain, You’re doing it wrong! That’s not the way knitting is supposed to feel as you go!
    Heh. We’ll teach them a thing or two.

  28. Could your next book book book be a picture book, filled with your lovely pictures of wool? They are all so lovely. (Blue heron notwithstanding.)

  29. This is a great explanation. I might have to read this to my husband — he keeps telling me that “knitting is your hobby: it needs to be fun for you. It needs to not be stressful.” And I understand his point, but he doesn’t understand THIS. That part of the reason I love knitting is that it is challenging, and sometimes that means it’s frustrating. (But perhaps I should think about keeping a simple project around for the I’m-pulling-my-hair-out days.)

  30. I believe when Sam was designing this shawl she did a post on how garter stitch is chicken soup for the soul! So perfect I think!
    Hope you and Tina are having a great week!

  31. I like my knitting to be challenging (usually). I wouldn’t say it stresses me, unless I’m trying to meet some ridiculous deadline. It does definitely annoy me sometimes, but that’s so different from the real stress in the rest of life. It’s always the best way to distract my brain from those real stresses.

  32. This is why I have so many projects on the go. Varying levels of difficulty, different patterns to either calm or challenge me depending on my mood or how much sleep-deprived I am.
    Whenever I get frustrated by the number of UFO’s I have I remember what you wrote on 7th Jan of the calendar : It’s called knitting, not sweater-making.

  33. Gotta love that garter. Rest assured, everything will be okay if the Sock Summit is not perfect to a T. We’ll love our Harlot anyway!

  34. Weirdly enough, there is nothing I knit WORSE than garter stitch. Been knitting for 25 years and it still looks uneven with mucky ends.

  35. That is exactly what I love about knitting too. It’s always best to have at least two projects on the go – one calming and one challenging as heck! Mind you, I’ve had the “calming” knit on the needles and mostly ignored for two years now!
    I think another thing about knitting is that it may be stressful, but it’s something we have a lot more control over than the other things in our lives. We can let it be stressful, and then fight back and win! There is almost always a good outcome to celebrate.

  36. You mentioned that knitting sometimes hurts, and it made me reflect on something in my recent past. I just bought my first house, and to commemorate the milestone I designed a scarf for my husband and gloves for myself. As I was knitting the gloves, my left wrist started to hurt. A lot. The more I knit, the worse it got. I gave it a break for a day and it didn’t get better. It took 2 weeks to get to a point where the small movements didn’t hurt the wrist. Unfortunately it was right before my move, and I didn’t knit a single stitch on the whole 24 hour drive to the new place (we’re still relatively young, so we drove straight through – ugh). Now I have nearly no time to do any yarn craft because of the moving in and entertaining. I miss knitting. It’s like a family member to me – even if it hurts me, I still love it.

  37. I’m totally with ya! I have projects that suck out my few remaining brain cells and beat them up, then I have projects like the Noro “Yarn Crack” Scarf that are so soothing and meditative that it feels like my hands do all the thinking. When I started knitting, it seemed that almost every knitting project was of the brain sucking variety, but it’s slowly getting better. What I think is amazing is you can spend your whole life knitting only socks and still have the exact same joys and frustrations about knitting! Of course what one knitter (you) might think is a soothing project is another knitter’s (me) worse nightmare. The awesome thing is that even though the skill levels are totally different, all knitters have experienced the same type of joy and frustrations when knitting. How cool is that!?!

  38. OK how many of us just went and bought that yarn and queued that pattern? “ENABLER!”
    I don’t even LIKE garter stitch!

  39. Absolutely – the really cool thing is that you can work on the relaxing, easy stuff whilst thinking about the tricky knitting. I always think up my best design ideas whilst knitting garter stitch.

  40. That yarn is just DELICIOUS!!! I need some. I just wish it were easier to get Blue Moon yarns in the UK! Am very, very jealous!

  41. My husband won’t believe me if I tell him knitting can be as challenging as a marathon (he just finished the Paris marathon). I don’t know if he will take it from you either, but I can try. And you are right, sometimes you need challenging knitting, sometimes soothing garter stitch. The soothing knitting usually is socks for me, but those can be challenging too! I just finished one beaded sock, and I doubt this one will ever get a mate.

  42. Like so many things, knitting is what you make of it. You’re not always in total control, but how you react to what is going on is a big part of how it turns out.

  43. And yet a simple garter stitch can look stunning in a yarn that pretty!
    I never associate the word “hard” with knitting. Because the act of knitting itself is not “hard” – it’s extraordinarily simple and easy. I prefer “challenging” – a new technique or construction or mohair yarn that tangles and sticks to your needles…those aren’t hard, they’re challenging. It’s like when people call their kids challenging or difficult instead of just admitting they’re bad. 😉

  44. I completely agree with making knitting what you want or need it to be. I typically have several projects going on for just that reason: something garter stitch or stockinette at work for knitting while I’m reading; something not too large or complicated for knitting on the subway; something of medium complication for knitting when I’m watching TV or movies; something else really simple for events out like sports; and something deliciously complicated for when I want to be completely involved in just knitting. There are times, of course, when knitting is genuinely frustrating, but for me those are few and far between. Possibly it’s because I tend to seek out challenges in everything I do – I recently registered for my first marathon.

  45. Well said!
    To me, knitting can be challenging without necessarily being hard because I know that if I keep at it, I will always be able to do it in the end…even if it means ripping something ot 5 times before I finally get it right. And if it was always easy, I probably wouldn’t be as passionate about it as I am. I like that I will probably never know everything there is to know about knitting. It will never get boring!

  46. As a relatively new (4 yrs) knitter, some of that Christmas tree level stuff still scares the bejeezus out of me, but I plan on jumping off whenever the need strikes. But I do find garter stitch to be quite calming and always keep something on the needles to soothe me. It’s a wonderful world.

  47. Maybe that’s why I have so many projects (many on size 9 needles), I like to have an easy one (Sam’s shawl is on the list to cast on), a medium difficulty one (like several different sock patterns) and something really hard (like lace with a lot of pattern work). That way I can switch back and forth depending on my mood. Apparently I have many moods because I’ve got at least 25 different WIPs.

  48. I HATE knitting garter and never do as it seems like you are knitting forever!

  49. I bought the shawl pattern and I have some yarn I would love to use, but it is lace weight. Your needles do not look to be size 8. Are you making this with smaller needles? If so did you increase the number of stitches to compensate? Thanks.

  50. Knitting serves people in different ways. It also, when done for the reasons you mention in your first paragraph, to stimulate your brain, has been proven by the Mayo Clinic to help stave off Alzheimers. Go to to see a short piece about this and other benefits. Challenging the brain results in frustration, but ultimately in marvelous success, so doing ‘hard’ knitting is beneficial in numerous ways. ‘Easy’ knitting has its place, as does ‘hard’ knitting!

  51. I love the challenge, the repetition and the finished product. And I love giving it away.
    Be good to yourself. I’m trying to tame my inner voice, so I know it’s hard. If your family has a problem with you being there, they would not have let you go. Of course you need to take time off – garter stitch is just the trick! Put the whip away. You can do it! Be reasonable.
    (I’m excited I’m in the top 100!)

  52. Delurking–On CNN last night they said a 90-something-year-old woman had been pulled out of the rubble of the earthquake in Italy. While she waited to be rescued, she said she passed the time by knitting.

  53. I absolutely agree! I always have at least two knitting projects going on at once, for exactly that reason. I have one larger, more brain-challenging project that keeps my mind engaged and enjoying the length of the project. Right now, for me, that’s Wisteria. All those cable charts are really holding my interest.
    I also usually have a simple pair of socks or a scarf with a pattern repeat that I can easily memorize and work on while waiting in line, watching TV, etc. For me, right now, that’s knitty’s Spring Forward socks. Sheer comfort knitting.

  54. Did you see on the news last night that sweet little 98 year old lady who was dug out of the rubble of her house (Italian earthquake)? When asked how she kept herself going, she said she just kept knitting!!! Way to go gal! Lovely knitting story.

  55. I love this post.
    The knitting I enjoy the most is the knitting that challenges me and requires a chart and counting and hard thinking.
    But… when I am doing hard thinking in some other part of my life, I can’t give up the knitting – and then it has to be really, really easy. I’ve knit a lot of vanilla socks lately, but I can’t wait to get back to that lace shawl.

  56. Knitting to me is a passion. When I’m about to start a new project or when my mind is in creative mode, it reminds me of the feeling of excitement I got as a child before going to the fair, or on Christmas Eve and Easter morning. That wonderful giddy feeling in your stomach of total bliss and happiness.

  57. And knitting is sometimes a life saver. I bet many of your readers did what I did when hearing about the woman in Italy that survived the earthquake and spent her time knitting while waiting to be rescued. I laughed out loud. I wondered if just a bit of her thought , “Well finally a moment to knit!” That is why we must have a big stash, you just never know how long it might take you to be rescued.

  58. Last Knit Night, I got into a discussion about multiple projects with a couple of monogamous knitters. I tried to explain why I *NEED* several projects going at a time, then you waltz in an explain what I was trying to say ever so much more eloquently. :o)

  59. To Helen in the UK, who was bemoaning the difficulty of getting Blue Moon in the UK–make an American friend who will buy it and mail it to you! Offer to trade for equal value of British/Irish/Scottish/Welsh yarns that are harder to get over here. And can we find out an address for the elderly Italian woman? I’d love to start a ‘send her yarn’ campaign for her bravery and common sense! Randmknitter

  60. Nicely written.
    I see now that I actually need MORE projects on the go, not less, so I have something to suit every mood, energy level & occasion.
    Off to cast-on something simple & relaxing now.

  61. Garter stitch always makes me cry, though. It’s hard, because right now that’s what my brain can handle (and it’s just about what my hands can handle too, dammit — stupid issues) but…
    It’s all horizontal lines. And it squishes up when you don’t want it to squish up, or (if you’re making something huge and open) it’s got bumps when you just want smooth netting. And it looks like that bad stretch of the seventies. And…
    …and I mostly just feel like a sick, sad failure when I work on it, ’cause then the stuff other people make and tag as “easy, mindless projects” appears and it’s, like, lace or cables or teeny tiny ribbed socks. I look at the garter stitch scarf on the big needles, I read rav, and suddenly all the hope falls out the window.
    Which is probably why I just hang out around the perfume and spindle forums now, I guess.

  62. You are so right! I think that may be true of any craft, though. I can spin laceweight superwash merino, very slowly to get it as even as possible, or a nice undemanding dk-weight wool/mohair blend (from Friends Folly Farm, which I recommend checking out if you haven’t already); I can cook a gourmet meal or scrambled eggs; a skilled woodworker can make a simple keepsake box or a top-of-the-line spinning wheel.
    I will grant you that knitting is the most portable of these. Also the most contagious, especially in those colors.

  63. The Navajo have it right…balance is the key to all living. Having a challenging project for the morning when I’m alert is replaced by a mindless easily memorized, pattern piece in the evening. I spend some time each week exploring patterns, yarns, and knitting techniques. This past weekend I took a class in two-color knitting using both the continental and English styles simultaneously, because I’m very interested in Scandinavian and Fair Isle patterns. So this week I’m spending a little time each day practicing.

  64. Spending at least some of my knitting time on challenging knitting is a must — if I never challenged myself, I’d end up spending a lifetime knitting garter stitch scarves. And there are far too many beautiful things out there that stretch my knitting skills to just consign myself to the same-old same-old, IMO.
    So garter stitch is a real mind-saver at the right times, isn’t it? For example, my doctor changed a medicine I’m taking, and for the past two days I’ve been too woozy to focus on anything more complicated. Garter stitch, fortunately, requires no use of my eyes at all; it’s a stitch that can be done 100% by feel. Thanks for selecting the perfect pattern — I’m taking shameless advantage of your legwork! 🙂
    Unfortunately, between being a mood knitter and having a recent acute case of startitis, my UFO pile is growing by leaps and bounds. I keep telling myself to finish a UFO before I start a new project, that keeps not happening, alas.
    But the great news is that I’ve just about worked out how I can go to the Sock Summit! A buddy pass standby airline ticket coupled with a spare bedroom at my MIL’s place, and it suddenly becomes affordable. Yay!

  65. You know, you verbalized knitting quite excellently! That is EXACTLY it. Knitting can be whatever you want or need it to be. There are times in life for garter stitch and times for learning something new. Yes. Very well said! Thank you.

  66. Oh how I loathe garter stitch. Probably why I’ve been working on my Mermaid Jacket for 3 years.
    It is a neccessity to have different project going for different moods …

  67. And that post explains perfectly why we have different projects cast on all at the same time. We have to be able to meet all our differnt needs at the drop of a hat.

  68. That is why I knit plain vanilla socks. Just knitting round and round, no thinking, just knitting one simple stitch after the other, when I’m tired or stressed, or watching something on TV that actually requires a certain amount of attention. Lovely shawl, I might just snag that pattern!

  69. Interestingly I don’t find garter stitch all that relaxing. When I drop a stitch is far harder to hoik it back up again in garter stitch than in stockinette and forget it when you’ve also got increases and decreases figured in (like in the baby surprise sweater). I love doing mindless stockinette stitch on circular needles or dps. That is relaxing. For garter stitch I have to stay a little bit more alert. Which is probably why the baby blanket that I’m currently knitting on in a modified garter stitch is taking me far longer to get done than it should be (even in fingering weight yarn). Which only goes to show that even among knitters what’s easy isn’t the same for everyone. I personally find socks easy and relaxing (other than the heel which just has to be gotten through in a quiet half hour or so. Other people think garter stitch scarves are relaxing, but the last one I knit had me about ready to pull my hair out by the end. Not only was it garter stitch, but it took way too long, and I was knitting it for someone who at that moment was not my favorite person in the whole world. Heck, he’s never my favorite person, but right then he might have been down near the bottom of the list entirely. So relaxing it was not.

  70. I have to say, it always bothers me when people start informing me of the rules of knitting. Especially since everyone’s rules are different! I teach, and I have to constantly reassure my students that they are doing all right – it’s not a race, they don’t have to do (whatever) if they don’t want to, and to just ignore those people who try to tell them they are ‘doing it wrong’. There are no rules! Just enjoy yourself! I also love the fact that, like you say, I can choose something challenging when I need it or something soothingly easy if necessary. You really do hit the nail on the head! The yarn you are using is beautiful. And I wish I could look up and see a blue heron on the shore! (Although the sun is shining today…central NY, spring is taking forever….)

  71. Your friend is right. If the project you’re working on is stressing you out (and we all know you don’t need more stress right now), move to something easier.
    I’ve just done that with a baby shower gift. I kept messing up the pattern for a blanket so I switched to a sweater. Mostly stockinette stitch, some ribbing and some shaping.
    Now the stress is in finishing it in time for the actual event. 😎

  72. When I first learned to knit (nearly 50 years ago) all I ever knew was cast-on (one way only), knit stitch and purl stitch. When I re-discovered knitting a few years ago, I learned (mostly thru the internet and knit blogs) that “knitting” included about a bazillion other little skills/techniques. Happy, Happy Day! Sometimes I just want some “idiot” knitting – something to keep my hands busy while my mind and heart can take off in other directions. Other times I want/need something challenging – maybe something brand new (to me). I don’t want my knitting to be easy (boring) or even comfortable all the time. Sometimes yes. Sometimes No. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and other knitters out there who continually amuse, challenge, teach and encourage me.

  73. That’s the wonder of knitting. It can be as simple or as complex as you need at the moment. That’s what UFOs are for. I always have a simple project such as a BSJ going, one complex project such as a lace scarf, and then there’s always that sock in my purse.

  74. what a lovely, oh-so-true post. i am just now trying to break my “monogamous knitting” habit so that i always have a nice, easy garment to work on when i get tired of a more challenging project.
    i thought of you last night when i was out for drinks and noticed jeff perry (mr katimski on “my so-called life”) standing all alone at the bar. i desperately wanted to kinnear him but it was too dark for my cell phone camera to work. and the whole thing was so sad. he obviously wanted people to talk to him, while he ordered his cocktails, ate some dinner, and finished off with espresso with a little dog at his feet. no one did. i should have and now i feel guilty. but i’m not a “ohmygod you’re so-and-so” kind of girl.
    anyway, i explained to all of my friends that “kinnearing” was created by a very famous knit-blogger. they were flabberghasted.

  75. Plus…. think of all the EZ designs we wouldn’t be able to do without garter stitch! Lovely yarn Stephanie! The colors rock.

  76. Hey, you may know about this already…on page 22 of the New Yorker, in the April 6 issue is a little article about a panel discussion at the United Nations on how “Battlestar Galactica might inform the international body’s approach to some problems of the day”. Check it out!

  77. So, if you have the project that is meditative, the project that is driving you crazy and being manically frogged with growling, foaming at the mouth and rabid sorts of flinching AND the garter stitch and 5 pairs of socks, does that make you ambidextrous as a knitter – or just crazy.
    I mean, I don’t ask on account of myself, personally, it’s about a ‘friend’, really. Definitely not me…….LOL.

  78. I don’t think that you’re out of the knitting loop at all! I don’t want to be part of some inclusive loop that only allows for easy knits.. Like so many of the other commenters here, I like to have an “easy” project to relax with after a long day, and I do find beauty in simplicity quite often, but I am challenging myself to learn a new skill or technique with almost every project that I knit.
    After all, it has been proven that knitting is good for your brain for a variety of reasons — and I think that the challenge of learning a new skill or stitch pattern, the math involved in modifying patterns, et cetera, are an important part of that. C’mon, it’s no fun doing crosswords when you know all of the answers!

  79. Aww garter stitch, sometimes it’s the best therapy there is. A few years ago, I spent many long and sad hours at the hospital with my grandmother who was very very ill. I sat by her bedside knitting, first, I tried an intricate cabled poncho, but I kept messing the pattern up,as I was unable to focus on what I was doing. In the end, I found myself simply knitting, row after row in garter stitch, it was the best therapy. I think the knitting was the only thing that kept me sane through the whole process of my grandmothers passing.

  80. Aww garter stitch, sometimes it’s the best therapy there is. A few years ago, I spent many long and sad hours at the hospital with my grandmother who was very very ill. I sat by her bedside knitting, first, I tried an intricate cabled poncho, but I kept messing the pattern up,as I was unable to focus on what I was doing. In the end, I found myself simply knitting, row after row in garter stitch, it was the best therapy. I think the knitting was the only thing that kept me sane through the whole process of my grandmothers passing. I think that’s one of the great things about knitters, we adapt our craft to meet our needs, and our knitting happily obliges.

  81. “There’s still garter stitch. Reliable, soothing, repetitive, calming garter stitch…” Amen to that. It feels good after a few days of working on a really challenging project that’s not going very quickly to just pull out something easy and fly along. Maybe some garter stitch, maybe some easy ribbed socks … something that’s just smooth. Hopefully.

  82. Sea otter or river otter? I’m up for discussions about marine mammals, any time.
    It’s normal to want to chew off one’s foot, rather than talk to lawyers.

  83. garter stich in the right yarn is lovely
    your summit sounds as big as g20

  84. To one and all – YERP. Yeah. Uhn-huh. Yaaaz. I’ve been busy doing a lot of challenging things (equivalent to memorizing “The Raven” or something) and I am SO loving my toque (plain ol’ knitting on circulars) and my preemie caps (little bit o’ moss stitch….and guess what, plain ol’ knitting on circulars. Hands busy, mind free. I’m not a great knitter, but I have finally mastered plain ol’ knitting on circulars (or straights) without looking. what did you call it, dear? Theta waves? My Blessed Place of Peace for sure. Oh, and LOVE the beautiful heron….

  85. To one and all – YERP. Yeah. Uhn-huh. Yaaaz. I’ve been busy doing a lot of challenging things lately, not unlike studying for finals, and my Joy, my Tranquility, my Meditation…is my Plain Ol’ Knitting on circulars. It’s turning into toques and preemie caps and is the Ideal. We all share the common Spirituality called Knitting, and for each of us it’s a perfect fit. Awesome! (I remember an idol of mine describing “Theta State” or wossname; absolutely straight on.) All this – and a Blue Heron! Thank you!

  86. A lot of the time, the planning is way more fun than the execution. But mostly, I love knitting as a way to experience the past. Traditional methods and the garments they make – my grandmother did this, and so did her mother and all the generations back, on the east coast of Scotland.

  87. What a lovely yarn with which to sooth the savage breast.
    Yes, I see the many facets of knitting. I just signed up for a knitting course to challenge myself to learn more aspects of the craft – but the busyness of life has me knitting some only slightly-challenging socks. I keep seeing things I want to try but time does not permit. Knitting is truly enlarging, but also a wonderful place to come home to at the end of a long day.

  88. Puck’s Mischief-probably my very favorite BMFA colorway! Twisted-also a favorite. That shawl–suspect going to BE a favorite. Oh–and I love garter and blue herons as well. Ummmmm–Steph?? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!! (trust me, you want to–it’s a scary place in here)

  89. I’m sorry, Steph… I didn’t hear what you were saying, I was lulled into tranquility with the thought of knitting garter stitch with that yarn…

  90. I knit all levels of complexity. And, as you said, each has its place. After surgery last year, I was content to knit a simple, feather and fan scarf. I just finished a Heere be Dragones shawl, with every row different. After that I have done about 5 of the Noro scarfs. Mindless was wonderful. I always have socks going. Knitting is not ‘just’ relaxation. Knitting is not ‘just’ a challenge. Knitting is whatever it has to be at the time.

  91. It’s funny — quilting (piecing and machine quilting) is hard for me; knitting is easy. I can knit pretty much anything. The hardest lace, the most complicated cables: you name it, I can do it. But quilting! Oh my, do I struggle with it, and no matter how much progress I make, I’ll never ever be as good a quilter as I am a knitter. I could quit quilting and stick only to knitting, but I’d lose too much that way. My struggles reflect my progress; the easy is perhaps a bit indulgent.
    Now, for most people, there are enough struggles in life, and knitting is meant to be an escape from that. I respect that approach. But I reckon: if your hobby can be your struggle (meaning the rest of your life is pretty smooth) count your blessings and struggle on!

  92. Pretty yarn. Yeah, I like bringing something easy to my knit nights, because then I can pay attention to someone talking, or I can even talk, as I’m knitting and not have to worry about making mistakes. Other times, I like to do that more challenging thing. Most of the time, it’s a relaxing activity to do, though.

  93. I had a dream about you last night. You were on the sofa wearing your BSG socks and I got to see them (and comment that they look pinker than they yarn looked on my computer. They don’t in real life, do they? Please say No.)
    We were watching Stargate and I commented that you should design some Stargate socks, or get someone to do it. And I was so thrilled to spend time with you and fascinated that all of your socks are hand knit. And too horrified to tell you (and afraid you would figure out) that I cannot knit socks.
    Things always go weird when I try to go from stick to stick on the double points.
    Weird dream. It makes me want to practice on double points just so Stephanie Pearl-McPhee will be proud of me. How weird is that?

  94. Yes, garter stich shawls are great. I have one on the needles. It’s my second one of the same pattern. However, after looking at the one you are making you do realize that there are differences even in the joys of simple garter stich??
    Like, mine is a triangle that uses two YOs to get bigger. No circle or ruffles or anything like that.
    See, sometimes it’s the pattern too!! and the poor knitter on the reading end of said pattern! LOL

  95. The only thing I find more meditative is working on a beautiful roving on a spinning wheel, but people look at you funny on the bus. That’s what socks are for.
    I’ve had my challenges. The Melanie Shawl was one that kicked my butt, but I’ll get back to her. MMario’s Queen Anne’s Lace has given me back my lace working confidence so I’ll hit Melanie again.

  96. Knitting is knitting. Its good, great, kind, a sadist, wears leather and carries a whip. Makes you happy and makes you go screaming into the night. A lace pattern that drove me crazy and renamed me the “ripper”, has finally been brought under control. How??? I said “forget about it -insert brooklyn accent here-“, eyeballed it, did it my way and now, its a perfectly tamed pet. Defanged, declawed and Im DeBoss…smiles

  97. Hello, I am a confirmed sock summit vendor but have not received the mentioned email?????
    Also, I travel a lot and hate the get to, from to, not quite there but away part of the journey, too. Being there or here though is just fine.
    Thanks, Lois in Port Townsend, WA

  98. Hello, I am a confirmed sock summit vendor but have not received the mentioned email?????
    Also, I travel a lot and hate the get to, from to, not quite there but away part of the journey, too. Being there or here though is just fine.
    Thanks, Lois in Port Townsend, WA

  99. I’ve always found that if something seems too hard you are probably doing it wrong. Then the best fix is to do something you know how to do right.

  100. Not only soothing, garter stitch can be humanitarian & helpful. Consider keeping a leper bandage ( ) on needles for times when decompressing soothingness is needed — 24 to 28 stitches of #10 cotton crochet thread on # 2 or 3 needles, garter stitch for 3 – 4 feet (1 meter for the metric-enabled among you). Improve the world, little-by-little.

  101. You explained to everyone every reason why I LOVE knitting. It can be as hard as you want it to be or it can a brainless repetition to soothe you, or anything in between. Stephanie, you have my utmost admiration!! There is always so much left to learn (or unlearn too for that matter!) and so little time but we plod on.
    I am amazed all the time by people who say, “Wow, you knit! I didn’t know that people still did that!
    I tried once and it was so hard, I quit.” Let’s just keep this our (BIG) secret.

  102. A friend commented on my knitting recently saying “that looks hard” It was stockinette stitch with some beads in it – not “hard” at all in my opinion. This friend is a teacher who loves to read. I said knitting is like reading. Once you know the alphabet, reading isn’t “hard.” You can read things that challenge your mind and make you stop and think, or that you breeze right through, or that lull you to sleep. You can read things that will make you laugh or cry or fill you with peace. Those few letters can be arranged in an infinite variety of ways to express any human emotion and to fill any number of needs.
    Just like reading, knitting to be soothed isn’t better than knitting to be entertained or knitting to learn. They are all just different ways of using our craft to meet our needs. Some types of knitting may suit me and others may not. Some days I may need knitting to be one thing, other days I may need a different thing. What I like about knitting is that it provides the range and scope to meet so many of my needs and match so many of my moods.

  103. Filled with admiration at all the lovely things you have knit lately and the bazillion feats of organisation but I am wondering about the scrumptious lace cashmere cowl pattern… is it still being tested or have I missed it?

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